Being Human: A Festival of the Humanities opens this weekend, offering insights into ghost stories, mermaids and more as University of Liverpool takes hub status for the first time.
The national festival, which this year adopts the theme Hope & Fear, plays out across campus and the city with events on at the School of the Arts Library, FACT, The Walker Gallery, World Museum, Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre and the Victoria Gallery and Museum (VG&M).
Running over a week, the University’s offer begins on Thursday, 17 November with Human Zoos: putting people on display. Described as “the display of one group of humans by another for the purposes of entertainment, education or propaganda”, the notion of the human zoo, from its 19th Century incarnation to today, will be explored at Kuumba Imani Centre on Princes Road, with accompanying film screenings at the School of the Arts Library on Abercromby Square.
And from archaic, exploitative practices, we jump to visions of the future, with a session considering Wallasey-born sci-fi author, Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 novel, Last and First Men on Friday, 18 November. In his work, Stapledon imagined life millions of years from now from the perspective of the ‘last men’. Event participants will discuss his themes and invent, write and draw their own ‘histories of the future’ for possible inclusion in a time capsule for discovery by future Liverpudlians.
On Saturday, 19 November, the Walker Gallery hosts Professor Sarah Peverley, the Liverpool Players and children’s author Fred Blunt as they consider representations of the mysterious, alluring and often deadly mermaids.
The next day, we move from mythical creatures to Women explorers: crossing cultures at the World Museum. With a particular focus on Mary Kingsley, a female explorer who first set sights on West Africa in 1893, the event considers whether Mary and other women explorers’ gender helped them see the world differently.
It’s over to Roald Dahl and his former doctor, Professor Tom Solomon on Monday, 21 November at the VG&M. Now Director of the University’s Institute of Infection and Global Health, Professor Solomon cared for the famous children’s author in his last days, and has written a book exploring their conversations and Roald Dahl’s own fascination with medicine and innovation.
But what happens when the doctors can’t help anymore? English lecturer, Dr David Hering delves into the shady world of ghost stories at FACT on Wednesday, 23 November. The film Holmewood will be shown, followed by a Q&A and a chance to share your own ghost stories with fellow audience members.
University of Liverpool’s Professor Claire Taylor said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be a hub for this year’s Being Human Festival.
“As the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, Being Human is a huge opportunity for us to get out to a broad public the range of exciting work that our researchers in the humanities do.
“And there really is something for everyone: from story corner activities aimed at very young children, through to exhibitions, film showings and more.
“Being Human is all about how the humanities are essential to our understanding of what it means to be human – and our contribution to the festival will do just that.”
To find out more, and book your tickets, please visit www.liv.ac.uk/being-human.