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Book to the Future festival showcases diversity in Birmingham


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Book to the Future is the University of Birmingham’s annual arts festival celebrating the written and spoken word in the West Midlands.

This year, the festival is hosting several events that explore diversity in the arts, including panels, workshops, and talks from local authors.

Images courtesy of the University of Birmingham

A 2017 survey found that 90% of people working the UK publishing industry classify themselves as white British. In response, Book to the Future is hosting a ‘Diversity in Publishing’ panel, featuring University of Birmingham alumni who now work in the industry.

The past year has seen more companies address the lack of diversity in publishing – in terms of gender, race, disability, and class. However, are they doing enough to combat the issue?

Recent graduate Mireille Harper is a trainee at Hachette UK, following placements at Penguin Random House and Packt. She will be chairing the discussion, which also includes a former journalist at The Times and a metadata analyst from Penguin.

University of Birmingham students have arranged a number of events at the festival, including a conference about decolonising the curriculum.

In 2016, the National Union of Students found that 42% of Black students in the UK don’t believe that their university curriculum reflects issues of diversity, equality, and discrimination.  

Final-year anthropology and classics student Lily Gibbs will chair the discussion, which will explore the ways in which the University of Birmingham – and other universities across the country – can decolonise their curriculums and make their syllabuses more inclusive of ethnic minorities.

(from left: Valeria Vascina, Mireille Harper and Lily Gibbs)

Elsewhere, university alumna Valeria Vescina will be speaking about her new novel, That Summer in Puglia, which moves between 1980s Italy and present-day London. She will be speaking about multiculturalism and multilingualism in her work.

Other highlights from the festival include a talk from University of Birmingham academic Heather Widdows, whose new book Perfect Me explores the ethics of beauty standards in an age when social media ‘likes’ determine our self-worth.

Professor Nic Cheeseman will discuss his widely acclaimed book, How to Rig an Election, which explores how dictators undermine democracy, using case studies from across the globe – including the 2016 US election. 

Book to the Future brings staff, students, and the local community together between the 19th and 20th of October for an exciting programme of events. You can listen to talks from bestselling authors, learn more about the publishing industry, or engage in workshops from the University of Birmingham’s creative writing society, Writer’s Block.


Booking is essential. To reserve your place visit the Book to the Future website.

Follow Book to the Future on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.  

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