Festival of Culture


Festival of Culture - Friday 7 June 2019

Festival of Culture listings by day.

Friday Morning Sessions

City, Essay, Film | 10:00-17:30

Location: Wilkins Building, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre 

(English / Urban Lab)

City, Essay, Film is a series of discussions and screenings hosted by UCL Urban Laboratory to examine the concept and practice of the ‘urban essay film’. Bringing together filmmakers, researchers, and critics, the event will consider the interstices of literary, cinematic and urban culture through the lenses of pioneering film essayists and a new generation of artists producing experimental documentary works as polemic/critique on the city. Keynotes will be presented by Nora Alter, author of ‘The Essay Film After Fact and Fiction’, and Laura Rascaroli, author of 'How the Essay Film Thinks'.

An accompanying film screening programme takes place at Bertha DocHouse in the Curzon Bloomsbury throughout June, including a launch evening on Thursday 6 June. Tickets available from dochouse.org.

This event is curated by David Anderson (UCL English) and Jordan Rowe (UCL Urban Lab), and is financially supported by the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities.

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A tour of UCL’s Main Library | 11:30-12:00

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad 

(UCL Library Services)

A tour of the Main Library in the Wilkins Building will take in the Flaxman Gallery and its central sculpture of St Michael overcoming Satan underneath UCL’s iconic dome, as well as the University’s first purpose-built Library, now named after architect Thomas Leverton Donaldson, which opened in 1849. Both have featured in films and television programmes. The current exhibition, From Small Library Beginnings: A brief history of UCL Library Services, will also be visited. Narrating the development of our libraries and learning spaces, today numbering 18 sites in Bloomsbury and beyond, it features highlights from some of the notable collections acquired over nearly 200 years. Coinciding with the exhibition, an installation, Steps to Progress, will be applied to the entrance staircase during 2019. Arranged by PhD student Harvey Wiltshire, representations of texts will celebrate our diverse community and challenge existing conceptions of the literary canon.

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Friday Lunchtime Sessions

CSI: Forensic Archaeology | 12:00-14:00 and 15:00-17:00

Location: UCL Main Quad (or Wilkins Building Garden Room if the weather is bad)


Explore the world of forensic archaeology and excavate the crime scene. Learn from the experts how the archaeological methodology is used to solve crimes, from the past and in the present. 

Drop in, no booking required

The Pleasures of Deep Reading: Jane Austen and Henry James | 12:30-13:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up 102


In The Great Tradition, F.R. Leavis called Jane Austen and Henry James ‘The great English novelists’. He saw the psychological subtlety and social comedy that they have in common. Yet James rather faintly praised Austen for her 'little touches of human truth, little glimpses of steady vision, little master-strokes of imagination'. Is Austen actually a more difficult author than we realise? And is James funnier than we give him credit for? What are the legacies of these authors in a culture where slow reading and deep, sustained attention are under siege? John Mullan and Philip Horne will discuss the difficulties, pleasures and rewards of reading Austen’s Emma and James’ The Portrait of a Lady and Austen and James’ legacies in the twenty-first century.

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Dutch Walk through Bloomsbury and King’s Cross | 12:30-14:00

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad

(Dutch, UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society)

This tour will take you on a Dutch Walk through the Bloomsbury and King’s Cross areas of Central London. The walk will start at UCL, home to the oldest Department of Dutch in the Anglophone world (founded in 1919) and host of one of the largest Dutch libraries in the country. We will walk past Gerard Reve’s former living place, when he unsuccessfully tried to establish himself on the English market in the 1950s, the Elizabeth Anderson Gallery with its connections to Dutch and British feminism, the Eurostar terminal, London’s gateway to the Low Countries, and the many beautiful Dutch and Flemish exhibits of the British Library, before ending the walk in the Dutch East India Company pub in King’s Cross, reflecting on the nature of colonialism and its afterlife. This walk is just one of a set of curated Dutch and Flemish walks through London, published in form on a smartphone app, generously supported by a UCL Beacon for Public Engagement Award and the Dutch and Flemish diplomatic representations in London.

