Events explore what it means to be human


A series of free public events has been organised by the University of Leeds as part of Being Human 2016, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

The University has been chosen as one of six regional hubs to champion this year’s nine-day programme of big ideas, debates and engaging activities for all ages – all under the theme Hope and Fear.

Running from 17-25 November, Being Human aims to bring researchers and communities together to engage with the humanities, which – broadly defined – are the academic disciplines that study human cultures and societies.

Researchers from Leeds’ Humanities Research Institute (LHRI) are coordinating events with a wide variety of partner organisations in Leeds and Bradford that champion the excellence of humanities research undertaken at the University, and help demonstrate the work’s vitality and relevance.

Professor Gregory Radick, LHRI Director, said: “The festival serves a really important function in helping people outside universities get acquainted with some of the outstanding humanities research taking place right now in the UK.

“Our own theme, Journeys of Hope and Fear, is about crossing borders, and a lot of individual events are appropriately genre-busting. At Leeds, we're proud to have been chosen to act as a regional hub, and we'd like to think our programme offers something for everyone.”

The ten separate projects include an examination of Bradford’s associations with anthrax – through the emergence of “woolsorter’s disease” among the city’s Victorian textile workers as well as its identification and treatment.

A sound-and-light installation and theatrical performance will be based around the University's driving simulator, confronting the prospect of the driverless car in a novel and unexpected way.

Another set of interlinked events concern the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. A lecture will feature Leeds historian Professor Simon Hall, who has written about world events that year, and poet George Gomori, who took part in the revolution. People will also be able to enjoy a poetry reading from Gomori and an exhibition of paintings by a Hungarian refugee-turned-Yorkshireman, György Gordon.

Further information

  • For media enquiries, contact University of Leeds Media Relations Manager Gareth Dant on 0113 343 3996 or
  • Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. The festival will highlight the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world. It demonstrates world-class research in ways that are vibrant, vital, and accessible to all. @BeingHumanFest.
  • The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015. Officially opened in 1995 by Sir Anthony Kenny as a federation of the University of London’s research institutes, it has established itself as the UK’s national humanities hub, publicly funded to support and promote research in the humanities nationally and internationally. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community.
  • The Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  • The British Academy is the UK's expert body that supports and speaks for the humanities and social sciences – that rich variety of disciplines that study peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. It funds research across the UK and in other parts of the world, in disciplines ranging from archaeology to economics, from psychology to history, and from literature to law. The British Academy seeks to raise understanding of some of the biggest challenges of our time through policy reports, forums, conferences, publications and public events. The Academy receives around £30m a year in Government grants to support its work. But it operates autonomously as a Fellowship of more than 1,000 of the world's most eminent scholars in the humanities and social sciences, elected for their outstanding research.