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LSE Space for thought literary festival past events

LSE Literary Festival 2014 -  Reflections|


Understanding the World: Religious and Secular Perspectives

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Saturday 1 March 2014, 11am-12.30pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE  

Arthur Bradley|, Reader in Comparative Literature, Department of English & Creative Writing, Lancaster University

Kenan Malik|, writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political, International and Policy Studies, University of Surrey  

Chair: Danielle Sands|, Visiting Lecturer, Department of English, QMUL and Forum for European Philosophy Fellow  

Sensationalist accounts of the relationship between religion and secularism tend to depict the two as locked in combat, profoundly incompatible in their worldviews. By addressing the concept of ‘Christian Europe’, this discussion explored the connections between the Christian legacy and the Enlightenment values which underpin secularism. In so doing, it aimed to provide both a more nuanced account of the relationship between religion and secularism, and a clearer sense of how religious and secular approaches inflect our experience and understanding of the world. 


Understanding the Self

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Friday 28 February 2014, 6.30 – 8pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE  

Mary Midgley|, philosopher and writer. She is the author of Are you an illusion?  

Jonathan Rée|, philosopher, writer and historian. He is a regular contributor to the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, Prospect, The Independent and The Guardian  

Raymond Tallis|, writer, philosopher and former physician and scientist. He is the author of Reflections of a Metaphysical Flaneur and Other Essays .  

Chair: Danielle Sands|, Visiting Lecturer, Department of English, QMUL and Forum for European Philosophy Fellow  

What is the self? Should we turn to philosophy, psychology or science in order to better understand it? Does the self even exist? In this panel, three thinkers responded to scientific claims that the self is an illusion, exposing the philosophical problems which such claims conceal. Returning us instead to the experience of selfhood, the speakers discussed alternatives both to reductive scientific accounts and to traditional philosophical concepts of the self. 

LSE Literary Festival 2013 - Branching Out|

PROMOboxBranching-out  |  

New Media and the Future of Literacy

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Saturday 2 March 2013, 7 – 8.30pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Miranda Glover|, group account director for FMI Group, she specialises in brand positioning, strategic digital comms, film and social media marketing. She is the author of Meanwhile Street

Charles Leadbeater|, leading authority on innovation and creativity. He is the author of We Think: The Power of Mass Creativity

Sam Riviere|, poet. His debut collection is 81 Austerities

Chair: Ellen Helsper|, Lecturer in Media and Communications, LSE

Some people have been struck by the aphoristic potential of Twitter. Others see developments in new media as bringing the era of the literature to an end. This panel will explore the way new media impacts on traditional literary and philosophical forms of writing and reading.  


The Silence of Animals

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Thursday 28 February 2013, 7 – 8.30pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

John Gray|, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, LSE and author of The Silence of Animals: On Progress and Other Modern Myths

Chair: George Gaskell|, Pro-Director of LSE and Professor of Social Psychology

Writers are mesmerised by forms of human extremity- experiences on the outer edge of the possible, or which tip into fantasy and myth. John Gray will explore the conundrum of our existence, which we decorate with countless myths and ideas to avoid acknowledging that we too are animals, separated from the others perhaps only by our self-conceit.  


Philosophy by Podcast

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Tuesday 26 February 2013, 6.30 – 8pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE 

David Edmonds|, Senior Research Associate, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

Nigel Warburton|, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, The Open University

Chair: Kristina Musholt|, LSE Fellow, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method and Deputy Director of the Forum for European Philosophy 

In the 5th century BC Socrates brought philosophy to the marketplace. Can this ancient branch of learning be rejuvenated by the technology of the 21st century? Philosophy Bites Back, a collection of conversations with leading scholars on major figures in the history of philosophy, is the second book from the team that brings you Philosophy Bites|, the hugely successful podcast that has now had 16 million downloads. 



LSE Literary Festival 2012 - Relating Cultures| 





Travelling the Known and the Unknown - how literature and photography change the world we see

This event was jointly organised with the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, LSE  |

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Saturday 3 March 2012, 3-4.30pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

Speakers: Horatio Clare|, Alex Gillespie|, Abigail King |

This panel will discuss the relationship between perceptions and realities of travel, and the influence of travel literature and photography on tourist experiences.

Horatio Clare |is an award-winning author, broadcaster, novelist and journalist. In 2008 he journeyed from South Africa to South Wales following migrating swallows, a journey he wrote about in A Single Swallow|. His latest expedition took him from Felixstowe to Los Angeles on a 150,000 tonne container ship. Horatio writes regularly for Conde Nast Traveller and various national newspapers.

Alex Gillespie |is a Lecturer in Social Psychology at LSE and Co-Editor of Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. He has over fifty publications, including three books. He is interested in tourism and tourist photography as an encounter with the other saturated in fantasy.

Abigail King |is an experienced journalist and photographer who writes about travel for both print and online media. She has circled the globe twice, camped in the snows of Kilimanjaro and Patagonia and tracked down tigers, turtles and panda bears. She's then had a hot shower and embraced the city life of New York, Rio, Paris and Tokyo.   

