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Being Human festival 2020: New Worlds


This year’s Being Human festival kicks off across the UK today! The festival is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and The British Academy, with events led by researchers and academics from universities and organisations all over the country.

Being Human Festival 2020

This year’s festival presents eleven days of free events and activities, all showcasing the latest research and ideas in subjects including history, politics, philosophy, art history, languages and literature, in fun and engaging ways. Most of this year’s events are online – meaning you can tune in from wherever you are! Inspired by this year’s theme ‘New Worlds’ there are events on everything from science-fiction futures, to immersive explorations of the past, to the role of the humanities in the present.

Here are a few highlights of events being held from across the University of London federation:

Poetry vs Colonialism - Queen Mary University of London

A series of four online events ('Many Hands', 'Smoke Screen', 'Sugar, Sugar' and 'All That Glisterns') led by Queen Mary University of London will explore the histories of colonialism, from weaving in Bengal to gold mining in Ghana.

A Feminist Whodunnit - UCL and LSE

This interactive Cluedo-styled event presents participants with a series of ‘clues’ about the lives and books of feminist writers—past and present—which can be pieced together to explore what inspired and inspires their art, their activism and their feminisms.

Being Human in Conversation: Returning to our senses

Add jellybeans and citrus fruit to your shopping list and Join Professor Barry Smith (Director of the Institute of Philosophy) as he explores the importance of our sense of smell in our everyday lives.

Gino Severini - The-Boulevard - Arrivederci Italia
Gino Severini - The-Boulevard - Arrivederci Italia

Arrivederci Italia! - Royal Holloway University of London

Join a journey to Italy, Paris and New York to learn about the lives of Italian refugee and migrant artists in the early 20th century. You will be guided in a creative art activity that will use the artists’ multi-sensory techniques to explore emotions and ideas reflecting on memory and place.

Embrace the Base - Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

What was life like at the Greenham Common Peace Camp between 1981 and 2000? Tune in to this very special interactive performance event from Cornish feminist theatre hub Scary Little Girls who’ll be talking activism, direct action, and protest, and sharing the oral histories of Greenham Women through songs, games, and virtual reality.

On the Trail of Refugees in Bloomsbury - Institute of Modern Languages Research

On this self-guided audio walking tour, follow the trail of the 1930s refugees from Nazi Europe around Bloomsbury, a magnet for the new arrivals due to its cheap boarding houses and Bohemian reputation. Find out how support for refugees was coordinated from Bloomsbury, how exiles contributed to Britain’s anti-Nazi propaganda war, and how activists plotting the Nazis’ downfall were spied on by MI5 agents.

Terry Prachett - SHL
Terry Pratchett - SHL

Magical Mind: The World of Terry Pratchett - Senate House Library and the Institute of English Studies

Terry Pratchett’s novels created a new world where fantasy, science-fiction, humour and satire coexisted, firing the imagination of millions of readers all over the world. Join this live conversation event with Neil Gaiman, Rhianna Pratchett and Rob Wilkins as they explore the fantastical Discworld universe of characters and plots where magical and mechanical technology go hand in hand.

Weather the Weather – King's College London

An immersive, sensory artwork recreating weather conditions of past and future years but of the same day. Due to lockdown restrictions experience the installation via live stream.

Being Human festival will take place 12-22 November. To find out more visit Being Human Festival.