Literature student on the path to Oxford

1 Dec 2017
Damien with UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj

A passion for bringing English literature to the public has led to a Rhodes Scholarship for University of Queensland (UQ) student Damian Maher.

Damian began his academic studies at UQ with a degree in economics and art, before completing an honours degree in English literature.

“I started in economics and law, but realised that literature is my passion,” he said.

“At Oxford, I’ll be studying a Masters in modern and contemporary literature, and hope to follow that with a doctorate in literature.”

His honours thesis at UQ focused on poetry, looking at themes of forgiveness and “how we can respect one another’s differences and still co-exist”.

Damian plans to use what he learns at the University of Oxford to launch a career in literature and the humanities, focussing on public accessibility and knowledge.

“Public-facing opportunities are where the humanities' strength really lies,” he said.

“If we’re not jointly reading, sharing and talking about books, what good can they do?”

Damian credits the support of his supervisor Professor Peter Holbrook and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Acting Executive Dean Professor Julie Duck for his successful scholarship application.

UQ President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Høj congratulated Damian on winning the prestigious scholarship.

“Damian is a fantastic representative of UQ, and has a long history of academic success, starting with winning the UQ Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship when he first joined the University,” he said.

“Damian’s passion for the humanities is clear. In fact, he is responsible for a revival of UQ’s oldest student magazine, Galmahra, which originally included contributions from noted Australian literary figures Thea Astley, David Malouf and Judith Wright.

“Damian follows in the footsteps of almost 100 Rhodes scholars from UQ, and we look forward to seeing the impact he will make at Oxford.”

Professor Duck said she was delighted to hear of Damian’s success.

“Damian is unquestionably a leader for the world’s future and I can think of no better recipient for this distinguished scholarship than our own prized humanities graduate,” she said.

The Rhodes Scholarships, founded in 1902, offers nine scholarships in Australia each year – one for each state and three for Australia at large. The scholarship is tenable at the University of Oxford, and includes an additional personal stipend and travelling expenses for successful applicants. Information on applying can be found here.     

Media: Gillian Ievers,, 3346 1634, UQ Communication,, 3365 3439.