ART AS PROTEST

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McNally Jackson will sell books for signings on Feb. 28th.

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The Muslim Protagonist is an annual literary symposium of Muslim and minority writers, artists, and thinkers at Columbia University, hosted by the Columbia Muslim Students Association (MSA) and opened to participants of all backgrounds, ages, faiths, and cultures as a means of facilitating dialogue, networking, and inspirational as well as practical tools for pursuing “literature as an agent of social, intellectual, and spiritual change.” The event is not an event exclusively for Muslims, “minorities,” or Columbia students/faculty — everyone is welcome.

In 2012, in order to address the growing need for a Muslim voice in the great sea of American literature, the Columbia Muslim Students Association invited renowned novelists, playwrights, journalists and academics from across the world to Columbia University for a weekend filled with inspiration and wisdom. The symposium, a series of talks, panels, and workshops held during the weekend of November 10th, attracted over 300 attendees from universities and communities across the northeast. Focusing on literature and art as agents of social change, the event shed light on the importance of the Muslim protagonist in a post-9/11 America, and gave prominent Muslim and non-Muslim writers of this generation the opportunity to discuss their shared experiences within an emerging American-Muslim literary community. The symposium has since expanded into a three-day event consisting of an open mic and speaker performances, a main day of panels and talks, and workshops and seminars taught by esteemed speakers. The Muslim Protagonist has received coverage from The Huffington Post to Pakistan’s Express Tribune and has been lauded by speakers and attendees as “groundbreaking.” 2014’s Media Kit provides more information.

In its third year, The Muslim Protagonist will build on the previous years’ remarkable successes and delve deeper into the issue of marginalized narratives in and outside of Muslim communities in a unique and thoughtful way, bringing together writers from diverse communities in America. This year’s theme, “Art as Protest,” will feature discussions surrounding art and literature as agents of socio-political, intellectual, and spiritual change. We will examine questions such as: What does it mean to produce and interpret non-canonical literature? What does it mean to be a subject, a citizen, a community member, an artist, and a protagonist? What roles do literary and artistic works play in the charged political climate dominating our world today? What role have they played historically for Muslims in and outside of modern America, and what lessons if any do they provide us with today? What is at stake in producing work that disrupts dominant narratives?

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