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Associate Professor Debra Adelaide

Biography

Associate Professor Debra Adelaide is the author or editor of 14 books, including novels, nonfiction, and reference works. She joined the permanent Writing staff of UTS in 2003 after many years as a freelance writer, researcher, editor, book reviewer, and as a casual teacher.

Her first novel was The Hotel Albatross, published in 1995 and republished in 2009. Her other books include edited collections, such as A Bright and Fiery Troop (on Australian women writers, published by Penguin, 1988); the popular Motherlove series (published by Random House, 1996, 1997, 1998); and Acts of Dog (Random House, 2003). Her novel The Household Guide to Dying was published to critical acclaim in Australia in 2008 and was published in many other countries including the UK, the USA, Canada, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, China and Brazil. Her collection of short fiction, Letter to George Clooney (Picador 2013) has been long- and short-listed for several literary awards. A collection of essays she edited in collaboration with and for the Sydney Story Factory, The Simple Act of Reading (Vintage) was published in May 2015. Her latest book is a novel, The Women's Pages (Picador 2015) which has been widely praised.

She has been a judge of a number of literary awards including the Vogel/Australian award for younger writers, the NSW Premier's Literary Awards, the Nita B. Kibble Awards for women writers, and the Patrick White Award.

She is currently working on another fiction project, and several essays.

Professional

Committee Member, Sydney PEN 2009-2013
The Australian Society of Authors
Member, the NSW Writers' Centre
Centre for New Writing

Image of Debra Adelaide
Associate Professor, Creative Writing Program
Core Member, CPCE - Centre for Creative Practices and the Cultural Economy
BA (Hons) (Syd), MA (Hons) (Syd), PhD (Syd)
Member, Australian Society of Authors
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 1957

Research Interests

Australian literature
Australian women's writing
Contemporary fiction
Critical writing

Can supervise: Yes

Supervision of UG Honours, MA, PhD and DCA students

Research areas

  • Creative writing

Fiction; novel writing workshop; introduction to novel; postgraduate narrative writing; genre and crime writing; supervision of writing projects in the Doctorate and Masters programs.

Books

Adelaide, D. 2015, The Simple Act of Reading, Random House Australia.
Debra Adelaide. away despite the changes in political and cultural values over the years (Enid Blyton and C. S. Lewis scored pretty high here). Lowbrow or highbrow, the books on this list are a reminder that a reader truly is a consumer, ...
Adelaide, D. 2015, The Women's Pages, Picador Australia.
About The Women's Pages 'Emily Brontë had written this novel especially for her. For her benefit she had sat alone in her narrow bed in the parsonage, her lap desk on her knees, death all around her with that graveyard right next door, the ...
Adelaide, D. 2009, Das Beste am Leben: Roman, Blanvalet.
Adelaide, D. & Dale, J. 2008, Little Disturbances, Brandl & Schlesinger.
Adelaide, D. 1998, Australian Women Writers: A Bibliographic Guide, Pandora, London.
Adelaide, D. 1998, Cutting the cord: stories of children, love and loss, Random House Australia.
Adelaide, D. 1997, Mother love 2: More stories about births, babies & beyond, Random House Australia.
Adelaide, D. 1996, Mother love: stories about births, babies & beyond, Random House Australia.
Adelaide, D. 1991, Bibliography of Australian women's literature 1795-1990 : a listing of fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction, D.W. Thorpe in association with National Centre for Australian Studies, Port Melbourne.
Cusack, D. & Adelaide, D. 1991, A Window in the Dark, National Library Australia.
Adelaide, D. 1991, Bibliography of Australian Women's Literature, 1795-1990: A Listing of Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Non-fiction Published in Monograph Form Arranged Alphabetically by Author, KG Saur Verlag Gmbh & Company.
Adelaide, D. 1988, A Bright and Fiery troop: Australian women writers of the nineteenth century, Penguin Books Australia.

