Festival of Culture


Festival of Culture - Monday 3 June 2019

Festival of Culture listing by day.

Monday Morning Sessions

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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Monday Lunchtime Sessions

The Walk Against Distracted Walking Walk | 12:00-13:00

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad 

(English / Urban Lab)

Each year thousands of people are injured, some fatally, by the phenomenon known as ‘distracted walking’, whereby pedestrians navigate the city streets while gazing at their smartphones. There is another cost – when we walk distractedly we close ourselves off from our environment, anaesthetising ourselves to its stimuli and rendering us less capable of noticing the ways in which the city is being transformed by construction, destruction, gentrification, privatisation, etc. This walk is a walk against distracted walking. It will entail both reflection on the problems of urban walking in the current dispensation and an invitation to participants to use their phones to film or photograph aspects of their environment that might easily be missed or overlooked – turning these weapons of mass distraction against themselves.

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Yes, you can speak Dutch! | 12:00-13:00

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G02

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

Dutch is very close to English, and arguably the easiest language for an English speaker to learn. Through a range of interactive exercises, you will learn more about the areas the language is spoken and Low Countries culture, similarities with English, as well as have a go at learning to decipher and speaking the language, including some tongue twister exercises. By the end of the session, you will be able to introduce yourself in Dutch, and even understand a short story as you will have developed a better understanding of dealing with a new language by building on your linguistic competence.

The Department of Dutch at UCL is celebrating its centenary this year, as the first chair of Dutch Studies was founded in 1919 as part of a soft diplomacy effort much needed in the turbulence after the First World War. With its impressive library that rivals collections in the Low Countries, and a proven track record of excellence in teaching and research, the Department is the centre of Low Countries Studies in the Anglophone world. The centenary will be celebrated with a range of cultural and academic events open to a wider audience, in collaboration with cultural partners across London and the UK, please see our website for details.

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Immersive Stories | 12:00-14:00

Location: Wilkins Building, South Wing, 1st floor - room 7

(Anthropology - Open City Docs)

UCL was the first university in the UK and one of the first in the world to start to teach immersive factual storytelling. In 2017, UCL Anthropology (Open City Docs) MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film launched ‘Studio 4: UCL 360’, led by a senior BBC immersive producer with a team of leading industry innovators, facilitating the creation of non-fiction Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality projects at UCL. The programme is now entering its third year, and a number of £4500 bursaries are available for home and EU students wishing to study on this pathway. Those with an interest in experiencing VR can attend this lunchtime session - hosted in the studio’s immersive space - to pilot some of the latest immersive technologies and sample some professional VR experiences and software packages, as well as examples of the student work currently being created in this exciting new area. Students and tutors from ‘Studio 4: UCL 360’ will be present to introduce visitors to the world of VR.

Drop in, no booking required.

Moving Objects: Stories of Displacement Exhibition and Workshop | 12:00-14:00

Location: Wilkins Building, Garden Room

(Migration Research Unit, Geography)

Facilitated by Yousif M. Qasmiyeh - the Refugee Hosts project's writer-in-residence -, this workshop will invite participants to engage with artefacts from the Moving Objects: Stories of Displacement exhibition, including poems, photographs and objects produced and co-curated by asylum-seekers and refugees in Lebanon, Jordan and London. The workshop will provide a space to reinterpret and critically reflect on the relationship between, and journeys of, objects, humans and animals ‘in exile,’ thereby tracing the value of creative encounters to better understand, and respond to, processes of conflict and displacement. 

The workshop is convened by Professor Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, UCL Principal Investigator leading the Refugee Hosts project; and Professor of Migration and Refugee Studies and Co-Director of the Migration Research Unit, UCL Geography. 

The Moving Objects: Stories of Displacement exhibition is on display at the UCL Octagon space until 6 October 2019 (open daily, 09:00-19:00).

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A five-a-day for the arts? Why community arts and culture matter for our mental health | 12:30-13:30

Location:  Main Quad Pop Up 102

(Behavioural Science and Health)

Mental illness is one of the biggest causes of disability worldwide. 1 in 6 adults in the UK are affected each year. Could the arts and culture within communities help to solve this problem?

The MARCH mental health research network, led by UCL, is a major national initiative funded by UK Research Innovation aiming to transform our understanding of how arts and culture affect mental health. This talk will introduce some of the cutting-edge research in this area and outline some of the work of our MARCH partners including Voluntary Arts, and some of the MARCH research projects, such as a new Citizen Science experiment with the BBC as part of the Get Creative Festival. It will also describe our ongoing research into how we can encourage people to take part in, or attend, arts and cultural groups.

