Hay Festival

Thursday 22 May (09:00) - Sunday 1 June 2014 (18:00)

For further information please contact Caroline Ashton, College Events Manager (c.e.ashton@bham.ac.uk).



The Birmingham speaker series at the Hay Festival


The twenty-seventh Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts will take place from 22 May to 1 June 2014.

The Hay Festival brings together writers from around the world to debate and share stories, celebrating great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking.


The University of Birmingham’s College of Arts and Law will be hosting a series of talks showcasing our top academics and the breadth of arts and humanities subjects studied by our students.

Hay Festival

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 the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage.

Our full programme of talks is as follows:

  • Jonathan Boff - Friday 23 May at 14:30
    Sleepwalking to war? Britain in 1914 and 1939
    Did Great Britain stumble blindly into two world wars? Jonathan Boff will compare preparations for both conflicts and argue that the lessons learned from the First were crucial to survival in the Second.
  • Heather Widdows - Saturday 24 May at 14:30
    Perfect me!
    ‘Perfect me!’ explores the ideal of perfection as exhibited in contemporary, and increasingly global, ideals of beauty. It considers whether being perfect is something that individuals really choose, or whether it is an increasingly constraining and dominating ideal.
  • Abigail Rokison - Saturday 24 May at 16:00
    Romeo and Juliet for the young viewer - interpretation and adaptation
    After Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet is probably Shakespeare’s most performed play. The eponymous lovers have become synonymous with intense young love, and the image of a young man wooing his love at a balcony, iconic. This talk will explore a range of stage productions and adaptations of Romeo and Juliet, aimed specifically at young people.
  • Philippa Semper - Sunday 25 May at 13:00
    ‘Who wants to live forever?’ Mortals, immortals and the undead
    This talk considers our interest in life without death - whether as vampires, zombies or in other forms - as it appears in myth, folklore, literary novels and popular culture. What can these stories tell us about the desire for immortality?
  • David Gange - Thursday 29 May at 11:30
    Dialogues with the Dead: Egyptology in British culture and religion
    Dialogues with the Dead shows, for the first time, how Egyptology's development over the century that followed the decipherment of the hieroglyphic script in 1822 can be understood only through its intimate entanglement with the historical, scientific, and religious contentions which defined the era.
  • Richard House - Saturday 31 May at 20:30
    Digital publishing: pixels vs. paper. The Kills
    The digital-first publication of the Booker longlisted 'The Kills' combines over forty multimedia elements (film, audio, animation, and text) alongside a sequence of four novels. House will talk about the development of the project and the potential of digital publishing.

For more information follow us on twitter, @artsatbham, using the hashtag #bhamathay.

[Image credit - Finn Beales]