A Moment of Mishearing

Friday 2 March 2012, 6-8.30pm (including interval, with complimentary drinks)
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Speakers: Amit Chaudhuri|, Ian Jack |

Update, Wednesday 8 February: The format of this event has now changed, and the conversation will be followed by a performance by the Amit Chaudhuri band.

A conversation between award-winning Indian wrtier and musician Amit Chaudhuri| |and former Granta and Independent on Sunday editor Ian Jack|, will be followed by a performance by the five-piece Amit Chaudhuri Band.

Amit Chaudhuri's first CD 'This Is Not Fusion' (Times Music) was released in Britain on the award-winning independent jazz label Babel, and received excellent reviews from some of the most considerable music publications in the UK.  He is the only Indian musician to have performed twice at the prestigious London Jazz Festival and he has played in Beijing, Berlin, Lille, Brussels, Frankfurt, and at various venues in Britain - notably the Hay on Wye Festival, the Brecon Jazz Festival, the Big Sky Jazz Festival and the South Bank Centre. His second CD, 'Found Music', came out in October 2010 in the UK from Babel to great acclaim.  Since 2005, Amit Chaudhuri, with The Amit Chaudhuri Band, has appeared at many world-wide venues.

"The Beatles' Norwegian Wood sung as a Hindustani raga gives some idea of the breathtaking eclectics of Calcutta-based writer-musician Amit Chaudhuri's second album. It breathes life into what has become a bit of a tired old classic and makes you listen to it anew. The same can be said of his reinterpretations of Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys... The fusion of found sound with inventive musicianship and scat-like delivery makes this a quirky offering which merits repeat listening."
Len Phelan, The Morning Star.

"Sublime music"
Wall Street Journal

"Chaudhuri is a wonderful singer - without any qualification such as 'considering his distinction as a writer.' There is a sense of calm, a simplicity, an inwardness to his singing which deeply appeals to me."
Vikram Seth

"Amit Chaudhuri is one of the most talented musicians in the country today".
N. Radhakrishnan, Rolling Stone Magazine India.  

Poetry Unites

This event was jointly organised with the LSE Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, LSE  |

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Thursday 1 March 2012, 6.30-8pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Speakers: Phillip Gross|, Sarah Salway|, Ewa Zadrzynska |

Update: Friday 13 January: Due to unforeseen circumstances Michal Rusinek |is no longer able to take part in this event.

The Poetry Unites| project consists of a series of five-minute films shown on TV, the Internet and in cinemas, in which a poetry lover speaks about his or her life in the context of presenting a favourite poem.  This project with a literary dimension reveals both similarities and differences between people. By offering intimate insights into the mind of another person, it contributes to mutual understanding among European citizens. The films bring together millions of people who would otherwise probably never have had contact with each other and therefore would never have seen how much they have in common.

In this event, poetry readings, including film clips from the Poetry Unites project, will be followed by a discussion of the importance of poetry in people's everyday lives.

The event will conclude with a short prize-giving presentation for the LSESU Lit Soc Poetry Competition 2011/12| and the announcement and distribution of the second edition of the student led publication, Philosoverse| which is supported by the LSE Annual Fund| and the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at LSE|.

The event will be followed by a reception and Poetry Slam (a live, high-energy, interactive stand-up poetry competition), organised by Sam Berkson|

Philip Gross |is a writer of many parts – poet, writer of thought-provoking fiction for young people, haiku and schools opera libretti, plays and radio short stories. His poetry up to and including the Whitbread-Prize-shortlisted The Wasting Game is collected in Changes of Address since when Bloodaxe have published three more collections, the latest of which, The Water Table, won the TS Eliot Prize. I Spy Pinhole Eye, with photographs by Simon Denison was the English-language winner of Wales Book Of The Year. A new collection, Deep Field|, appeared in November 2011 and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He is the author of ten teenage novels - most recently The Storm Garden. His children's poetry includes The All-Nite Café which won the Signal Award 1994, and Off Road To Everywhere, the CLPE Award for children's poetry 2011. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Glamorgan University.

Michal Rusinek |is an author and academic at Jagiellonian University, as well as secretary to Nobel prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska.

Canterbury Laureate and Chair of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society, Sarah Salway |has run many community writing projects, and is currently co-ordinating a major intergenerational writing project, Wise Words, with the University of Kent and Canterbury Christ Church College. She is the author of three novels and two collections of short stories, one co-written with Lynne Rees which was turned into an international Internet collaboration. Her poems have been published widely, including the Financial Times, The Virago Book of the Joy of Shopping, Pen International, and she has just published her first poetry collection, You Do Not Need Another Self-Help Book| (Pindrop Press). She is a regular contributor to Psychologies Magazine, and is an RLF Fellow at LSE.

Ewa Zadrzynska |is a journalist , writer and a film maker. She worked for 4 years for the New York Times. She has published two children's books in the USA and many of her short stories have been included in short story collections in the USA and Poland. She has created for the Evens Foundation, the project Poetry Unites-My Favorite Poem and for the last 5 years she has directed 77 film profiles which are broadcast on Polish National TV once a week. 