Chapters

Adelaide, D., Ashton, P. & Salt, A. 2013, 'Introduction' in Adelaide, D., Ashton, P. & Salt, A. (eds), Stories from the Tower: UTS 1988-2013, Xoum, Sydney, pp. 17-26.
Adelaide, D. 2011, 'The Sleepers in that Quiet Earth' in Cate Kennedy (ed), The Best Australian Stories 2011, Black Inc, Melbourne, pp. 82-94.
Fictional story in annual anthology of contemporary writing
Adelaide, D. 2006, 'Completely neutered: Gender Reception and Reputation' in Sheridan, S. & Genoni, P. (eds), Thea Astley's Fictional Worlds, Cambridge Scholar Press, Newcastle, UK, pp. 135-141.

Journal articles

Adelaide, D. & others 2015, 'Shimmering questions [Book Review]', Australian Book Review, pp. 58-58.
Adelaide, D. & others 2014, 'Selected shorts'.
Adelaide, D. 2012, 'Author Talk 1'.
Adelaide, D. & others 2012, 'A writer's creativity: Teaching creative writing'.
Adelaide, D. 2011, 'Writing Class: Sparingly, Cautiously, Ill-advisedly', Sydney Morning Herald, vol. 19-20 Feb.
Part of a series on the pedagogy of creative writing
Adelaide, D. & others 2011, 'No one comes to see me now: Manoly Lascaris and Patrick White's ghost'.
Adelaide, D. & others 2011, 'No one comes to see me now [Book Review]'.
Adelaide, D. & others 2011, 'Not for official use: finding a name.[Paper in: Such is Life. Schultz, Julianne (ed.).]'.
Adelaide, D. 2010, 'Plots', The Monthly, vol. April, pp. 21-23.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Adelaide, D. 2009, 'The Secret Space Between Pages', Notebook Magazine, vol. September, pp. 60-60.
Creative writing, readers
Adelaide, D. 2009, 'Creation of an Anthology', Sydney PEN Magazine, vol. November, pp. 10-11.
Adelaide, D. 2009, 'The Household Guide to Everything', SL Magazine, vol. August, pp. 20-20.
Adelaide, D. 2009, 'The Word on the Street', The (Sydney) Magazine, vol. May, pp. 50-51.
Adelaide, D. 2008, 'The end of the line', The Gloss, vol. June, pp. 98-99.
Adelaide, D. 2007, 'Portfolio of Book Reviews'.
Major full length (ie 800-1200 word) reviews of books, which have appeared in the literary pages of two major Australian newspapers, published regularly since 1997. Included are smaller reviews and a series of 5 bracketed reviews up to 750 words which were published every week from 1999-2004
Adelaide, D. 2007, 'The Voice of the Text', Text, vol. 11, no. 1, April, pp. 1-12.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
In an essay entitled 'A Voice', the author Barry Lopez describes his first apprehension of the voices of others. In his case - a young man aspiring to be a writer - these others were everyone not white, middle-class, Catholic American men. Only after listening to and properly hearing the voices of people outside of his cultural boundaries, claims Lopez, did he discover his own voice. Understanding that his voice was not the only voice, that his truth was not the one truth, enabled him to find freedom as a writer: As long as it took for me to see that a writer's voice had to grow out of his own knowledge and desire, that it could not rise legitimately out of the privilege of race or gender or social rank, so did it take time to grasp the depth of cruelty inflicted upon all of us the moment voices are silenced, when for prejudicial reasons people are told their stories are not valuable, not useful. (Lopez 1999: 13)
Adelaide, D. 2006, 'Theme and Syntax: a look at childhood', Australian Author, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 10-13.
Adelaide, D. & others 2006, 'From Here to Enter Nity (Sic): Theme and syntax.[An essay on the formative role of books in the life of a young reader.]'.
Adelaide, D. 1997, 'Thea Astley - "completely neutered": Gender, reception and reputation', SOUTHERLY, vol. 57, no. 3, pp. 182-190.
Adelaide, D. & others 1997, 'Thea Astley'.
Adelaide, D. 1996, 'Brown skin baby + The fate of Aboriginal babies in Australia from the late 19th-century until the 1970s: An essay', SOUTHERLY, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 7-18.
Adelaide, D. & others 1994, 'Reviewing the reviewers.[Authors' responses to book reviews]'.
ADELAIDE, D. 1988, 'LOUISA - MATTHEWS,B', SOUTHERLY, vol. 48, no. 2, pp. 229-231.
ADELAIDE, D. 1988, ''HOME IS THE SAILOR AND THE BEST OF INTENTIONS' - PHELAN,N', SOUTHERLY, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 339-342.
ADELAIDE, D. 1988, 'THE 'ELECTROLUX MAN AND OTHER STORIES' - KROLL,J', SOUTHERLY, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 339-342.
ADELAIDE, D. 1988, '200 AUSTRALIAN WOMEN - A REDRESS ANTHOLOGY - RADI,H', SOUTHERLY, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 487-489.
Adelaide, D. & others 1988, 'Poetry and old age [Book Review]'.
Adelaide, D. & others 1988, 'Two hundred lives [Book Review]'.
Adelaide, D. & others 1988, 'My Louisa lawson and the life of Brian [Book Review]'.
Adelaide, D. 1981, 'How Did Authors Make a Living?', A History of the Book in Australia 1891-1945.

