Researchers and public explore what it means to be human

The University is to host a series of free public events with cultural partners across Yorkshire as part of Being Human 2015, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

'How Culture Matters: A Four-Fold Exploration' has been made possible by a grant from festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Now in its second year, Being Human is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the British Academy (BA), with support from the Wellcome Trust.  Following a successful application from the University’s Humanities Research Institute (LHRI), Leeds has been awarded funding to hold the events during the festival week, 12-22 November 2015.

'How Culture Matters' will champion the excellence of humanities research undertaken in West Yorkshire and help to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of this today.

The grant will help the University bring together researchers and communities to engage with the humanities. The Leeds programme is part of an 11-day national programme of big ideas, debates and engaging activities for all ages.
The four events that will showcase groundbreaking humanities research at the University as part of 'How Culture Matters' are:

  • We are What We Keep: led by historian Dr Laura King in partnership with Leeds Libraries, Leeds Museums & Galleries and The National Archives, this will focus on archival cultures within families and will combine a pop-up exhibition about the AHRC-funded Family Archive project and a half-day hands-on, drop-in session  and interactive talk on curating family archive.
  • Writing the City: Bradford and British Asian Diasporas: this will explore the idea of cities as spaces where local, national and transnational cultures converge to shape new identities, even as old ones persist. In partnership with the organisers of Bradford Literature Festival, a workshop in the city will bring humanities specialists led by Dr Seán McLoughlin from the School of  Philosophy, Religion and History of Science, together with writers, oral historians  and others, to explore diverse and changing cultural representations of British Asian Bradford since the 1960s.
  • Performing Violence: The complex relations between artistic culture and violence will be the subject of this event, led by Professor Max Silverman (School of Languages, Cultures and Societies) and Dr Matt Boswell (School of English), collaborating with Opera North and featuring a national short film competition, as well as working with teenagers at local schools and colleges.
  • An innovative evening in partnership with the Thackray Medical Museum and Professor Jane Taylor (School of English) will feature puppets to explore a key moment in the history of neurology. She will provide a semi-staged lecture about her play Newes from the Dead, about the true story of a young woman hanged for infanticide in 17th-century England and then handed over to anatomists for dissection. But she revived on the anatomy table and became a test case in the history of women’s rights, medical history and conceptions of the human.

Professor Gregory Radick, LHRI Director, says: "Each of the events will celebrate humanities research at Leeds by inviting members of the public into the research process itself, in a way that communicates the excitement of the research while also stimulating debate and discussion.

"For example, at the We Are What We Keep drop-in session, people can contribute photos, drawings, or descriptions of items they feel are key to their family’s identity to a communal family archive.

"The 2015 festival programme promises to be exciting, entertaining and thought-provoking, with something for everyone in our diverse communities."

To find out more about the Leeds events, contact Mike Bellhouse (32430).

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