Dr Stuart Grant, a senior lecturer in the Centre for Theatre and Performance, has been selected as an ambassador for the Emerging Writers’ Festival, joining four other celebrated Australian writers to headline this year’s National Writers’ Conference.
Emerging Writers’ Festival (EWF) Artistic Director Izzy Roberts-Orr said the chosen ambassadors are captivating storytellers, noted for challenging dominant narratives, bringing light to untold stories and forging new pathways for the next generation of Australian voices.
Choosing ambassadors for this this year’s festival was slightly different, as those selected were known for their experimental works, transcending boundaries of form and defying easy categorisation.
“When they asked me to do it, I said I don’t write in the traditional sense. I don’t write novels and I don’t publish poems,” said Dr Grant.
“They said the reason they wanted me was because I wrote songs and music and I also write philosophy, critique and commentary.”
It was the interdisciplinary nature of his writing, that he was chosen, and that it was in unconventional venues and publications.
Dr Grant is a phenomenologist, focussing on performance with the intent to philosophise performance.
“Bringing philosophy to song and song to philosophy creates new ways of thinking and new modes of knowledge. That’s my primary aim,” he said.
“I think if you combine ideas of philosophy to performance you can understand performance in a deeper way than is traditionally held by theatre studies and other modes of writing about performance.”
Dr Grant said throughout the twentieth century people have been experimenting with breaking up traditional forms of writing such as the novel and the poem.
The latter half of the twentieth century saw experiments with new modes of writing where non-fiction and fiction were combined in different ways. From History, English to Comparative Literature, these disciplines saw new combinations of the fictional, the non-fictional, the fictive, in different forms of writing.
But Dr Grant doesn’t see his selection as ambassador as a way to necessarily impart his mode of thinking onto mentees.
“The most important thing to do with my new kind of thinking that I seek to promulgate and seek to do, is to listen rather than to convince and so I will just be listening to what people say,” he said.
“Even though I’m called an ambassador, I’m there to learn. I’m a student before I’m a teacher.”
As a lecturer and teacher, Dr Grant said students should consider units within Monash’s school of Languages, Literatures, Culture and Linguistics in order to develop our creative thinking and problem-solving abilities.
“I think saving the earth is our primary concern at the moment and we really need to rethink our relationship with it,” he said.
“Technologies, structures and ways of knowing and acting have led to the current crisis that we have on this planet and these are deep within our knowledge structures.”
“It is essential that we apply creative thinking to help change the world.”
During the conference, the five ambassadors will join over 70 other artists across two days of panels, discussions, workshops and networking at the largest gathering of emerging writers in Australia. Dr Grant and the other ambassadors will spend an hour answering questions and offering advice in EWF’s unique Ask Me Anything sessions.
The Emerging Writers' Festival Ambassador program is proudly supported by Principal Education Partner, Monash University. Learn more.