Make Margaret Atwood fiction again. On feminist dystopias

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In the last couple of years, TV series like The Handmaid’s Tale and a wave of new bold literary fiction have brought the feminist dystopia genre to the forefront of the literary debate. In this panel discussion, two acclaimed writers discuss what this new prominence of the feminist dystopian novel has meant to them and to their work, and how this literary genre keeps reflecting the gender issues of our deeply conflicted present.

The story of now

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Literary writing works on a different time scale than the tumultuous flow of news that we live in. How can a literary story, taking months or years in the writing, try and reflect the turns and shocks of a world that seems to change radically day by day? Yet, there are novelists and storytellers who undertake the task of addressing the turmoil of real-time contemporaneity or the very recent turns of history – whether it is global anxieties, financial crashes, the rise of new demagogues, or the moral dilemmas of our times.

The fascist paradox

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Neofascist groups are popular on social media and enjoy media exposure. In Italy, they are invited to tv talk shows, have their own fashion brand, and are even allowed to patrol beaches and streets in vigilante-style groups. Despite this, their typical rhetoric claims that the “liberal media” conspire to silence them; in a striking paradox, fascist groups appeal to freedom of speech and liberal democracy in order to express their “ideas”. In this panel discussion, two leading experts discuss their work researching racist and hate groups in Italy and UK, and the latest evolutions of far-right movements.

The politics of translation

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When we translate a novel or a poem, we’re also translating a country, a tradition, the society in which this text was formed. We can use translation to subvert our own ideas of what is foreign and what is domestic, but we can also use it to reinforce stereotypes and make the world smaller. A translator can be a smuggler, a secret agent or a saboteur through different languages and cultural empires, but what is the translator really accountable for in this art of conquer and loss? Is literary translation a political act at its core?

Black words, black worlds

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The inclusion and representation of black voices in the literary and cultural world is a prominent theme, in different ways, both in Italy and UK. In Italy, a country that has long struggled to come to terms with its colonial past, the voices of a new array of authors from the African diaspora have just recently started to be heard. Elsewhere in Europe and in the UK, black and ethnic minority voices have been contributing to the cultural debate for a long time now, yet their representation and inclusion seem to be still a complex issue.