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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 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; the advisory board of the international journal, Literary Journalism Studies, and has been a judge of the UN Media Peace Awards since 2015. She was a committee member of the American-Australian Fulbright Awards, NSW Selection Committee, from 2003-2007. 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) 


  • 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 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.

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Willa McDonald is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2009 2019

Research Outputs 2000 2019

A call to action: Behrouz Boochani's Manus Island prison narratives

McDonald, W., 2019, Still here: memoirs of trauma, illness and loss. Avieson, B., Giles, F. & Joseph, S. (eds.). New York ; London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, p. 238-254 17 p. (Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature; no. 98).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

correctional institution

Giving voice: a different teaching approach to life writing

McDonald, W., 2019, (Accepted/In press) New and experimental approaches to writing lives. Parnell, J. (ed.). Palgrave Macmillan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Having your story and data too: the Australian Colonial Narrative Journalism Database

McDonald, W. & Avieson, B., 2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Literary journalism studies. 11, 1

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Data Base
Cultural Memory

Redressing the silence: racism, trauma, and Aboriginal women's life writing

McDonald, W., 2018, Mediating memory: tracing the limits of memoir. Avieson, B., Giles, F. & Joseph, S. (eds.). New York ; London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, p. 284-298 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review


The IALJS and LJS: decade of pioneering scholars and the new wave

McDonald, W., 2018, In : Literary journalism studies. 10, 2, p. 73 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/opinionResearchpeer-review

Open Access