Arts & Culture

Birmingham Literature Festival 2019: My Top Picks

1:00 pm - 3:00 pm | 05 October 2019
Midlands Arts Centre | £10

We are living in a time of change and uncertainty, and it puts into question the purpose of events such as the Birmingham Literature Festival. When conversations about Austerity, Brexit, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, refugees, xenophobia, racism, the rise of fascism, the privatisation of the NHS, the housing crisis and climate change are front and centre, we can’t help but reflect on how creative writing and reading can give us strength and a voice in challenging times. Literature and the arts are important in all our lives, and we work hard to create a festival that is relevant and reflective of the conversations people are having today.

As always, the programme is packed with highlights from many different writers and creatives. With events about sex, politics, the supernatural, grief, real-life parenting, the Windrush scandal, activism, mental health, dystopian stories, exile and disconnection, democracy, feminism, masculinity, money and psychology (to name a few!) you’re sure to find something which intrigues and excites you.

My Top Picks:

  • Homecoming: Voices of the Windrush Generation – Saturday 5th October 2019, 1:00 PM @ Midlands Arts Centre, Birmingham, B12 9QH

The arrival of the SS Empire Windrush and her passengers from the Caribbean on 22nd June 1948 marked a seminal moment in Britain’s history. After a call-out for help after the Second World War, over 400 men and women came to the UK to help rebuild the country, and their settlement has continued to enrich our social, cultural, economic and political landscape and shape our identity ever since.

Then in 2018, the Windrush scandal burst to the surface, exposing a deeply disturbing truth about modern Britain.

Hosted by poet and presenter Sue Brown, writer Colin Grant and award-winning journalist Amelia Gentleman will discuss the real-life stories from this generation of pioneers and Amelia’s tenacious, investigative and campaigning journalism which uncovered a scandal that shook the nation. Purchase your £10 tickets here

  • Boys Will Be Boys: Confronting Power, Patriarchy and Toxic Masculinity – Saturday 5th October 2019, 8:00 PM @ The Bradshaw Hall, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, B4 7XR

The topic of masculinity is being discussed more than ever before, and across a wide range of contexts. From the #MeToo movement to the new Gillette razor ad released in January 2019 ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Be’ – our understanding of masculinity is changing. The concept of ‘manliness’ and ‘traditional
masculine ideology’ is now under a very public microscope, and long-held beliefs about what it means to be a man are being challenged.

Masculinity is changing and being redefined, and people talking about ‘toxic masculinity’ claim that there is a crisis in masculinity or argue that we need to ‘reclaim masculinity’.

Join best-selling author and fearless feminist Clementine Ford (Boys Will Be Boys), writer, poet and lyricist Jamie Thrasivoulou, and Darren Chetty and Iesha Small – two writers and educators who have developed and contributed to a new book called What is Masculinity? Why Does It Matter? And Other Big Questions.

Our panel will discuss gender equality, and the big questions surrounding definitions of masculinity, including where ideas of masculinity have come from and the effects of gender stereotyping. Purchase your tickets (£10 – £12) here

  • Redefining the Classics – Saturday 12th October 2019, 3:00 PM @ Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham, B3 3BS

We are living in a time when traditional ways of thinking are challenged. From debates about climate change to the rights of LGBTQ individuals, emancipatory struggles are pushing for a more diverse and inclusive worldview. What literature belongs to this brave new world? What established works of literature should no longer be taught? Should there be a canon at all?

At this event we discuss ground-breaking research by Professor Van Dalen-Oskam (Huijgens Institute,
Amsterdam), that shows there is a shocking unconscious gender bias in our literary value judgment. Our Guest Writer will also discuss a ‘woke canon’ from a writer’s point of view, and you will also have the chance to take part in a pilot study testing a survey for the BBC programme ‘The 100 Novels That Shaped Our World’.

With Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam (Huijgens Institute, Amsterdam), Professor Sebastian Groes
(English Literature, Wolverhampton) and Olivia White (English Literature, Wolverhampton) who discusses her research into neglected black women’s writing in the Sixties (including Sylvia Winter and Beryl Gilroy) and the possibility of a woke UK canon. This event is FREE. Please book your place here

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.