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100 years of University of London Lecture Series - Professor Dame Marina Warner

Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

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The Map is not the Territory: Re-imagining Place, Reweaving Story 

The philosopher Alfred Korzybski coined the now famous axiom, ‘The map is not the territory’, by which he meant that the objective geographical chart or ordnance survey does not encompass the distinctive qualities of a place for individuals and communities who experience it, and that they  each know it with a difference.  Does it follow that the meaning of a territory can be transformed, infused with new history, by people who arrive and take up occupation of it? If so, can this process be undertaken consciously as well as unconsciously? The current hostilities to new arrivals - to migrants, exiles, refugees, asylum seekers - often arise from a sense that the local habitat has been altered, while those who have arrived may also be made to feel like aliens.  

Reflecting on the role of storytelling in communities of displaced people, Professor Dame Marina Warner will look at some strategic uses of imagination to mark territory, in such popular phenomena as theme parks and local ‘national’ neighbourhoods ( Little Italy, Koreatown) and explore the possible extensions of such strategies among groups and individuals who have arrived in Europe in the last decade, especially through the project Stories in Transit and the workshop Giocherenda in Palermo, Sicily.


Speaker's biography:

Professor Dame Marina Warner is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, historian and mythographer, who works across genres and cultures exploring myths and stories. In 2015 she was awarded the prestigious Holberg Prize, and was also Chair of the judging panel for the Man Booker International Book Prize. She is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London. In March 2017, Warner was elected as the Royal Society of Literature's 19th – and first female – president. In March 2018 she was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy. 


Lecture details: 

Since Dr George Birkbeck created the London Mechanics’ Institution in 1823, the organisation that is now Birkbeck, University of London, has been the gateway for ambitious people to study in the evening. In so doing they change their own lives - and make an immediate impact on business, the economy and our entire society.

This event is part of lecture series marking 100 years since the College officially became part of the University of London.


Join us for a series of celebratory events on the theme of “opening education” showcasing Birkbeck’s unique commitment to access and excellence.


The lecture will last approximately one hour, followed by a drinks reception.


Tickets are free of charge but booking is essential.


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