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Festival of Culture

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Festival Highlights

With a diverse range of over 80 events, the UCL Festival of Culture offers something for everyone. Here are some of our highlights from UCL staff and students:

The Walk against Distracted Walking

I have always thought that the best thing about living and working in London is simply walking around it. However many years you have lived here, every few yards there is something new or surprising to see. No wonder that so many great writers, from Defoe to Dickens to Woolf, could gather inspiration simply by taking a walk through the city’s streets. This had seemed a universal, timeless pleasure until the damnable smartphone arrived. Now we are apt to walk looking down into a small, hypnotising screen. This liberating event, organised by my colleague and dedicated urban walker Professor Matthew Beaumont, will free us to see the city again – and to use those phones to help us record its fascinations, not ignore them. Let us undistract ourselves!

Professor John Mullan, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities

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What an impossible choice to make! My inclination is to cancel meetings and clear my diary for the week of the Festival of Culture so that I can attend everything. Unfortunately, I can’t do that, so if I just have to pick a couple of unmissable events, I would choose “Inequality in the 21st Century”, with our very own world-leading economist, Professor Sir Richard Blundell, given the ever-widening gaps between the well-off and the rest in the UK today, and then to change my head space, I would join the “Women of Bloomsbury Walk” with UCL Institute of Archaeology staff Charlotte Frearson and Louse Martin. Bloomsbury is beautiful at this time of year, and a chance to explore the hidden history of women’s lives in our part of town is too good to miss. Plus Indie, aka @archaeo-whippet, might be there too!

Professor Sasha Roseneil, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences


All That Remains

I am especially excited about the play, All That Remains, which uses documentary theatre, music, and storytelling to make sense of the recent events in the Donbas, where Russian and Ukrainian interests clashed and continued to clash in violent and traumatic ways. It teaches us about the ways in which cultural productions can help make sense out of coercive nationalism and aggressive geopolitics. It reminds us of the essential humanity that can emerge even in scenes of war and bereavement. The play is written, directed, and produced by a SSEES alumna, Olesya Khromeychuk, and it is based on her family’s experience and other true stories. For me, it exemplifies the unity of all of the arts and sciences in helping us understand the world we live in.

Diane P. Koenker, Director, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies

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Faith in Schools?

There is incredible variety at this year’s Festival and it really is difficult to choose one talk from the many fascinating subjects on offer. However, the role of faith schools and to what extent they prepare young people for life in a multi-cultural, multi-religious Britain is a hugely important subject and one that should be explored in more detail.

Professor Becky Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education

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Philippe Sands on Nazis, fathers and sons

There are many fantastic events running throughout the week, but my festival highlight is ‘Philippe Sands on Nazis, fathers and sons’. While we all know about World War II, Philippe’s work revisits it in an incredibly illuminating way, to tell us of personal stories and relationships that we’ve never heard before - and of the lasting impact it has on others. This different take on a well-known subject is sure to make a fascinating evening.

Professor Piet Eeckhout, Dean of UCL Faculty of Laws

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A Conversation on Flow and Force in Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo’s mind is one of the most pertinent and mysterious creative entities in the history of our world. His work and influence has been studied over and over again and few can give such a powerful and thorough discussion on his genius as Professor Alison Wright.

Emma Gabor, Undergraduate student, UCL History of Art

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Revolution: UCL Publishers' Prize 2019

My highlight would be to hear the work of those who won UCL Publishers’ Prize. I’d love to celebrate the wonders of human creativity and expression. Poetry and language underpins the awe-inspiring beauty of imagination that define and make us who we are. Words and ideas can change the world.

Dylan Ngan, Undergraduate student, UCL Department of Philosophy 

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Languages of London: Celebrating Languages and Multilingualism in the City

I look forward to attend the “Languages of London: Celebrating Languages and Multilingualism in the City” event because I am passionate about languages and cultures, and I am interested in meeting people who are multilingual, like me. I am curious to know how this ability influences their life and how they use languages on a daily basis.

Sarah Soued, Postgraduate Student, UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry (CMII)

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Women of Bloomsbury Walk

As an English Student, if I had to choose just one of tempting activities on offer in the UCL Festival of Culture 2019, it just has to be the “Women of Bloomsbury Walk”. This promises to be an exciting journey into the hearts and minds of the creative women who have walked the squares of Bloomsbury before us.

Elin Johnson, Undergraduate student, UCL Department of English Language and Literature

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