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Campus Book Festival 2020: Programme of events

The National Book Council is pleased to release the programme of cultural events for the Campus Book Festival 2020. As customary, the festival will take place at the University Quadrangle on 25, 26 and 27 March, from 9 am–4 pm on Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26, and from 9 am till late on Friday 27.

The purpose of the Campus Book Festival is to promote literature across the board while, at the same time, giving publishers and book distributors a space in which they can sell and promote their publications with post-secondary and tertiary students. The exhibitors in this 2020 edition are BDL, Merlin Publishers, Midsea Books/Klabb Kotba Maltin, Horizons, EDE Books, SKS, Faraxa Publishing, Pjattaforma and Infinity Books, who will have their books up for sale.

The programme of this year’s Campus Festival is packed with a variety of events and activities ranging from readings and interviews with authors, to the screening of films related to literature, as well as language discussions and activities, guided tours around the University Library, live music and a number of collaborations with student organisations Għaqda tal-Malti – Università and DESA.

The international guest for this year’s Campus Book Festival is American poet and memoirist Mark Doty. On Wednesday 25 March at 3 pm, Doty will be part of a panel discussion on queer literature with local dramatist Tyrone Grima and Marthese Formosa, project manager behind ‘Kitba Queer’. On Thursday 26 March Doty will be participating in a book-club session with University students lead by Dr Mario Aquilina and centred on his memoir Firebird (HarperCollins, 1999); and on Friday 27 March he will be interviewed by Head of English Department at UoM Prof. James Corby on his literary and non-literary output. Mark Doty will also be one of the readers during the open-mic session organised for the same day and revolving around the theme of literature and music of protest. This was organised in conjunction with Inizjamed. Mark Doty was the first American to win the T.S. Eliot Prize in the U.K in 1995, and in 2008 he won the National Book Award for the book Fire to Fire: new and selected poems (HarperCollins, 2008). He is the author of several poetry books, amongst which Bethlehem in Broad Daylight (D.R. Godine, 1991), A Swarm, A Flock, A Host: A Compendium of Creatures (Prestel, 2013), and Deep Lane (W.W. Norton, 2015), and memoirs and nonfiction books such as Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy (Beacon Press, 2000) and Dog Years (HarperCollins, 2007), as well as Firebird. Doty has often been compared to James Merrill, Walt Whitman and C.P. Cavafy for his elegant, intelligent verse.

In collaboration with the Department of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting Studies, the Campus Book Festival 2020 will also host an interview led by Prof. Clare Vassallo with translation theorist and scholar of comparative literature Prof. Susan Bassnett. Bassnett is the author of over twenty books, including Translation Studies, which first appeared in 1980 and has remained in print ever since, becoming an important international textbook in this field. Her Comparative Literature (1993) has also become internationally renowned and has been translated into several languages. Her most recent books are Political Discourse, Media and Translation (2010), co-edited with Cristina Schaeffner, and Reflections on Translation (2011). Beside her academic research, and writing for several national newspapers, Susan Bassnett also writes poetry.

The vast programme of activities that will be put up during the festival include events organised in collaboration with many University departments as well as the publishers participating in this year’s Campus Book Festival ax exhibitors. These include the presentation of Prof. Joseph M. Pirotta’s 2019-National-Book-Prize-winning book Fortress Colony. The Final Act 1945-1964 (Midsea); Prof. Charles Briffa’s latest book on Mario Azzopardi published by Horizons; and the official launch of Bil-Bieb Mitbuq (Pjattaforma, 2020), Kevin Saliba’s Maltese translation of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play Huis Clos. Infinity Books also organised a lecture with Fr. Marius Zerafa on the theft, recovery and restoration of Caravaggio’s St Jerome Writing.

On Friday 26 March at 5 pm Jean Paul Borg will moderate a roundtable discussion on literature and music of protest in troubled times, with reference to the most recent contributions of local artists and writers: Immanuel Mifsud, Antoine Cassar, Adrian Grima, Wayne Flask, Nadia Mifsud, Mario Vella, Alex Vella Gregory and Noah Fabri. They will also take part in the Open Mic session later that evening, at 6:45 pm.

For the language and literature enthusiasts, not to miss are the events organised for Wednesday 25 March, starting at 1 pm: ’Are we are told what we should read?’, a discussion about readers’ favourites, reading lists, book prizes, book reviews and booktube and on how these affect readers’, writers’ and publishers’ choices; and ‘Maltese Literature… in English’ with Prof. Ivan Callus, Prof. Clare Vassallo, Dr Norbert Bugeja and moderated by Prof. Adrian Grima. While on Thursday 26 March at 2 pm Mark Camilleri, Dr Krista Bonello Rutter Giappone and Chris Gruppetta will engage in discussion on the divide between genre fiction, and literary and mainstream fiction in Malta, with a specific reference to mystery and detective fiction. 

Other highlights include events revolving around film and the limits of literary adaptation, with Franica Pulis, Prof. Saviour Catania, Rebecca Anastasi and Kenneth Scicluna; ethnography, with Dr Steve Borg on Wednesday 26 March at 11 am; around anthropology and women’s history, with Dr Veronica Veen on Thursday 26 March at 9 am; and around the revival of theatre in Maltese, at 1 pm on the same day with the participation of Dr Marco Galea, Sean Buhagiar, Simone Spiteri and Stephanie Bonnici. On Friday 27 at 10 am, Dr Christine Muscat, Dr Emanuel Buttigieg and Dr Andrea Dibben will discuss if prostitution can empower women, moving away from any dogmatic assumptions on sex as an economic means; while at 1 pm a discussion among Ranier Fsadni, Ahmed Zanya Bugri and Andrè Callus will look at how identity politics shapes active participation by minorities living in Malta, asking if this political approach can actually be traceable in a context where minorities are underrepresented.

For those interested in philosophy, two events are not to be missed. On Friday 26 March, at 12 noon, the Department of Philosophy will be presenting an event, moderated by Dr Jean-Paul De Lucca, revisiting philosophy’s plural histories and its forgotten voices, fifty years from the death of Bertrand Russel, the author of the influential A History of Western Philosophy (1945). On the same day, at 3 pm, Francois Zammit will engage Enrico Panai in a conversation on the application of philosophy to address present day challenges. Panai is a Human Information Interaction Specialist and author of Skip! The Art of Avoiding Projects.

The Campus Book Festival, which is set up by the National Book Council in collaboration with Għaqda tal-Malti – Università and DESA, is free of charge and all discussions, presentations, interviews, book launches and book presentations are aimed at students, academics and members of the public alike.

For more information follow the Campus Book Festival FB page and this website.

Download the full programme here.

Dates and times of the 2020 Campus Book Festival: Wednesday 25 and Thursday 26 from 9 am–4 pm, and Friday 27 March from 9 am till late in the afternoon.

Fell free to get in touch with Matthew Borg ([email protected]) from the NBC, Romario Sciberras ([email protected]) from Għaqda tal-Malti – Università, and Matthew Cilia ([email protected]) from DESA.