Non traditional outputs

Adelaide, D. 2015, 'Grief', Mothers and Others, Pan Macmillan, Sydney.
Adelaide, D. 2015, 'Welcome to Country', The Intervention, Concerned Australians, Sydney.
Adelaide, D. 2015, 'The Women's Pages', MacMillan, Australia.
Adelaide, D. 2015, 'Essays on Reading'.
Adelaide, D. 2014, 'The Ministry of Reading', Review of Australian Fiction, Review of Australian Fiction, Melbourne.
10,000 word story describing an offbeat dystopian Australian parliament in which the newly appointed Minister for Reading exerts powers over the readership of the country and its government
Adelaide, D. 2013, 'Letter to George Clooney', Picador, Sydney.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Major creative work, collection of short fiction
Adelaide, D. 2013, 'Blood, Belly, Bile: The Butchershops in Marrickville', Locating Suburbia: memory, place, creativity, UTS ePress, Sydney, Australia, pp. 214-225.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This enquiry begins, as it so often does, with a word. Precisely, three words. On a particular day the sign in the butcher shop was clear but baffling while the tray beneath was empty. My Vietnamese is non-existent, and the sales assistants English was not quite up to it, so I left the butcher shop still wondering what BELLY BIBLE HONEYCOMB could be. Offal, it was, almost certainly. The tray next to it held a pile of chicken hearts marvellous, perfect miniatures of the human organ while the one in front displayed a gleaming mass of calf liver, the blood congealing around it in purple ropes.
Adelaide, D. 2012, 'Nourishment', Kill Your Darlings, Melbourne, pp. 87-99.
A short fictional story exploring themes of illness, family dislocation, and estrangement, and corresponding themes of survival and nourishment, both emotional and physical, expressed in the situation of a mother and son occupied in making soup, prior to a visit to the child's father in hospital. Unstated in the story, yet an essential part of it, is the absence of an older child, a daughter with issues of body images that have created resistance to the mother's nourishment. The story's heart is ultimately expressed via allusion and even gaps.
Adelaide, D. 2011, 'Not For Official Use', Griffith Review, Text Publishing, Melbourne, pp. 83-91.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
Research background The research is in the field of creative writing. Ross Gibson has argued that urban places, seemingly innocent of narrative, offer hidden stories. Peter Doyle has examined police photographs of people to uncover stories about marginalised people. Peter Robb's work shows that the surroundings in which people live, although appearing ordinary, can have dark corners that affect their characters. The research question for this project is: what techniques best support storytelling in ordinary spaces? Research contribution This work demonstrates that it is by discovering an unexpected representation of identity in the ordinary spaces that stories are set free. An enquiry into a cemetery detours into the silent spaces where people are buried but their monuments and headstones continue to supply story. An investigation into the processes of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reveals that official records are unexpectedly ambiguous, and consequently identity is uncertain. The household of a famous dead author proves to be an eerie shrine, his partner living an empty, lonely existence within it. Research significance These projects were accepted for publication by the Black Inc-owned magazine the Monthly, and the refereed journal Griffith Review. One piece was later broadcast on ABC Radio (August 2011) and was the subject of a panel event I was invited to participate in, 'Such is Life', conducted by the National Library of Australia (7 September 2011)
Adelaide, D. 2010, 'Writing in the [New] Millennium', New Australian Stories 2, Scribe, Melbourne, pp. 167-183.
Adelaide, D. 2009, 'The Hotel Albatross', Picador, Sydney; Auckland.
New edition of a major creative work, ie a novel, originally published in 1995
