UCL News


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

9 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 talks, debates, exclusive appearances, workshops, live performance, walking tours, film screenings and exhibitions.

Distracted Walking

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 80 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.

Highlights include:

  • The Walk Against Distracted Walking Walk, Monday 3 June 2019. With Professor Matthew Beaumont (UCL English), walkers will create mini-films on their phones in an attempt to addresses the phenomenon “distracted walking”, whereby pedestrians navigate the city streets while gazing at their smartphones.
  • Immersive Stories, Monday 3 June. UCL was the first university in the UK to teach immersive factual storytelling. Check out some of the amazing VR documentaries created by students of the UCL Anthropology (Open City Docs) MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film.
  • A five-a-day for the arts? Why community arts matter for our mental health, Monday 3 June. The MARCH (Assets for Resilient Communities lie at the centre of Mental Health (M-ARC-H)) mental health research network, led by UCL, is a major national initiative aiming to transform our understanding of how arts and culture affect mental health. This talk will introduce some of the cutting-edge research and projects in this area.
  • Orwell’s Marmalade, Monday 3 June. Dr Kaori O’Connor (UCL Anthropology) and Polly Russell, British Library food curator and FT columnist, discuss the connection between food and national identity, and how Orwell captures it in his essays on food. 
  • Deeds Not Words: Helen Pankhurst in Conversation, Tuesday 4 June. Helen Pankhurst, great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and granddaughter of Sylvia Pankhurst, leaders in the British suffragette movement, will be visiting UCL for a discussion on women’s lives, in a conversation with Professor Sasha Roseneil, Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences.
  • Unsung Heroines of Classical History: Natalie Haynes in Conversation, Wednesday 5 June. Star of the BBC Radio 4 series, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, Natalie brings her unique combination of ancient history and stand-up comedy to this year’s Festival of Culture.
  • What’s Wrong with American English? Wednesday 5 June. Dr Kathryn Allan (UCL English) and Lynne Murphy, author of The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between British and American English explore the nature of “Americanisms” and the attitudes that they provoke.

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.”

More from the Festival of Culture:

  • Women Against Pit Closures: Women and Feminism in the Miners’ Strike, 1984-5, Wednesday 5 June. Dr Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (UCL History), Dr Victoria Dawson (UCL History) and Dr Natalie Thomlinson (University of Reading) share what they’ve found from collecting over 100 oral histories from across the UK about what it was like being a woman and an activist during this movement.
  • In Dialogue with Sharmaine Lovegrove, Founder and Publisher of Dialogue Books, Wednesday 5 June. Since its launch in 2017, Dialogue Books has championed the work of marginalised writers, especially those from LGBTQI+, disability, BAME and working class communities. Speaking to Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (UCL Information Studies), author of Inclusive Young Adult Fiction: Authors of Colour in the United Kingdom, Sharmaine will share how she challenged the publishing world and produced award-winning, game-changing books.
  • Writing Masculinities and the Body, Friday 7 June. Join prize-winning poet Andrew McMillan and novelist Dr Matthew Sperling (UCL English) for a reading and discussion on the theme of masculinity, the body, and physical culture in contemporary fiction and poetry.


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