Bill Ashcroft: Revolution, Transformation and Utopia – The Function of Literature

Posted: February 19, 2015
Category: Keynotes, News, News Updates, Research

Revolution, Transformation and Utopia: The Function of Literature
Bill Ashcroft
The Fourth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship 2014
Keynote Address

 

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Revolution, Transformation and Utopia: The Function of Literature

Bill Ashcroft
University of NSW, Australia

Bill Ashcroft presented this keynote address at the Fourth Asian Conference on Literature & Librarianship 2014, in Osaka, Japan, on April 4, 2014.

Excerpt

The Twentieth Century was the most violent in history and prepared the way for the conflict with which this century has already been marked. Conflict comes in various forms but ultimately it is about power: a struggle for power or a struggle between the powerful and the powerless. The argument of this paper is that art and literature, far more than the language of politics, have the capacity to speak to power by speaking beyond it. They do this first by transformation. Resistance, as we see from the example of postcolonial literature, is most effective when it is transformative—when it takes the language of power and makes it work in the service of the powerless. But in addition, literature, through its capacity to imagine a different world, has a utopian function that conceives a world beyond conflict. This paper will focus on the phenomenon of utopian possibility, to show the function of art and literature in transforming power and imagining the future.

Download this keynote address as a PDF.

Read more of the IAFOR Keynote Series.

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