Saturday, January 7, 2006

Inspirational Friends II

The next inspirational person I want to write about is an author named Gillian Polack.

Gillian is one of the most talented authors I know, but that isn't why I want to write about her. Gillian also happens to be my best friend, but that isn't why I want to write about her either. The reason I want to write about Gillian is because she has done so many wonderful things to help so many people, and I don't think she's received anything like the credit she deserves for it.

And though she will probably want to murder me for doing it, there's no way to elaborate on Gillian's inspirational qualities without elaborating on her background. You see, Gillian is an historian; a medieval historian, with a graduate degree in Medieval Studies, and an Ph.D. in Medieval History. She also has a diploma in Adult Education, and she's an advocate for women's rights, among other things. Too many other things to discuss here, but suffice to say that her CV runs more than seven pages long, and all of it is impressive.

The thing that makes Gillian inspirational is that she doesn't use her impressive credentials to isolate herself from those of us lesser beings who lack them; instead she uses them to help people from every walk of life so that they too can reap the benefits of becoming better educated. The list of Gillian's accomplishments is even longer than her CV, so it isn't practical to even attempt to list them. But here are a few of the highlights - some past; some current, but taken together, an amazing number:

  • Founder, with Helen Leonard, Australia's Women's History Month
  • Editorial Advisor, Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus
  • Australian NGO Working Group, UN World Conference Against Racism
  • Co-Convenor and Advisor, Understanding Women’s Human Rights.
  • Convenor, Once and Future: Medieval & Modern Arthurian Literature Seminar, National Jewish Centre, Canberra, Australia.
  • Deputy Convenor, Steering Committee, CAPOW! (Network of over 60 women’s organisations)
  • Education & Training Working Group, Australian NGO Representation, UN Beijing + 5 Meeting
  • H-France Editorial Board
  • Australian Non Government Organisation Co-ordination Group for the UN CEDAW working groups.
  • Member, Ministerial Advisory Council on Women, ACT (2003-5).
  • National Committee, Women’s History Month, Australia 2000-2004.
  • National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, National Board portfolio: Cultural change & leadership.
  • Status of Women Chair, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (1991-1999).
  • Steering Committee & Co-Convenor Education, Women’s Human Rights - Women Wise Up, Australian Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, 2001.
  • Vice-President & National Director, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (1994-1997).

A Selection of Gillian's Fiction
  • Illuminations – a novel. Trivium Publishing, Dec 2002.
  • The Art of Effective Dreaming. Trivium Publishing (forthcoming).
  • Horrible Historians. Subterranean magazine, forthcoming, Fall 2006.
  • Happy Faces for Happy Families. Encounters, CSFG Publishing 2004; online in The Deepening, Dec 2005.
  • Impractical magic. Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Edition, no. 17 2005.
  • Plus other pieces of short fiction, one of which won a Government of Victoria Australia Day Award.

