Celebrating East African Writing!
In an engaging conversation by Dr. Danielle Fuller, a senior lecturer in Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham, the idea of shared literary experiences was discussed in great detail. This refers to the phenomenon of different people meeting together in public or private venues to share in different forms of literature.
This experience is not new, as people have been meeting for many years to discuss various literature pieces; the only change has been in the mediums of presentation especially during the 21st century. Film & book festivals, author readings, book clubs, mass mediated readings, and online or social media forums are some of the avenues through which people can have this experience.
Shared literary experiences give a feeling of connection – both with the author and other readers – even though the participants are mainly strangers to each other, and this connection can be very powerful. Danielle then went on to describe in detail about the research that she and her team performed on these events focussing mainly on the “One Book, One Community” model that was started in Seattle by Nancy Pearl and Chris Higashi, and has spread to other towns since conception. These events are aimed at bringing different cultural groups together, using shared reading as a “social glue” and building a sense of community through reading. One of the interesting findings from their research was that people seeking to engage in shared literary events need to have three things; the time, money and leisure to do this.
The Hay Festival UK & The Storymoja Hay Festival Nairobi are great examples of a shared literary experience. In addition to featuring talks and discussions around authors and their books, this festival also includes other art types such as film screenings, dramatization, music, talks on emerging topics as well as crafts and art for kids.
So why do people attend these events?
The Hay Festival UK started on May 23 and ends today June 2nd 2013. For recaps, galleries and podcasts please visit Hay Fest UK.
The Storymoja Hay Festival will begin in Nairobi at the National Museums of Kenya on September 19 to 22, 2013.