Faculty of Arts

Being Human: A Festival of Humanities

lost and found

Being Human 2017:
Lost and Found

17 - 25 November 2017


The continuing celebration of all the things that make us human. 

See Nottingham's full programme for 2017: some events require booking

Being Human: a festival of the humanities



Being Human Blog

See what happened during Being Human 2016 

Hope and Fear 17-25 November 2016

The University of Nottingham’s 2016 Being Human hub explored Nottingham as a crucible of religions and peoples from around the world. Touching on everything from human rights, the legacies and histories of slavery, and community divisions in the aftermath of Brexit, this programme showed how humanities research can deepen our understanding of ‘Cultures of Hope and Fear’ in the broadest possible context. At the same time, events delved into local contexts and the histories of communities and industries of Nottingham itself.

Through public forums and dialogues with academics and groups including Europe’s first Black Lives Matter chapter, the three-part series ‘The Rights and Justice City’ featured explorations of some of the most pressing issues facing the world today, from contemporary slavery to the future of activism and civil rights.

Elsewhere, local history walks invited you to find radical pathways through the city and a ‘Conversation Dinner’ drew people together to enjoy a menu not of food, but of encounters and conversations that will allowed participants to explore shared experiences in life and the lessons drawn from them.

This programme explored shared cultures and cultures in conflict. With humanities research at the core, it was assembled with the hope of helping people in Nottingham and beyond explore a common past and a collective future.

Conversation Dinner,

17 November,

19.00 - 20.30, Jamie Oliver's, Low Pavement

Hosted by Theodore Zeldin and Katharina Lorenz, this event invited the people of Nottingham on a journey through a conversation with someone they did not know. Participants were given a Menu from Starters to Desserts but instead of food the Menu was full of topics to discuss and guide conversation. These topics were about experiences in life and the lessons drawn from them and were curated in such a way as to help define future paths.

Previous participants have been amazed by how inspiring the conversation can become. Many discover what they have in common with a stranger, who sometimes becomes a friend, and learn about themselves through a different set of eyes.

This was the first event of a project to create a Portrait of the People of Nottingham, revealing the hidden talents and aspirations in different communities and occupations. Great adventures begin with great conversations.


The Rights and Justice city I: making Nottingham slavery-free

18 November, 19.00 - 20.30

Newton Lecture Theatre 1

The first of a three-part series called ‘The Rights and Justice city: hope, history and being humane’, this public dialogue tackled an important issue in an open forum.

There are 46 million people enslaved around the world today, forced to work against their will for no pay. The Modern Slavery Act of 2015 tackles the issue of the thousands of people enslaved in the UK.

Could UK cities now take steps to ensure they are slavery-free?

Over the next two years, Nottingham will work to become the world’s first official slavery-free city. Our panel members, including Professor Kevin Bales and experts from law enforcement, civil society and local government, debated how Nottingham and other cities can end slavery. 

Can we make Nottingham a slavery-free city?
Blog by Dr Alice Gardner


History of sound and stone: medieval alabasters and choral music

19 November, Nottingham Castle Museum, various times  (F)

This series of three events showcased two famous types of English art of the late medieval era: Nottingham alabaster carvings and polyphonic choral music.

At this period, during later Plantagenet and early Tudor times, English music and alabasters were flourishing and enjoyed national and international reputations. To illustrate this, there were talks, activities and a unique concert designed to show off a rich era of English art.

Event 1: 12.00 - 14.00 (F)

The first event was led by Los Angeles-based, British artist Sarah Danays. Sarah worked with alabaster and talked to visitors about the material and how its qualities inform her sculpture.



Event 2: 14.00 - 15.00 (F)

The second event of the series was a talk by Lloyd de Beer from the British Museum. The talk explored the wider context of Nottingham’s collection, the history of alabaster carving and the role of Nottingham as the centre of the medieval alabaster world, not only regionally but nationally and internationally.



Event 3: 15.15 - 16.15
The final event of the day was the concert given by the world famous Binchois Consort in the magnificent setting of the Long Gallery of Nottingham Castle.  This spacious venue allowed a rare hearing of beautiful English choral a cappella music contemporary with the alabasters.  A short introduction linking the alabasters to the music wasgiven to guide the audience through the programme.