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Wireless Contemplation: Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians – Florence Nightingale | 13:00-14:00

Location: Fitzrovia Chapel, 2 Pearson Square, Fitzrovia London, W1T 3BF


Join us for the June instalment of the Fitzrovia Chapel’s monthly literary gathering, Wireless Contemplation, where we explore the area’s history though writing by/about its inhabitants and major figures. We have celebrated poets, novelists, revolutionaries and pioneers in disciplines ranging from music, to medicine, politics and social work. This month we are exploring the legacy of Florence Nightingale, through Lytton Strachey’s biographical work Eminent Victorians. Nightingale worked at The Middlesex Hospital during the cholera epidemics of the 1850s, and the publishing of her Pavilion Ward designs in The Builder led to a reimagining of medical care in the UK and beyond. Join us to explore her standing in the eyes of Victorian writer Strachey, and hear from Dr. Juliette Atkinson, Associate Professor of in the UCL Department for English Literature and Language. There will be a short talk & then an audio presentation. Refreshments will be provided. 

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Cultural interaction in Europe in the period of classical antiquity | 13:30-14:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G01 

(Greek & Latin)

Linked to the anniversary of the introduction of the Euro, which symbolizes a further stage in the ‘European project’, this talk will discuss cultural interactions in ancient Europe, especially between Greece and Rome in the classical period. It will explore the situation that the first ‘Roman’ poets, who were not Roman nationals, adopted elements of Greek literature and transformed them into something that was comprehensible, relevant and interesting to a Roman audience, and then consider how Roman literature and culture was spread over most of Europe with the expansion of the Roman empire. This will provide the basis for some reflection on the extent to which these developments in the ancient world can be illuminating for the present when the concept of ‘Europe’ is much discussed.

Gesine Manuwald is Professor of Latin and currently Head of UCL's Department of Greek and Latin. Teaching of Classics began at UCL in 1828, and the department offers a variety of interdisciplinary Undergraduate and Graduate degree programmes in classical literature, culture and history.

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The changing nature of Global Disability Innovation | 13:30-14:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up 101

(UCL East)

How do we harness innovation to ensure an equal society for disabled people globally? The panel discussion will look at the changing nature of Global Disability Innovation. The panel will give short introductions to disability and human rights in the UK (Kamran Malick), disability and innovation at Here East (Russell Gundry) and the global picture of innovation in assistive technology (Cathy Holloway). Over half of the time will be dedicated to questions and answers around the question: How do we harness innovation to ensure an equal society for disabled people globally?

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Friday Afternoon Sessions

Fitzrovia Chapel open day | 14:00-16:00

Location: Fitzrovia Chapel, 2 Pearson Square, Fitzrovia London, W1T 3BF

Our Open Days often become a glittering adventure for visitors who have not seen inside the Fitzrovia Chapel before. Just a few minutes walk from UCL's campus, inside our unassuming Victorian redbrick exterior is a treasure trove of colour, iconography and stunning architecture displaying the skill and imagination of architect John Loughborough Pearson to great effect. Visit us during our Open Day and step into the history of the surrounding area, exploring the community of The Middlesex Hospital for which the chapel was built, and the fascinating story of our non-consecrated golden haven in the middle of London. The chapel is open to the public every Wednesday between 11am and 4pm, and is very pleased to welcome the UCL community to this special Open Day opportunity. 

Drop in, no bookings required

Inequality in the 21st Century | 14:00-15:00

Location: Main Quad Pop Up 102


Professor Sir Richard Blundell (UCL Economics and Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)) will lead a presentation and discussion on inequality in the UK. This will feature the recently launched IFS Inequality Review funded by the Nuffield Foundation and chaired by Nobel Laureate Professor Sir Angus Deaton. Aiming to understand inequality not just of income, but of health, wealth and opportunity too, this five-year study will be one of the most ambitious of its kind. The goal is to answer some of the most fundamental questions about the nature of inequality in the 21st century, the forces shaping it, and what can, and should, be done about it. The event will examine the evidence and open the debate on the forces that drive inequalities – technological change, labour market institutions, education systems, family structures, globalisation – and on the role of public policy in shaping and mitigating them.  

