University of Birmingham Great War Centenary Lecture

Professor Adrian Gregory from the University of Oxford is a leading historian of Great Britain during the First World War and author of The Last Great War: British Society and the First World War (CUP, 2008).

As part of this prestigious lecture series commemorating the anniversary of the First World War, he will be discussing some of the latest research on an often overlooked aspect of the conflict: the impact of religion.

Presented by the Centre for War Studies.

The Road to Midnight Mushrooms

Shakespeare and his contemporaries saw mushrumps as gateways to magic, or as vile and lowly things. But times are changing and the way is led by those at the forefront of scientific revolution; mushrumps become mushrooms.

Join Martin Killeen, Senior Librarian at the Cadbury Research Library, and artist Anne Parouty, as they trace the early development of the scientific method as it came to be applied to fungi, through the works of Frances Bacon, Erasmus Darwin, John Gerard and William Withering. This talk will examine the impact on successive editions of Shakespeare as the language of poetry bends to the times.

This talk accompanies the exhibition Imagining Mushrooms II at the Coach House at Winterbourne House and Garden 14–28 March.

Presented by Cadbury Research Library and Winterbourne House and Garden

Music of the Stars

When you look up at the sky on a clear night did you know that many of the twinkling starts are playing a stellar symphony, as if they were musical instruments? And that many host planets like our Earth? Dr Tiago Campante, School of Physics and Astronomy, explains how astronomers are listening to the sound of stars and finding new worlds in our Galaxy.

Presented by the School of Physics and Astronomy

What do we know about the Vikings now?

From North America to eastern Europe, the Vikings visited, raided or colonised more places than almost any other group of people before the modern era. Our understanding of what they did, why they did it, and what this meant for people in their Scandinavian homeland, is changing all the time. This lecture considers some of the latest research on what some scholars are now calling the Viking diaspora.

Presented by Department of History

Dividing Lines: A Brain Science View of Landscape Art

Ever wondered what really happens to your brain when you look at art?  Join Jane Raymond, Professor of Visual Cognition at the University of Birmingham’s School of Psychology to find out.

The brain thrives on contrasts, categories, and divisions. Artworks that juxtapose sea, land, and sky, that contrast wild with tamed, calm with frenzied, or near with far, bring exciting dividing lines to the brain.

This illustrated talk and interactive gallery session will explore how dramatic landscapes excite the brain and why we find them so enduringly compelling.

Presented by The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in partnership with the School of Psychology.

Future Possibilities Lab


Join Barbara Walker, Divya Kasturi, Shaheen Ahmed, academics (including Dr Sebastian Watt, Dr Stephan Lautenschlager and Dr Carl Stevenson) and communities as they discuss artistic connections with geological data.

Future Possibilities Lab (FPL) is a curatorial space exploring the connections between artistic practice and scientific data to develop new, digital, data art. FPL crosses both physical and digital spaces and brings together artists and academics to work collaboratively to interrogate research and participate in enquiry and discussion to question, subvert and inform practice.

Future Possibilities Lab is funded through an Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, University Of Birmingham Public Engagement Research Funding and supported by Lapworth Museum of Geology and Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage.

Distortions of the Mind: Magritte and Redon

This lunchtime gallery talk looks at Surrealism, Symbolism and Post Impressionism in four paintings, exploring the theme of memory, invention and imagination and the way that artists engage their own memories, and those of people looking at the works.

Ja, As Long As I Can

Join Ikon Gallery for a rare opportunity to hear Norwegian artist A K Dolven talk about her work. This special evening, hosted by The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, begins with a fifteen minute performance of vinyl sound piece JA, As Long As I Can (2014), created by Dolven and US poet John Giorno.

Presented by The Barber Institute of Fine Arts in partnership with Ikon Gallery

Creative Minds at Birmingham: Michael Longley

‘Creative Minds at Birmingham’, the School of English, Drama, and American and Canadian Studies (EDACS) Writers and Artists Distinguished Speaker Series, features an exciting variety of renowned writers, poets and theatre leaders who give a public talk or reading, showcasing their latest works.

Michael Longley is a central figure in contemporary Irish poetry. A forceful figure within the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, where he founded the literary programme, he is one of the 200 distinguished artists who are members of Aosdána. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Wilfred Owen Award. He has won the Whitbread Prize, the TS Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry and the Librex Montale Prize. He was made a C.B.E. in the Queen’s Birthday honours 2010.

