UTS authors shine at 2016 Sydney Writers Festival

Over than 50 UTS alumni and staff are sharing their stories, experiences and insights at this May’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.

11 May 2016

The Sydney Writers’ Festival has become a beacon of local, Australian creativity and cultural energy – attracting audiences of over 100,000 people to Sydney’s historic Walsh Bay locality to experience events and workshops given by our sharpest authors, creatives, journalists, musicians, scientists and citizens.

With the festival kicking off this May, more than 50 UTS alumni feature in this year’s program – with 2014 UTS Alumni Award for Excellence recipient Jemma Birrell (Bachelor of Arts (Communication) (Hons), 2003)) again bringing some of our most exciting, challenging and engaging storytellers together as the Festival’s Artistic Director.

Bibliotherapy” is the word to know this year as the festival embraces this theme to explore literature’s power of escape, wellbeing and energy – as Birrell explains “a good festival, like a good book, should bring real-life benefits – joy, solace and a new understanding of the world”.

One theme weaving through this year’s festival is the “book that saved you” and Birrell expresses her excitement at this new addition, explaining “we want recommendations directly from the writers who we love – about the books that have changed them and their lives, and somehow helped them in different ways.”

Listen to Jemma Birrell talk to 2SER’s The Chat about her journey from the UTS Tower to Paris and back, to share her love for the written and spoken word as director of the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

UTS Luminary and Miles Franklin award-winning author of All That I Am and Stasiland, Anna Funder, (Doctor of Creative Arts, 2012) will be joining a number of panel discussions, as is alumna Charlotte Wood (Master of Creative Arts, 2010) who was recently awarded the 2016 Stella Prize for The Natural Way of Things. Wood will be presenting Back to the Future: Women Writers Then and Now with UTS Senior Lecturer, Dr Delia Falconer – as well as holding an intimate discussion on her award-winning novel at the historic Carrington Hotel in Katoomba.

Keep an eye out for James Bradley, the author of Clade – a sci-fi novel tells an intergenerational tale through time examining the environmental and social impacts of climate change, the collapse of bee culture, eco-refugees and global health. Join James at the Creating Worlds panel that pays homage to re-imagining the world around us. Jane Messer (Doctor of Creative Arts, 2002), the author of recently published Hopscotch, will be joining the Finance and Fiction panel sharing her insight into folly, greed and an audience’s interest in our post-GFC world.

And while there festival has a host of fresh faces on stage this year, it will also be welcoming back some old favourites. From once writing crosswords for UTS Vertigo (formerly NEWSWIT) to his turn on SBS’s Letters and Numbers and regularly bambool, you can catch David Astle (Bachelor of Arts (Communications), 1984) at Night of the Nerds or get some crossword advice from a professional at Crosswords in the Morning. UTS alumnus and Chaser star Chris Taylor (Graduate Diploma, Communication, 1997) will be moderating the Late Night Salon – a conversation at the Hemingway Bar with a diverse range guests including Ira Trivedi, Peter Garrett, Magda Szubanski, Leisel Jones and Richard Watson.

Sunday Takeaway host Sunil Badami (Doctor of Creative Arts, 2014) will be teaming up with author and Ned Kelly Award winner Mark Dapin (Master of Arts (Journalism), 1997) to present Eccentrics, Oddballs and Misfits panel dicussion. Mireille Juchau (Bachelor of Arts (Communications) (Hons) (1995)), author of the 2016 Miles Franklin longlisted The World Without Us, and Tegan Bennett Daylight author of the recently published short story collection, Six Bedrooms, containing several stories submitted as part of her Doctor of Creative Arts (2012), are also presenting at the Festival, as is UTS Business alumna and architect Penelope Seidler who will be discussing Philanthropy: The Art of Giving.

