Professor Liz Byrski
CITY/GLOBAL2018 Keynote Speaker
Curtin University, Australia
The IAFOR Global Studies/City 2018 Conference is pleased to announce that acclaimed writer Liz Byrski will be a Keynote Speaker. Professor Byrski is a writer and broadcaster with more than 50 years experience in the British and Australian media, author of thirteen non-fiction books and nine novels. She was a broadcaster and executive producer with ABC Radio in Perth and later an advisor to a minister in the Western Australian State Government; she has a PhD on the subject of feminist popular fiction, and is past Director of the China Australia Writing Centre at Curtin University. Professor Byrski will be speaking on: "Visible Signs of Ageing: Representational flattery, ageing women and agency in women’s fiction" and "The Introvert and the City".
Keynote Presentation I | The Introvert and the City
December 2012: I walk out of the building into the cold damp air and pause on the steps waiting for my heart to stop pounding, my legs to stop shaking, praying that I will not faint here in London, not vomit on the steps of the British Museum. Can I make it back to the hotel without making an exhibition of myself? Cautiously I make my way to a nearby seat, and sit, head tilted backwards, eyes closed, taking deep breaths until the feeling passes. Eventually I see a taxi draw up outside the gates and I get up and walk shakily towards it, waving at the driver. Seconds later I lurch into the backseat. ‘You all right, Love?’ The driver asks. ‘Fine thanks,” I give him the address of the hotel, and sit there, rigid, grasping the armrest so tight it hurts my fingers. I have been in London for 13 days, eight more than my tolerance level, and it’s the third time this has happened: one more day to go. I am an introvert in the city.
In this presentation I will consider my love-hate relationship with various cities in which I have lived, the reasons I have fled from them, the physical and emotional effects of being in any city, and my specific problem with being in London.
Keynote Presentation II | Visible Signs of Ageing: Representational flattery, ageing women and agency in women’s fiction
We live in a mediated society in which the representational flattery provided by sympathetic and admiring images of people like us provide the reassurance that we are members of the tribe. The flattered self is a mediated self and that combination endows us with a sense of significance and agency. But at a time when we celebrate increased life expectancy and are urged to remain in the workforce much longer than previous generations, ageing women are largely absent from the representations of popular culture. The focus is on youth, beauty and sexiness, on staying young and looking younger, and the varied and dynamic lives of older and elderly women are sidelined into invisibility.
I was approaching sixty when, despite the growing number of ageing women living full and interesting lives, I couldn’t find novels that told those stories. Walter Benjamin suggested that writers are people who can’t find the books they want to read so they write them instead. I took Benjamin’s words as advice. In this paper I discuss my own experiment in developing a body of popular fiction deliberately designed to create a sense of agency among older women readers, and some of the responses to these ten, best-selling novels.