HistFest 2020: Weekend Pass

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  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email: boxoffice@bl.uk
  • Full Price: £80.00 Other concessions available

A dynamic history festival that celebrates the brightest and the best in the world of history

HistFest is an exciting festival that celebrates the brightest and the best in the world of history. Over the course of three days, the festival will entertain and educate, featuring an eclectic mix of talks, panels, live performances and workshops.

Weekend pass holders have access to all Knowledge Centre Theatre talks as well as the live performances, stalls and living history demonstrations throughout the Knowledge Centre. In addition, a number of places for the smaller sessions in the Eliot Room will be reserved for weekend pass holders on a first come first served basis. Please sign up on the day.

Saturday line up:

Succession: Bastards, Heirs and Pretenders

10:00 – 10:50

If history tells us anything, it is that royal successions are rarely straightforward. There has never been a time when this was more the case than during the Wars of the Roses and the Tudor period, with uncles plotting against nephews and nieces, mothers and fathers clashing with sons and daughters, and warring houses battling over competing claims to the throne. This unique event brings three leading historians together to explore how ideas of primogeniture, gender, legitimacy and ancestry have played into the politics of royal successions and profoundly shaped English history. Historians Nathen Amin, Lauren Johnson and Dr Joanne Paul will shine a light on a rogue’s gallery of royal bastards, infamous pretenders and the suspicious deaths of first-born sons.

Dead Famous: Greg Jenner in Conversation with Dr Naoise Mac Sweeney

11.30 – 12.20

Celebrity, with its neon glow and selfie pout, strikes us as hypermodern. But the famous and infamous have been thrilling, titillating and outraging us for much longer than we might realise – from the scandalous and steamy Lord Byron to the cheetah-owning, coffin-sleeping, one-legged French actress Sarah Bernhardt. In this fascinating talk, broadcaster and historian Greg Jenner talks to Dr Naoise Mac Sweeney and reveals why celebrity burst into life in the early eighteenth century, how it differs to ancient ideas of fame, the techniques through which it was acquired, how it was maintained, the effect it had on public tastes, and the psychological burden stardom could place on those in the glaring limelight.

This event is kindly supported by PLB Ltd

Don’t Touch My Hair: Emma Dabiri in Conversation Ferren Gipson

13.30 – 14.20

Despite our more liberal world views, black hair continues to be erased, appropriated and stigmatised to the point of taboo. Why is that? In this event, historian and broadcaster Emma Dabiri speaks to art historian and podcaster Ferren Gipson about the cultural significance of African hairstyles, using them as a blueprint for decolonisation - from pre-colonial Africa, through the Harlem Renaissance, Black Power and into today's Natural Hair Movement, the Cultural Appropriation Wars and beyond.

On Savage Shores: The Native Americans who Discovered Europe

15:00 – 15:50

The story of the sixteenth century is one of movement and meetings, of iconic explorers crossing great oceans and setting foot on strange shores, sowing the seeds of our modern global world. Yet for too long the narrative of this period has focused on Europeans ‘discovering’ America. In this fascinating talk, Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock draws upon years of research to present a compelling new history, one of the thousands of native Americans travelling to Europe during this period: from the Brazilian king who met Henry VIII, to the Inuit who harpooned ducks on the Avon; from the Aztecs who mocked up human sacrifice at the court of Charles V, to the Mayan nobles who made chocolate for the Spanish king. They forged the course of European history, just as surely as Europe shaped America. For such indigenous travellers and discoverers, Europe was the savage shore.

This event is kindly supported by The Eccles Centre for American Studies

Artemisia: Mistress of Blood

16.30 – 17.20

She was the first woman to be accepted into the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence, famous for her blistering works of biblical and mythological brilliance and sought after by the great and the good all across Europe. With the launch of the first ever retrospective in the UK of her powerful works of art, we bring together leading thinkers in the world of art history to explore the formidable life, work and legacy of Artemisia Gentileschi. Hers is a story of fierce talent, singular ambition and the wider history of female artists. Panellists include National Gallery curator Dr Francesca Whitlum-Cooper, renaissance historian Dr Catherine Fletcher, and art historian and podcaster Ferren Gipson.

Æthelflæd: Lady of the Mercians

18.00 – 18.50

Æthelflæd (c870-918) is one of the most remarkable women in medieval Britain, but the fragmentary records of her career are a striking example of the erasure of women’s history. Eldest child of Alfred the Great, she governed the ancient kingdom of the Mercians for thirty-two years, the last eight as sole ruler. She founded cities, built fortresses and even led her troops into battle against the Danes, playing a crucial role in the creation of the kingdom of the English that emerged in the 920s under her foster son Athelstan. In this fascinating illustrated talk, historian and broadcaster Professor Michael Wood explores the life, times and legacy of the Lady of the Mercians.

