Culture & Arts Forum

The Culture & Arts Forum is an informal network which aims to support and promote the various departments within the University that are involved in cultural activity. At present the following departments, units and services are represented on the Forum:

Click on any of the above to find out what each of us is up to.

2013 Culture Day - Wednesday 16 October


Forbidden Fruit: Appetite & Desire

A free afternoon event featuring a fascinating range of talks, music and drama

Wednesday 16 October 2013, 1.45-5.30pm
Baxter Conference Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee

Admission Free - all welcome!


1.45 welcome

2pm  Graeme Stevenson (Music) – Bach’s Coffee Cantata

The Coffee Cantata is about the closest Bach came to opera. Written to be performed in Zimmermann’s Coffee House in Leipzigit tells the tale of Herr Schlendrian and his daughter Lieschen. She is addicted to coffee and her father is trying to persuade her to give up the “evil drink”. Our soloists are Jill Harrison (soprano),Mike Towers (tenor) and Alister Allan (bass) and the band is made up of students led by Beth Wyllie.

2.30pm Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden) - Eat at your peril!: taste, poison and mimicry in evolution

A very long time ago, the Plant Kingdom made a momentous decision to adopt a sedentary lifestyle.  This means that plants have evolved chemical defences against animals and other plants leading to bad tastes and poisons. Unpalatability also features as a defence mechanism in the Animal Kingdom leading to the evolution of the amazing phenomenon of mimicry.

2.45pm Jackie Malcolm (Design, DJCAD) – Food as a Trigger for Memory

Our food is driven by our culture and it can offer us a rich source of information about life as it is has been lived and is being lived. This talk will provide insights into life in Dundee, through natural conversations recorded with elderly people, at four sheltered housing locations in the city. Looking back to the 1950s we will observe just how much our food has changed.

3pm break

3.20pm  Trevor Harley (Psychology) - Living to a budget

How much do we need to spend on food to live healthily? How easy it is to stick to a budget? What can be done to make it more likely that we will follow our budget and our good intentions? I review my recent attempt to live economically for a month.

3.35pm  Caroline Brown (Archive Services) – Chicago, Dundee and Paris: the passions and prejudice of a 19th-century Dundonian

John James Dalyell was born in France in 1835 but lived most of his life in Dundee and Angus. Using one of his many letter books held by the University Archives this talk will examine his interests and concerns over a period of four years between 1868 and 1872. Dalyell was a keen cricketer and golfer, with an interest in foreign affairs, particularly in America and France. Sadly in 1872 Dalyell began suffering with severe head pains which were to lead to his admission to Sunnyside Asylum in Montrose where he stayed until his death.

3.50pm  Brian Hoyle (English) - In America they wash their Oysters. It kills the taste: Food, Sex and Death in European Cinema

This talk will examine references to food and eating in the work of some of the great European filmmakers, ranging from mouth-watering feasts the pepper the films of Claude Chabrol; to the cibophobia of Jan Svankmajer; to the surreal, scatological world of Luis Bunuel. 

4.05pm break

4.30pm  Dominic Smith (Philosophy) - The Appetite for Paradox: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Internet Culture

Since the dawn of philosophy with Plato, paradoxes have been emphasised as important provocations for thought and creativity. This talk will examine how contemporary online culture relates to this. Does the Internet expose us to too few paradoxes, or to too many?

4.45pm Annie Tindley (History) - Appetites of the Flesh: scandal, money and inheritance in the British Aristocracy, 1880-1895

In September 1892, the 3rd Duke of Sutherland, one of Britain’s richest patrician landowners, died, leaving his multi-million pound inheritance to his second wife, the Duchess Caroline. His son, the 4th Duke, was forced to take her to court for his inheritance, a process that saw one of them jailed, and was finally settled out of court. This talk will explore this episode, feverishly followed by the media, and will consider the nature of sensation and celebrity gossip in the high Victorian age.

5pm  JOOT Theatre Company – the Seven Deadly Sins scene from Marlowe's Dr. Faustus

5.30pm finish

2012 Culture Day - Wednesday 3 October

Feeling Good? - Health, Well-Being and the Arts

A free afternoon event featuring a fascinating range of presentations exploring the connections between culture & the arts and health & well-being

Wednesday 3 October 2012, 1.45-5pm
Baxter Conference Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee

Admission Free - all welcome!


