Being Human, the National Festival of Humanities, opens across the UK on the 17th November, this Thursday. With nine days of events from Scotland to Cornwall, Northern Ireland to London this year is as diverse in the range of research inspired by the humanities, as it is in geography! There are a number of events taking place in the North-East of England: Hoping for Peace, Imagining War: British Writers 1890s-1920s and The Power of Print in 18th Century Newcastle organised by Northumbria University, Scaling the Heights: Mountains and Vertical Megastructures, Maternity Tales – Listening to Birth Spaces Past and Present and Hope and Fear in Children’s Books organised by Newcastle University. And, there are the two events organised at Durham University under the umbrella title of Heaven’s Above! Giles was talking about the last two in particular on the Ingrid Hagemann Show today (13.11.16 – at around 1hr 45 mins in on the listen again): the excitement of medieval astronomy, mechanical clocks, and what he’d like to do if he could go back in time.
Drawing on a wide range of research, including the Ordered Universe, Heaven’s Above comprises a public talk by Philipp Nothaft, of All Souls College, University of Oxford, in the Chapter House, Durham Cathedral, Friday 18th November: 15.00-17.00. Philipp will be talking about time-reckoning in the Middle Ages, the intricacies and complexities of how to maintain the Christian Calendar, and particularly the question of how to calculate the date of Easter. The talk is the first in a series of public talks planned by Giles Gasper and Rev. Canon Professor Simon Oliver A Cultural History of the Medieval Cosmos (there will be other talks 2017 on Music and the Architecture of the Heavens, and on Architectural Themes in Medieval Islamic Cosmology), and takes place in partnership with Durham Cathedral, the Michael Ramsey Centre for Anglican Studies, and Durham University’s Institutes of Advanced Studies, and Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies. There are still free places available – register for a free ticket at Eventbrite.
The second part of Heaven’s Above! is an interactive exhibition of stands and research on Astronomy and Sight from the Middle Ages until now. Medieval Astolabes, Medieval Optical Experiments, the Ordered Universe and the Scientific World of Robert Grosseteste, Medieval treatises on Time-Reckoning (with colour samples), Renaissance Astronomy, 18th Century theories of human colour vision, the riches of the scientific collections at Ushaw College, modern cosmology – a 3d tour of galaxy modelling using virtual reality technology, a blow-up planetarium, and artwork inspired by humanities research from the National Glass Centre, Alexandra Carr and Ross Ashton. It runs on Saturday 19th November: 11.00-16.00 in the Pemberton Lecture Rooms on Palace Green – and will also feature the Time Bandit re-enactment group. The exhibition takes place in partnership with the Centre for Catholic Studies, the Institute of Advanced Study, the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Durham University, the National Glass Centre, University of Sunderland, The Projection Studio, Ushaw College, Alexandra Carr and Time Bandits. Free places are still available for this event too -register for a free ticket at Eventbrite.
All are welcome, come along to meet the researchers and artists inspired by the past, modelling the galaxy, and exploring the hopes and fears of humanity as we contemplate the vastness of space, and our place within it! The major themes of the Ordered Universe reflect the wider ambitions of humanities research showcased here – collaborative, cross-cutting with sciences, and helping to ground human experience in cultural narratives that speak across generations and identities.