As a teenager, Harriet Shawcross stopped speaking at school for almost a year, retreating into herself and communicating only when absolutely necessary. As an adult, she became fascinated by the limits of language and in this talk and her book Unspeakable she asks what makes us silent.
From the inexpressible trauma of trench warfare and the aftermath of natural disaster to the taboo of coming out, Shawcross explores how and why words fail us. From the mountains of Nepal to New York’s theatre district she travels the world meeting people who constantly wrestle with language. She studies the work of George Oppen, a poet who couldn’t write a line for twenty-five years, interviews Eve Ensler whose play The Vagina Monologues gave voice to the truths of female sexuality and meets the founders of The Samaritans who have been listening silently to those in need since the 1950s.
A beguiling mix of memoir, history, literary criticism and investigative journalism, Unspeakable is a moving and unprecedented study of the power of silence.
Her book Unspeakable: The Things We Cannot Say will be available to purchase on the day.
LINKS FOR FURTHER INFO:
Doors 2.45pm. Start 3.00pm.
Entry £8, £5 concessions (free to Conway Hall Ethical Society members, who should book these tickets in advance via the Book Now button)
Event is subject to capacity, without exceptions. Space will be reserved for ticket holders.
This event is in the Brockway Room on the ground floor (Accessible. Induction loop audio). For accessibility info: conwayhall.org.uk/about/visiting-us
It is part of Conway Hall Ethical Society’s charitable programme and is tax-exempt.
Image ‘Silence’ by Ömer Diyelim