Class and Contemporary UK Writing
British Council Literature Seminar, 16–18 March 2023 at Oyoun Berlin
Having explored the topic of diversity in UK literature in the context of race and gender in 2017 and 2018, we are thrilled that Bernardine Evaristo, the renowned writer, academic and Man Booker Prize Winner 2019, will chair the British Council Literature Seminar in 2023.
The hierarchy of class is deeply embedded into the structures of British society and affects every aspect of our lives. Although the United Kingdom has become a more progressive and socially mobile society, it is nonetheless far from fulfilling an egalitarian dream. We are still a nation rife with inequality of lifestyle, education, opportunity and economic prosperity, especially as it pertains to and disadvantages the working classes. The literature industry has traditionally been a middle class occupation, a fact that extends from those who work in publishing houses, to the authors themselves. Historically excluded from working within publishing, working class people might encounter an array of obstacles to getting published. This will range from the self-belief and courage required to envision and pursue a career as a writer, to becoming a writer who has to negotiate a predominantly middle class literary culture where you might be seen as an outsider who doesn’t fit in because of your background, unless, of course, you change, even if it is only superficial code-switching, such as changing your accent and speech, social codes and cultural allegiances, in order to assimilate. (...)
The British Council Literature Seminar 2023 in Berlin will provide a space for fertile discussion of what it means to be a writer from working class backgrounds, how this sits within the changing publishing eco-system; how the context of class might shape and inspire a writer’s creativity, and the importance of representation at all levels within the literature industry.
Prof. Bernardine Evaristo
The seminar will take place at the cultural centre Oyoun in Berlin. We are optimistic that the seminar can physically happen, but will, of course, monitor the ongoing pandemic situation and take every provision necessary to create a safe and accessible environment.
The seminar will start in the evening of Thursday 16 March and finish in the early afternoon of Saturday 18 March. The seminar will consist of public readings by Bernardine Evaristo and Kit de Waal, presentations by Daljit Nagra, Joelle Taylor and Wayne Holloway-Smith, a panel discussion and four author-led workshops.