Difficult Identities: How the Academy, and Literature must do justice to its own complexity


Zoe Bulaitis, University of Exeter – The identity and scale of humanities research: considering the role of the academic in challenging times

Colette Osgun, UCL – ‘Cultural Independence?’: Fetishisation, Representation and Resistance.

This panel aims to examine the ways that the academy, and public discourse more broadly, are constrained by the commoditisation of identities. It will discuss the problematic ways in which we commemorate and speak about writers, academics, activists who have made tangible changes to the literary canon or the political and social world.

The panel will discuss how notions of diversity are included within this commoditisation: the voices that are heard are heard because they sell. As a result, race, gender, sexuality, class are pitted against one another rather than understood as inextricable facets of a wider identity. From a marketing point, intersectionality is not easy to sell. Consequently we aim to a critique “diversity”, which makes “whiteness” the norm, and call for a shift towards decolonising literature, and more broadly, knowledge.

Friday 7th July, 3.30