PEN America at the Southern Festival of Books
In partnership with Humanities Tennessee and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University, PEN America is proud to co-present the “Borders and Belonging” sessions. As an organization working at the intersection of human rights and literature, PEN America believes in the transformative power of the written word. We are proud to present curated conversations for this year’s festival edition inspired by the current climate around physical borders and questions about social inclusion and exclusion that have deep historical roots. Comprised of novels, essays, poetry, travelogue, regional, and continental history, these sessions promise to challenge our notions of how we define “belonging” and our perceptions of the meanings of “borders,” both currently and throughout our history.
Borders—real and imagined—are reminders that we all have notions of belonging in particular places and particular times. Fences and gates surround our properties and neighborhoods; walls mark our territories. Whether they are meant to keep us inside and encourage feelings of safety or enforce captivity, or whether they intend to keep others outside and discourage or prohibit entry to specific spaces, borders often mark the boundaries for which we mean to determine who belongs in and who belongs out.
The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word is a free, three-day festival hosted each October where readers and writers are offered an opportunity to celebrate the joy of reading and lifelong learning. Thousands of book lovers come together to hear panels and solo sessions featuring 200 of the nation’s foremost writers.