Lecture Goethe Annual Lecture 2020 by Sharon Dodua Otoo

Sharon Dodua Otoo Ralf Steinberger

Thu, 19.11.2020



'Some Kind of Tomorrow': Honouring the Visions of Black Feminist Creative Authors

​We are delighted to have author and political activist Sharon Dodua Otoo as this year’s speaker of our Goethe Annual Lecture at the Goethe-Institut London. In her talk, Sharon Dodua Otoo will honour the visions of Black feminist authors and explore the structures that have marginalised and excluded them.

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This year, we present the inaugural lecture in a new series on the intersection of culture and politics, dedicated to vital, contemporary voices. In the tradition of our previous series, the Brady Lecture, the Goethe Annual Lecture invites acclaimed speakers to share their perspective on the themes that the Goethe-Institut explores more widely through our cultural work and the most pressing issues that societies are facing in the United Kingdom, Germany and worldwide.

The creative writing of Black feminists has revolutionary potential. It challenges dominant assumptions on gender, sexuality and race and expands the horizons of the current literary audience. In doing so, Black feminist authors imagine a more complicated, more nuanced and a more radically diverse cultural identity.

Yet, in the UK, Germany and around the world, their perspectives have been marginalised. Black feminist authors are rarely afforded the patronage, recognition, and critical reception that their white male counterparts have received.

One of the most acclaimed Black German poets May Ayim only found appreciation within the German-speaking context after she had become well-known in the United States. African-American author Toni Morrison was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988, but only after 48 Black writers and critics had published a statement in the New York Times Book Review that same year. They deplored the fact that after five major novels, Toni Morrison still had not been recognised at a national level.

In 2019, Professor Bernardine Evaristo became the first Black British woman to win the Booker Prize in its 50-year history - a momentous achievement sadly overshadowed by criticism of the jury’s decision to break the prize’s own rules and split the award between two authors.

The visions of Black feminist authors deserve to be honoured. How Sharon Dodua Otoo does this is the subject of her talk.

The lecture will be followed by a Q&A session led by Marcelle Mateki Akita, an author and producer of Africa Writes, Tottenham Literature and SPINE festivals. She was shortlisted for 2018 Morland Writing Scholarships and is published by Hachette UK.

Please reserve your space. Attendees will receive Zoom joining instructions by email in advance of the Goethe Annual Lecture.

The Goethe Annual Lecture will be BSL interpreted.


Sharon Dodua Otoo Biography Tahir Della Sharon Dodua Otoo (*1972 in London) is an author and a political activist. She writes prose and essays and is editor of the English-language book series Witnessed (edition assemblage). In 2017 her first novellas the things i am thinking while smiling politely and Synchronicity were published in German translation by S. Fischer Verlag. Otoo won the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016 with the text Herr Gröttrup setzt sich hin. In 2020 her inaugural speech at the Festival of German Language Literature Dürfen Schwarze Blumen Malen? was published by Verlag Heyn. Her first novel in German will appear in 2021 and will be published by S. Fischer Verlag. Otoo is politically active with the Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland e.V. and Phoenix e.V. Together with her family, she lives in Berlin.

Past speakers of our annual Brady Lecture include for instance John Kampfner (2019), Brendan Simms (2018), Anne McElvoy (2017), Neil MacGregor (2016), Christopher Clark (2014), David Chipperfield (2012), Norman Rosenthal (2010), Tacita Dean (2006), Peter Jonas (2005), Ian Kershaw (2003), Richard Wentworth (2002) and AS Byatt (2001).

Here you can find videos of previous Brady lectures.