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Bard College Berlin Presents
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Faculty Colloquium - "Pens and Guns: Literary Sponsorships and Cultural Cold War Armadas" 

Bard College Berlin Cafeteria, Waldstr. 70, Berlin - Pankow


A talk by Monica Popescu (McGill University)

This talk proceeds from debates regarding the function of the writer in society during the second half of the twentieth century, asking, in Lewis Nkosi’s words, whether writers should “separate the problem of gun-running from the problem of wielding the pen.” Are writers autonomous intellectuals, dissident figures that maintain their distance from the powers that be, concerned only with their craft? Or are they committed citizens who, by wielding pens and guns with equal adroitness, participate directly in decolonization struggles and the development of new societies? Cultural diplomacy programs financed by the superpowers and writers’ attempts to bypass such influences shaped the divergent positions on the role of the writer in society. Looking at how the USA and the USSR attempted to sway African writers to their side, I discuss both the subtle and direct forms of pressure the superpowers exercised. 

Monica Popescu is Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar of African Literatures at McGill University. She is the author of South African Literature Beyond the Cold War (which won the 2012 Gustave O. Arlt Award in the Humanities) and The Politics of Violence in Post-Communist Films, and co-editor of a special issue of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing on Alternative Solidarities: Black Diasporas and Cultural Alliances during the Cold War. Together with Katie Zien and Sandeep Banerjee, she is the Series Editor for the Routledge Series in Cultures of the Global Cold War. She has published articles on African culture and the Cold War, postcommunist cultures, post-apartheid literature and nationalism. She is currently finishing a book manuscript entitled “African Literatures, Postcolonial Cultures and the Cold War” (under contract with Duke University Press). 

Date & time: Tuesday, November 6, 2018, from 12:30pm
Venue: Bard College Berlin Cafeteria
Waldstr. 70, Berlin - Pankow

Contact information:  communications@berlin.bard.edu

Location: Bard College Berlin Cafeteria, Waldstr. 70, Berlin - Pankow

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