CFP: Symposium on Reading and Writing Australasian Historical Biofictions

When: Thursday 8th December 2016, 9am-6pm

Where: La Trobe University’s city campus (360 Collins St, Melbourne, Australia)


Literary works have long taken historical figures as their subjects. Recently, a term has emerged to describe this approach and to group associated scholarly research: biofictions. The topic has featured in the most recent MLA conference and in publications. Multiple areas of focus are appearing but, at this stage, no large-scale recent investigation of Australasian historical biofictions has been undertaken. To address this gap, we will hold a day-long symposium to bring Australasian writers of historical biofictions in close contact with scholars of the genre, to share ideas, catalyse debate and contribute to this developing field of study. For this reason, we plan to record the conference sessions. After the symposium, we will seek publication of the papers as a special edition of a peer-reviewed journal.

We invite 20-minute papers that contribute fruitfully to this emerging area. Questions that papers might address include but are not limited to the following:

·       Does writing from Australasia affect how we render our historical subjects and our settings?

·       What is the significance of the themes, personages, settings or time periods chosen by authors from these regions?

·       How has biofiction addressed questions of colonialism and the interactions between indigenous and non-indigenous people?

·       What differences emerge in the biographical portrayals by early and more recent Australasian authors?

·       What narrative techniques are Australasian authors using to construct their biographical figures?

·       What role does gender play in Australasian portrayals of historical figures?

·       How do Australasian historical biofictions negotiate other genre categories (for example, historical romance or crime, or young adult?)

·       What role do biographical figures play in these works when they appear as secondary characters, rather than the protagonist?

Please email an abstract (250 words) and a biography (100 words) in Word format to symposium organisers Catherine Padmore and Kelly Gardiner at

Deadline for abstracts: 14 October 2016

Notification of acceptance: 21 October 2016