Hay Festival 2015

Thursday 21 May (09:00) - Sunday 31 May 2015 (18:00)

The Birmingham speaker series at the Hay Festival

The twenty-eighth Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts will take place from 21 May – 31 May 2015.

The Hay festival brings together writers from around the world to debate and share stories, celebrate 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.


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:

  • Rosie Harding – Saturday 23 May, 8:30pm
    Dementia and Vulnerability
    ‘You can have a dog put to sleep but my mother had to go through hell.’ End of life issues are especially difficult for people with dementia and their family carers, as the person themself is often unable to make and communicate their views in a way that would be respected by our autonomy-centred healthcare decision-making frameworks. Drawing on empirical data from a socio-legal study funded by the British Academy, Harding explores the social, ethical and legal challenges of maximising dignity for those dying with, and of, dementia.
  • Bharat Malkani – Tuesday 26 May, 11:30am
    Capital Punishment
    On the 50th anniversary of the last execution to take place in the UK, Malkani, a lecturer at Birmingham Law School, discusses why we are better off without the death penalty and why British efforts to promote the worldwide abolition of capital punishment should be supported. UN statistics suggest the five countries with the highest number of state executions annually are, in order, China, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United States of America.
  • Abigail Rokison and Erin Sullivan – Wednesday 27 May, 10:00am – 12:00pm
    Romeo & Juliet
    The Shakespeare Institute scholars examine the text, sources and context of Shakespeare’s most popular play, looking at how the earliest performances worked and how subsequent productions over the centuries have reflected its themes. In the Q&A they address the most commonly examined syllabus questions.
  • Wendy Scase – Thursday 28 May, 10:00am
    Beyond the Bling
    The Simeon manuscript is one of the most exceptional books of English literature ever made. It measures 590 x 390 mm, and is carefully copied and lavishly decorated with gold leaf on almost every page. It was made around 1400 AD. Containing songs, prayers, homilies, legends, and classic works of spiritual guidance, it is a massive compendium of literature for pious readers. Even more remarkable is that, unlike most books that survive from this period, it is written in English. Professor Scase examines the illustrations and brushwork to unlock its many secrets and disclose how, for whom and why it was made.
  • Peter Gray – Friday 29 May, 10:00am
    Wings of Modernity
    From the Avro 504 reconnaissance planes first used in 1914 to the Stealth Bombers and Predator Drones of today, the Director of the Centre for War Studies charts the technological innovation that developed aeroplanes into super-effective war machines. Chaired by Con Coughlin, Defence Editor ofThe Telegraph.
  • Chris Laoutaris – Friday 29 May, 11:30am
    Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe
    In November 1596 a woman signed a document which would nearly destroy the career of William Shakespeare… Who was the woman who played such an instrumental, yet little known, role in Shakespeare’s life? Never far from controversy when she was alive – she sparked numerous riots and indulged in acts of bribery, breaking-and-entering, and kidnapping – Elizabeth Russell has been edited out of public memory, yet the chain of events she set in motion would be the making of Shakespeare as we all know him today.


Tickets to all #bhamathay talks are £7 and can be purchased on the Hay Festival website. Please use the search bar on the left hand side to find the session you are interested in attending.

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

[Image credit - Finn Beales]

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