Reading and Writing with Pleasure

Professor Helen Sword, University of Auckland

  • Friday 7 July 2017
  • Room E302, Forgan Smith Building, St Lucia Campus
  • 5:15pm for a 5:30pm start (the lecture will conclude at 6:30pm and will be followed by canapes and refreshments)

RSVP by 2 July 


Most academics love to read, and many of us love to write. Our students, on the other hand, may regard critical reading and formal writing as irritating chores on the way to a degree, the educational equivalent of “Shut up and eat your vegetables.” A recent study of successful academics from across the disciplines and around the world revealed that their negative emotions about writing—dominated by frustration and anxiety—are almost invariably counter-levered by positive emotions such as enjoyment, satisfaction and pleasure. Seasoned writers, in other words, understand that the joys of writing are inextricably bound up with the hard labour of craftsmanship. For our students, unfortunately, that message is not always so clear. Books, blogs and websites aimed at undergraduate writers tend to focus mainly on analytical thinking skills, productive writing habits and stylistic conventions rather than on fostering intellectual nourishment and delight. But if our literature students don’t come away from university with a genuine love of attentive reading and well-crafted writing, what’s the point? How can we engage them in readerly and writerly practices that nurture creativity, pleasure and play?

Presenter Bio:

Helen Sword is Professor and Director of the Centre for Learning and Research in Higher Education at the University of Auckland. Her books on writing include Stylish Academic Writing (Harvard 2012), The Writer’s Diet (Chicago 2016), and Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write (Harvard 2017).  See her website ( for links to her books and articles, her digital poetry, and The Writer’s Diet, a free diagnostic tool for writers.

Professor Sword is visiting the University of Queensland as a keynote speaker for the School of Communication and Arts Conference "Reading and Writing in the Twenty-First-Century Literary Studies Classroom: Theory and Practice," 6-8 July 2017.

Professor Helen Sword

For enquiries, please contact Dr Judith Seaboyer (



Forgan Smith Building, St Lucia Campus