Provisional Programme:

1.45pm Welcome


Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

Art with a Smile: Dentist art collectors in Dundee

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Dundee was one of Britain’s major art centres, with many enthusiastic patrons building up large private collections. Unusually, several of these were involved in dentistry, and this talk will reveal something of their exceptional activities.


Paul Harrison (Visual Research Centre, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Connections: Art, Science and Multi-cultures

This presentation will reflect on some of the recent projects that Paul has undertaken addressing issues at the intersection of art, science and society.


Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)

On Being Happy: Epicureans in the Garden

Our health is intimately connected to our mental attitudes and approach to life.  The Greeks advocated living the Good Life but what precisely is that to be - Epicurus had an interesting answer.


Brian Hoyle (English, School of Humanities)

Please Mrs Plunket, You're Squashing My Itinerary 

This presentation promises an in-depth reading of some of the Carry On and Doctor films - a plucky tribute to socialised medicine, Hattie and Sid.

2.50pm Refreshments


Sandra Wilson (Jewellery & Metal Design, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Jewellery, Superstition and Well-being

This talk will explore recent research into superstitious jewellery, demonstrating the connections between values, beliefs, materials and ways of working, and suggesting a continued relevance of this approach for well-being in the 21st century.  


Beth Lord (Philosophy, School of Humanities)

Equality, philosophy, and well-being

Many philosophers believe that living a good life requires us to adopt some principle of human equality. But what kind of equality should we aim for to ensure the well-being of individuals, groups, and communities? In this short talk I will suggest that 17th-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza has an interesting and startlingly contemporary answer to this question.


Kenneth Baxter (Archive Services)

Dundee's Doctor Daughters: Early Female Medical Students at University College Dundee

Making use of the University Records and Medical Collections in the Archives, this talk will explore the experiences and remarkable achivements of some of Dundee's early female graduates including Margaret Fairlie and the wider impact they made upon the city and the wider world in a range of ways.

3.55pm  Refreshments


Mary Modeen (Fine Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Seeing the Unseen, Hearing the Unheard: Attending to the World, Reflectively

As sentient humans, how we take in the world can make the difference between a healthy attention, a rich curiosity, or a baffling ‘muddling through’ the surroundings in our everyday life. Art has the potential to point to the unseen, and interdisciplinary study offers a rich and complex foundation for uncovering the spectral traces of the invisible in the present.


Billy Kenefick & Derek Patrick (History, School of Humanities)

“Fine Physique and Admirable Bearing”: Image and reality and the Scottish Soldier  

From Waterloo to the Second Boer War the Scottish soldier was praised for his military and physical prowess and throughout portrayed as a stoic defender of Empire. But does this image match up to reality, and is it a fair reflection of the physical health and well-being of the nation as a whole?   


Edward Hall (Geography, School of the Environment)

Making and gifting belonging: creative arts and people with learning disabilities

This talk will argue that the making of arts objects and performances provides opportunities for expression and belonging for people with learning disabilities; that ‘gifting’ these to a wider society can create connection and recognition; and that the safe spaces where art is made can generate senses of belonging.

4.55pm   Finish

Don’t miss the current exhibition in the Lamb Gallery – Human Race: Inside the History of Sports Medicine, funded by the Legacy Trust as an official part of the Cultural Olympiad.

At 6pm in D’Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre (ground floor, Tower), Vicky Strange will be giving a free public lecture about her work as General Manager, Sports Competition for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. All welcome.




2011 Culture Day - 9 November Place, Space and Time

A free afternoon event featuring a fascinating range of presentations giving scientific, cultural and visual responses to the theme of place, space and time!

Wednesday 9 November 2010, 1.30-5.30pm
Baxter Conference Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee

Admission Free!


Provisional Programme


Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)


Susan Mains (Geography)
Moving Image, Moving Place: Islands, Identities and Space-Time Emotions
This presentation will explore the ways in which media images of islands - particularly in the Caribbean - offer an important entryway into new understandings of how we represent emotions, space, and time

Alasdair Hood (Botanic Garden)
"A Rich Harvest of Most Beautiful Plants": A World Tour in the Botanic Garden
The University's Botanic Garden turned 40 this year. It was ahead of its time in being laid out on geographical lines. Come on a tour of the world's plants and explore our own British flora.

Brian Kelly (Continuing Education / Dundee Heritage Trust)
A Journey in Space and Time
Find out our real place in the cosmos as we voyage from Dundee to the most distant objects in the known Universe

Philip Braham (Fine Art)
Suicide Notes: From private pilgrimage to public outrage
The artist will discuss his contentious photographic series 'Suicide Notes' that met with moral condemnation in the press, but won the Royal Scottish Academy Morton Award in 2009.

