This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.
Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.
The Shape of Free Speech: Rethinking Liberal Free Speech Theory
How far should 'free speech' be permitted? Should people be allowed to express antisemitism or Islamaphobia? This Inventions of the Text seminar will debate these challenging questions.
Noting the apparent inconsistency in attitudes towards free speech with respect to antisemitism and Islamophobia in western liberal democracies, this paper works through the problem of inconsistency within liberal free speech theory, arguing that this symptomatically reveals an aporia that exposes the inability of liberal free speech theory to account for the ways in which free speech actually operates in liberal social orders. Liberal free speech theory conceptualizes liberty as smooth, continuous, homogeneous, indivisible, and extendable without interruption until it reaches the outer limits. This makes it difficult for liberal free speech theory to account for restrictions that lie within those outer limits, and therefore for the ways in which restraints, restrictions and closures are always-already at work within the lived experience of liberty, for it is these – and the inconsistencies they give rise to – that give freedom its particular texture and timbre in any given social and cultural context. The essay concludes with an alternative ‘liquid’ theory of free speech, which accounts for the ‘shaping’ of liberty by social forces, culture and institutional practices
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about this event.
Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies
We host a large number of conferences, lectures and seminars each year, many of them open to the public. Find out more on our Events page.
Many of our public lectures, seminars and conferences are recorded, and can be listened to as podcasts.
- 20th January 2021
- Sensory Experiments in Nineteenth-Century Literature
- Online (Zoom)
- Dr Erica Fretwell (University of Albany) and Dr Shannon Draucker (Siena College)