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Religious Defamation

LSE Literary Weekend/ English PEN panel discussion

A year after the repeal of blasphemy from English law, religious defamation laws are tightening their grip on the world, with the apparent support of the United Nations. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? A discussion of the nature of blasphemy in the twenty-first century.

Professor Conor Gearty is studied law at University College Dublin, qualifying as a solicitor in the Republic of Ireland before studying at Cambridge University (Wolfson College) where he completed a PhD in environmental law. After many happy years at King College London, Professor Gearty moved to LSE in 2002, to become the first Rausing Director of LSE’s new Centre for the Study of Human Rights. His academic research focuses primarily on civil liberties, terrorism and human rights. Professor Gearty’s latest book, Essays on Human Rights and Terrorism, was published in April 2008 by Cameron May.

Howard Jacobson is the author of nine novels and four works of non-fiction. The Mighty Walzer won the Everyman Wodehouse Award for comic writing. He was born to Jewish, working-class parents in Manchester, studied at Cambridge and later became a Don, before turning to writing full time. He now lives in London. He is a regular columnist for The Independent and writes frequently for numerous newspapers, including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Evening Standard. His last novel, Kalooki Nights, was the winner of the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize for Fiction and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2006. The Act of Love, published in September 2008 by Jonathan Cape, is a story about agony-addiction; but it is also about the nature of desire itself, the exquisiteness of loss, and the universality of the impulse - whether a jealous husband's or an avid reader's - to play the voyeur, to probe and question, to want to know, day after day, page after page, who is doing what to whom and what will happen next.

Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster and Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey. He is a presenter of Radio 4’s Analysis and a panellist on the Moral Maze. He has made a number of television documentaries including Disunited Kingdom and Are Muslims Hated?, which was shortlisted for the Index on Censorship Free Expression Award in 2005. His new book, From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy will be published in April by Atlantic Books.

Author Lisa Appignanesi is president of English PEN and headed its Free Expression is No Offence Campaign. Her latest book is Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 (Virago/Little Brown).

This event is organised in partnership with English PEN. English PEN is a charity that works to promote literature and human rights. From defending the rights of persecuted writers to promoting literature in translation and running writing workshops with refugees and migrants, English PEN seeks to promote literature as a means of greater understanding between the world's people.

This is part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Weekend, the LSE's first ever Literary Festival, celebrating the completion of the New Academic Building.


Professor Conor Gearty | talks | www
Howard Jacobson | talks
Kenan Malik | talks | www
Professor Lisa Appignanesi | talks


Date and Time:

1 March 2009 at 2:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



Sheikh Zayed Theatre, London School of Economics
New Academic Building
Lincoln's Inn Fields

Show map

Organised by:

London School of Economics & Political Science
See other talks organised by London School of Economics & Political Science...




Available from:

This event is free and open to all, but a ticket is required. One ticket per person may be requested from 2pm on Tuesday 17 February.

Members of the public can request one ticket via the online ticket request form which will be live on www.lse.ac.uk/events from 10.00am on Tuesday 17 February.

Additional Information:

For more information, visit www.lse.ac.uk/collections/spaceForThought/literaryWeekend.

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