WORKSHOP ‘Literature and Hate Speech’

Convened by Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS/EHESS)

Convened by Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS/EHESS) and organised in collaboration with the Higher Education, Research and Innovation Department of the French Embassy in London.


Please note that the event will take place at the Maison Française d'Oxford and be live-streamed on Zoom. Please click the link below to join the online event:


Since the afterwar period, hate speech has been excluded from freedom of expression in most liberal democracies and duly condemned as harmful. However, this exclusion principle has become increasingly challenged by right-wing thinkers and writers and is criticised as restricting freedom of speech. Furthermore, literature often serves as a vehicle to convey such discourses all the while overturning censorship. This symposium will discuss the legal framework and literary strategies of neo-reactionary authors who contest it. To spark a comparative approach, it will compare the legal framework and practices within the international, European, and national (especially French) spaces.


Introduction: Legitimizing the stigma through literature, Gisèle Sapiro (CNRS-EHESS)

A historical perspective on hate speech: the PEN Charter, Peter McDonald (University of Oxford)

Literature, hate speech and the law, Thomas Hochmann (University of Paris-Nanterre)

Hate Speech and Fiction: An Overview of Contemporary Jurisprudence in French Press Law, Anna Arzoumanov (University Paris Sorbonne)

Licence to hate ? Houellebecq status as a writer in a recent controversy about provocation to hatred, Amina Damerdji (FNRS)

Discussion: Elleke Boehmer (University of Oxford)