A Selection of Gillian's Nonfiction
  • A brief introduction to Medieval Jewish Arthurian literature. GrailQuest ’99 Conference Proceedings.
  • Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Issue 15, vol 3, no 3, Oct/Nov 2004.
  • An Exploration of Jewish Fairytales. Fables & Reflections Issue 7 2005.
  • Canberra's Fire. In Stories of Strength, ed. J. Glatzer, 2005.
  • Chanson de Geste. Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs. Ed. C Lindahl et. al. ABC-CLIO, 2000.
  • Ghosts and fairies in the Middle Ages. Trivium Publishing.
  • How Fiction Writers Use the Middle Ages. AntiTHESIS, May 2005.
  • How Not to Hate Research. Truly. SF and Fantasy Workshop, vol 25, no. 290, Dec 2005.
  • Immersed in a sea of perplexed thoughts: some ideas on a Medieval text. Once and Future: Medieval and Modern Arthurian Literature 2000.
  • International folk dance in Canberra, Australia. Newfolk. New Directions in Folklore. The Impromptu Journal Issue IV, March 2000.
  • King Arthur in Our Mind's Eye (and on our bookshelves). Trivium Publishing.
  • Languages in Medieval England. Trivium Publishing.
  • Living History Through Fiction. Jan 2004.
  • Medieval French food for the Jewish New Year. Trivium Publishing.
  • Modern Feminism and the Medieval Arthurian Romance - a reflection. Once and Future: Medieval and Modern Arthurian Literature 2000 pp.14-20.
  • Researching your Family History.. The Canberra Writer, May 2002.
  • Them's Fighting Words: Old French Insults. Trivium Publishing.
  • Thoughts on Women's History: 2004 - Online Women's History Month. Feb 2004.
  • William of Orange. Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs. Ed. C Lindahl et. al. ABC-CLIO, 2000.
  • Women’s History Month. ACT History Teacher’s Association Newsletter and Review. Sept 2002.
  • Women’s History. Op ed piece, Canberra Times, March 2002.
  • Once and Future: Medieval and Modern Arthurian Literature. The Arthurian Association of Australia, Occasional Papers. Vol 1, 2000 (editor & contributor).
  • Review of Barron W.R.J., & Glyn S Burgess Eds The Voyage of St Brendan: Representative Versions of the Legend in English Translation, Parergon, vol 22, no. 2, July 2005 pp. 190-2.
  • Review of Harbus, A. Helena of Britain in Medieval Legend, Parergon, Vol. 22, No. 2, July 2005, pp 221-3.
  • Review of Holden A.J. ed., History of William Marshall, vol 1, Text & Translation, Parergon, vol 22, no 2, July 2005, pp 223-5.
  • Ticonderoga Online 5, guest column, Oct 2005.
A Selection of Gillians Recent Workshops, Conferences, and Presentations
  • Panellist, Canberra Literary Festival, Sept 2005.
  • Invited guest, Oracle Think.com Writers' Festival (international, online) Aug 2005.
  • Panellist at Continuum, Melbourne Science Fiction Convention July 2005.
  • Writing Using the Five Senses, online workshop, Edit Zone, May-June 2005.
  • Panellist at Conflux, Canberra Science Fiction Convention April 2005.
  • Panellist at Continuum Science Fiction Convention Melbourne, July 2005.
  • Medieval History for Fiction Writers, seminar series, NSW Writers' Centre, Feb 2005.
  • Living in a multicultural Jewish society, National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, Oct 2004.
  • Presentation - Jewish Museum of Australia, Melbourne: Medieval and Renaissance Jewish Women, Sept 2004.
  • Canberra Jewish Community, presentation on Australian Jewish culinary history, July 2004.
  • Conflux, National Science Fiction Convention, Canberra 2004 – panellist.
  • ACT Literary Festival Sept 2004.
  • Panellist at Conflux, National Science Fiction Convention, 2004.
  • Canberra Jewish Community, presentation on Australian Jewish culinary history, July 2004.
  • Magic Casements, NSW Writers’ Centre, guest, Sept 2003.
  • Cross-Cultural workshop. Nat'l Council of Jewish Women of Victoria. Training Jewish community leaders, Sept 2003.
  • Guest of Honour: Sydney Science Fiction Weekend, May 2003.
  • Rashi's Middle Ages, Featured Speaker, July 2003, Canberra Jewish Community.
  • Special guest speaker, Interdepartmental Seminar, University of Connecticut, April 2003.
  • Guest presenter, The Williams School, Connecticut, April 2003.
  • Convenor and moderator, Women’s (Online) History Forum, March 2003.
  • Featured speaker, Theosophical Society, Nov 2002.
  • Understanding and making use of the Australian political system. Workshops. Nat'l Council of Jewish Women of Australia, Sydney. Aug 2002.
  • Trust The Women - Women's Constitutional Convention. Workshop: Principles of religious freedom in our Constitution. 2002.
  • Speaker, Canberra Science Fiction Convention, May 2002.
  • Convenor and moderator, Women’s (Online) History Forum, March 2002.
  • Judaism, featured Speaker, Rosicrucian Society, May 2001.
  • Invited seminar, Jewish Museum of Australia, Melbourne, April 2001: Jews in the Middle Ages.
  • The practice of Judaism in Australia, featured speaker, Theosophical Society, Nov 2000.
  • Convenor. Once and Future: Medieval and Modern Arthurian Literature. National Jewish Centre, Oct 2000. Arthurian Association of Australia.
  • Presentations on Jewish history and culture, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, 2000.
  • Convenor & moderator, Women’s (Online) History Forum, March 2000.

This is just a small selection of Gillian's accomplishments (it's hard to believe there are more, but there are!), but I think they give a good picture of the wonderful ways in which Gillian uses her gifts to improve the world -- and heaven knows, the world can use all the inspiration it can get!

For more information (and some excellent receipes) take a look at Gillian's blog.

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