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Being Human Festival 2023 programme promises a delight for the senses


Being Human Festival 2023 has unveiled its full programme of events with over 220 free activities taking place across the UK from 9-18 November. 

From exploring historical cheese riots to unravelling supernatural tales, this year’s festival includes a huge variety of eclectic experiences in venues including museums, libraries, converted fish factories and bombed-out churches.

Being Human Festival 2023
Rhyme or Reason - Being Human Festival 2023

The underlying theme of this year’s festival is “Rhyme or Reason,” within which other themes are explored, including the culture of food, mental health, creative writing and water. The latter includes opportunities to explore the marine environment of Plymouth’s estuary by kayak; write eco-poetry aboard a canal cruise on the seldom-seen waterways of Sheffield; and be entertained by the enterprising passengers of transatlantic ocean liner the ‘Empress of Britain’ in Glasgow. 

How to Read a Censored Book’, organised by the Digital Humanities Research Hub at the School of Advanced Study and Senate House Library, invites attendees to take a closer look at a selection of books seized in the early 1980s from Gay’s the Word bookshop. Over 140 titles were seized during the raid by HM Customs and bookstore staff were charged with conspiracy to import so-called ‘indecent or obscene’ material. Attendees will get to handle copies of the books seized in the raids, hear about the experience of reading these books and share their own history of reading, and explore some 21st century ways of exploring queer literature.

Seeing Commonwealth Through Cartoons’, run by the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in partnership with the British Cartoon Archives, will provide a new approach to seeing the Commonwealth through cartoons. Visitors will encounter the Modern Commonwealth from 1949 to the present day, and themes including climate change, media freedom and human rights. The exhibition will be available both online and through a digital display at the British Cartoon Archive.

Founded in 2014, Being Human Festival is a celebration of humanities research through public engagement, and invites academics and researchers to collaborate with artists, creative practitioners, theatre companies, community groups, charities, museums and more. The festival is led by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London.

The festival is run in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy to support humanities public engagement across the UK. This year 33 funding grants have been awarded to researchers and universities.

Browse the full programme of events.