This year UTS staff are once again well represented in the programing – including Associate Professor Debra Adelaide, who will be participating in a discussion about her novel The Women’s Pages. Professor Larissa Behrendt, from UTS Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning will be talking about on her book Finding Eliza in addition to joining a panel discussion on Distorted Histories with UTS academic and author Anna Clark. Professor Katherine Biber from UTS Law will also be participating in a conversation with Senior Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC on his book Kidnapped, recounting the 1960 case of eight-year-old Graeme Thorne, Australia’s only known case of a child being kidnapped for ransom.

UTS graduates presenting at 2016 Sydney Writer’s Festival


  • Adam Aitken Doctor of Creative Arts (2006)
  • Emma Allen Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Contemporary Cultures) (2002)
  • David Astle Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1984)


  • Sunil Badami Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1998); Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication (2004); Doctor of Creative Arts (2014)
  • Nigel Bartlett Master of Arts in Writing (Research) (2013)
  • Tegan Bennett Daylight Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1991); Master of Creative Arts (2006); Doctor of Creative Arts (2012)
  • Stephanie Bishop Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication (2002)
  • Kathleen Bleakley Graduate Diploma in Adult Education (1996)
  • James Bradley Doctor of Creative Arts (2013)

C, D

  • Minglu Chen Doctor of Philosophy in International Studies (2007)
  • Bryce Corbett Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1993)
  • Mark Dapin Master of Arts in Journalism (1997)
  • David Dyer Doctor of Creative Arts (2014)

E, F

  • Kate Fagan Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry) (2011)
  • Suzanne Falkiner Doctor of Creative Arts (2005)
  • Toby Fitch Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication (2005)
  • Katherine Forsyth Doctor of Creative Arts (2015)
  • Anna Funder Doctor of Creative Arts (2012)

G, H

  • Linda Godfrey Master of Arts in Professional Writing (2006)
  • Ashley Hay Doctor of Creative Arts (2012)
  • Kathryn Heyman Doctor of Creative Arts (2008)

I, J, K

  • Mark Isaacs Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Cultural Studies) and in International Studies (2012)
  • Mireille Juchau Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Communication (1995)
  • Michaela Kalowski Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (2003)


  • Samantha Lang Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication (1991)
  • Joy Lawn Master of Arts in Children's Literature and Literacy (1997)
  • Suzanne Leal Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (1993)
  • Julia Leigh Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (1994)
  • Astrid Lorange Doctor of Philosophy (2013)


  • Carol Major Doctor of Creative Arts (2006)
  • Caroline Meldrum-Hanna Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism) Bachelor of Laws (2007)
  • Catruiba Menzies-Pike Graduate Diploma in Interactive Multimedia (2011)
  • Jane Messer Doctor of Creative Arts (2002)
  • Mahalya Middlemist Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1990)
  • Peter Minter Doctor of Philosophy (2011)


  • Alexandra Nahlous Graduate Diploma in Communication (1997)
  • John Newton Doctor of Creative Arts (2015)
  • Heidi Norman Master of Arts in Indigenous Social Policy (2004)
  • Zoe Norton Lodge Master of Arts in Creative Writing (2011)

O, P, Q, R

  • Cheryl Orsini Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication (1994)
  • Juliette O'Brien Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism) (2007)
  • James O'Loughlin Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (1991)
  • Hannah Reilly Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Media Arts and Production) (2013)

S, T

  • Lisa Sarzin Bachelor of Laws & Bachelor of Business (1997)
  • Penelope Seidler Bachelor of Business (1981)
  • Eric Sidoti Graduate Diploma in Communication (1980)
  • Amanda Stewart Bachelor of Arts in Communication (1982)
  • Chris Taylor Graduate Diploma in Communication (1997)

U, V, W, X, Y, Z

  • Anna Westbrook Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Writing and Contemporary Cultures) (2006)
  • Charlotte Wood Master of Creative Arts (2010)
  • Claire Zorn Graduate Diploma in Writing (2008)

UTS is a major partner of the Sydney Writers Festival, it runs from the 14th to the 22nd of May.

Check out the Sydney Writers Festival website for more information.

Story by Dominica Ingui