Presented by School of English, Drama, and American and Canadian Studies (EDACS)

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea: Identity, Inclusion and the Politics of Immigration

Across the world, immigration and identity are at the centre of urgent and dramatic political struggles and debates. In Europe, the refugee crisis, the rise of far right parties and Brexit reveal mounting tensions, highlighted by the contradiction between the objective processes of mass migration and an anti-immigration ideological consensus.

This event will discuss not only how we should think about these issues, but also how we should act upon them. Is it time to rethink our identities as more inclusive or to transcend them altogether? How should we approach mental and, especially, physical borders, defining national and supra-national polities in today’s world? Can we imagine and then implement new forms of citizenship, which will abolish the divisions between ‘natives’ and ‘immigrants’?

Join writer Richard Seymour as well as academics from the University of Birmingham to tackle these and other questions in an open, interactive discussion.

Presented by Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures (BRIHC)

Artist Talk: Melanie Jackson


To coincide with her solo exhibition at Grand Union, Melanie Jackson will be presenting her research on one of the most familiar substances we encounter: milk.

Milk is polymorphic with an inclination for promiscuous collaboration – whether it be with bacteria, with cartoon avatars, with economics, pornography, racial politics or genetic re-calibration. It is fundamental to all mammalian bodies, and is one of the most technologised fluids on earth.

Melanie’s project, Deeper in the Pyramid, is an expansive new body of work comprising animation, sculpture, a filmed performance and a publication in graphic novel format, written in collaboration with Esther Leslie. It engages with the bio-economy through the webs of exploitation and collective fantasy that interconnect various life forms through milk, its technologies and representations. This project will be delivered across three sites: Grand Union in Birmingham, Primary in Nottingham and Banner Repeater in London.

Presented by Grand Union in partnership with Arts & Science Festival.

Writing Competition

Join a lively debate based on the topic of the University of Birmingham’s Undergraduate Writing Competitions 2016: ‘How important is your memory in your approach to your studies and what creative strategies do you employ to improve it?’

This event will also provide a chance to celebrate the winners of this year’s Undergraduate and Postgraduate Taught Writing Competitions.

Presented by College of Arts and Law

Ladies of Leisure

What is a woman in sport? Media exposure of the 2014 Women’s International football game at Wembley, Sport England’s ongoing pledge to persuade “more women to adopt lifelong sporting habits”, and consistent
debate over the weight and image of
female role models in the public eye have all put ‘women in sport’ in the spotlight and contributed to the pressure to be active, and to look and feel good. But, where has this come from? Is it for every age group?

This illustrated talk, featuring early video footage of female Olympic participation through to magazine covers of active celebrities, will guide audiences through the sights and sounds of ‘ladies of leisure’. The talk will be followed by a discussion exploring the impact and value of the current ‘women in sport’ movement.

Presented by Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences

Dying for Sex: Cultural and Forensic Narrative of Auto-Erotic Death

In this illustrated talk, Professor Lisa Downing explores how auto-erotic death has been understood and represented in narratives drawn from four fields: media representation, forensic psychiatry and pathology, literary fiction, and internet humour.

What do representations and explanations of auto-erotic death tell us about mainstream cultural understandings of sex and gender? What can we learn about the assumptions and biases guiding perceptions of normal and abnormal sexuality by looking at discourses surrounding extreme bodily practices that lead to death?

Presented by Modern Languages and Sexuality and Gender Studies

From the Ocean Deep

Join academics from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences as they lead session exploring how they investigate big questions relating to earth history, processes and climate.

Our speakers – Dr Seb Watt, Dr Tom Dunkley-Jones and Dr Matt Falder – have recently returned from ocean research cruises and come armed with images and anecdotes fresh from the ocean floor.

Presented by the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences in partnership with the Lapworth Museum of Geology.

Careering Through The Day

What stops and starts your day?
What stops and starts your career?

These are questions that women have been discussing at the University of Birmingham, in the lead up to International Women’s Day on March 8th. Their responses have been summarised in a series of “sketchnotes” – an eye-catching and visual way of representing information – by graphic facilitator Pen Mendonca.

In this special lecture, Joanne Duberley, Professor of Organisation Studies at Birmingham Business School, will respond to the sketchnote drawings; making connections with her research into the impact of gender on careers and inviting discussion on how work and careers could be constructed differently.

Presented by the Equality Team, University of Birmingham.