When Health Secretary Matt Hancock declared that Covid-19 would become “another illness that we have to live with … like flu”, an immediate question arose: what does it mean to learn to live with a new epidemic disease? If, as many experts predict, Covid-19 is not going away any time soon, what can the history of influenza teach us? Dr. Michael Bresalier, Lecturer in the History of Medicine at Swansea University, explores the history of influenza in the 20th century and traces the process by which humanity has adapted to influenza – an ever-changing process and enormous global challenge. He warns that any analogy to Covid-19 must be made with caution.
Rare biographical evidence in the Sierra Leone public archives reveals that tens of thousands of Africans were released from slave ships by Royal Navy patrols. The British Library Endangered Archives Programme has made it possible to digitise hundreds of volumes containing fragmentary information about their lives. Adam, a woman aged 26, was among the enslaved Africans stowed on board the Marie Paul in 1808. Anta, her nine-month-old daughter, was also on board when it set sail from Senegal on 20 August 1808 ‘with a cargo of slaves bound to Cayenne in South America’. This lecture explains how evidence from the archives in Sierra Leone has enabled us to reconstruct the identities of individuals uprooted and displaced by the transatlantic slave trade.
Suzanne Schwarz is Professor of History at University of Worcester.
Would the world be different – and better – if more women occupied leadership positions? This controversial question is re-examined in the context of the global pandemic. Gender is part of the explanation for the stark contrast between the Covid experience of Jacinda Ardern’s New Zealand and that of Donald Trump’s America. Some have argued that the 2008 Global Financial Crisis might have been mitigated if more women had been seated at he top tables of key financial institutions. But female leadership is still relatively rare, and the women who lead governments and organisations through crises are treated more harshly than their male counterparts.
Jennifer Mathers is a Senior Lecturer and former Head of the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University.
Actor and activist Michael Sheen will join the professor Daniel G. Williams and politician Leanne Wood, to discuss the life, work, and continued relevance of Raymond Williams, as a new centenary edition of his collected writings on Wales are published. Michael Sheen says, "Who Speaks for Wales is a truly landmark publication. It has had a profound effect on me and on countless others. The new afterword to this expanded centenary edition shows how Raymond Williams’ thinking is as important and relevant today as it has ever been." Williams noted that Welsh history testifies to a "quite extraordinary process of self-generation and regeneration, from what seemed impossible conditions." This discussion, ranging from 1920s Pandy to wartime Paris, from Extinction Rebellion to Yes Cymru, will be conducted with his words in mind.
Many D/deaf children (sign language users/those who are hard of hearing) struggle with Shakespeare as the methods of teaching are not easily accessible to them. There are at least 45,631 deaf children in the UK, only 41% of whom pass five GCSEs; 29% of deaf children use some form of sign language, but there are very few sign language-based resources for studying Shakespeare. The Signing Shakespeare project (born out of the collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the Royal Shakespeare Company) has worked with D/deaf theatre practitioners and teachers of the D/deaf to tackle the problem of access. It has undertaken a pilot study on Macbeth with three schools for the D/deaf, producing active lesson plans based on RSC rehearsal-room practice, and making films of key scenes in British Sign Language.
Abigail Rokison-Woodall, project leader, is joined by Tracy Irish ( RSC), Angie Wootten (University of Birmingham) and Charlotte Arrowsmith (actor and director) to discuss the project's aims and methods and to showcase the films.
Wildlife in our gardens and in the wider countryside plays a crucial role in supporting sustainable food production. As the use of chemical sprays continues to increase, how can we save and boost the numbers of wild pollinators and other natural enemies of crop pests? Join Dr Duncan Westbury, Principal Lecturer in Ecology and Environmental Management at University of Worcester to find out how we can all make a difference.
As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses, many of us are feeling cautiously optimistic about the future, tempered by an awareness of the social and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic. What could the new normal look like? Past mistakes, current initiatives and bold imaginative visions of the future are considered by the environmentalist, and diverse approaches explored, to learn how a reset could work for everyone – and other species – in the wider environment. Dr Siobhan Maderson is an ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at Aberystwyth University.
Translation is an act of activism that enables readers and citizens to think differently about power. Yet every translator understands their activism differently. What are translators’ roles in bringing about social change? How is transnational activism shaped by class, race, and geography, be it the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, East Asia, the US or Europe?
Rebecca Ruth Gould is a writer, translator, and Professor of Islamic Studies and Comparative Literature; Kayvan Tahmasebian is an Iranian poet, translator, critic, andMarie-Curie Research Fellow; both at University of Birmingham. They are co-editors of The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism and co-authors of a forthcoming book on translation as activism.
Interpreting research on technology, neuroscience, arts, and ethics, the neuroscientist will examine some of the diverse challenges and opportunities that children and adolescents experience while navigating complex environments in the digital age. She explains how the brain interacts with different environments, how technological innovation can offer much-needed support yet also cause serious harm, and how the arts and music can provide powerful ways for young people to express themselves. Dr. Inkster is a neuroscientist, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge and co-founder of Hip Hop Psych, which uses hip hop music to improve public engagement and awareness in mental health issues and psycho-education.
Over the last 25 years scientists have identified a large number of exoplanets –planets from outside our solar system – ranging from large planets sauch as Jupiter to smaller, denser objects such as Earth. This has opened up new perspectives on the possible rarity of planetary systems like our own, and raising exciting prospects for the potential of probing planet atmospheres for traces of life. The Nobel Laureate, Professor of Physics at University of Cambridge, discusses what the latest research tells us about the origins of life.
In October 1726, newspapers reported that in the town of Godalming, Surrey, a woman called Mary Toft had started to give birth to rabbits. Several leading doctors, some sent directly by King George I, travelled to examine the woman who was then moved to London to be closer to them. By December, she had been accused of fraud and taken into custody. The case caused a media sensation, prompting public curiosity but also a vicious backlash. The author uses archival research to explore the motivations of the medics who examined her, the role of the women who remained close to Mary Toft, and the reasons the case attracted the attention of the King and his government.
Karen Harvey is Professor of Cultural History at University of Birmingham.