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Past Festival highlights

Arts & Humanities Festival 2013


What does it mean to be human?

The arts and humanities have grappled with this question for centuries and sought to explore the notion of the human through different cultural forms. Writers, artists, philosophers, classicists, theologians, historians have all sought insight through studying the lives of our ancestors, exploring the mind, the self and society, or trying to encapsulate the human disposition. 

The concept of what it means to be human is facing challenges as never before. Medical advances threaten to blur the distinction between man and machine, the diversity of human culture risks being eroded through globalization and the role of religion in contemporary life is brought into question.

In the face of socio-political changes and seismic shifts in the higher education landscape, the arts and humanities are increasingly required to demonstrate their own relevance. Where can they be more relevant than in understanding and articulating what it means to be human in the face of these challenges?

The Arts & Humanities Festival 2013 brought together King’s researchers, artists and scholars for a vibrant mix of performances, lectures, discussions and exhibits, during October 2013.


Week 1

Throughout the Festival

Opening of the Festival:
Friday, 11 October 2013

Monday, 14 October 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Friday, 18 October 2013 

Week 2

Festival podcasts

Festival photos

Photography by David Tett 


Festival Round-up

A sell-out philosophical debate on the nature of humanity brought the curtain down on the 2013 Arts & Humanities Festival, rounding off an action-packed fortnight taking in everything from opera and robot workshops to politics and comedy, all themed around the question of what it means to be human.

More than 4,000 people attended events at this year’s Festival, which opened with a screening of the opera Written on Skin and a discussion with its co-creators, librettist Martin Crimp and composer George Benjamin from the Department of Music. The two weeks that followed saw author Marina Warner explore the life of images in the digital era, A. S. Byatt and Lisa Appignanesi discuss the beginnings of psychoanalysis, and Sir Christopher Ricks unpick the notion of 'crisis' in literature and in universities.Alongside these more traditional talks was a range of cutting-edge performance events that included actor and comedian Mat Fraser's acclaimed comedy-cabaret on perceptions of disability throughout history, while the Strand Quadrangle was transformed  thanks to Gilbert Whyman’s quirky sculptures and to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s extraordinary Bending Light (pictured above). This audiovisual extravaganza was a real crowd-pleaser, using cutting-edge techniques to show the King’s Building bending, cracking and exploding with colour.The Festival also hosted the launch of two new research centres under the umbrella of the  Arts & Humanities Research Institute. The  Centre for Modern Literature and Culture was officially unveiled at an event with actor and director Fiona Shaw while the  Centre for Enlightenment Studies was launched at a panel discussion featuring science presenter Simon Schaffer. Director of the Festival Professor Max Saunders commented ‘The Festival was a powerful demonstration of the value of the arts and humanities in helping us to explore and understand human existence, and the languages, images and sounds with which we represent ourselves.’Now in its fifth year, the Festival has proved a vital platform for communicating the value and impact of the School’s research to members of the public, alumni, creative partners, staff, students and members of other academic institutions. 

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