York Festival of Ideas 2017



York Festival of Ideas

The York Festival of Ideas will return from 6 to 18 June 2017 with a theme of The Story of Things.

If you wish to attend any of these events please book your place by clicking on the individual event links.


Out of Character Theatre Company - Medical Monstrosities & Objects of Terror: stories of treatments in mental health

Thursday 8 June, 7.00pm - 8.00pm
York St John University, Temple Hall

Out of Character Theatre Company make challenging work for inquisitive audiences with the aim of transcending the boundaries of modern theatre and public perceptions of mental health, claiming the territory between inspiration and medication. This show is based on our production at York Theatre Royal in November 2016. Previous work includes regular collaboration with York Theatre Royal (Tales from Kafka, Henry IV, More Tales from Kafka), a sell out audience for 'Disturbing Shakesphere' as part of the York Literature Festival, and regular performances and workshops at conferences and medical schools around the country.

Booking is essential: please book via the above link
Twitter: @OutCharacter
Facebook: Out of Character Theatre Company
Out of Character Theatre Website

Mapping Women's History in York

Saturday 10 June, 2.00pm - 4.00pm
York Explore, Library & Archives

Laura Yeoman, Archivist (Access and Engagement) will guide participants through some highlights of the York Archives materials that reveal the fascinating lives of women in Yorks history. Pirates, publishers, painters, martyrs, teachers, activists, actors, politicians - women have shaped the city and madee their mark on York and the world. Dr Elodie Duche, Dr Anne-Marie Evans and Dr Kaley Kramer will introduce some of the women that inspire their research. The cafe will be open to share stories, talk about womens history in York, and contribute to putting women back on the map!

Booking is essential: please book via the above link

A Short History of the Cooking Pot: an Introduction to Caribbean Food & Storytelling

Saturday 10 June, 1.30pm - 3.30pm
York St John University, HG/013

We're used to saying: 'We are what we eat' but what about 'We are how we cook and talk about food'? Dr Sarah Lawson Welsh, expert on Caribean food and writing, explores how the use of a simple iron pot or 'duchy', originally introduced by the Dutch for use on slave ships and used by African slave populations in the Caribbean, gave rise to a richly varied culinary and oral storytelling tradition. Heavy black cast-iron post, cauldrons ansd skillets are a mainstay of African derived cuisines accross the globe, producing meals as diverse as Brazillian Acaraje, Nigerian Accra Fun Fun, Caribbean Pepperpot and African American Soul Food such as fried chicken, cornbread and collard greens; similarly the flat skillet-like tawa, used for making roti, is a mainstay of Indian foodways in the Caribbean. Dr Lawson Welsh will explore how from the very beginning, food and words, cooking and storytelling were intimately linked. She'll show how Caribbean cooks and writers developed a unique philosophy of life which saw them through the times of famine, feeding, feasting and fasting and which enabled them to define and re-afirm different cultural, ethnic, caste, class and gender identities by writing about what, when and how they cooked and ate.

Booking is essential: please book via the above link
Twitter: @LawsonWelsh

The Story of Britain's Past and Future Place in the World

Saturday 10th June, 1.30pm - 6.00pm

York St John University, DG/016, DG/019, DG/123, DG/125

Brexit, Trump’s election and Putin’s aggressive policies have placed Britain in its most uncertain international position since 1945. Theresa May now has four key foreign policy choices available to her: to seek a new working relationship with Europe; strengthen the Anglo-American ‘special relationship’; reignite ties to the Commonwealth; and either placate or resist Russia. Each course has its advantages but also throws up many dangers. What’s more, with parliament, public opinion, and the media divided over Britain’s place in the world, the government’s ability to act decisively has been significantly reduced.  Yet much confusion has emerged over Britain’s past international relations. Historians have, in fact, missed a crucial opportunity to engage with both the public and decision-makers. This timely event, therefore, seeks to redress this issue. Six academics conducting research into Britain’s past relations with Europe, the USA, the Commonwealth, and Russia will deliver papers considering Britain’s current foreign policy options from a historical perspective. In doing so, they intend to fill in many gaps, while dispelling many myths, currently surrounding Britain’s past. Moreover, the event will provide the audience with the opportunity to consider how Britain can constructively pursue the foreign policy options available to it.

Booking is essential: please book via the above link


World Cafe - Uplandish: Stories of the English Uplands

Thursday 15 June 2017, 5.30pm - 7.00pm

York St John University, HG/013

Explore Northern England’s “wild places” with no need for waterproofs. Join YSJU academics for a “World Café” event where they will lead discussions about “literary objects” from moors, uplands and other “wild” English landscapes. Are “Uplandish” folk rude and uncivilised? Why are Yorkshire moors important to literary history? And how “wild” are the uplands? At the event you’ll be able to join a range of small group discussions as we explore several different ways of looking at the Pennines, the fells of the Lake District and beyond. This will include the dark history of the moors as a gothic and primeval space of loss and violence and the pleasures of literary tourism around the Brontës and the Lake poets. Academics will use physical objects, excerpts from literary texts, visual materials and other cultural forms to guide you around well-known and much-loved landscapes, showing you how the uses of these places have changed over the years, and why they matter so much to regional and national culture and identity. You’ll get the chance to engage with the uplands through a range of literary concepts, creative writing exercises, and both canonical and less well-known writers.

Booking is essential: please book via the above link
Twitter: @ysjlit and @YSJEvents and @YorkStJohn


Terra Two: Writing for an Off-World Colony

Saturday 17 June 2017, 2.00pm - 4.00pm
York St John University, Quad South Hall

You are leaving Earth to set up the first off world colony. What things would you take with you? This creative writing workshop will ask you to debate this question via looking at stories by some of the great SF writers. During this workshop, York St John staff from English Literature and Creative Writing will introduce science fictional texts around the topic of ‘things’ with the aim of inspiring creative and critical writing projects designed to influence the first off-world colony. Topics may include artificial intelligence, apocalypse, and interstellar travel. NASA is currently aiming to settle the first human beings on MARS by 2030. Terra Two’s project designers recognise that artists have an ethical responsibility to lend their voices to this far-sighted scientific experiment. Terra Two is a digital archive which will be officially launched at York St John in September 2017, one which will collate contributions in the form of writing, music, visual images, games and podcasts. Participants are invited to develop the ideas they create in the workshop for submission to our summer competition entitled ‘Terra Two: Writing for an Off-World Colony’. Winners will receive editorial support, and will be featured on the Terra Two website in time for its launch.

Booking is essential: please book via the above link
Twitter: @YSJLIT and @YSJWRIT and @yorksjevents
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