Marina Warner at UCSB: Events May 1st -- 3rd, 2018

The GCLR is pleased to welcome distinguished author and scholar Marina Warner to UCSB for three days of exciting and enriching events: 


May 1st Marina Warner will deliver a lecture entitled Sanctuary and Literature: Words on the Move from 4:00 -- 6:00PM in the McCune Conference Room (HSSB 6020).

In the present refugee crisis, millions of people are being driven from their homes by war, religious conflict,  racial ostracism, famine, and poverty. Can literature help?  Stripped of material possessions, refugees, migrants, and ‘arrivants’ still own their minds  which are filled with memories, stories,  and knowledge.  Can the cultural baggage of the imagination, the stories that displaced people carry in their heads,  provide ways of establishing connection with their new circumstances?  Can stories, inspired by the cultures they belong to, overcome barriers of language and custom, help them relate to the new place of arrival and develop a place of refuge where they belong?  Marina Warner will explore how the role of the imagination, expressed in literary forms, can provide threads which may be woven into the fabric of belonging.  She will look at travelling texts,  such as the animal tales known in Europe as Aesop’s Fables, the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Arabian Nights, and explore these literary migrants in  relation to the history of legal sanctuary. She will also draw on the experience of, a refugee project in Palermo in Sicily, to illuminate this burning issue of our time, and the relationship between culture, equality, and citizenship.


For more information, please see refer to our partners at the IHC.


May 2nd Marina Warner will be taking part in a screening of The Adventures of Prince Achmed, with discussion of the fim moderated by Prof. Peter Bloom to follow, from 7:00 -- 9:15PM at the Carsey-Wolf Center. The event is free but reservations are recommended. Tickets will be available starting at 11:00AM on April 11th. For more information, please refer to our partners at the Carsey-Wolf Center


May 3rd Marina Warner will offer a guest seminar entitled A Childhood in Cairo: Making It Up with the Past. The seminar will be offerred to graduate students at UCSB from 2:00 -- 4:50PM in the GCLR seminar room (Phelps Hall 6206C).

A Life Mislaid: A Highly Unreliable Memoir, a work in progress, is inspired by Marina Warner’s childhood in Cairo, where her British father opened an English and French bookshop in l947. It was burned down in the nationalist revolution of l952 which brought Nasser to power. The book explores British colonialism in the light of these political changes, and reflect on principles of inclusion and exclusion, social values and hierarchy, in relation to her southern Italian mother who had to learn to become an English lady. The seminar will discuss the Bible story (Judges 12:6) that relates how all those who could not pronounce the word 'shibboleth', were killed; the term 'shibboleth ‘has since expanded to mean something closer to 'the closely held and cherished values of the tribe.'  If you are joining a community, you need to know them to survive; in the context of Egypt, the shibboleths of the British powers in Egypt and their colonial way of the life were out of joint with what was happening around them. As the history of present-day Egypt continues in repression and turmoil, I am trying to understand the colonial past and the values in which I was raised and place the child I was in relation to this turbulent and often distressing story.

Space is limited to 20 graduate students. If interested, please contact Dustin Lovett ( at your earliest convenience. 


Pictured: the author, Marina Warner Marina Warner writes fiction and cultural history. Her books include From the Beast to the Blonde (l994) and Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011; winner of the National Book Critics Circle award, the Sheykh Zayed Prize and the Truman Capote award). She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, Professorial Research Fellow at the School of Oriental and African Studies,  a Fellow of the British Academy, President of the Modern Humanities Research Association for 2018,  and was elected President of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017.  In 2015, she was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities, and in  2017 she was given a World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a British Academy Medal. Fairy Tale: A Very Short Introduction came out in January 2018 and Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists will be published in the fall. She began the project in Palermo, Sicily; and is currently researching the concept of Sanctuary and writing an ‘unreliable memoir’ A Life Mislaid about her childhood in Egypt.