Being Human 2018

Being Human LogoSwansea University’s Cultural Institute has been chosen as one of six hubs for Being Human 2018, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

Now in its fifth year, Being Human is led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. This partnership draws together the three major bodies dedicated to supporting and promoting humanities research in the UK and internationally.

Being Human 2018With a theme of Origins and Endings, this year's celebration of the humanities is taking place nationally between 15 - 24 November 2018, with a series of free events taking place across Swansea. 

Under a hub theme of Once Upon a Time, the End, audiences can participate in creative activities (including 'literary windows'), performances, discussions and an exhibition that will take you from fairy tales to Shakespeare, Martin Luther King to the NHS at 70. 

These events will be delivered by the Cultural Institute at Swansea University in collaboration with a range of partners from the Swansea Bay area.

Dr Elaine Canning, the Cultural Institute's Head of Cultural Engagement and Development, said: “We are delighted to be hosting a festival hub as part of Being Human 2018 and wish to thank the festival organisers for giving us this exciting opportunity to bring our research into the community once more."

Intrigued? Be sure to follow @Culture_SwanUni  on Twitter and CulturalInstituteSwanUni on Facebook for future updates!

Browse our list of events below, and book your free place now!

Programme Listing

15 November:  18:00 -19:00
(19:00-19:30 Reception)

'Pembrokeshire, Passchendaele and Perth: my family in the Great War'

 Pembs Passc Great War 

Venue: Volcano Theatre

2018 will be a special year of remembrance as the War to End All Wars is commemorated after one hundred years. Professor Tony Curtis has researched the Great War experiences of both his Pembrokeshire and Berkshire families. The Barrahs from Pembrokeshire and the Curtises from Berkshire served and died in conflicts from South Africa and Mesopotamia through the Western Front to the North Sea.

Join Professor Curtis for an illustrated talk on his family in the Great War, including readings from his own work and from classic World War One writers and poets, as well as artwork from Paul Nash, E.H. Shepherd, Frank Brangwyn, Henry Moore and others. He will weave together untold, remarkable stories and some of the most memorable writing and images of the century. Introduced by Swansea University’s Professor M. Wynn Thomas.

Also includes accompanying exhibition of 20 panels depicting notable campaigns and Welsh figures from the Great War by Swansea artist Jeff Phillips.

Book here

Event Partners:  Volcano Theatre; Jeff Phillips Art

16 November:  18:00-19:45

'To Provide All People

To Provide Book


Venue: Cinema & Co.

Join Owen Sheers, Swansea University's Professor in Creativity, for a conversation about his recent film-poem To Provide All People, written to mark the 70th anniversary of the National Health Service.

Charting an emotional and philosophical map of the NHS, To Provide All People tells the story of its founding by Aneurin Bevan against the intimate experiences of NHS staff and patients across 24 hours in its life today.

The conversation, chaired by Swansea University’s Dr Francesca Rhydderch, will be followed by a screening of the Vox Pictures/BBC Wales production, featuring an all-star cast including Eve Myles, Michael Sheen, Martin Freeman and Lesley Manville and a Q&A and book signing.

‘heart-stopping’ - The Guardian

Book here

Event Partners:  Cinema & Co.; Vox Productions; BBC Wales; Cover to Cover Bookshop

17 November:  12:00–16:00

‘The end crowns all’: Shakespeare’s stories and surprises

The end crowns all

National Waterfront Museum

Join us for a family day of Being Human festival fun on Shakespeare! Discover how Shakespeare’s endings can be performed in different ways. Swansea University’s Dr Eoin Price introduces  2 x half hour family workshops, with performances by Fluellen Theatre Company. Create your own bookmarks, hear stories, and play Shakespeare-inspired matching pairs games!

You’ll also have the chance to design ‘Shakespeare Windows’ with your favourite quotes and words and embark on a word finding trail around the gallery. Come dressed as your favourite character and join in our ‘who am I?’ game before enjoying a screening of Bill with all the family! (there will be kings, spies and popcorn!)

Performances from Fluellen Theatre Company between 12:30pm and 1:00pm and between 2:00pm and 2:30pm.

