NPR’s David Folkenflik ’91 to host ‘Dissident Writers’ event

NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik ’91 will lead a panel discussion on the role of dissenting writers in Russia, China, Belarus and elsewhere in a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Visiting Journalist Program event on April 17.

Dissident Writers: A Conversation will feature Folkenflik in conversation with Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America; and Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort, associate professor of literatures in English (A&S). The discussion, one of Cornell’s Freedom of Expression theme year events, will explore topics including book banning in the U.S., the role of society toward dissident writers and the role of dissenting writers around the world.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the newly renovated Meshri Family Auditorium, Baker Laboratory, Room 200, followed by a reception at 7:30 p.m. in the Baker Portico. Registration for the in-person event is via Eventbrite; register for the online session at eCornell.

“The role of the dissident voice holds such relevance for communities close to home and for far-flung regions across the globe,” said Folkenflik, the 2023-24 Zubrow Distinguished Visiting Journalist (A&S). “How a society handles its critics speaks volumes about how fundamentally it values free expression. The question crops up with predictable frequency, yet in intriguing and unexpected ways.”

“The Distinguished Visiting Journalist program enables us to engage with difficult, important questions like the role of dissident writers in our society,” said Rachel Bean, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, who will introduce the event. “We’re looking forward to hearing the different perspectives and insights our renowned speakers will offer.”

Folkenflik has covered media and politics for a generation; his stories and analyses are broadcast on NPR’s signature programs, podcasts and platforms, including “All Things Considered,” “Morning Edition” and “Here & Now.” He is the author of “Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires” (2013) and was named one of the 50 most influential people in American media by Business Insider.

A five-time winner of the Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism from the National Press Club, Folkenflik has also been recognized with the Edward Willis Scripps Award For Distinguished Service to the First Amendment.

Nossel serves as CEO of PEN America, a nonprofit dedicated to helping protect free expression, and is author of “Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All” (2020). She also serves on the Meta oversight board. Her career has spanned government service and leadership roles in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She has served as CEO of Human Rights Watch, and as executive director of Amnesty International USA.

During the Obama administration, Nossel served as deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations. She is a featured columnist for Foreign Policy magazine and has published op-eds in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, and elsewhere, as well as scholarly articles in Foreign Affairs, Dissent, Democracy and other journals.

Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections – “Factory of Tears” (2008, Copper Canyon Press); “Collected Body” (2011, Copper Canyon Press); and mostly recently “Music for the Dead and Resurrected” (2020, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux), winner of the 2020 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy in Rome; the Bess Hokin Prize from Poetry magazine; the Burda Prize for Eastern European authors (Germany); the Crystal of Vilenica prize (Slovenia) and the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation.

Linda B. Glaser is news and media relations manager for the College of Arts and Sciences.

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