Nicola Tuxworth, Head of Programming of The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, welcomes you and introduces the theme of this year’s Festival: Defining Moments.
“Every year, the Literature Festival team and our advisory group of leading literary voices choose a theme to guide the creation of a fresh and engaging programme for our audience. For 2015 we take elements of two previous themes (Memory and Brave New Worlds) and consider Defining Moments: the pivotal occurrences that conclusively alter life as we know it, be they global, cultural, social or personal. We examine not only historic turning points but also consider the Defining Moments the future might bring and the challenges ahead.
Our list is proudly both subjective and, of course, noncomprehensive but we hope that it is above all interesting. We consider global terrorism and the profoundly traumatic events of 9/11, asking what the future holds for Western democracies as they scramble to respond to the march of fundamentalism. We explore the arts and celebrate astonishing moments such as the controversial yet beautiful all-male swans in Swan Lake, the rise of pop art and the profoundly emotional effect of protest songs. We ask how reunification has changed Germany and whether Angela Merkel will preside over the end of the European integration dream. Closer to home, we examine the Votes for Women campaign and also ask where the new battle lines are drawn in the fight for equality.
Our culture and lifestyle is shaped by Defining Moments. The Internet has impacted modern life to an almost unimaginable degree and we explore, in a series of debates, the as-yet-untapped potential of connectedness. Books can of course change the way we look at the world and we consider four notable examples: Harper Lee’s _To Kill a Mockingbird, Åsne Seierstad’s The Bookseller of Kabul, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and The Tin Drum by Günter Grass.
Defining Moments punctuate our own lives too. How can you find solace after the loss of a child? What is it like to hear for the first time after a life of silence? How does facing death unlock a flowering of creativity? And how important is it for us all to maintain the right of free speech?
In the run-up to and during this year’s Festival, there will be lots of opportunities for you to share with us your own past, present and future Defining Moments. Keep an eye on our website and at the Festival for ways to get involved.
As ever our programme is unique, broad, entertaining and inclusive so do join us for our ten-day celebration of great writing and ideas.”
Head of Programming, The Times and
The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival