What if Wednesdays - Free public lectures, twice monthly

The University of Canterbury holds free public lectures on campus, twice a month on Wednesdays from 7.00pm.

The What if Wednesdays (WIW) public lecture series will run from March to October in 2014. This year the series will be held twice a month with interesting topics and speakers from the University of Canterbury.

Should you wish to revisit any of the WIW lectures from earlier this year or 2013, you can view them via our YouTube channel.

Upcoming Lectures

22 October

What if... a New Zealand writer won the Nobel Prize for Literature?

Professor Paul Millar, Head of School of Humanities and Creative Arts

  • Why was Katherine Mansfield never considered for the Nobel Prize for Literature?
  • Has New Zealand ever had any serious contenders for the prize?
  • Which current practising New Zealand writer is the strongest candidate for the prize?
  • What should a young New Zealand writer do to become a contender for the prize?
  • What would a New Zealander winning the Nobel Prize for Literature tell us about the state of New Zealand writing?

It seems the key criteria for winning the Nobel Prize for Literature is staying alive long enough to collect it; no writer younger than 42 has ever won the award. It also helps if the wielder of the pen is male; of the 110 Nobel laureates only 13 have been women. For both of these reasons the odds of winning a Nobel Prize for Literature were always strongly against New Zealand’s greatest writer, Katherine Mansfield.

In this lecture Paul Millar discusses what it takes to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and identifies a number of the great writers of New Zealand literary history who had things in common with past winners and might have been strong contenders for such a prize. He also identifies some fatal flaws that might have prejudiced their selection. Millar concludes by looking at the work of a number of New Zealand’s major living writers and calculating the odds of New Zealand adding a Nobel Prize for Literature to the two Man Booker prizes already on the national trophy shelf.

This is the last What if Wednesdays lecture for 2014.

Register now!