Amiri Baraka at 80

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University of Kent
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Keynote speaker: Paul Gilroy

With a reading from Amiri Baraka

2014 marks the 80th birthday of Amiri Baraka, of one of the most influential, controversial and galvanising cultural figures of the twentieth century. As poet, novelist, playwright, music critic, editor, and cultural organiser, Baraka has extended the possibilities of modern writing. This conference, organised by the University of Kent and hosted by the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, will seek to analyse how. From his early work as LeRoi Jones through to his agitational verse since the 1970s, Baraka has interrogated the relationship between art and political action, speech and act, writer and society, tradition and power, race and class, poet and nation, in the process re-imagining and enacting a radical politics that has forever marked the US social landscape. This conference seeks to assess the scope of nearly 65 years of work, considering the importance, paradoxes and potentialities of Baraka's career across a range of disciplines. Topics for papers may include, but will by no means be limited to:

Writing, performance and resistance
Baraka in the 21st Century
Baraka and British poetry
Third-World Baraka
Baraka and anti-capitalism
Baraka and Black Arts
Baraka and class
Baraka and race
Jones/Baraka and the US avant-garde
Music and Baraka
Baraka and gender
Baraka as editor and organiser

200-word abstracts, along with your full name, academic affiliation (if applicable), and brief bio, should be sent to Ben Hickman at by 30th September 2013.

Organising committee: David Stirrup, Juha Virtanen, David Ayers, Kat Peddie, Ariane Mildenberg, John Wills, David Herd, Simon Smith, Ben Hickman.