Wednesday, February 15, 2012

‘Free Speech and Literature’ night class begins 28 February

English PEN Bulletin

‘Free Speech and Literature’ night class begins 28 February

As Salman Rushdie is prevented from attending the Jaipur Literary Festival, Shakespeare is banned in Arizona schools, and Chinese poet Zhu Yufu is sentenced to seven years imprisonment for writing a poem... English PEN launches its latest series of night classes on literature and censorship.

Free Speech and Literature, a collaboration with the Bishopsgate Institute, considers some of the best known and most dramatic challenges to free speech: attacks on poems, plays and novels.  Attendees will consider how creative freedom operates for different audiences and spaces, and will have the opportunity to experiment with creative as well as critical responses to the literature.  Guest speakers will guide course-goers through the current threats to creative freedom and new opportunities to expand the space for free speech.

The six week course costs £89 (£67 concessions) and begins on Tuesday 28th February.  You can book your place on the course via the Bishopsgate Institute website or by calling 020 7392 9200.

The course will be led by Dr Sophie Mayer.  In an article for Free Word, she writes:

"The history of banning, burning and bowdlerising books ... is also the history of their survival: the censor’s power is often terrible, but not final. It can also remind us to treasure the power of the word, which will always outwit the censor who invests it with power by their censorship."
Jonathan Heawood, Director of English PEN, says:

"In many respects, the history of literature and the history of free speech are one and the same, and the willingness of those in authority to censor poems, plays and novels shows just how powerful they are.  We are delighted to be running this course with the Bishopsgate Institute once again, giving attendees an opportunity to engage deeply with these essential literary issues."

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