The role of the writer is being tested in an era of new and intensified attacks on the First Amendment, the discrediting of the press and journalists, and efforts to obscure and distort the truth. Writers have been at the vanguard of chronicling, interpreting, and helping shape responses to fast-breaking developments that have the potential to remake essential aspects of our politics and society.
The last few months have seen so-called fake news and “alternative facts” challenge the authority of legitimate news sources, expertise and scientific knowledge discredited, and the value of arts and culture questioned. At the same time, millions of Americans are finding new ways to express their views in protest. These developments pose important questions for the role of the writer: Do writers have any unique obligations that derived from the political challenges of the day? Should the roles of writer, artist, citizen, and activist converge? How can the breadth and diversity of the literary community be reflected without detracting from unified efforts? What obligations exist within and amongst the literary community and its sub-cultures? Does the literary community need to evolve to meet the challenges of this moment, and how?
This Town Hall meeting will begin with brief remarks from selected writers, followed by an open mic discussion among PEN America members. While the event is PEN America’s statutory annual meeting and attendance will be limited to PEN America members in good standing, new members will be permitted to sign-up on site beginning at 6.30PM and join the meeting.
In order to include all PEN America members we will arrange a password-protected livestream for this event and will take questions digitally from remote participants. Details to come.
PEN America trustee election results will be announced at the conclusion of the Town Hall.