The Rights  and Justice City II: Nottingham’s Black History

19 November, 15.00 - 17.30

Nottingham Contemporary 

Part II in a three-part series called The Rights and Justice City: Hope, History and Being Humane, this public dialogue tackled an important issue in an open forum. Nottingham is home to Europe’s first Black Lives Matter chapter, which in 2015 joined the 30 local chapters that exist in the US, Canada and Africa. Chapter members are also part of the Nottingham Black History Society and the project Slave Trade Legacies: The Colour of Money (a National Lottery Heritage Award finalist).

But what is the relationship between Black Lives Matter and black history in Nottingham? Is Nottingham’s black past a prologue for contemporary activism? Does the city’s history contain a usable past for today—do Black Histories Matter? This event offered talks, discussion and music, with local experts and visiting guests, in collaboration with the Nottingham Black History Society and Black Lives Matter Nottingham. 


Walk of hope: to the castle!

19 November, Meet at 16.00

St Peter's Square Nottingham

To the castle! By popular demand, People’s Histreh, Nottingham’s radical history group, lead a lively walking tour of the city following the route of rioters who marched in the streets and then sacked and burned Nottingham
Castle in 1831.

The walk explored the identities and motives of the rioters as well as their living and working conditions.


The Rights and Justice City III: Nottingham in the Age of Brexit

21 November, 17.00 - 18.30

Galleries of Justice Museum

Part III in a three-part series called The Rights and Justice City: Hope, History and Being Humane, this public dialogue tackled an important issue in an open forum. On 23rd June 2016, the UK voted to exit the EU.

This referendum sparked a flurry of political changes in the government and a sharp rise in hate crimes reported to the police. Suddenly the UK had to confront questions of equality, tolerance and hate. Does the marked rise in hate crimes signal a new age of intolerance? How should the UK engage with questions of race and rights in the Age of Brexit? How should the city of Nottingham?

The speakers, including Professor Todd Landman, Pro-Vice Chancellor - Social Sciences, at the University of Nottingham, and special guest experts, challenged everyone to consider their responsibility for living, humanely, in the post-referendum world. 


Being Human 2016: London events

Sound and Fury: Listening to the Second World War

25 November (9.30 - 17.00 (installation), 18.00 - 20.00 (talk)

British Library, London

The British Library’s Foyle Room was  transformed into an all-enveloping audio-visual installation where visitors could listen to the hope and fear generated by the Second World War. Radio and gramophone sets from the period loaned by the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum crackled back into life with the haunting sounds of a nation at
war. The British Library Archives composer-in-residence Aleks Kolkowski and curator of radio Paul Wilson were joined by historians James Mansell and Carolyn Birdsall to present a special edition of the installation with illustrated talks.

Throughout the festival there was also be a display of Second World War sounds and vintage technology at
Senate House relating to the building’s time as home of the government’s Ministry of Information.


Sound and fury: Senate House installation

Thursday 17 November-Friday 25 November (Mon– Fri 10:00-20:00, Sat 10:00–18:00, closed Sunday and Tuesday)

Senate House, London

Composer Aleks Kolkowski, in collaboration with historian James Mansell, created a site-specific installation in the former Ministry of Information in Senate House, University of London that was on  display throughout the Being Human festival.

Visitors could explore this historic building – including rooms not normally accessible to the public – while
interacting with vintage sound technologies loaned by the British Vintage Wireless and Television Museum and the unheard collections of the British Library Sound Archive.



See what happened during Being Human 2015

Being Human 2015: Nottingham and Eastwood events

The 2015 Creative City theme included a long tradition of art; learning a language,learning a culture; photography and poetry; writing and performance.

££ charges apply
*booking required
F particularly suitable for families

DateEventType of eventJoining details
13 -22 Nov Telling tales of Nottingham Photography Exhibition curated by David Sillitoe

12-5pm daily. Broadway Media Centre.

