A phone box masquerading as a café, the belongings of Viking Age migrants and a famous author will be the focus of just some of the events taking place across Nottingham this month as part of the annual Being Human Festival.
‘How to lose and find yourself in words’ is the theme of this years’ festival which is a series of events focussed around the power of words and literature and how they feature in everyday life.
This year, the University of Nottingham is joining forces with Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature to present a wide range of events across the city, which will run from 17 – 22 November.
The festival will launch on 17 November at Broadway Media Centre with an event hosted by Booker- Prize-shortlisted author Jon McGregor and featuring Cynan Jones, winner of this year’s BBC Short Story Prize. Guests can find out the inside story on the BBC National Short Story Award and hear from our panel of experts on the power of short stories.
On November 18 festival goers are invited to the Attenborough Nature Reserve to join Dr Rob Lambert, Honorary Vice-President of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and consultant expert for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, to look at how people have lost their connection with nature due to their busy, fast-paced technological lives. Through a series of workshops and interactive sessions, people will be invited to use language to reconnect with nature.
Others may wish to visit the Nottingham Central Library to explore and create stories about migrants who came to the East Midlands over a thousand years ago. Under the guidance of Viking experts, visitors will be able to handle and study Viking-style objects, and learn about their histories. With the support of creative writers, people will be able to develop short stories, poems and plays which weave together the experiences of past and present migrants.
The legacy of the telephone
On 19 November, Dr Sarah Jackson, a 2016 BBC AHRC New Generation Thinker, will launch a three-part series of events exploring the literary legacy of the telephone.
‘Switchboard I-III’ will include a pop-up event next to ‘Dialling In’, a disused Nottingham telephone box refashioned as a coffee shop. Members of the public will be invited to the phone booth to leave their own answer phone messages, reflecting on the significance of the telephone in their lives and imagining calls yet to be made.
Professor Jeremy Gregory, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts at the University of Nottingham, said: “We are excited by the partnership with the UNESCO City of Literature and Nottingham Trent University in developing a rich programme of literary events over the nine days of the Being Human Festival. From creative writing opportunities inspired by gaming, migration histories and the humble telephone, to understanding the history of the bookshop, the City’s own Boots Booklover’s Library and the works of forgotten Nottingham writers, the festival has something for everyone.”
Sally Bowden, Head of Research for the Faculty of Arts, said: “The success of the festival each year comes from the strength of the partnerships between our two universities and with Nottingham’s cultural institutions such as Nottingham’s City of Literature, Boots Archive, Broadway Media Centre, Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottingham’s Library Service and Museums and Galleries Service and this year Nottingham Wildlife Trust.”
The Being Human Festival is a national event which is coordinated by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. The idea is to make the latest research accessible to the wider public and to show its importance to the cultural, intellectual, political and social life of the UK.
For more information on these and all the events taking place across Nottingham, visit the www.beinghumanfestival.org/organiser/university-of-nottingham/ or follow the festival on twitter @BeingHumanFest
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