Bristol Women’s Literature Festival brings together the country’s best women writers, academics and feminist commentators to the Watershed for thought-provoking discussion, debate and activity.
Saturday 14 March 2015, 11am – 1pm
The Left Bank of 1920s Paris was a hub for women writers, artists and publishers. From Gertrude Stein with her writing experiments and literary salon, to Sylvia Beach running Shakespeare & Company, and Natalie Barney’s decadent parties, women flocked to the city because Paris was ‘the only city in the world where one can live exactly as one pleases.’
Greta Schiller’s 1996 film explores the lives of some of the key Left Bank women, including Stein, Djuna Barnes, Colette, and Sylvia Beach.
The film will be followed by a brief audience discussion, chaired by Sian Norris. Sian is the founder of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival and is currently writing a book about Gertrude Stein and her circle.
Women, Feminism and Journalism, 2.30pm – 4pm
Feminist activists, writers and journalists, Beatrix Campbell, Nimko Ali, Finn Mackay and Helen Lewis, the deputy editor of the New Statesman, will discuss feminism, writing, the development of the movement and their own careers. We’ll be exploring the challenges and triumphs of feminism.
Poetry, Prose and Palestine with Selma Dabbagh 6pm – 7.30pm, Waterside 3
Selma Dabbagh is a London based British Palestinian writer of novels, short stories and plays. Her first novel, ‘Out of It,’ (Bloomsbury, 2011) is set between Gaza, London and the Gulf and has been voted Guardian Book of the Year. Selma also works as a lawyer. The work of Palestinian writers and poets has been a major influence on their lives. This evening, alongside their own works, Dabbagh and Jacir will read and discuss the poems of other well-known Palestinian writers. Their presentations and discussion will explore how prose and poems challenge the dominant narratives on Palestine and the occupation, reaffirm Palestinian identity and maintain a constant struggle for equality and fairness, land, home and nationhood. They will explore why it is that people on a global level relate with the Palestinian cause in the way that they do and the role that the arts have in influencing activism and change. The event will be chaired by Alice Guthrie.
This event is organized in collaboration with the Bristol Palestinian Film Festival, as part of Conversations about Cinema: Impact of Conflict.
Sunday 15 March 2015
The Vagina: A Literary and Cultural History, 11am – 12pm, Waterside 3
In her new book, academic Emma Rees considers why British and US culture has such a problem when talking about the female body. She maps the long history of advertising that profits from the taboo of the vagina, and she reflects on how writers, artists and filmmakers have been influenced by, or even perpetuate, this ‘shame’. And it’s not all in the past – the vagina still causes outrage, derision and discomfort today.
Women Writing in Shakespeare’s Time, 1pm – 2pm
Helen Hackett is Professor of English at UCL and the author of five books on Renaissance literature. She has special interests in Renaissance women writers and in literary images of Elizabeth I. Her latest book is A Short History of English Renaissance Drama (I.B. Tauris, 2013), which includes a section on women’s contribution to drama in Shakespeare’s time.
Women Writing Today, 3pm – 4.30pm
Sarah Lefanu will be talking to novelist and short story writer Michele Roberts, playwright and memoirist Samantha Ellis, five times winner of the Foyles Young Poet award Helen Mort, novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo, and first-time novelist Amy Mason about their work.
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