the art of being human

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The art and culture of being human

The UK’s only national festival of the humanities will highlight the vitality of this broad field with contributions from the father of reggae poetry, best-selling novelists and urban explorers, each of whom will focus on the art of being human.

See below for a sample of arts and culture events from across the festival programme. Other themes explored include health and wellbeing, science and technology, diversity, and politics.

Creative City | Nottingham | 12 November and throughout festival

The University of Nottingham, working with a range of external partners in the east Midlands, will hold a series of events focused on the city of Nottingham as a creative space and source of inspiration. The programme will explore the heritage of creativity in the city as well as its contemporary creative culture.

Seeing human | Sheffield | 12 November and throughout the festival

Events at the University of Sheffield will explore representations and perceptions of the humanities in a variety of different ways across visual arts, music, speech and film. By mixing music with language learning, poetry with film, and art with religion, the programme promises to touch on all aspects of being human in Yorkshire’s ‘Steel City’.

Cities and citizens | Newcastle upon Tyne | 12 November and throughout the festival

An expansive series of events are planned throughout the festival week – at least one each day. Last year, more than 500 people booked tickets for Northumbria’s festival events. This year’s ‘cities and citizens’ theme which includes witchcraft, walks and civil war radicals, promises to match last year’s popularity in the north-east of England.

Brining the humanities to life | Aberdeen | 12 November and throughout the festival

The University of Aberdeen’s hub programme ranges from radio broadcasts to church tours, with plenty in between. Events in museums, galleries and cinemas will explore the overlapping histories and cultures of the city – from Vikings and medieval Aberdonians to Romanian artists and Polish migrants. A headline talk from Terry Waite (CBE) will explore what it means to ‘be human’ under extreme conditions, while right across the city a vibrant programme promises to bring the humanities to life.

Shanty mob: reconnecting with Liverpool’s maritime tradition | Liverpool | Thursday 12 November

Merseyside’s six-piece Rock Light Rollers group, will ‘shanty mob’ four pubs in Liverpool’s city centre. Drawing on numerous call-and response shanties associated with Liverpool during its heyday as a port city, the group will break into spontaneous song for customers.

In Robeson’s Footsteps | Birmingham | Thursday 12 November

In 1930, singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson made history by playing Othello. An exhibition, performance and discussion will draw from this dramatic moment – a black performer on a white stage, confronting prejudice.

Mary Shelley’s Dundee: Reanimating a city | Dundee | Friday 13 November and throughout festival

Through exhibition, performance, screenings and walks, the university plans to re-animate Mary Shelley’s Dundee. Drawing on the famous Frankenstein novel and its local connections, events will connect the city’s past with its present: a UNESCO City of Design in the midst of a substantial civic regeneration.

Cathays Cemetery heritage walk: graveyard voices | Cardiff | Friday 13 November

Actors and musicians will bring the history of this unique site to life through presentations of stories about those buried in the cemetery.

The Globe Road poetry festival | London | Friday 13 November and throughout weekend

A three-day international event highlighting the diverse poetic traditions active in London’s East End with a focus on the themes of translation and technology.

Senate House revealed: talking underground | London | Friday 13 November

For one night only, join us in Senate House’s disused boiler rooms for an evening of talks on ‘urban exploration’. Wrap up warm, bring a torch, and come ready to join the debate! Limited places. Booking essential.

Wait, weep and be worthy? Women and the First World War | Glasgow | Saturday 14 November

This free public symposium explores the role, contribution and output of women during the Great War and its immediate aftermath. Speakers include Kate Adie who, as Britain’s leading female war reporter, blazed a trail for women in journalism, and Sarah Waters, the award-winning author of novels including Tipping the Velvet, Affinity, The Night Watch and The Paying Guests.

I stood up for (bio) diversity | London | Monday 16 November

This public installation of imagery and fashion artifacts will encapsulate London’s (bio) diversity with opportunities for active public participation.

Being human? An arts and humanities variety night | Aberdeen | Thursday 19 November

Join Helen Keen along with some of the brightest and most creative researchers from across Scotland to explore what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Modern folk: traditional culture & community in the south west | Helston | Thursday 19 November

This all-day event held at the Helston Museum in Cornwall will look at the ways in which songs, practices, and beliefs from the past still inform modern life.

Cringe @ Mass Observation | Brighton | Thursday 19 November

An evening of readings from young people’s diaries ranging from the 1940s to present day, alongside audience participants reading from their own teenage diaries, demonstrating how today’s cringe becomes tomorrow’s history.

The sanctuary of stories: losing homes, finding words | Norwich | Friday 20 November

Professor Dame Marina Warner, academic and writer of fiction, criticism and history, will be talking about the important role literature can play in the lives of displaced and exiled peoples, as part of the ‘Writing human rights’ series of events.

Singing the past | Exeter | Friday 13 November

This event offers a musical exploration of songs from the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Come and join us as we uncover the experiences of the men and women of the past!

Armchair tour of ‘Queer people’s knick knack emporium’ | London | Sunday 22 November

From the sumptuous Victorian surroundings of the V&A’s lecture theatre, performance artist Bird la Bird will take visitors on an ‘armchair tour’ through the museum’s seven miles of galleries and beyond.