Zero Squared #37: Dangerous Literature

Tom Sperlinger is the author of Romeo and Juliet in Palestine and he returns this week to discuss teaching Dangerous Literature. This is part one of a two part conversation. This week we focus on the question of polemics in fiction and modernism, and next week we’ll take a close look at Kafka’s unfinished novel The Trial.

Sperlinger recently taught a course on “Dangerous Books.” Here’s an excerpt from the course description:

Can works of literature only reflect society, or might they be a catalyst for reform? If a book has an urgent political message, can it also become a lasting work of art? Why might a work of literature be considered dangerous? In what circumstances are books banned? And conversely, what does this tell us about the power of literature, including in consciousness-raising or as a form of protest or resistance?

In this episode you’ll hear the voice of Norman Mailer again, a reading of Philip K. Dick’s letter warning the FBI about the conspiracy of Stanislaw Lem, the music of John Cage, the voice of BS Johnson, the music of the X-Ray Spex, an excerpt from Negativland’s 1980 album entitled Negativland, and Sad Cat Walk by Dan Lett.