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Literary Festival 2014: Where's the Wrath Now?


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Speaker(s): Stephen Fender, Patrick Flanery, Maggie Gee, Professor John Sutherland
Chair: Michael Caines

Recorded on 25 February 2014 in Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building.

This panel will celebrate the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck’s Great Depression novel The Grapes of Wrath discussing its legacy and asking, given the contemporary social and political climate, where’s the wrath now?

Stephen Fender was born in San Francisco. As a teenager he worked alongside Okies on ranches in the San Joaquin Valley, and has never forgot their gritty sense of humour and their inventive use of the English language. He holds degrees from Stanford, Wales and the University of Manchester, and has taught at the University of Santa Clara, Williams and Dartmouth Colleges, the University of Edinburgh, University College London and the University of Sussex, where he was professor and chair of American studies from 1985 to 2001. His books include a study of the rhetoric of the California gold rush, called Plotting the Golden West (1982) and Sea Changes: British Emigration and American Literature (1992). His most recent book, Nature Class and New Deal Literature (2011), about how the American country poor got treated in the novels, documentary photographs and bureaucratic prose of the New Deal liberals, includes a long chapter on Steinbeck. He is now Honorary Professor of English at University College London.

Patrick Flanery (@PFlaneryAuthor) was born in California in 1975 and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. He studied Film at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and earned a PhD in Twentieth-Century English Literature at the University of Oxford. He contributes articles to a number of academic journals and he has written for Slightly Foxed, the Daily Telegraph and The Times Literary Supplement. His first novel, Absolution (Atlantic Books), was published to critical acclaim in 2012 and his second Fallen Land in 2013.

Maggie Gee (@maggiegeewriter) has written twelve novels, including The White Family, shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the International Impac Prize, The Ice People (revised edition 2008), and two linked satires about Britain and Uganda, My Cleaner and My Driver (2009). She has also written an acclaimed writer’s memoir, My Animal Life and a collection of short stories, The Blue.

 Maggie is vice president of the Royal Society of Literature and was its first female chair of council, 2004-2008. Her books have been translated into 13 languages including Chinese, and she is professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University. Her new novel, Virginia Woolf in Manhattan, is a comedy that brings Virginia Woolf back to life in the 21st century in Manhattan and Istanbul.

Professor John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor at UCL. He has taught at Edinburgh University, the California Institute of Education and UCL. His many books include Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives and Jumbo: The Unauthorised Biography of a Victorian Sensation. He is well known as a journalist and reviewer and was the chair of the Man Booker Prize committee in 2005.

Michael Caines is an editor at the Times Literary Supplement.

This event forms part of LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2014, taking place from Monday 24 February - Saturday 1 March 2014, with the theme 'Reflections'.

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