Five presentations will be delivered by researchers from the University of Birmingham [Victoria Beddoes]

Some of the top researchers and experts in their field from the University of Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law will take to the stage to lead talks and debates showcasing their research areas at this year’s Hay Festival.

Dr Henriette van der Blom, Senior Lecturer in Ancient History will deliver a presentation on 'the art of political rhetoric: antiquity and today’ where she will explore how the study of ancient rhetoric contributes to current debates about political communication. 

Dr Ruth Gilligan, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing and bestselling author who has published four novels, including most recently Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan (2016) which was inspired by the little-known history of the Irish-Jewish community, will be delivering a session titled ‘Storytelling about ‘Other’ Cultures’.

Ruth Gilligan will speak about why fostering an understanding of cultures different to our own has become increasingly important in today’s multicultural world. One powerful way to achieve this is by using storytelling to break down barriers and develop ‘radical empathy’. She will use the example of her successful project in partnership with Narrative 4 where three Birmingham schools  sent  15 students to Limerick, Ireland in November 2018 for three days to work with 15 local students from Limerick; here, they took part in creative writing workshops, cultural excursions and, most importantly, a ‘story exchange’.

Professor Henry Chapman, Professor of Archaeology will tackle the subject of ‘Climate Change and Wetlands Archaeology’. Henry Chapman's talk will look at the relationships between human activity and environmental change within past landscapes. His current research is focussed on transforming the management of wetland, peatland and waterlogged sites by changing the practice of relevant organisations, including Historic England, and a wide range of archaeological providers and interested stakeholders.

Professor Michaela Mahlberg, Chair of Corpus Linguistics at the University of Birmingham and Dr Anna Cermakova from the Department of English Language and Linguistics will be delivering their joint presentation on 'Heroes, Heroines and Gender Inequality in Children’s Fiction' at Hay.

Based on their work with large collections of texts, Michaela Mahlberg and Anna Cermakova will explore fiction from Dickens to modern children’s books to demonstrate how repeated language patterns reflect a gendered view of society. 

Michaela Mahlberg said: “I am much looking forward to presenting the research on gender in children’s fiction that I’m conducting jointly with my colleague Anna Cermakova at the University of Birmingham. Fiction is an important space for children to make sense of the world and Hay is a perfect opportunity to speak to a diverse audience about implicit gender norms and the way in which literature can shape children’s developing views of the world. This is not just an opportunity to share my research, but also to engage with the people who experience literature."

The final contribution at Hay from the University of Birmingham will be from Dr Fariha Shaikh who will be delivering a presentation titled 'Nineteenth-Century Emigration in British Literature and Art.' Fariha Shaikh will use the session to explain the relationships in the nineteenth century between genre, form and globalisation by exploring the links between text and mobility in the context of nineteenth-century settler emigration.

The thirty-second Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts will take place from Thursday 23 May to Sunday 2 June 2019.

The Festival brings together life-changing writers, fabulous stars of stage and screen, pioneers of science and technology, and future world leaders, for a party of ideas and stories.

For more information please contact: Hasan Salim Patel, Communications Manager (Arts, Law and Social Sciences) on +44 (0) 121 415 8134 or contact the press office out of hours on +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
  • The College of Arts and Law has over 5,000 students from the UK and across the world. It is a vibrant, international community with excellent facilities, a supportive learning environment, internationally recognised teaching and research, and exciting initiatives in new fields of study.
  • The College is home to world-renowned research centres, including Birmingham Law School, the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, and the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage.
  • Full details of the University of Birmingham’s Hay Festival speaker programme are available here.