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Personal profile


Dr Willa McDonald - BA/LLB, PhD (Australian Studies) - is Senior Lecturer in Media at Macquarie University where she teaches and researches creative non-fiction writing and narrative journalism. A former journalist, she has worked in print, television and radio, including for the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bulletin, the Times on Sunday, ABC TV and ABC Radio National. She is currently writing a cultural history of colonial Australian literary journalism, and co-editing an academic collection on social justice and literary journalism, both for Palgrave Macmillan. She is the chief author of the Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism Database, now available on AustLit. Willa’s books are: Warrior for Peace: Dorothy Auchterlonie Green (2009, Australian Scholarly Publishing) and The Writer’s Reader: Understanding Journalism and Non-fiction (with Susie Eisenhuth, 2007, Cambridge University Press).  


Willa is a member of the executive of the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS); the MQ Arts Faculty Board and the advisory board of the international journal, Literary Journalism Studies. She was on the 2018 UN Day Media Award Committee– Promotion of Empowerment of Children and Young People, the UNAA Media Awards Committee – Television News and Current Affairs (2015-17) and the American-Australian Fulbright Awards - NSW Selection Committee (5-year appointment 2003-2007 inclusive).Her memberships include: the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS); the Australian Association of Writing Programs, the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JERAA), and the Australian and New Zealand Communication Associaiton (ANZCA) 


  • 2019 - Longlisted for Calibre Essay Prize run by Australian Book Review.
  • 2015 - Best Article in Literary Journalism Studies Prize by the International Association for Literary Journalism Studies.
  • 2009 - MQ Arts Faculty Higher Degree Research Award
  • 2007 - SCMP Award for Excellence in Student Engagement in 2007
  • 2000 - Letter of Congratulations from Vice-Chancellor on the excellence of her PhD thesis (the practice at the time in lieu of formal prizes or commendations)

Research Interests

Willa is currently working on several research projects including a history of narrative/literary journalism in colonial Australia to be published by Palgrave Macmillan and an edited academic collection on social justice and literary journalism.

She welcomes postgraduate students in Australian journalism/media history, narrative/literary journalism (practice and history), creative non-fiction, life writing (including biography and memoir), fiction, nature and place writing, travel writing, ethics in writing, and long and short narrative storytelling generally.


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