The Centre for Critical and Creative Writing presents a symposium on
Adaptation and the Australian Novel.


Landmark Australian novels are being adapted for the stage and screen at a rate we’ve not seen for many decades. In the 2015 to 2020 period alone, what was previously a steady trickle has become a flood as the nation’s various mediums of cultural transmission have offered reimagined versions of much-loved novels, including: Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South, Kenneth Cooke’s Wake in Fright, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet, Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, Peter Carey’s Bliss, Craig Silvey’s Jasper Jones,  Colin Thiele’s Storm Boy, Christos Tsiolkas’s LoadedThe Slap, and Barracuda, Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, Miles Franklin’s My Brilliant Career, Tim Conigrave’s Holding the Man, Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black, Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, and Helen Fitzgerald’s The Cry.

Meanwhile Andrew Bovell’s adaptation of Kate Grenville’s contentious classic The Secret River has toured to the heart of the former empire whose violent colonisation of Australia it depicts, playing to broad acclaim in both Edinburgh and at London’s National Theatre. This builds on Bovell’s body of adapted work, including Head OnLantana, and A Most Wanted Man.

The CCCW is very proud to announce that keynote speeches will be provided by international critical adaptation theorist Frances Babbage (University of Sheffield, and UQ’s 2020 S.W. Brooks Fellow) and internationally-acclaimed stage and screen writer, and adaptor of the landmark The Secret River text, Andrew Bovell. We are also excited to annouce a panel discussion with Andrew Bovell, Christos Tsiolkas and Dan Giavannoni talking about the stage and screen adaptations of Tsiolkas' iconic novel Loaded.

The Centre for Critical and Creative Writing aims not only to champion and celebrate Australian writing in all of its many forms, but to lead important national debate around questions of representation, opportunity, and identity.

Questions that arise here include: Why the rush on Australian adaptation now? What’s fuelling the appetite for this locally themed work, and why is it being distributed internationally via digital platforms such as Amazon and Netflix? Is there a ‘house style’ emerging either at particular theatre companies or television production houses who are leading this push? Whose stories are being canonised in this tranche of largely Anglo-Celtic authored works, and whose voices are doing the adapting? What version of Australian national identity becomes enshrined in this process, and whose perspectives are elided or omitted?

We invite individual proposals from critical and creative writers for 20 minute papers that address the following themes, topics and questions as they pertain to the current state of Australian writing, publishing, production and performance:

  • Adaptation as an act of creative writing
  • Adaptation and the Australian literary canon
  • Adaptation and the popular novel
  • Adaptation and Indigeneity, race and ethnicity
  • Adaptation and gender
  • Adaptation and landscape
  • Adaptation across mediums and social platforms
  • Adaptation in the digital era
  • Adaptation and the international
  • Adaptation and young audiences
  • Companies and adaptations

Cost of symposium         Free.

We particularly welcome applications from scholars and practitioners traditionally under-represented in higher education, or whose voices are under-represented amongst the range of those we have identified in the above symposium description.

Send proposals and queries in the first instance to: Ass. Prof. Stephen Carleton, Director of the Centre for Critical and Creative Writing



St Lucia Campus, The University of Queensland