Professor Sir Richard Blundell is David Ricardo Chair of Political Economy at UCL and Director of the ESRC Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

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The Advanced Propulsion Lab, UCL East and de-carbonising the transport sector | 16:00-16:20

Location: UCL Main Quad

(UCL East)

A 20 minute talk about fuel cell technology and UCL’s work to de-carbonise the transport system. Focused around UCL’s very own fuel-cell powered car, the Toyota Mirai. Join us in the main quad to see the car and hear about how hydrogen technology can drive a clean future for our energy and transport system. Presented by the Advanced Propulsion Lab and UCell.
UCell is a public engagement group based at the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL, which is focused around comprehensible explaining how and why we should use fuel cells, hydrogen and batteries.

Drop in, no booking required

Friday Evening Sessions

The Hero that Never Saw the Kremlin | 18:00-19:30

Location: Room 347, SSEES Building, 16 Taviton Street

(School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)

50 years since the writing of Venedikt Erofeev’s ‘’poem’’ in prose Moscow–Petushki.

In the early 1970s a ‘poem in prose’ called Moskva–Petushki spread in Moscow samizdat (underground circulation of forbidden manuscripts). The name of its author Venedikt Erofeev was known only to a very small circle of Moscow intellectuals. The book describes a train journey by an alcoholic Venichka Erofeev – the hero’s name replicates that of his author – from Moscow towards the small town of Petushki. The virtuosity of use of the Russian language was breath-taking. Erofeev’s grotesque masterpiece, with its sharp satire and brilliant humour, ending in nightmarish mystical tragedy, left its readers shaken, perplexed and fascinated. It transformed Russian literature and its readership forever.

In discussion of this extraordinary oeuvre and its enduring legacy will participate Dr Svetlana McMillin (UCL/SSEES), Professor Andrei Zorin (Oxford), Dr Oliver Ready (Oxford), London based Russian writer Zinovy Zinik and Profesor Mikhail Epstein (Emory University, USA). 

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Speculative Immersion - Multimedia Anthropology in the Anthropocene | 18:00-21:00

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G01

(Multimedia Anthropology Lab, Anthropology)

This immersive audiovisual performance presents contemporary research on ecological crisis and human futures, in an experimental collaboration by UCL’s Multimedia Anthropology Lab.

Over the course of the evening, immersive spatial audio and textured soundscapes will frame a series of performance-lectures, recounting multiple narratives of our human epoch. We will begin with an account of the Anthropocene - the geological epoch we inhabit - and why we deploy a multimedia format for presenting this research. We will go on to discuss diverse relationships between humans and their environments, and the multiple ways these relationships are understood as they transform. Finally, we will explore speculative futures as envisioned by different human societies - from NASA, indigenous groups in Mongolia, to Amerindian communities - and the radically distinct ontologies they are grounded in

Bringing together interdisciplinary research conducted by anthropologists, artists, and sound designers, this performance incorporates immersive technologies - such as spatial audio, projection mapping, and VR - to take us through the shifting ecologies of our times, while inviting us to speculate on alternative futures.

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(Cancelled) European identity after Brexit - from the perspective of university students | 18:30-19:20

Location: The Studio, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London

(School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)

UPDATE: Thursday 6 June, this event has been cancelled due to speaker illness. We are sorry for any inconvenience.

Performance Lab: Vigil | 18:30-19:30

Location: Grant Museum of Zoology

(UCL Culture)

A Cinnamon-coloured Cryptic Tree Hunter. A Problematic Flasher. Dusky Seaside Sparrow. Fire Millipede from Hell… Vigil is a wild, playful encounter with internationally threatened species.

Performer Tom Bailey explores today’s mass animal disappearance through award-winning theatre company MECHANIMAL in collaboration with UCL researchers.

What critics said about Tom Bailey’s award-winning project Zugunruhe:

‘Extraordinary… moving and enlightening’ New Scientist 
‘Unusual, utterly compelling solo show’ ★★★★ The Herald 
‘Never thought I would be so engrossed by watching a man pretending to be a marsh warbler trying to fly the nest for first time’ – Lyn Gardner, The Independent

Part of Performance Lab and the UCL Festival of Culture.

