Exeter academics contribute to local literary festival

A fashionable coastal town in Devon is hosting a literary festival from 16 – 18 September, to celebrate great literature, support and showcase new talent, and promote reading and writing. 

The Budleigh Salterton Literary Festival has sought the expertise of English, Modern Languages and History academics from the University of Exeter to assist in chairing debates, interviewing high profile writers and giving talks about their new books.

Historical writing forms a significant part of the festival, with major writers Hilary Mantel and Sarah Dunant discussing their approaches to the Tudor period and the Italian Renaissance. Both authors will be interviewed by the University of Exeter’s Arts and Culture Fellow, Professor Helen Taylor.

University of Exeter Honorary Graduate Hilary Mantel has won most major literary prizes, including the 2009 Booker Man for Wolf Hall. She will raise issues around her fictional Thomas Cromwell, and give Festival-goers an extra treat by reading from The Mirror and the Light, her work-in-progress sequel to Wolf Hall. Sarah Dunant, author of a trilogy of novels focussing on Italian women artists (The Birth of Venus, In the Company of the Courtesan and Sacred Hearts) and a regular figure at previous University events in the Daphne du Maurier Festival, Cornwall, will explore the problems of imagining historical women’s lives via a contemporary feminist perspective.

University of Exeter historian Professor Jeremy Black, a leading figure in the writing of world history and author of over 90 books, will talk about the fictional character James Bond. His latest book The Politics of James Bond uses the Bond novels and films to place Bond in a historical, cultural and political context.  Malcolm Cook, Emeritus Professor of French at the University of Exeter, will chair the discussion about how the dynamics of the Bond adventures have evolved over time. The event will also look at the changes in response to the shifting political landscape, and the specific nature of espionage at key points in recent history.

The University of Exeter Arts and Culture Strategy is supporting ‘Two Poets Laureate’ at Exmouth Community College. This additional festival venue features joint appearances by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and National Poet for Wales Gillian Clarke. This will be a unique opportunity for young readers to experience these two great poets interacting. 

Professor Taylor said: “The University of Exeter is engaged in collaborative partnerships with a range of arts organisations and events – and for us, literary festivals are a great opportunity to share research expertise and intellectual enthusiasms with wider audiences within our region. We’re delighted to be part of the Budleigh Salterton Festival which has gathered considerable reputation over its first three years. We’re especially proud to be supporting Hilary Mantel, our Honorary Graduate, and co-funding the laureates at Exmouth College.”

Date: 14 September 2011

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