An aged piece of paper with cursive writing on it

Join Dr Christina Thompson as she presents a lecture on her 2023 Creative Arts Fellowship research into what happened when writing arrived on the islands of the Pacific.

Entry is free to this event but bookings are essential.

The talk will be available to view live online via the Library's Facebook and YouTube pages. You do not need to book a ticket to watch the event online.

Dr Christina Thompson is a 2023 Creative Arts Fellow in Australian Writing, supported by the Ray Mathew and Eva Kollsman Trust.

About Dr Christina Thompson's Fellowship research

Introduced as part of a 'guns, germs, and steel' package of influences that swept the Pacific in the 19th century, the technology of writing attracted the immediate attention of Islanders throughout Polynesia. Some saw the political and strategic advantages of writing in their dealings with the European world. Some became fascinated by writing’s association with the new religion of Christianity. Still others grasped the significance of writing as a tool for safeguarding ancestral knowledge in a world of rapid and dramatic change. Originally promulgated as a pathway to salvation, literacy was taken up in the islands as a tool that, perhaps like all new technologies, opened some doors even as it shut others. This is the story of some of the people who lived through this momentous transition and of the many remarkable uses they made of writing, reading, writing, and books.

About Dr Christina Thompson

Dr Christina Thompson is the author of Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, winner of the 2020 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Award, the 2020 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and the 2019 NSW Premier’s General History Award. She has also written a memoir, Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All, which was shortlisted for the 2009 NSW Premier’s Literary Award. A dual citizen of  the United States and Australia, she was editor of Meanjin from 1994 to 1998, and since 2000 has been editor of Harvard Review. She teaches writing and editing at Harvard University Extension and lives outside of Boston with her husband and 3 sons. 

About Creative Arts Fellowships

The Creative Arts Fellowship and Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing are for creative works inspired by the Library’s unique, rare or comprehensive collections. Works can be at any stage of development but must require direct access to the collections to progress or be completed. 

The Creative Arts Fellowship for Australian Writing allows writers working in any literary genre can progress or complete a new creative work. This may include writing for performance, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction (which is sufficiently innovative, writerly or reflective), personal essays or graphic novels, but does not include works of general non-fiction, such as history or biography.

Image credit: Pomare King of Tahiti and Mr. Youl, Letter 1806 Dec., 

Type Fellowship presentation