Wells at 150 (Being Human 2016)

From the team that brought you 'Mary Shelley’s Dundee: Frankenstein Begins' comes 'H.G. Wells at 150: Hope and Fear', a series of events that will celebrate the 150th birthday of the author of The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898) as part of the UK’s Being Human Festival of the Humanities (17th-25th November 2016).

Building on the success of our involvement with Being Human 2015, we are delighted to confirm that this year Dundee has been promoted to the status of Scotland’s “festival hub”. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world. Last year, the festival featured over 300 events organised by over 70 universities and research organisations in 36 towns and cities across the country. Dundee’s contribution was recognised as one of the stand-out case studies at a recent showcase at Senate House in London.

The Principal Investigator of the project is Dr Daniel Cook, a Senior Lecturer in English in the School of Humanities with teaching and research interests in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. “We have selected Wells as our case study as he remains an instructive example of a writer whose imagination bridges the worlds of art and science – which is in keeping with the 1881 mission statement for the University laid down by the Baxters”, said Dr Cook. The English programme at the University of Dundee has a particular interest in storytelling, adaptation studies, and the history of the scientific imagination. “Last year”, he added, “my colleagues launched the UK’s only taught postgraduate degree in Science Fiction and we continue to lead the way in comics studies”. Dr Cook is joined by Co-Investigators Chris Murray, a Professor in Comics and Graphic Novels and Director of the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies, Dr Keith Williams, a Senior Lecturer in English who has published widely on the works of Wells and Joyce, and Dr Jennifer Barnes, a Lecturer in Film Studies. Peggy Hughes, Head of Literary Dundee, has been appointed as the hub’s Festival Ambassador.

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum shall be hosting the launch of H. G. Wells: A Graphic Anthology, a collection of short stories comprising work by award-winning artists and, through an open competition, contributions from the general public. Peruse at your leisure the storyboards and sketches on display, and listen to Dr Murray’s tie-in talk on the history of science-fiction comics. Damon Herd, Philip Vaughan, and a team of artists and students based at the newly launched Dundee Comics Creative Space (DCCS) will also be conducting a number of drop-by workshops aimed at encouraging people of all ages to get involved with the creation of comics. Under the guidance of the UK’s leading forensic scientist, Dame Professor Sue Black (CAHID), we will even be conducting an autopsy on a Martian based on Wells’s design in a special, one-off event that is not to be missed! Be sure to join Eddie Small (‘Herbert Unwells’), an award-winning tutor in Creative Writing and a playwright, on his hotly-anticipated 'The Time Machine: A Walking Tour'.

Other scheduled events include film screenings, animation workshops, and a roundtable discussion of the life and works of Robert Duncan Milne, a Scottish precursor to Wells, who was celebrated in his time as a founding father of US Science Fiction but is now largely forgotten. Matthew Jarron, Curator of Museums, in collaboration with colleagues and students in DJCAD, is curating a semester-long multimedia exhibition, Reanimating H. G. Wells. Ahead of the Being Human festival, Dr Williams has been invited to deliver this year’s Lunchtime Talk during the Dundee Literary Festival (October 2016), at which The Time Machine has already been selected as the official “bookclub” item in honour of Wells’s 150th birthday and the 10th anniversary of the literary festival. It just remains for us to say: watch out for The Invisible Cat. And turn the radio off!

More information about the events can be found on the Being Human Festival’s official website and on the “Wells 150” Facebook page.

Scheduled events include –

  • Lunchtime Talk: H. G. Wells at 150 (Dundee Literary Festival) (with Dr Keith Williams)

  • Reanimating H. G. Wells: An Exhibition (with Matthew Jarron)

  • H. G. Wells: A Graphic Anthology (with Dr Chris Murray)

  • Martian Autopsy: Wells at 150 (with Professor Dame Sue Black)

  • H. G. Wells at 150: Comics and Animation Workshops (with DCCS)

  • The Time Machine: A Walking Tour (with Eddie Small)

  • Robert Duncan Milne: Rediscovering Scotland’s H. G. Wells (with Dr Keith Williams and Barry Sullivan)

#HGWells #ScienceFiction #comics #theatre

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