Northumbria University chosen as national hub for Humanities Festival

Two of the North East’s iconic treasures – the Lindisfarne Gospels and Hadrian’s Wall – will form part of a big celebration this year after Northumbria University was named one of five institutions selected as the hub of the humanities festival 2022 in uk.

The Being Human Festival, held across the country each November, demonstrates and celebrates how humanities-based subjects, which include language and literature, history, geography, philosophy, archeology , anthropology, law, religion and art inspire and enrich our daily lives.

It is the only National Humanities Festival in the UK. It is funded and organized by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and the School of Advanced Study at the University of London.

Hub status for the festival, now in its ninth year, is awarded annually to a handful of research organizations to present a program of free and thought-provoking public events on a chosen theme, which respond to histories, cultures and communities in their local area.

Aimed at people of all ages with varying backgrounds and interests, these events are designed to help meet the challenges of modern life by providing people with valuable insights into themselves and their relationships and interactions with others.

Dr. Gareth Roddy, Early Career Leverhulme Fellow in the University’s Department of Humanities, and Dr. Claudine van Hensbergen, 18-year-old Associate ProfessoreEnglish Literature of the Century, were instrumental in preparing Northumbria’s bid to host this event.

Dr Roddy said: “This year’s festival will explore the theme of ‘breakthroughs’, and our hub program will celebrate two of the North East’s iconic treasures, the Lindisfarne Gospels, which return home to the region in September for a period of three months. at the Laing Art Gallery, and Hadrian’s Wall, the preeminent monument of Roman Britain, construction of which began 1,900 years ago.

“During the festival, our program of activities will explore how we can use these two ‘breakthroughs’ in intellectual, artistic, religious and military endeavors to ask fundamental questions about humanity, as well as what breakthroughs look like for us today.”

The Being Human festival will see a series of exciting events held at the Laing Art Gallery, Shipley Art Gallery and Great North Museum: Hancock. The latter venue will host an ambitious ‘Museum Late’ to kick off the festival in Newcastle, with a range of performances, screenings and interactive events organized by scholars from Northumbria, with contributions from collaborators at Newcastle University.

Adam Goldwater, Director of Great North Museum: Hancock, said: “We are delighted to support the festival with a key late-night social event at the Great North Museum: Hancock. Our main goal as a museum is to inspire curiosity, learning and debate through a stimulating, innovative and provocative program of cultural and scientific engagement. This event provides exactly the platform to do just that, and a fantastic opportunity to include cutting-edge research at the heart of our program of public events.

Dr van Hensbergen, who is a UK research and innovation scholar, leads the university’s partnership with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM), which will be involved as a central partner.

She added: “Using these incredible artefacts from history as inspiration, our events, in partnership with a range of local experts, will be led by colleagues from the arts, humanities and health sciences. and life, and will feature expertise and elements from linguistics, literature, creative writing and history, as well as fine arts and performance, social work, education and community well-being.

“This is a great achievement for the University, and we are thrilled to collaborate with brilliant local community and cultural partners to create engaging events and projects for all to enjoy.”

In addition to the partnership with TWAM, the University will also work with the St. James Heritage and Environment Group community, which promotes the story of Hadrian’s Wall in Newcastle’s West End, on a number of events.

The programme, with funding provided by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy, builds on the Creative Communities programme, led by the university’s Professor Katy Shaw, to unlock the potential of culture and the arts in the fight against inequalities.

As Director of Cultural Partnerships at Northumbria University, Dr Shaw has also advocated for the contribution of northern culture to the upgrading agenda as the author of the All-Party Parliamentary Group’s Case for Culture report.

She said: “The return of the Gospels and the anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall remind us all that the North has always been a cultural powerhouse.

“The diversity and richness of culture and heritage that defines this hub will illuminate how the past can inform the present and help us all meet the challenges of tomorrow. It is a concrete example of what can be achieved when universities work in partnership with cultural organizations to extend the reach of our expertise and resources for the public good.

To be human will take place from Thursday 10 November to Saturday 19 November. Full details of the event program will be available on beinghumanfestival.org from October.

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