As part of the 2018 Literary Mews and the PEN World Voices Festival, Deutsches Haus at NYU presents “Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like,” a conversation among Marion Brasch, the current Max Kade writer-in-residence at Deutsches Haus at NYU, Zetta Elliott, and Siri Hustvedt, which will be moderated by Marcia Pally.
Many of you will recognize this panel title as the onset of a call and response – a unifying chant – and one of the most prominent at the Women’s March on Washington D.C. on January 21, 2017 (and again on the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration). This march, and many similar ones across the U.S. and the globe, were organized in order to advocate legislation pertaining to human rights, women’s rights, immigration reform, racial equality, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, and healthcare reform to name a few.
Our panel invites writers, thinkers, and journalists to reflect on the current crises that democratic institutions and governments around the world are facing as part of the rise of strong populist movements. It will not only examine the power of everyday citizens to affect change through protest and resistance, but also their individual approaches to activism and how to fortify the democratic principles we rely on.
Marion Brasch is the current Max Kade writer-in-residence at Deutsches Haus at NYU. She was born in East Berlin, where she went to school, received her high school diploma, and completed vocational training as a typesetter. She worked for two years as a typesetter in a large newspaper printing house before going on to work for various publishers and the GDR’s composers’ association. In the late 1980s, she switched to radio broadcasting and worked as an editor, writer, and presenter. She continues to do freelance work for various radio stations. Her work as an author began in the 1990s with stories that she created for the radio as literary-musical features. In 2012, her much-acclaimed novel Ab jetzt ist Ruhe was published, in which she told the story of her family. A documentary and feature film based on this novel are currently being made and tell the story of the Brasch family, who have been described as “the Manns of the GDR”—a family of artists and politicians who challenged political conditions and each other and in the end vanished. In 2014, Marion Brasch second novel, Wunderlich fährt nach Norden, was published, for which she also wrote a screenplay that is anticipated to be made into a film in 2018. Marion Brasch’s third novel, Die irrtümlichen Abenteuer des Herren Godot, was published in 2016.
Zetta Elliott is a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. She was born and raised in Canada, but has lived in the US for over 20 years. She earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003; and has taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, and Hunter College, among others. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and her plays have been staged in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. She is the recipient of several awards such as the Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. She is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, and she has self-published numerous illustrated books for younger readers under her own imprint, Rosetta Press (3 were named Best of the Year by the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature). She currently lives in Brooklyn, and is represented by Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Siri Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, six novels, four books of essays, and a non-fiction work about the quandaries of psychiatric and neurological diagnoses. In 2012 she received the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities. Her most recent novel, The Blazing World was nominated for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and won The Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. She has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and is a lecturer in psychiatry at the Dewitt Wallace Institute for the History of Psychiatry at Weil Medical School of Cornell University in New York City. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages.
Marcia Pally teaches at New York University in Multilingual Multicultural Studies, at Fordham University, and is a regular guest professor at the Theology Faculty of Humboldt University, Berlin. Her most recent books are Commonwealth and Covenant: Economics, Politics, and Theologies of Relationality and The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good. She has spoken at the World Economic Forum (Davos) and, in addition to her academic work, she has been a columnist in the U.S. and Europe for the past 24 years, writing for Religion and Ethics, The Guardian, Religion News Service, Die Zeit, and Süddeutsche Zeitung, among other periodicals.
Events at Deutsches Haus are free and open to the public. If you would like to attend this event, please reserve a ticket here. As space at Deutsches Haus is limited, please arrive ten minutes prior to the event to ensure you get a good seat. Thank you!
Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like is presented with the support of the Institute of African American Affairs at NYU, the Max Kade Foundation, and the DAAD.