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Curtin collaborates with leading Chinese university

News story

Curtin University has signed a memorandum of understanding with Fudan University in Shanghai to establish the China-Australia Writing Centre.

Associate Professor Simon Leunig and Professor Lin Shangli holding a book after signing the memorandum of understanding.
The memorandum of understanding was formalised by Professor Lin Shangli, Vice President of Fudan University, and Associate Professor Simon Leunig, Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor International of Curtin University.

The China-Australia Writing Centre, which launches on 12 August, will promote new scholarship, shared knowledge and creative innovation in the writing arts and disciplines of the two countries. It will develop new writing practices and joint research projects, establish conferences and workshops and offer cultural exchange opportunities for staff and students.

Curtin Professor Tim Dolin, a scholar of Australian studies and English literature, and Fudan Professor Tan Zheng, a scholar of English language and literature, will provide the academic leadership of the centre.

Associate Professor Steve Mickler, Head of the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts (MCCA), says the intent of the centre is to combine both institutions’ considerable expertise in creative and historical writing, literature studies and journalism. The centre has developed out of an ongoing collaboration between the School of MCCA and Fudan’s College of Foreign Languages and Literatures headed by Professor Qu Weiguo.

“The centre will contribute to the mutual enhancement of research and creative production in China and Australia in the broadly defined creative, professional, and scholarly writing disciplines and practices,” Associate Professor Mickler says.

“The partnership will have implications across many industries as the centre will study and develop all types of writing, including new forms and multiple formats in the digital revolution.”

Dr Rachel Robertson, Head of Curtin’s Department of Communication and Cultural Studies, says the centre is a huge development for the university’s research and teaching program in writing and literature.

“We’ve been working really hard to develop this relationship. Fudan University is one of the top five universities in China, so for us this collaboration is very exciting,” she says.

To foster collaboration, the centre plans to develop a significant, sustainable digital presence to operate as its bilingual “virtual home”. The digital presence will include a forum for joint pre-publication, publication and translation, and for the exchange of ideas, opinions, materials and information.

“The writing centre will respond to what’s happening out there by developing collaborative research and publication opportunities and new forms of writing, which will be driven by the scholars and their mutual interests. At the moment, there isn’t a physical space that will house a centre, but in the longer term I do have vision of a writing hub,” Dr Robertson says.

The centre’s first action of formal dialogue will be to host a symposium in Margaret River, titled Literature in the Time of Revolutions, from 13–15 August. The symposium will explore how the past decade and a half has affected literature in Australia and China through events such as the digital revolution, 9/11, global financial crisis and the Chinese economic reform.

“We’ve invited some great keynote speakers from writing and literature in China and Australia. There’ll also be academic staff from Fudan and Curtin participating in the symposium,” Dr Robertson says.

As to how the centre will benefit Curtin students, Dr Robertson says that it will widen their perspective on how differently creative writing and literature studies are taught and understood in Australia and in China.

“I think there’ll be a range of benefits. For our students, they’ll be able to hear from Chinese scholars when they come here for seminars. I’d also like to eventually take some creative and professional writing students on a study tour to Shanghai,” she says.

For more information, please read our media release on the development of the centre.

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