University of Sydney won’t appoint new chair of Australian literature
The University of Sydney won’t appoint a new chair of Australian literature until it can find a sponsor for the position, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
A university spokesperson said the School of Literature, Arts and Media ‘has a number of senior hiring priorities’ and will no longer pay for the position, but is working to ‘secure funding’ for the position. ‘We remain deeply committed to research and teaching in the field of Australian literature and have a number of internationally renowned scholars in this field,’ said the spokesperson. The position has been vacant since the retirement of former chair Professor Robert Dixon in June.
‘Any delay in this appointment is simply difficult to understand,’ said the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) in a statement. ASAL said the chair is a ‘key figure to focus the present momentum of Australian literary studies both inside and outside the University’ who can ‘support, direct and foster communication in ways that assist national and international dialogue in this significant field of inquiry.’
‘To lose this chair, and indeed any chair in Australian literature, is to lose a leader who has the vital capacity for coordination, outreach and consultation, and who may advocate for and represent this important work which brings enduring benefit to both nation and world. We therefore join with our colleagues at the University of Sydney and across the field to voice our insistent support for the continuation of the Sydney chair of Australian literature,’ said ASAL.
The University of Sydney appointed Gerald Alfred Wilkes as the first chair of Australian literature in 1962 despite protests from some professors that there was no Australian literature to study. The role was also held by Dame Leonie Kramer, who went on to be the university’s first female chancellor.
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