This event has a £5 charge. 

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Writing Masculinities and the Body | 18:30-20:30

Location: Waterstones Tottenham Court Road

(English / qUCL)

Join prize-winning poet Andrew McMillan and novelist Matthew Sperling for a reading and discussion on the theme of masculinity, the body, and physical culture in contemporary fiction and poetry. Andrew’s two collections, physical (2015) and playtime (2018), and Matthew’s novel, Astroturf (2018), highlight the importance of bodily life and physical culture in male identities. They examine the modern gym as a space in which the work of individual self-fashioning and social bonding are brought into an intense spotlight, and they approach in different ways the challenge of representing bodily life in writing. Andrew and Matthew will read from their books and will discuss modes of masculinity in contemporary writing and culture. The event will be chaired by Xine Yao of the UCL English department.

Tickets are £9.00 (including a copy of Astroturf), £10.00 (including a copy of playtime) or £17.00 for both

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Wesele/Wedding: A Story from Central Europe and London about Love and Brexit | 19:30-21:00

Location: The Studio, Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London

(School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)

Welcome to the last Polish/English Wesele/Wedding before the borders close, where you, the audience, play the role of the wedding guests, led by a charismatic Mistress of Ceremonies.

Restrictions on mixed marriages will be implemented, but until then it’s keep calm and party on!

Wesele / Wedding is a participatory one-woman show, made in the European tradition of absurdist political comedy. This collage of integration stories, raunchy wedding rituals and disco polo sing-along, peppered with Polish and Esperanto, interrogates the role of traditional values, family bonds and whether popular culture can bring us together.

Written and performed by Margot Przymierska. This event is organised in connection with the project eMigrating Landscapes led since 2013 by Dr Ula Chowaniec (Research Fellow, UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern Europeal Studies - SSEES).

Please note: there are limited free tickets available as part of the UCL Festival of Culture. Once these are gone, tickets can be purchased here

Insta @przymierska
Facebook @WeseleShow @MargotPrzymierska

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OUTburst! | 19:30-21:00

Location: Bloomsbury Theatre

OUTBurst! is a celebration of 10 years of OUT@UCL which is UCL's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer and inclusive (LGBTQ+) staff and researcher network.

OUT@UCL received recognition for its work to promote diversity and inclusion by enabling UCL to feature in Stonewall's Top 100 LGBTQ+ Employer rankings in 2017. We are big and we are diverse and we are celebrating the successes of the first 10 years of the network with OUTburst! Do please join us.

Over 500 LGBTQ+ staff members and Friends (or allies and supporters) currently make up a rich social, academic and professional community at our university with our members overseeing the creation and delivery of numerous LGBTQ+ awareness raising events at UCL over the past 10 years. OUT@UCL is now a key part of the university’s ecosystem, reflecting and guiding policy relating to sexual and gender diversity.

OUTburst! stems from our Feb 2019 exhibition UCL's Queer Tapestry which aimed to uncover the rich histories and voices of UCL’s LGBTQ+ community from the past 50 years and beyond. It shared the experiences of a range of former students and staff: from biographies of historical figures, such as celebrated professor (and poet) A. E. Housman, to personal contributions from alumni, including Slade alumna and artist Maggi Hambling.

We guarantee that by joining us at OUTburst! you will be entertained, thrilled and moved, not only by a hilarious professional comedian (Cally Beaton) and an insightful poet (Jay Hulme) who are both at the forefront of contemporary gender experiences, but also by an amazing dance performance (Stomp dance troop). All this will be presented by our formidable lesbian alumni and host (Tabs) with testimony from UCL's current LGBTQ+ staff on their experiences of UCL as an inspirational and unique place.

OUTburst! will engage everybody who has an interest in laughing, loving, labouring and living together as LGBTQ+.

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(Cancelled) Dogme @25: help us write a new manifesto for culture | 20:00-22:00

Location: 2 Northdown, King's Cross

(Scandinavian Studies, UCL School of European Languages, Culture and Society)

UPDATE: Thursday 6 June, this event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. We are sorry for any inconvenience.