Being Human is a national festival of humanities.

The past meets the present in a folk-themed humanities festival

Humanities lecturers from the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus have teamed up with the Helston Museum to host a ‘mini-festival’ exploring the ways in which music, customs, and beliefs from the past continue to affect us today. 

The event, called ‘Modern Folk: Traditional Culture and Community in the Southwest ‘, will run on Thursday 19th November at the Helston Museum. It will comprise creative writing workshops with local schoolchildren in the afternoon and a free public event from 19:00-22:00. Attendees at the latter will be treated to a selection of talks, readings, and musical performances linked to Cornwall’s extensive folk heritage.

Dr Jim Kelly, lecturer in English and organiser of the festival, said: ‘Cornwall is a location rich in stories, ballads, and traditions, and so is a fitting place in which to consider the legacy of folk culture in the modern United Kingdom. Through this event, and a series of writing workshops with local schoolchildren early next year, “Modern Folk” aims to reflect and engage with the public on this fascinating topic.’

During the event, Dr Kelly will discuss the ballads of the Cornish poet Charles Causley, a celebrated writer who, among other awards, was presented with an honorary doctorate from the University of Exeter in 1977. The acclaimed singer Jim Causley will be performing live music based on his distant relative’s work.

The audience will also hear from Professor Marion Gibson, who will talk about Cornwall’s Celtic history; novelist and creative writing lecturer Dr Rob Magnuson Smith, who will discuss the haunting influence of rural England on his fiction; and Professor Nick Groom, author of the acclaimed book on folk traditions, The Seasons.

Modern Folk is part of Being Human 2015, a nation-wide festival led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, and the Wellcome Trust. The accompanying creative writing workshops, which will be held for local schoolchildren from January-March 2016, received support from the University of Exeter’s Annual Fund.

Admission to Modern Folk is free, but booking is required. Those who are interested in attending can reserve a ticket here.

Date: 26 October 2015

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