Adelaide, D. 2008, 'The Household Guide to Dying', Picador, Sydney; Auckland.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This is a major creative work, a novel of approximately 100,000 words. It was first published in Australia, the United Kingdom and New Zealand in May 2008, and has since been published in: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain (including a Catalonian language edition), Brazil, China, Israel, Canada and the USA; paperback editions, audio language editions and reprints have appeared in four of these countries and a film option has been sold. Critical acclaim for the novel in the form of reviews has appeared around the world; it has been endorsed by internationally best selling authors such as Cecilia Ahem and Wally Lamb; and in May 2009 the novel was longlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize for fiction. The Household Guide to Dyingis a contemporary story that examines the dilemma of premature death within a family, and uses a variety of narrative forms to deliver a tale that oscillates between humour and gravity. Letters, emails and extracts from other (fictional) works combine with a narrative of the immediate and distant past to give the reader a sense of the narrator's dislocation within a time of crisis. As a cultural artefact this novel is particularly important in three ways: it explores and challenges taboos regarding death and dying in contemporary culture; and it exploits the idea of the self-help industry in its satirising of the idea of a guide to dying, in which the ironic reference of the title becomes apparent. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it dramatises, and re-interrogates, issues of maternal nurturing and domestic work, including the related anxieties and dilemmas, that feminist theory has been concerned with since the new wave of feminism in the post-1960s.
Adelaide, D. 2007, ''no endings, no endings, no'', Southerly, Brandl & Schlesinger, Sydney, Australia, pp. 29-42.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
This piece of creative non-fiction takes its title from the final sentence of Thea Astley's final novel, Drylands (1999). The essay was praised by poet and literary critic Dr Michael Brennan for its 'intelligence and openness, for its ability to see into the heart of what reading, of what literature, gives us, to express a kind of reading both ofliterature and life ... critical as much as it is creative' (Southerly 671-2 launch). It was described by an Australian Book Review reviewer, Ian Templeman, as a 'powerfully engaging stor[y]' (ABR November 2007: 58). The essay is best described as a hybrid of memoir and literary criticism that blurs the boundaries between the genres and raises questions about the nature of reading in context. How reading is shaped, reformed or even deformed by the position of the reader is a topic raised in Astley's final novel in her depiction of an illiterate man who is taught to read by his librarian/writer partner. My essay, 'no endings no endings no', examines the way books are read in a family experiencing crisis, of a medical and emotional nature, and forms conclusions regarding the nature of the act of reading itself. It comprises part of my broader research topic regarding reading and readership, including reader reception, in the contemporary zone.
Adelaide, D. 2005, 'Portfolio of newpaper articles', The Australian; The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian; The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia.
View/Download from: UTS OPUS
These three pieces are a sample of the kind of writing I have been contributing to the Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald over the course of my professional career. They are generally on literary topics, and they seek to address matters of concern to the wider literary community, and in particular the community of readers, which in this country is a lively and healthy one. The Australian is a national publication with a weekend circulation of 307,390 copies (Audit Bureau of Circulations, date reported 14 August 2009). It is the country's only quality broadsheet national newspaper. The Books and Literary pages of these publications form a vital part of Australia's cultural life; in these pages debates are followed, issues are raised, authors are examined, texts are explored and interrogated in numerous ways that engage the reading community and in an intellectual level that arguably transcends academic boundaries in fresh and accessible ways. In such a context these publications of mine play an important role, mediating and delivering literary matters to a broad-based, informed and curious community.
