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The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy

The Writer In The Contemporary World.

Marlboro, Vermont
August 20-24, 1984



The intention is to bring together a small group of distinguished writers, critics and political philosophers for a serious discussion of the relation of the arts to contemporary political regimes. The themes include the responsibility of writers in liberal democracy, totalitarian regimes and Third World nations, the effect of those regimes on the arts, the subjects and forms as well as the audiences characteristic of recent literature, the dangers of politicization and of depoliticization, to what extent the peculiar horrors of twentieth century events have enhanced or diminished the role of the artist, and the relation of the aesthetic and the moral.

Participants from the United States will include Saul Bellow, Czeslaw Milosz, Allan Bloom, Werner Dannhauser, A. K. Ramanujan, and Ruth Prawer Jabvahla. From other parts of the world we have invited Leszek Kolakowski, Andrei Sinyavsky, A.B. Yehoshua, and Allain Besançon. There will also be the fourteen student fellows of the Olin Center.

The five sessions will examine the following themes:

Conference Schedule


2:00 - 4:30pm

Rousseau and the Arts in Modernity

Allan Bloom

Discussant: Leszek Kolakowski


10:00am - 12:30pm

Art in a Totalitarian World

Andrei Sinyavsky


10:00am - 12:30pm

paper from

Saul Bellow

Discussant: A.B. Yehoshua


2:00pm - 4:30pm

On Politics and Literature

Czeslaw Milosz

Discussant: Ruth Prawer Jabvahla


10:00am - 12:30pm

The Aesthetic Versus the Moral

Werner Dannhauser

Discussant: Alain Besançon

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©1999, 2000 The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy, University of Chicago
Revised: January 2nd, 2000