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Art and Action: The Intersections of Literary Celebrity and Politics

In line with a long literary tradition of the artist as propagandist, who strives to appeal to the political, moral, and social conscience of his/her readership, writers have persistently crossed the divide between art and politics both in their works and in their roles as public intellectuals, cultural critics, and political activists. Moreover, established authors have, with striking regularity, taken advantage of their celebrity status in order to draw attention to specific socio-political agendas, thus demonstrating the convertibility of ‘celebrity capital’. The talks in this symposium - hosted by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities on 5 March 2016 - address the complex interplay of authorship, politics, and fame/celebrity within an Anglophone cultural context across historical periods and media, covering a broad spectrum of themes that include literary celebrity and the politics of class, gender, and race; the tension between authorial self-fashioning and media appropriation; and the dual commitment to art and action of writers in political office.

Image: Hawthorne Literary Mural, Portland, Oregon, by Jane Brewster (www.janebrewster.com)

# Episode Title Description People Date
1 Authorship, Politics, Celebrity: Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives In this roundtable discussion, Caroline Davis, Olivier Driessens, and Peter D McDonald reflect on literature as a mode of public intervention. Elleke Boehmer, Caroline Davis, Olivier Driessens, Peter D McDonald 02 Apr 2016
2 Disraeli's 'Spectre of Unsatisfied Ambition': Literary Celebrity in/and Political Office Sandra Mayer explores Disraeli's dual commitment to art and action against the background of Victorian celebrity culture. Sandra Mayer 02 Apr 2016
3 Hemingway vs Gellhorn: A Famous D-Day Rivalry Kate McLoughlin offers an intriguing case study of the gendering of writerly fame. Kate McLoughlin 03 Apr 2016
4 Texts, Talks and Tailoring: Adichie and her Fashion Politics Matthew Lecznar assesses the fashion politics of Adichie's fiction and public discourse Matthew Lecznar 03 Apr 2016
5 The Rhetoric of Fame: Persuading the People in Early Modern England Kate De Rycker demonstrates that the social role of 16th-century English writers was becoming increasingly affected by the developing concept of celebrity. Kate De Rycker 03 Apr 2016
6 Between Morality and the Marketplace: Literary Celebrity and the Transatlantic Anti-Slavery Movement Simon Morgan discusses the tensions within the transatlantic anti-slavery movement between literary celebrity and moral responsibility. Simon Morgan 03 Apr 2016