Adelaide, D. 1998, 'Serpent dust', Vintage.
Adelaide, D. 1995, 'The Hotel Albatross', Random House.
Adelaide, D., 'Acts of Dog', Acts of Dog, Random House Australia, Sydney, Australia.
Adelaide, D., 'A Driveway of One's Own', Car Lovers, ABC Books, Sydney.
Adelaide, D., ''Desiring the Unknown'', Motherlove: stories of birth babies and beyond, Random House, Sydney; London.
Adelaide, D., 'The Signs', The Big Issue, Big Issue in Australia Ltd, Sydney; Melbourne.
Adelaide, D., 'The Ultimate Guide', New Books, Guy Pringle, London.
Adelaide, D., 'Portfolio of 'Plots', 'Not for Official Use', 'No One Comes to See Me Now''.
Research background The research is in the field of creative writing. Ross Gibson has argued that urban places, seemingly innocent of narrative, offer hidden stories. Peter Doyle has examined police photographs of people to uncover stories about marginalised people. Peter Robb's work shows that the surroundings in which people live, although appearing ordinary, can have dark corners that affect their characters. The research question for this project is: what techniques best support storytelling in ordinary spaces? Research contribution This work demonstrates that it is by discovering an unexpected representation of identity in the ordinary spaces that stories are set free. An enquiry into a cemetery detours into the silent spaces where people are buried but their monuments and headstones continue to supply story. An investigation into the processes of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages reveals that official records are unexpectedly ambiguous, and consequently identity is uncertain. The household of a famous dead author proves to be an eerie shrine, his partner living an empty, lonely existence within it. Research significance These projects were accepted for publication by the Black Inc-owned magazine the Monthly, and the refereed journal Griffith Review. One piece was later broadcast on ABC Radio (August 2011) and was the subject of a panel event I was invited to participate in, 'Such is Life', conducted by the National Library of Australia (7 September 2011)
Adelaide, D., 'Portfolio of 'The Master Shavers' Association of Paradise' and 'How to Mend a Broken Heart''.
Research background The research is in the field of creative writing. Dennis Schofield has argued that the second person voice inscribes the reader as the author. Mary Karr has used the second person voice to blur the boundaries between fiction and memoir. Jay MacInerney's fragile second person voice character is disconnected from his environment but directly accessible to the reader. These stories address the research question: which is the most appropriate voice (first, second, third person) to employ in representations of characters whose lives are vastly different from those of the author and reader? Research contribution Working on this project (including a number of drafts) demonstrated that the use of first person voice when presenting a character whose experiences are vastly different from those of the author and reader can sound implausible. The third person voice is too detached. The second person voice – used in the final versions of both these stories – can provoke empathy without risking tokenism. The reader cannot escape the imperative of 'you. Research significance Master Shavers' appeared in the Penguin collection A Country Too Far. How to Mend a Broken Heart appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend. I was invited to present on the Master Shavers' collection at the Perth Writers' Festival and seven other public events. The SMH reviewer wrote of a 'palpable sense of the writer's higher duties to truth telling and bearing witness'.

Other

Adelaide, D. 1991, 'Australian Women's Literature: A Bibliography to 1988'.