Film showing at 2:30pm

12:10pm Romeo & Juliet
1pm        A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1:20pm   Macbeth
1:40pm   Romeo & Juliet

No Booking Required  

This event is kindly sponsored by the British Shakespeare Association

Event Partner:  National Waterfront Museum; Fluellen Theatre Company

20 November:  19:00-20:00

Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, and civil rights

MLK & Coretta

Venue: Swansea Museum

Martin Luther King Jr., and his wife Coretta Scott King, who became a leading campaigner for women’s rights, have become iconic figures of civil rights movements in the US and around the globe.

The 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King jr. is thus a fitting occasion for a reflection on the historical origins and ending of racial segregation in the U.S., and the enduring significance of the Kings’ contribution to the fight against discrimination on grounds of ethnicity, gender, class, or belief, and the damage it causes to individual lives and the fabric of society.

Coretta’s gift for music and the arts was a life-long source of strength and inspiration in her fight for a better future for all; her example illustrates the power and uses of creativity for challenging inequality. Join Swansea University’s Dr Regina Poertner for an illustrated talk on this fascinating, complex couple.

Audience: 16+

Book here

Event Partners:  Swansea Museum

21 November:  19:00-20:30

'Edward Thomas and Wales'
Book Launch

Edward Thomas & Wales

Venue: Cinema & Co.

As we commemorate the Armistice, Swansea University Honorary Fellow, Jeff Towns, is launching his new book on Edward Thomas, the writer who fell on the first day of the Battle of Arras in 1917.  

In his book Edward Thomas and Wales, Jeff Towns explores the profound influence Wales and Welsh culture had on Thomas’s prose and Dr Andrew Webb of Bangor University contributes an essay on Welsh influences in Thomas’s  poetry.

The selected extracts and detailed chronology reveal the depth of Thomas’s knowledge and love of Welsh landscape, literature and folklore, much of it due to his early friendships with three great Welshmen - Owen M. Edwards, and the Poets Watcyn Wyn and John Jenkins - better known as the Bard Gwili.

Book here

Event Partners: Cinema & Co.; Parthian Books; Dylans Mobile Bookstore 

22 November:  19:30-21:00

Kamila Shamsie -
‘Home Fire’

Home Fire

Great Hall, Swansea University

Over the last twenty years Kamila Shamsie has established herself as one of the most vital and interesting novelists at work today.

Her books, often grand in scope yet always emotionally intimate, have captured the minds and hearts of readers across the world. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, join Kamila as she discusses her latest novel, Home Fire with Swansea University’s Professor in Creativity, Owen Sheers.

A re-telling of Sophocles’s Antigone in a contemporary landscape of jihad, a security state and the pressures of radicalisation upon family, love and friendship, Home Fire is a tour de force that powerfully illustrates how fiction can not only capture the present moment but also present the most challenging of its questions with empathy and insight. Followed by a Q&A and book signing.‌

Book here

Event Partners: Swansea Building Society; Cover to Cover Bookshop

23 November:  13:00-14:00

Origins and evolution of a theory: Alfred Russel Wallace

Ioan Hefin - Alfred Russel Wallace lect

Venue: Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

Find out more about one of Wales’ foremost scientists, whose work led to the most revolutionary theory of the modern age - the theory of evolution.
Actor Ioan Hefin, star of Theatr na nÓg’s play You Should Ask Wallace - Gofynnwch i Wallace, which has been performed throughout Wales, the UK and beyond, and the scientist and broadcaster, Elin Rhys, Honorary Fellow of Swansea University discuss how the work and life of pioneering naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, a self-taught man, still inspire and astound the world.
A free event held through the medium of Welsh. All welcome.

Book here
*A workshop for school children on Wallace’s life and work with the actor Ioan Hefin and some of Swansea University’s scientists will also be held earlier in the day.

Event Partners:  Academi Hywel Teifi; Theatr na nÓg; Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

24 November:  13:30-14:30
and 16:30-17:30

Once Upon a Time, the End’

Once Upon a Time, the End

Venue: Taliesin Create,
Taliesin Arts Centre

Join Swansea University’s Dr Alan Bilton and Dr Anne Lauppe-Dunbar for a fun, hands-on, family-friendly Creative Writing workshop! Explore the nuts and bolts of storytelling, look at how to open up a story and how to finally close it down. Exercises guide children (aged 8-12) through a quest-adventure, looking at the shape of stories, how to open a door onto a new world, and how to dramatically draw the curtain. 