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Lived Gender Diversities: Collective Reflections and New Perspectives | 12:30-13:30

Location: Wilkins Building, IAS Common Ground

(English / qUCL)

Where are we now in terms of trans and nonbinary lives in the UK and in the realm of scholarship? This interdisciplinary roundtable on trans studies and trans activism drawn from two UCL events held earlier this year: Gender Diversity at University event (UCL Geography) and the Trans Studies, Trans Lives: Past, Present, and Future symposium (UCL English) funded by the UCL Grand Challenges grant on the theme of “embedded injustices.

Our conversation will discuss the impact of these events, an overview of the latest research in the field, in relation to our own research and activism as well as future avenues to explore. We hope to bring insight into the latest work in the field across a range of disciplines as well as reflections on trans and nonbinary issues in UK higher education.

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Tour of the UCL Institute of Archaeology Collections | 13:00-14:00

Location: UCL Institute of Archaeology (meet in the Reception area)


Come and see ‘behind the scenes’ of the UCL Institute of Archaeology’s teaching and reference Collections with Ian Carroll (Collections Manager). They include prehistoric ceramics and stone artefacts from many parts of the world as well as collections of Classical Greek and Roman ceramics. There are extensive collections of archaeobotanical and zooarchaeological material which act as a primary source for the identification of plant and animal remains. Collections of minerals and other materials form part of the teaching resource for the study of early technology. Western Asiatic material includes the famous Petrie collection of Palestinian artefacts excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie, and from Jericho, material excavated by the renowned British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon, best known for her excavations of Jericho in 1952–1958.

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Monday Afternoon Sessions

BASc Lit Bits Radio Show | 14:00-15:00 

(Arts & Sciences (BASc))

Tune in to a live radio broadcast brought to you by the Arts and Sciences (BASc) department on UCL’s Rare FM! Co-presented by BASC0026 Creative Writing students and their module tutor Sara Wingate Gray, BASc Lit Bits will preview Festival of Culture content, and include readings by students of their work alongside some literature news and archival poetry audio recordings. To request a track and shout-out send us a tweet @sarawingategray and to listen in to the live broadcast go to http://rarefm.co.uk/.

BASc Lit Bits – the literary soundtrack to your Monday afternoon!

Cities After Hours | 15:00-16:30

Location: Wilkins Building, IAS Common Ground

(School of European Languages, Culture and Society / English)

Professor Matthew Beaumont and Ruth Austin, co-founders of the UCL Cities After Hours Colloquium, will be joined by colleagues considering the city “after hours” from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. As the notion of London as a 24 hour city is debated, we consider the way in which cities have been the loci of inclusion and exclusion, policing and controlling, after-hours.  The panel and topics will include Professor Jo Evans: Chickens After Hours: Los olvidados/The Young and the Damned (Buñuel 1950); Professor Matthew Beaumont: ‘The Case of J. Albert Kimball, Insomniac’; Dr Kevin Inston: Jacques Rancière’s proletariat nights; Ruth Austin: Cocteau and the City after Hours; Dr Enora Robin: ‘Night Time Workers: equitable provision of transport for night time workers’; and Professor Andrew Leak: 'Tonino Benacquista's Les Morsures de l'aube'.

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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

Monday Evening Sessions

The Human Voice in Almodóvar’s The Law of Desire | 18:00-19:00

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G02

(School of European Languages, Culture and Society)

In this session, Jo Evans and Ruth Austin will discuss the presence of Jean Cocteau’s play, La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) in Almodóvar’s film La ley del deseo (Law of Desire) and reflect on the wider relationship of this French avant-garde filmmaker and artist to Spain’s most popular contemporary filmmaker.

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Violence Elsewhere: Imagining Violence Outside Germany After 1945 | 18:00-19:00

Location: Roberts Building, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre

(School of European Languages, Culture and Society)

The Second World War changed the world; and, very fundamentally, ways in which we think of violence. On that war’s eightieth anniversary, this panel event showcases a new research project in this field.  

Because of Germany’s particular history of violence and war in the twentieth century, imagining, representing and perpetrating violence since 1945 in German culture demands distinctive attention. We focus on the analysis of constructions of ‘violence elsewhere’, that is, violence committed outside the country’s borders, because it reveals so much about the meanings and functions of violence in German cultures today; and those of tomorrow. 

Project members Dr Mererid Puw Davies (UCL), Dr Clare Bielby (University of York) and Dr Elizabeth Stewart (King's College London) will present ways in which recent German culture has conceptualised violence taking place in distant or imagined times and places, in words, images and other media. 

