When reading a book or watching a film or television show, many of us expect to be taken on a journey involving a character who changes. But where does this desire to see a transformation come from?
Professor Damien Wilkins will explore this question in his inaugural lecture titled “No hugging, some learning: writing and personal change”, and says his goal is perhaps to see some change of thinking by both the optimists and cynics in the audience.
“I want people to think what the other possibilities are when reading a story.
“It’s just as bad to be artificially cheery as it is to be artificially disillusioned.”
The lecture’s title borrows from the TV show Seinfeld, whose writers tried to avoid clichés associated with sitcoms, where “someone learns something and there is hugging at the end of each episode.
“It’s a cathartic release for viewers–seeing the nasty person turn nice or whatever—but the writers of Seinfeld wanted to do something different.
“But once you have that idea that change is a bit lame, what do you write about? In literature, how can you save the precious notion of transformation from this naffness?”
As part of the free public lecture, Professor Wilkins will discuss New Zealand author Dennis McEldowney’s 1957 memoir, The World Regained. “I chose this book because I think it’s a New Zealand classic which is little read.
“Dennis shows us one way of dramatising change which takes into account both pain and joy. It’s a very beautiful book.”
The World Regained gives Dennis’ account of a life-saving operation for his congenital heart condition.
What: No hugging, some learning: writing and personal change
When: 6pm, Tuesday 26 August
Where: Hunter Council Chamber, Level 2, Hunter Building, Gate 2, Kelburn Parade
RSVP by Friday 22 August either by phone 04-463 6700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Wilkins” in the subject line.