'Angry' Sam Berkson |has been performing poetry on the live scene since 2002. He has won the Brighton Festival Slam and the Liverpool Capital of Culture Slam, as well as featuring at various gigs and festivals, including Hay-on-Wye, Latitude, Bestival and Secret Garden Party. He has been a visiting poet for the University of Alberta, Canada and the KAOS Pilots international school in Denmark.  He organises live events for Hammer & Tongue, the largest promoters of slam poetry in the U.K, who will be running a National Slam Final at  Wilton's Music Hall on 31st March 2012.   


LSE Literary Festival 2011 - Crossing Borders|

Writing Across Borders: Empathy in the Age of Conflict

Friday 18 February 2011, 7 - 8.30pm
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Elif Shafak|, Award-winning writer and best-selling female novelist in Turkey

Chair: Şevket Pamuk, Chair of Contemporary Turkish Studies, European Institute, LSE

Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak| is a Turkish writer and the best-selling female novelist in Turkey. She has published novels written in Turkish as well as English, including The Bastard of Istanbul| which was longlisted for the Orange prize.

Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages around the world. Shafak's work blends Western and Eastern traditions of storytelling to generate a fiction that is both local and universal. Her work draws on diverse cultures and literary traditions, as well as deep interest in history, philosophy and oral culture. Shafak's writing has been defiant of bigotry and xenophobia, deeply involved in feminism, Sufism, individualism and Ottoman culture, with 'a particular genius for depicting backstreet Istanbul'.

Storytelling is an ancient and universal art at the heart of which lies the need to imagine and the ability to empathize with others. In a world beset with cultural clashes, misunderstandings and invisible ghettoes, stories keep connecting us across worlds, across words. Women have always been great storytellers in my country, and yet the written culture is still "a man's world".

Why do fewer women write even though they compose the majority of fiction readers today? How can stories connect us across boundaries – be it national, religious or gender boundaries.  


The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death

Saturday 19 February 2011, 5 - 6.30
Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

John Gray|, Emeritus Professor of European Thought, LSE

Chair: Simon Glendinning|, Reader in European Philosophy, European Institute, LSE and Director of the Forum for European Philosophy

John Grey

John Gray| is most recently the acclaimed author of Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia, and Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals. Having been Professor of Politics at Oxford, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics, he now writes full time. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, were published by Penguin in 2009.

The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death| is published in February 2011.

During the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century science became the vehicle for an assault on death. The power of knowledge was summoned to free humans of their mortality. Science was used against science and became a channel for faith.

Science had disclosed a world in which humans were no different from other animals in facing final oblivion when they died and eventual extinction as a species. That was the message of Darwinism, not fully accepted even by Darwin himself. For nearly everyone it was an intolerable vision, and since most had given up religion they turned to science for escape from the world that science had revealed.

In Britain a powerful and well-connected movement sprang up aiming to find scientific evidence that human personality survived bodily death. Psychical researchers, supported by some of the leading figures of the day, believed immortality might be a demonstrable fact. At the same time that sections of the English elite were being drawn into psychical research another anti-death movement was emerging in Russia. As in England science and the paranormal were not separate, but mingled in a current of thought that aimed to create a substitute for religion.

Science and faith have interacted at many points. They came together in two revolts against death, each claiming that science could give humanity what religion had promised – immortal life.  


Literature and Islamophobia: Dutch Muslim Authors Speak Out

Saturday 19 February 2011, 6.30-8pm
Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building, LSE

Speakers: Şenay Özdemir|, Naema Tahir| 
Chair: Luc Bovens|, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method,LSE   

Senay Ozdemir

Naema Tahir

Şenay Özdemir| (born in Turkey) is a Senior Fellow in the Osgood Center for International studies in Washington DC, the founder of the online SEN magazine – a magazine for Mediterranean women residing in the Netherlands – and was a guest lecturer in the Journalism School in the University of Texas in 2009-10. Her first novel, De Harsculb (The Waxclub) was published in 2009.

Naema Tahir| (born in Slough, Great-Britain, of Pakistani descent) also practiced as a human rights lawyer for the United Nations and the Council of Europe and is a guest lecturer in Leiden University and the Middelburg Roosevelt Academy. Her novels include A muslimwoman unveils and Little Green Riding Hood and the Converted Wolf.

There are few places in Europe in which the voices of multiculturalism and Islamophobia have clashed more forcefully than in the Netherlands, often in the most dramatic ways. To name just a few, Pim Fortuyn, Theo Van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and most recently Geert Wilders have been very much in the international press over the last decade.

Migrant fiction writers from Muslim backgrounds have played an important role in the debate. We explored how they see their art as a tool to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue and political discourse about integration.

Our panel consisted of two bestselling women Muslim writers living and working in the Netherlands.

This event was organised by theLSE Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method| with the support of the Dutch Foundation for Literature|, the Forum for European Philosophy| and the Migration Studies Unit|