13 Nov Art and Urban Culture: Wright of Derby, Then and Now Lecture by Prof Stephen Daniels and Lucy Bamford

4-5pm, Castle Museum, Long Gallery*

14 Nov Pop-up language sessions Short sessions led by language tutors

1-5pm, various city centre and Creative Quarter venues 

14 Nov Poetry treasure hunt: make a secret code Encrypt poetry in a aesthetically-pleasing barcodes from poetry


14 Nov Digital Storytelling: when, why, how? Talk by James Walker, Literature Editor of LeftLion

1-2pm, Nottingham Writers' Studio

15-22 Nov Poetry treasure hunt: unlock the secret code Interactive walking trail to decode hidden poetry


15 Nov Hidden tales of the Theatre Royal Interactive walking tour based on the theatre archives

Tours start at the Theatre Royal 2, 3 and 4pm; smartphone required* F 

15 Nov Artists and makers fair View and purchase work by local artisans

12-4.30pm Galleries of Justice ££

16 Nov Creating a public art gallery Lecture by Prof. Richard Wrigley

5.45-7pm, Castle Museum, Long Gallery

17 Nov Looking back on the Midlands Group Panel talk chaired by Nick Alfrey

7-8.30pm, Nottingham Contemporary

18 Nov Guided walk and creative writing workshop Gain inspiration from D.H. Lawrence’s Eastwood

10.30am-3pm ££ * Meet at D.H. Lawrence Heritage Centre

18 Nov Lawrence, Class and Culture Talk by Prof Neil Roberts


D.H. Lawrence Heritage Centre* 

18 Nov History of the University - a guided tour of the exhibition A guided tour of the Weston Gallery exhibition detailing the history of the University of Nottingham in the city

1-2pm, Weston Gallery, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, University Park Campus, Nottingham

18 Nov Re-imagining creativity from below Panel talk chaired by Dr Alex Vasudevan 

6.30-8pm, Primary* 

18 Nov Consider smell I Urban ‘smell walk’ around Nottingham’s caves led by Julia Feuer-Cotter

4-6pm. Meet at Malt Cross. Followed by Exhibition opening 7pm* 

19-22 Nov Consider smell II A public interactive exhibition of smellscapes in Nottingham

Malt Cross. 


19 Nov The Legacy of Jesse Boot A public talk by Boots archivist Sophie Clapp and Prof. John Beckett

2-3pm, The Larder Restaurant, 16-22, Goosegate, Nottingham

20 Nov Page vs Stage Readings and debate with the Mouthy Poets and Nottingham Writers’ Studio

7.30-9.30pm, Nottingham Writers’ Studio* 

20 Nov You're Human Like the Rest of Them: the films of B.S. Johnson and introduction by Jonathan Coe Film (15), talk and book signing.  

8.45pm Broadway Media Centre, normal ticketing charges apply ££

21 Nov P.H. Emerson: photographer and author Symposium and opening of the P.H. Emerson exhibition curated by Federica Chiocchetti, V&A

10.00am-4pm Castle Museum ££ *

21 Nov Pop-up language sessions Short sessions led by language tutors

1-5pm Various city centre and Creative Quarter venues F 

21 Nov But I know this city! Excavate Theatre Company’s city-wide reading of B.S. Johnson’s ‘The Unfortunates’

Start from Broadway Media Centre. Join anytime between 9am and 10pm

22Nov But I know this city! Community theatre workshop: talks and discussions about the work of B.S. Johnson, and the role of community theatre in the life of the city. Led by Andy Barrett




See what happened during Being Human 2014
To the castle: People's Histreh walking tour (by Andy Hallsworth)

Being Human Festival 2014 review

To the Castle! Peoples' Histreh give a guided walking tour of Nottingham, taking in the Galleries of Justice. Photo credit: Andrew Hallsworth, To the Castle 2014

In 2014 the Nottingham festival programme explore the mythical and real characters and events of rebellion synonymous with the region, under the title 'Heroes and Villains: subversion and rebellion'.

See what happened on Storify

Read the Nottingham blogs


University of Nottingham festival partners


Nottingham Contemporary





These events are part of the UK's national festival of the humanities, funded and led by the School of Advanced Study, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy.



Faculty of Arts

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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