‘Violence Elsewhere: Imagining Violence Outside Germany After 1945’ is led by Dr Mererid Puw Davies and Dr Clare Bielby, and funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

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Orwell and British Food | 18:00-19:30

Location: Wilkins Building, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre

(The Orwell Foundation)

George Orwell was so savage about ‘brutish’ British food that the British Council having commissioned him to write an essay on it in 1946 decided to reject it! As we head for an uncertain food future and arguments rage about the Britishness of our post-Brexit diets, Alasdair Donaldson, Senior Policy Advisor at the British Council - who un-earthed the rejection - and Kaori O’Connor, a food anthropologist based at UCL and author of The English Breakfast, will examine Orwell’s views of food, chaired by Jean Seaton the Director of the Orwell Foundation (who will supply marmalade made to the original, rejected, recipe).

Of course there was a context – in 1946 after the war the British public faced more severe rationing than during the war. There was famine in post-war Europe. But perhaps Orwell’s frankness about the British appetites was too much not quite what a mildly positive view of the UK needed. In fact, enjoying good food was an important part of Orwell’s life and was always used in his writing as a measure of how good a society was or how malign dictatorships were.
Come and discuss food and Orwell.

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Philippe Sands on Nazis, fathers and sons | 18:00-20:00

Location: Bentham House, SB31 Denys Holland Lecture Theatre

(Laws / Centre for Holocaust Education, Institute of Education)

Join UCL Professor of Law Philippe Sands for a screening of his acclaimed Storyville documentary, “My Nazi Legacy” in which he travelled across Europe with the sons of two prominent Nazi leaders, Hans Frank and Otto von Wachter. It is an emotional, psychological exploration of three men wrestling with their past, the present of Europe and conflicting versions of the truth. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Philippe, chaired by Hugh Levinson, Head of Radio Current Affairs at the BBC. Hugh edited Philippe’s podcast series “The Ratline”, which explored the story of Wachter’s crimes, his flight from justice, and mysterious death in Rome under the protection of the Vatican.

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Windows on the World | 18:30-20:00

Location: Medical Sciences Building, 131 AV Hill Lecture Theatre

(Anthropology - Open City Docs)

UCL Anthropology (Open City Docs) runs a leading practical MA programme in Ethnographic & Documentary Film at UCL, now in its fifth year. Run by leading film practitioners, students receive high-quality, practice-based learning within a top-level university research environment. This event will feature three graduation films made by the most recent cohort of students. Lucia Molina Pflaum’s Sisters Speak follows five young muslim who host a controversial talk radio show in Luton. In an intimate portrait, the women share their beliefs, ambitions, and dreams - both on and off the air. Anak Malaysia, by Sarah Cowan, sheds light on Malaysia’s hidden issue of statelessness, following the filmmaker’s stateless mother during the final stage of her latest citizenship application. Lastly, Alice Aedy’s Disconnected explores loneliness amongst young people, exploring how despite the current generation having more tools to be ‘connected’, statistics show they feel more isolated than ever before. The filmmakers will introduce their films and be present for a Q&A with Professor Michael Stewart afterwards.

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Exhibition launch: The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and other ideas | 18:30-20:00

Location: Waterstones Gower Street, Gallery (Lower Ground Floor)


Join us for the opening of The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and other ideas, which will be on display for the week of the Festival at Waterstones Gower Street. 

This exhibition by Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, poet, essayist, and musician, of artworks conceptualised and created by him, is being shown for the first time in their entirety in London. It sees a further extension of his interest in working across genres in a way that involves a fresh engagement with the everyday world and its uniqueness. He is an experimenter with, and thinker on, form. 

Amit will talk through some of the objects and guests will be treated to a musical performance, accompanied by his guitarist, Adam Moore.

Amit Chaudhuri is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia and was a fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, 2018-19,. This year he is Annual Visiting Fellow in the UCL Department of English Language & Literature.

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CANCELLED: Deeds Not Words: Helen Pankhurst In Conversation | 18:30-20:00

Location: Bloomsbury Theatre

UPDATE: Thursday 30 May, due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been cancelled. UCL Festival of Culture apologises for any inconvenience caused. We hope to reschedule for a future date and anyone who has already registered for a ticket will be contacted with further details and given priority booking.

All that Remains | 19:30-21:00

Location: The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, Bloomsbury

(School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies)

All That Remains is a reflection on loss and memory based on true stories from the ongoing war in Ukraine. A woman who has lost her brother to the war and is left with only a few of his belongings tries to make sense of what happened. Into her story, the show weaves the voices of her brother and others affected by the war. Using documentary theatre, music and storytelling the show explores what remains when someone dies in armed conflict. A touching and challenging story about trauma, bereavement and finding the strength to live on.

The performance will be followed by a discussion with the author and cast.

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