UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities


UCL’s Festival of Culture celebrates world-leading arts and social sciences research

12 April 2019

Held over 5 days (3-7 June 2019) across its central London Bloomsbury Campus, UCL’s Festival of Culture features a packed programme of exclusive appearances, talks, debates, workshops, live performance, walking tours, film screenings and exhibitions.

UCL Festival of Culture 2019 Logo

Playing host to a wealth of award-winning authors, iconic artists, emerging talent, international writers and leading thinkers, UCL’s fourth Festival of Culture offers over 70 opportunities to engage with the ground-breaking ways in which UCL research challenges social norms, confronts the past and helps us to think critically about the present.

UCL's Festival of Culture Director, Catherine Thomson, said: “UCL has a rich history of shaping modern ideas and the Festival of Culture offers the public a chance to explore and engage with our world-leading research in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

“The festival will appeal to a broad range of curious minds, and all are welcome. We hope that visitors will be inspired by our diverse programme of events running throughout the week at UCL’s beautiful Bloomsbury campus, in the heart of cultural London.”

Highlights include:

Writing Masculinities and the Body (7/6) – a live book reading and discussion on modern gym culture and masculinity chaired by Dr Christine (Xine) Yao (UCL English), and featuring prize-winning poet Andrew McMillan (UCL alumnus) and novelist Dr Matthew Sperling (UCL English), author of Astroturf, a funny novel about masculinity, identity, sock puppets and steroids.

In Dialogue with Sharmaine Lovegrove, Founder and Publisher of Dialogue Books (5/6) is an evening with the award-winning publisher and intersectional feminist, Sharmaine Lovegrove, discussing the importance of diversity and inclusion in the arts and publishing industry. The event is chaired by Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (UCL Informational Studies), author of Inclusive Young Adult Fiction: Authors of Colour in the United Kingdom.

A series of events in partnership with the British Library including A conversation on flow and force in Leonardo da Vinci (4/6), with Dr Martin Clayton, author of Leonardo Da Vinci, A Life In Drawing and Professor of Italian Art, Alison Wright (UCL History of Art) to mark Leonardo’s legacy 500 years after his death.

At Orwell’s Marmalade (3/6), in partnership with the Orwell Foundation, food curator and FT columnist, Polly Russell, and food anthropologist Dr Kaori O’Connor (UCL Anthropology) will discuss the false nostalgia for ‘British food’.

Human rights lawyer Professor Philippe Sands QC (UCL Laws), will present a screening of his documentary My Nazi Legacy: What Our Fathers Did (3/6), in which he travels across Europe with the sons of two former senior Nazi officers in this study of history and guilt. The event is chaired by Hugh Levinson, BBC Head of Radio Current Affairs, editor of Sands’ BBC Radio 4 podcast, The Ratline.

In Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism (4/6), a panel of experts come together to discuss how ordinary people became complicit in the Nazi atrocities. Featuring Professor Mary Fulbrook and Professor Stephanie Bird (both UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society), Dr Stefanie Rauch and Christoph Thonfeld (both UCL Institute of Advanced Studies).

More from the Festival of Culture:

An exclusive exhibition of The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and Other Ideas (3-7/6) curated by UCL alumnus Amit Chuadhuri, award winning author of Sweet Shop a poetry book which explores the age old, iconic confectionery stores of Calcutta, India. 

A colourful and fast-paced LGBTQ+ cabaret (7/6) featuring stand-up comedian Cally Beaton and transgender performance poet Jay Hulme.

Deeds Not Words: Helen Pankhurst In Conversation (3/6). Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders in the British suffragette movement, will be visiting the Bloomsbury Theatre for a participatory discussion on women’s lives, in a conversation with Professor Sasha Roseneil, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences. 

Lynne Murphy, linguist, professor and author of The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship Between British and American English (5/6) and Dr Kathryn Allan (UCL English) will dissect the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English.       

Learn about new visions for documentary storytelling at Immersive Stories (3/6), a virtual reality drop-in hosted by Open City Docs. Find out what drives millennials to ditch the daily grind for a remote working lifestyle in Dave Cook's (UCL Anthropology) talk on Digital Nomads.

Professor Beaumont, author of Nightwalking: A Nocturnal History of London (Verso Books 2015), will run a Walk against Distracted Walking Walk where guests will be encouraged to put down their phones and reconnect with their city.

Dr Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (UCL History) will share new research findings from a major oral history project Women Against Pit Closures (5/6) looking at women’s experiences and activism in the miners’ strike of 1984-5.

Cultural interaction in Europe in the period of classical antiquity (7/6). Linked to the anniversary of the introduction of the Euro, Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL Greek & Latin) will discuss cultural interactions in ancient Europe, especially between Greece and Rome in the classical period, and consider what this illuminates about the present construct of ‘Europe’.


More information about UCL Festival of Culture

The full programme and bookings will be available online from early May. The festival is free but booking in advance for events is advised. 


  • Distracted Walking. Credit: Matthew Beaumont.

Media contact

Natasha Downes

Tel: +44 20 3108 3844

E: n.downes [at] ucl.ac.uk