Now in its fourth year the Being Human Festival is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. It highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world. There are over 300 free activities taking place across the UK and you can view the full programme here.
Between November 17th and 25th Nottingham is playing its part in the festival with a series of talks and activities. Here is NottsLit’s pick of those events:
How to lose and find yourself in words. The launch
A Free Event at Broadway Cinema, November 17, 6pm-7:30pm, organised by the University of Nottingham in association with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.
Hear the inside story of the BBC National Short Story Award with the 2017 judge and author Jon McGregor, winner of this year’s National Short Story Prize, Welsh novelist and TV scriptwriter, Cynan Jones, and special guests. Cynan was presented with the £15,000 prize for his story ‘The Edge of the Shoal’. The panel, chaired by Sandeep Mahal, Director of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature, will explore how to lose and find yourself in words – the special power in short stories to capture the imagination of the reader.
(Re)connecting with nature through the power of wild words
A Free Event at Attenborough Nature Centre, November 18, 10am–3pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Wildlife Trust
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and Dr Rob Lambert will host a day exploring our lost connection with nature (particularly in modern urban environments) due to our busy, fast-paced technological lives. Explore the value of ‘wild words’, writing and language in a wild setting. Through discussion, workshops and interactive sessions participants will unlock and share the power of language to reconnect minds and bodies with nature all around us. Connecting with nature is, after all, part of being human. Activities will be suitable for a wide range of ages.
Gallery Tour of the exhibition ‘Collected Words’
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 20, 11am-12pm
Join one of the curators for a guided tour of the Manuscripts and Special Collections’ City of Literature exhibition ‘Collected Words’. Hear some of the stories behind the unique archives, manuscripts and rare printed books on display. Learn why DH Lawrence’s Pansies had to be smuggled into the country, discover the writings of Margaret Cavendish of Welbeck Abbey, the world’s first female science-fiction author known as ‘Mad Madge’, and view a masterpiece of medieval poetry.
Migration stories – then and now
A Free Event at Nottingham Central Library on November 18, 1pm-3:45pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Nottingham Library Services
Explore and create stories about migrants to the East Midlands from over a thousand years ago. Men, women and children from Scandinavia settled across the region in the Viking Age (AD 750-1100). Once here, the new residents engaged and interacted with existing communities in farming and trade, while maintaining aspects of their own culture such as language, dress and religion. Today their traces can be seen in the place-names of the East Midlands, and in the objects they brought with them and used here that survive until today. Get creative! With the support of creative writers, participants will develop short stories, poems and plays which weave together the experiences of past and present migrants.
The rise, fall and revival of the modern bookshop
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop, on November 21, 7pm-8pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop.
A few years ago it appeared that bookshops were in a state of terminal decline. Between 2005 and 2011 nearly 2000 bookshops had closed in Britain, a sign that the days of physical bricks and mortar bookshops were coming to a close. However, in 2015 the American Booksellers’ Association announced a rise in the number of new independent bookshops, and boldly claimed that the word ‘endangered’ could be decoupled from the word ‘bookstores’.
This discussion, led by Professor Andrew Thacker, will explore how independent bookshops such as City Lights in San Francisco (publisher of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl) and Shakespeare and Company in Paris (publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses) have been important institutions in the development of modern literature and culture. The discussion will consider what the modern bookshop can learn from looking at these earlier examples of book selling, and what the future prospects are for the independent bookshop.
Your first digital story
A Free Event at The Mac Suite, National Videogame Arcade, on November 22, 5pm-7pm, organised by University of Nottingham with National Videogame Arcade.
Ever thought about creating and publishing your own digital story? If so, this event, hosted by the National Videogame Arcade, is for you. Participants will take part in a two-hour ‘storyfest’ workshop led by Dr Spencer Jordan, in which you’ll be introduced to the Twine digital platform and taken through the basics of interactive, digital narrative building. You’ll create your own story and then be shown how you can publish it to the web.
No skills or knowledge of digital storytelling is necessary. Simply bring enthusiasm and lots of creativity.
Losing yourself in a book – the ‘Boots Booklovers Library’
A Free Event at Five Leaves Bookshop on November 22, 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm, organised by University of Nottingham and Five Leaves Bookshop.
Between 1899 and 1966 Boots the Chemist operated an extensive, national, circulating library, one which was renowned for service and the environment it created for subscribers. Come and find out why Jesse Boot went to the trouble of running such a popular service as a loss leader. This talk will remember the style and elegance of the libraries which were show pieces of contemporary interior design and most importantly the stories of the librarians who worked there.
Drawing on archive research and oral histories, hear how the libraries celebrated the reading year with a calendar of displays, subscription drives, holiday influxes and joining in with local events.
Discussion led by Dr Nickianne Moody of Liverpool John Moores University and Boots archivist Judith Wright.
Lost authors: Geoffrey Trease
A Free Event at Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, on November 24, 2pm-3:30pm, organised by University of Nottingham.
Nottingham-born Geoffrey Trease was a successful 20th-century writer of historical fiction for children. This workshop will re-exam the impact of Trease through two of his books, his very first book, Bows Against the Barons (1934) and Tales out of School (1949). Both are radical books in their very own way: Bows Against the Barons is an early depiction of Robin Hood as a radical anti-establishment leader in the shape of Wat Tyler, and Tales out of School challenges ideas about the role of fiction in the education of young readers.
This talk, which explores literature and its place in Nottingham’s local history and culture, will be led by Dr Gaby Neher.