Target audience: children 8-12 (to be accompanied by a parent/guardian)

Book here 

*You might also be interested in performances of Arthur Ransome's 'Old Peter's Russian Tales' - ‘Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Forest’ from 3pm-4pm and 6pm-7pm (see below).


24 November:  15:00-16:00
and 18:00-19:00

Arthur Ransome's
'Old Peter's Russian Tales'

Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Forest

Venue: Taliesin Arts Centre

'Once Upon a Time Deep in the Forest'
Come along to an afternoon / evening of folktales and magic as Swansea University’s Professor D.J. Britton and Theatr Cadair bring Arthur Ransome’s ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’ to life on stage! Meet Old Peter and listen to stories about Baba Yaga, the witch with iron teeth, the little daughter of the snow and a ship that flies! A one-hour performance that will warm you up on a cold November day.

Age recommendation 6+ years.

Book here

*Also on offer will be a range of fun-filled activities including a scribble corner, an arts station, a props table and story writing workshops (see above). 

Event Partners: Taliesin Arts Centre; Theatr Cadair; Arthur Ramsome Estate

The NHS is Born! - week long exhibition 15-24 November

NHS is BornIn 2018, the pioneering National Health Service is 70 years old. The NHS is born! features items from the South Wales Coalfield Collection at the South Wales Miners’ Library and the Richard Burton Archives, Swansea University to provide a glimpse into life in coalfield society before and after the founding of the NHS.

It will look at community and occupation health and miners’ medical schemes, regarded as the model for the NHS.  

The exhibition will include examples of pamphlets published in 1948 to explain the NHS to a public still adjusting to post-war life alongside items from the collection of Dr Julian Tudor Hart, whose work over 30 years in Glyncorrwg, a former coal mining village in the Afan Valley, influenced the clinical approach of the NHS.

No Booking Required  

Venue: South Wales Miners' Library 
Open: Mon-Thurs 9am-8pm / Fri-Sat 9am-5pm

Event Partners:  South Wales Miners' Library; Richard Burton Archives

Dan Brown and the Origins of Fake News

Dan BrownPrepare yourself for a startling revelation. Come and hear an astounding argument that will shake your very sense of reality. Professor Martin Stringer will present proof, real evidential proof, that all of the ills of today’s world are down to one man. One novel, written in 2003, and the film that followed in 2006, are THE ORIGIN of all fake news, of Brexit and of Trump. 

In this talk Professor Stringer will demonstrate his case with reference to the detailed close reading of the text, the analysis of an internet storm, the discussion of tourist trails in Paris and the presentation of the underlying characteristics and prerequisites for all fake news in today’s world. 

This is a lecture that you simply cannot afford to miss!

Date: Tuesday 20th November
Time: 13:00pm-14:00pm
Venue: Faraday Lecture Theatre, Singleton Campus, Swansea University 

Book Here

Celebrating our humanity: Exploring what it means to be human.

I Am"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive." ― Dalai Lama

Being human is what we as people have in common, no matter where we come from, what our race or beliefs are or what experiences have shaped us so far.

Kev Childs, Director of Student Services and Mandy Williams, University Chaplain in conversation about what it means to them to be human. Kev defines himself as “spiritual atheist” whilst Mandy is an ordained Christian Priest. Does being human mean different things to each of them because of their experiences and standpoints? What do they hold in common? Does it matter? Join us for a fascinating exploration of what it means to be human. Prepare to be challenged and invited to consider what it means to YOU to be human.

Date: Thursday 22nd November
Time: 13:00pm-14:00pm
Venue: Taliesin Create, Singleton Campus, Swansea University 

Book Here

'Animal Tales/Tails from China'

24 November:  
Chinese tails 
Venue: Taliesin Create (Studio), 
Taliesin Arts Centre
Join Dr Yan Wu (Swansea University) and Dr Dongyan Chen (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) for a fun storytelling session followed by drop-in sessions featuring traditional Chinese folk arts and crafts . Have fun learning about some amazing animals from China and explore traditional Chinese art with teachers from the Confucius Institute, including paper cutting, calligraphy writing and animal-mask making. 
13:30-14:00:  Storytelling for 4-8 year olds
14:00-14:45 and 16.15-17:00:  Chinese folk arts and crafts for all
Booking not needed, please drop in.
Note all children to be accompanied by an adult.