The Power of Iconic Documents

United States's Bill of Rights

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Hear Geoffrey Robertson, Jill Lepore and Michael Ignatieff discuss the iconic documents of democracy

Once written down, some texts take on a power that makes them touchstones of human wisdom; inspiring movements, brave individuals and even whole nations.

At this exceptional event hear Geoffrey Robertson on Magna Carta, Jill Lepore on the US Bill of Rights and Michael Ignatieff on The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, followed by a discussion chaired by Sarah Churchwell.

Michael Ignatieff is a writer, teacher and former politician. Born in Canada, educated at the University of Toronto and Harvard University, he was a familiar broadcaster and critic on British television and radio especially in the 1990s. He has taught at the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University, the London School of Economics and Harvard. His major publications are The Needs of Strangers (1984), Scar Tissue (1992), Isaiah Berlin (1998) The Rights Revolution (2000) Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry (2001), The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (2004), True Patriot Love (2009) and Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics (2013).Between 2006 and 2011, he was Deputy Leader and Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. In 2014, he rejoined Harvard as Edward R. Murrow Professor of the Practice of Politics and the Press. He also serves as Centennial Chair of the Project on Global Ethics at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York.

Jill Lepore, has been contributing to The New Yorker since 2005. Her books include The Name of War (1998), which won the Bancroft Prize; New York Burning (2005), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history; The Story of America (2012), which was short-listed for the PEN Literary Award for the Art of the Essay; Book of Ages (2013), a finalist for the National Book Award; and The Secret History of Wonder Woman (2014). Lepore received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1995 and is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University.

Geoffrey Robertson QC is a leading human rights lawyer and a UN war-crimes judge. He has been counsel in many notable Old Bailey trials, has defended hundreds of men facing death sentences in the Caribbean, and has won landmark rulings on civil liberty from the highest courts in Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth. He was involved in cases against General Pinochet and Hastings Banda, and in the training of judges who tried Saddam Hussein Some of his recent cases include the representation of Julian Assange in extradition proceedings in the UK, the representation of Armenia with barrister Amal Clooney at the European Court of Human Rights in the Perinçek v. Switzerland case as well as having been on several human rights missions on behalf of Amnesty International. His book Crimes against Humanity has been an inspiration for the global justice movement, and he is the author of an acclaimed memoir, The Justice Game, and the textbook Media Law. He is Head of Doughty Street Chambers, a Master of the Middle Temple, a Recorder and visiting professor at Queen Mary College, University of London.


Sarah Churchwell is Professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities at UEA. She is the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and The Invention of The Great Gatsby, The Many Lives of Marilyn Monroe, and co-editor of Must Read: Rediscovering the Bestseller. She has written for numerous publications including, the GuardianNew Statesman, Financial Times, TLS and Sunday Times and comments regularly on culture and politics for TV and radio.  She has judged several literary prizes, including the Women's (Orange) Prize for Fiction and the David Cohen Prize for Literature. 


Name: The Power of Iconic Documents
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £15.00
Senior 60+: £12.00
Student: £10.00
Registered Unemployed: £10.00
Under 18: £10.00
Friend of the BL: £10.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546