Belletrista Blog

TED Talks

September 21, 2010

TED is a non-profit organisation that holds tow annual conferences bringing together the great and the good from all walks of life to give 18 minute talks about they experiences, their thoughts and their dreams.

In July 2010, Turkish author Elif Shafak gave a talk about the danger of identity politics destroying the art of story-telling. She explained that writers should be seeking to tell stories that take readers beyond their cultural comfort zone but all too often writers are expected to stay within their own culture – Muslim women are expected to write stories, usually unhappy ones, about Muslim women. Writers are not seen as creative individuals but as representatives of their country. Shafak asks why students on creative writing courses are taught to write about what they know – they should be taught to write about what they don’t know.

TED talks are fascinating. In 2009 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a talk that also focused on identity and literature. She warned that if we only hear a single story about a person or a country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.

In December 2010 TEDWomen ‘will invite both women and men to explore in depth: Who are the women leading change? What ideas are they championing? How are women reshaping the future?’. I’m looking forward to exploring the talks that seek to answer these questions.

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