Personal profile


Dr Willa McDonald - BA/LLB, PhD (Australian Studies) - is Senior Lecturer in Media at Macquarie University where she researches and teaches 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.  Willa's research areas include life writing (memoir and biography), narrative/literary journalism, and Australian journalism history. She is the chief author of the Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism Database, now available on AustLit, and she is a co-founding editor of the international book series on literary journalism published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Willa’s books are:

  • Literary Journalism in Colonial Australia (forthcoming 2023, Palgrave Macmillan),
  • Literary Journalism and Social Justice (with Robert Alexander, 2022, Palgrave Macmillan)
  • 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 vice-president of the International Association of Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS) which has members from 24 countries, across five continents. She is on the advisory board of the international journal, Literary Journalism Studies. She served 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 welcomes postgraduate students in creative non-fiction and fiction writing, life writing (including biography and memoir), narrative/literary journalism (practice and history), nature and place writing, travel writing, ethics in writing, and long and short narrative storytelling generally.


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