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As November draws to a close, we finished the month by hosting our own cinema screening and taking our students to the Jaguar factory. Here’s the details!

A trip to the movies this week as LANS hosted a film night alongside the Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology department at the Electric Cinema, which is the oldest working cinema in the United Kingdom. The film was ‘Cleft Lip’, directed by Erik Knudsen, which is a modern retelling of the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex – a story where fate guides a young man into sleeping with his mother and murdering his father. Knudsen’s modern twist is that his tale is told through the theme of fertility; his main concern is of identity, or rather, how can we connect who we are to our lineage when even our very DNA can be sold on to a buyer?

Group sitting in the cinema

Knudsen began the screening by talking a little about stories and how they are passed through the ages to us; we use these stories to connect ourselves to our culture. Perhaps this was the strongest aspect of the film, observing how Knudsen had interpolated his source material into modernity. One poignant shot was where the two main characters, Campbell and his (unknowing) mother Jasmine, realised the extent of their relations. Portraying them on either side of a glass window, there was the sense of them finally being able to see the other but never physically interact the same way. A Q&A session with Knudsen gave him the chance to discuss his love of faces and spaces in film; you could really see how meaningful he found the lingering shots which explored the characters’ emotions and the aftermath of their interactions.

Sitting in the cinema

We also had a chance to explore the Jaguar Factory in Solihull as part of our cultural programme. This gave students an opportunity to experience Birmingham as a ‘maker city’, allowing students to gain a better understanding of the intersection between technology, engineering, and culture in the civic sphere. Here’s what second year student Ethan Cobb had to say.

“A group of LANS students and staff went to the Jaguar Land Rover factory in Castle Bromwich on Wednesday 26th November. We were first given an introduction of the factory and the cars they produce. We then split into groups to be given a tour of the factory. It was so interesting to be shown round the factory, watching the cars being made by a mixture of people and machine. Watching the robots building parts of the cards was mesmerising, like a hypnotic dance between the arms, we could have watched it for hours. The noise in the factory as well was weirdly calming and repetitive, the general buzz of machines, the clunk of metal and the noise of people talking. Our tour guide told us how the factory-made planes for WW2 before it made cars and how employment is equal opportunity for everyone. Overall it was a fascinating day that we would not have had the opportunity to experience outside the cultural programme.”

Watching a presentation

The LANS Society have been running frequent events this semester despite looming deadlines – this week they ran a pub quiz at Circo in Selly Oak. The quiz was attended by many of our LANS families, which are groups of students from across the year groups, who enjoyed the opportunity to bond over Christmas trivia. Fi Cruikshanks, the LANS society Secretary, told us, “The family pub quiz was our first family event of the year and was a good starting point for the families who hadn't had the chance to meet up yet, we're hoping to have more family events as the year goes on!”

Group photo

We’d like to thank everyone who’s been reading these newsletters over the last semester and we hope you’re simply having a wonderful Christmastime! We’ll see you back in the new year, as the days get longer we’ll have even more time for our Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences antics.

Take care,

Adam Dorey and Katharine Pogson
Liberal Arts Media and Communications Ambassadors