Sunday line up:

Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity

10.00 – 10.50

In popular imagination, as in her portraits, Elizabeth I is the image of monarchical power. But this image is as much armour as a reflection of the truth. Dr Helen Castor treats festival goers to an illuminating account of England's iconic queen, revealing a reign shaped - both in terms of practical politics and personal psychology - by a profound and enduring insecurity.

Orientalism: From Napoleon to Game of Thrones

11.30 – 12.20

In 1798 Napoleon invaded Egypt with two armies marching beside him. Alongside his regular army, he also took an army of 167 scholars or 'savants', whose task it was to document this new land, capturing not territory but the knowledge and essence of Egypt itself. To understand and know Egypt, to possess it intellectually, would aid in its military subjugation. The military invasion ultimately failed, but the scholarly invasion was successful beyond anyone’s expectations, giving rise to Western Orientalism - a way of seeing that imagines, emphasizes, exaggerates and distorts differences of other peoples and cultures, allowing the West to dominate and have authority over the East, or ‘Orient’.

In this thought-provoking talk, Dr Akil Awan charts the unsettling history of Orientalism – from 19th century depictions of the East as exotic, uncivilized, and yearning to be enlightened by Western rule; to the Iraq War and contemporary popular culture in films and TV drama such as 300, Game of Thrones and Aladdin.

Insurgent Empire: Dr Priyamvada Gopal in Conversation with Dr Charlotte Riley

13.30 – 14.20

“Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and never will”, so spoke Frederick Douglass in 1857. Over a hundred and fifty years later, the notion that freedom from slavery and imperial rule came about because of the benevolence of the ruling elite still persists in some quarters. In this riveting discussion, Dr Priyamvada Gopal discusses her highly acclaimed new book Insurgent Empire with Dr Charlotte Riley to reveal the fascinating history of the rebellious colonies that fundamentally challenged and changed British attitudes to empire. From the West Indies and East Africa to Egypt and India, we discover how Britain's enslaved and colonial subjects were not merely victims of empire but also agents of change, whose resistance both contributed to their own liberation and shaped British ideas about freedom and who could be free.

This event is kindly supported by PLB Ltd

Shakespeare’s Sisters

15.00 – 15.50

Juliet. Queen Titania. Ophelia. Lady MacBeth. There isn’t a single female character in Shakespeare’s canon that was written to be performed by a woman. Yet women were there from the outset – funding, building and running the theatres.

Beginning with a reading from Richard II by pioneering Shakespearean actor Adjoa Andoh, this timely talk explores the role of and the roles for women in the worlds and works of Shakespeare. From the trailblazing female playhouse owners of the sixteenth century to the evolution of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters – we are taken on a journey into the cultural history of theatre, performance and women. Joining Adjoa Andoh are theatre historian Dr Andy Kesson, intellectual historian Dr Vanessa Lim and event chair and early modern historian Dr Wanda Wyporska.

Voices from the Archives: The Secret Lives of Sixteenth-Century Women

16.30 – 17.20

Most of the women who ever lived left no trace of their existence on the record of history. Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century women of the middling and lower levels of society left no letters or diaries in which they expressed what they felt or thought. In this fascinating talk, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb draws upon her magisterial study of French consistorial courts to reveal the everyday lives of ordinary women: their speech, behaviour, and attitudes relating to love, faith, and marriage, as well as friendship and sex.

Molly Houses and Madams: Unravelling Georgian Subcultures   

18.00 – 18.50

Established in 1691, the Society for the Reformation of Manners aimed to suppress all immoral behaviour in London – from profane plays and prostitution to salacious art and sodomy. Its results were a raft of highly publicised prosecutions and raids on brothels, molly houses and contemporary literature. Yet, an unexpected consequence of this growing surveillance on manners was the interest it fuelled into previously under-acknowledged subcultures. In this fascinating talk, Victoria & Albert Museum LGBTQ tour coordinator Dan Vo speaks to historians Dr Rictor Norton and Professor Kate Williams about the under acknowledged worlds of eighteenth century London – from the growth of Molly Houses to trailblazing writers like Eliza Haywood.


Name: HistFest 2020: Weekend Pass
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £80.00
Student: £40.00
Registered Unemployed: £40.00
Senior (60+): £69.00
Young Person (18-25): £40.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
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