A transatlantic festival investigating the state of liberté d’expression or free speech in the age of what has been called "cancel culture" co-presented by La Maison Française of NYU: Friday, April 23–Sunday, April 25

Blacked-out page except for phrases like "cancel culture" and "religion"

Three leading French cultural organizations based in New York will bring together more than a dozen thinkers from the U.S. and France for a transatlantic festival investigating the state of liberté d’expression or free speech in the age of what has been called “cancel culture. This event can be seen live online Friday, April 23 through Sunday, April 25. The sponsors are: La Maison Française of NYU, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US, and French Institute Alliance Française.

The online event is free and open to the public. Registration is needed.

Talk I: Religion

Friday, April 23, 2021 at 1pm (ET).

Keynote speaker: Suzanne Nossel, with Philippe Lançon and Caroline Fourest

What does religious freedom mean in the public sphere? The French concept of laïcité, the result of a long historical struggle of the Republic against the power of the Church, has no equivalent in the US. Many Americans even consider it liberticidal for its apparent limitations on religious practice and observance. Are these concerns valid or a misconstruction? Is there still support for free speech when it comes to religion?

Talk II: Sexuality

Saturday, April 24, 2021 at 1 p.m. (ET)

Keynote speaker: Laura Kipnis, with Laure Murat, Manon Garcia, and moderator Lauren Wolfe

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, which originated in the US, France began reconsidering its stance towards sex and sexual liberation. Its attitudes that had fostered a culture of seduction and gallantry have been accused of also allowing a pattern of harassment and sexual assault. Some critics complained that this movement, born on social media, went too far, creating a climate of paranoia that limits free behavior instead of building a healthier framework for relationships. How has this movement evolved and changed over the years and should social media become a public court of opinion?

Talk III: Race

Sunday, April 25, 2021 at 1 p.m. (ET)

Keynote speaker: Thomas Chatterton Williams, with Nell Irvin Painter and Marie-Anne Matard-Bonucci, and moderator James McAuley

The denunciation of racism, in the wake of Black Lives Matter, has put questions of systemic discrimination in the US and in France into relief. But these two countries, with their different histories, have a distinct relationship to the notion of race, a word that is even taboo in France. While the United States grapples with a long history of slavery, France is often blamed for its supposed colorblindness and the difficulty it faces in addressing its colonial legacy. How do these different narratives translate into contemporary debates, such as accusations of historical revisionism or criticism of cultural appropriation?

Performance of Noire:

By Tania de Montaigne

Directed by Stéphane Foenkinos

Friday, April 23–Sunday, April 25, 2021

Online (In French with English subtitles)

Talk with Tania de Montaigne

Saturday, April 24 at 5 p.m. (ET))

LIVE Online • In English

In Montgomery, Alabama, on the 2:30pm bus on March 2, 1955, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give her seat to a white passenger. Despite threats, she remained seated. Thrown in jail, she decides to plead not guilty and to sue the city. No one before her had dared this. Based on Tania de Montaigne’s eponymous novel, Noire is the story of this heroine, still alive but forgotten. Noire is also a portrait of this legendary city, where Martin Luther King, a 26-year-old pastor, and Rosa Parks, an unknown 40-year-old seamstress, crossed paths. Noire is the story of a fight that still goes on against racist violence and injustice.

The performance will be available to stream online all weekend from Friday, April 23 to Sunday, April 25. A link will be posted here.

On Saturday, April 24 at 5 p.m. (ET), Tania de Montaigne will present her creative process behind the performance of Noire and discuss what inspired her to bring the story of this little-known American heroine to a French stage.

For more information, contact the NYU press officer listed with this release.

Press Contact

Robert Polner
Robert Polner
(212) 998-2337