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May 2013

“Luke likes order and control, I like chaos and mess,” said David Michôd, director of the multi award-winning film, Animal Kingdom. He was referring to the writer extraordinaire sitting beside him: Luke Davies, one of the most frequently recurring names in this year’s Sydney Writer’s Festival program.

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I’ll admit it: I adore Margo Lanagan – or, at least, as much as one can adore a personal literary idol. Ever since I was lucky enough to have her as a tutor during my stint at Clarion South Writers Workshop in 2009, I have been in awe of her incisive intelligence and humility as a writer, not to mention her singularly compelling literary voice. Lanagan is best known for her genre-defying novels and short stories, and has received numerous awards, in Australia and internationally, for her work. I spoke to her at the 2013 Sydney Writers’ Festival about some of the triumphs and the tribulations of her work.

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How can texts that are thousands of years old possibly still be relevant to people today? This is the question asked again and again by students and readers of classical literature, the fundamental problem that drives all historical discourse.

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It's Careers Market season again and the University's Student Ambassadors are road-tripping around the country!

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There is a queue outside the theatre, and a casual, post-lunch hum. Inside, everyone has shed their coats and there is lively chatter. They’re having to turn people away from this event, but they’re also live broadcasting it on the speakers outside. Debra Adelaide, who is chairing the panel, starts off with no small statement, “It’s hard to imagine a more important topic in a writers’ festival. Without creative nurturing none of us would have found ourselves sitting here today.” She’s drawn everyone in. The panel nod in agreement. This panel consists of three University of Sydney academics from the Faculty of Education and Social Work: Professor Robyn Ewing, and renown children’s author and Adjunct Associate Libby Gleeson, and Honorary Associate Teya Dusseldorp.

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Chief literary critic at The Guardian from 1992 to 1995 and now a staff writer for The New Yorker, James Wood has established a reputation as the most dreaded reviewer of today. On Saturday at the Sydney Writers' Festival, he reflected on his life as a critic, spoke of his new collection of essays, The Fun Stuff, and revealed that writing is not his only talent.

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One phrase repeats in my head as I navigate my way to the venue, through crowds of festivalgoers, and blue-shirted volunteers, one phrase repeats endlessly in my head: “potentially explosive”.

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Political philosopher at the University of Sydney’s Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, led a deeply moving panel on Extraordinary Stories of Migration at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, navigating the pain and trauma of the migrant experience.

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Professor Kerry Brown, Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, led a panel discussion between three experts on China and the state’s rapid ascent to international attention.

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Historian, travel writer, and co-founder of the Jaipur Literature Festival, William Dalrymple took to the Sydney Writers' Festival stage on Thursday to talk about his most recent book, Return of a King. I had the privilege of chatting with him before his impassioned address about his writing and how it has changed since his first published book over two decades ago.


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Festival goers flick through William Dalrymple's, Return of a King, after his talk at the Sydney Writers' Festival 2013. Photo by Drew Rooke


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Fan fiction: it often inspires derision of the most scathing kind or admiration for its democratic principles.

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Breathe in. Blow out – fast as you can, fast as you can. Keep going! Fill your lungs with oxygen – that wonderful chemical compound that binds reversibly with your haemoglobin molecules to drive respiration. To drive your body. And breathe out. Let out all of the carbon dioxide and water that your body has produced as waste products from all the hard work it does just to keep going.

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Thinking about studying at Sydney, but not sure if you'll get a high enough ATAR for your chosen course? Come to our Revesby event to find your path to Sydney...

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Jazz, mobile phones and photography. These seem like three unrelated concepts, but this semester, they will combine in a new way. Find out how you can get involved - and maybe even win a prize...

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Yesterday was the hottest day we’ve had in Glasgow so far. The sun was shining, the daffodils were blooming, and every Glaswegian and their dog descended on the nearest park to soak up the sun. That night, our ‘spring heatwave’ was all over the news. When twenty-two degrees is newsworthy, you know you’re in Scotland...

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Yes, it's student election season again. Here are my tips for not being harassed by people in bright t-shirts...

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As part of the Go8’s Student Leadership in International Co-operation Project, I was part of a group that visited Peking University, Tsinghua University, Harbin Institute of Technology and Zhejiang University.

At each place, we met new students, at all levels – bachelor, masters and PhD, experienced Chinese culture, research facilities, campus life and associations, sport and sightseeing events. Importantly, many new friends and contacts were made.

Highlights included, lunch in campus canteens (which are huge), an acrobat show, many robotics labs – one including a real working humanoid table tennis player – with an awesome backswing, the Great Wall of China, Central Street in Harbin and West Lake in Hangzhou.

It was a great experience and I encourage people to get out there and experience the world and take up the opportunity whilst at university – go on exchange, travel, take a short trip, enrol in a language course, etc.

As an end note, HIT is offering a week long cultural program at the end of July; definitely something to check out – and some scholarships are available for Go8 students (email them for details).

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Brains worked overtime to process the assortment of ideas presented at last Saturday's TEDxSydney event at the Sydney Opera House. Andre Fenby and I were there for every minute, meeting with speakers and indulging in the delicious and locally sourced food. Check out our review of the day:

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Dr Rebecca Huntley will consider how we respond to group labels this weekend at TEDxSydney. Yesterday, I spoke with her about categories, food and politics.

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Healthabitat director, Paul Pholeros (pictured), is on a mission to fight poverty using architecture. I was lucky enough to speak with Paul about his work ahead of his upcoming talk at TEDxSydney.

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Biologist Professor David Sinclair will reveal new research at TEDxSydney this weekend that could change the way we look at ageing. This week I spoke to him and asked: will we one day live forever?

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Hi everyone, I’m Matt – a fifth year Engineering/Medical Science student. Often my friends ask me why I chose to study such a combined degree. I am quick to tell them that Biomedical Engineering, as opposed to more traditional disciplines like civil, is quite different. It involves using engineering techniques to solve health problems, something I find fascinating. So why should you consider a combined degree?

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