Writing and Society Centre member Dr Chris Fleming on Conspiracy Theories

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Our Next Seminar

The Writing & Society Research Centre at the University of Western Sydney

warmly invites you to

Matt Thompson on

'Mondo Journo: Mythological Realism and a New Manifesto for Reportage'

Friday 7 August

11.00am -12.30pm

Building 3.G.55, Bankstown Campus, UWS

Reporting as a profession is becoming a virtual rust belt industry in Australia, the US, and many other parts of the developed world, its business models savaged by the internet with the remaining skeleton crews too often left flinging shrunken, simplistic, fodder at their fickle, distracted audiences.

Yet while the newspages shrivel, the world and human nature have grown no less complex and we remain in great need of professional writers with enough curiosity and endurance to roam with an open mind, to immerse themselves, to be confused and afraid and hurt and thrilled and informed, to lose their minds and change their minds, and finally to bear witness. And then to do it again. All of which is time consuming, expensive, personally demanding, and requires constant self-reflection. There are easier ways not to make a living.

Drawing on experiences as varied as vomiting from paranoia amidst Iran's 2009 post-election crackdown, undergoing traumatic hallucinogenic ceremonies with a Colombian shaman, seeing my Serb nationalist companion stabbed and beaten in Kosovo, being told by Filipino police that jinns have exposed me as undercover agent, I will discuss what the world teaches that journalism often ignores, and how this shortcoming is due to a dual lack of resources and imagination.

Also throwing in ideas from Tom Wolfe's The New Journalism, Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, David Shields' Reality Hunger, Northrop Frye's Anatomy of Criticism, and the Dogme 95 film-making manifesto, I will discuss my own emerging manifesto for fusing gritty realism and mythological awareness.

Dr Matthew Thompson is the author of Running with the Blood God and My Colombian Death (2013 and 2008, both from Picador). A former Sydney Morning Herald reporter, he is an adjunct researcher with the Writing & Society Research Centre whose doctorate was completed under the supervision of Professor Ivor Indyk and looked, in part, at the nonfiction of Californian writer William T Vollmann. Dr Thompson has taught at a variety of universities in NSW and at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, which became problematic when he spoke out against the then-military regime's justifications for torturing its non-violent critics.

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