2.40pm Refreshments


Graeme Stevenson (Music)
Space in Music
A look at music that was composed with the position of the audience or the performers as a key feature of the work

Keith Williams (English)
"I have always been given to paradoxes about space and time"
A talk exploring the place of new media in the fiction of HG Wells

Charles McKean (History)
Space and Time - a Revolutionary Theory
Revolutions require the right time, the right circumstances and above all the right place. Do they occur in the countryside? Rarely. For the last 500 years, authorities have been aware of this and designed against it. Yet in 1989 and again today, squares and plazas were crucial to dramatic political change.

Keith Skene (Continuing Education / Biosphere Research Institute)
Of Progress and the Golden Age: finding a place called home
The conservation movement and the Enlightenment had very different visions of where we belonged. We will examine these two schools of thought, exploring the repercussions for us today.

4.05pm Refreshments


Kenneth Baxter (Archive Services)
Time Travel without a TARDIS: Using archives to discover changing places and spaces in Dundee through time
This talk will show how material held by the University's Archive Services can be used to illustrate and understand how Dundee has changed in the past two centuries - its spaces and the people who inhabited them

Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)
Deep Time and Broad Spaces: Space and Time in Darwin's Theory of Evolution
The strongest evidence for the fact of evolution comes from the distribution of species in space across the globe and Natural Selection demands vast expanses of time to do its work.

Brian Hoyle (English)
Cinema, Time and Space
Through an examination of works by a range of directors this talk will examine cinema's unique ability to manipulate time and space. By combining cinematic techniques with the viewer's imagination, filmmakers are able to extend, compress and elide time; eradicate the distance between locations; and present vastly different spaces to the viewer

Phil Vaughan (Graphic Design)
Comics: 3D space to 2D time
Exploring the technique of using 3D software to digitally create 2D comic art...

5.30 end

2010 Culture Day - 10 November Diversity!

A free afternoon event featuring a diverse range of presentations on the theme of diversity

Wednesday 10 November 2010, 2.00-5.45pm
Baxter Conference Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee

Admission Free!


2.00 Welcome

2.15 Rachel Jones (Philosophy)
Identity and Diversity - Race, Gender and Philosophy
This talk will examine the ways in which attention to race and gender has changed the ways we read key philosophers of the past, and will also show how debates about gender and race are changing the ways we do philosophy in the present

2.30 Murdo Macdonald (Fine Art)
The Diversity of Responses to the Gaidhealtachd in Visual Art
This presentation explores the variety of responses to Gaelic culture by artists, with a particular emphasis on recent work explored in the AHRC funded project Window to the West

2.45 Cathy Caudwell (D'Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum)
Biodiversity and Museums
Museums have become the repositories of extinct creatures - Dodo, Tasmanian Wolf, Passenger Pigeon and many others. What can museums tell us about biodiversity? Are the collections simply a reminder that the world is a less diverse place than it used to be?

3.00 Keith Skene (Continuing Education)
In Search of the Driver of Diversity
There are millions of species of all shapes and sizes on our planet. What has led to this diversity? Answers may be found in the darkest hours of Earth's history, the Mass Extinctions.

3.15 Refreshments

3.30 Charles McKean (History)
Why unity and diversity need each other: the experience of Edinburgh
Enlightenment philosophers warmed to the idea of a unity which permitted diversity. Since the New Town of Edinburgh was the largest built example of Enlightenment thinking, that concept should have been evident upon the streets. Was it?

3.45 Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)
Design and Diversity in Nature: William Paley, Charles Darwin and the Blind Watchmaker
Charles Darwin was much impressed as a young man by William Paley's "Natural Theology", with its many examples of apparent design in nature. In a great irony of history, Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection was destined to subvert Paley's argument by providing design without a designer.

4.00 Vanessa Charles (Book & Paper Conservation Studio)
The Paper Trail: from Diamond Sutra to Damien Hirst
We take paper for granted; it sits in our pockets, covers our walls and piles on our desks. Sometimes precious, yet often intended to be ephemeral, this diverse material has a long history. The talk will explore our relationship with paper and show what measures conservators take to preserve it.

4.15 Graeme Stevenson (Music)
Live to Compose, Compose to Live
JS Bach was arguably the greatest composer of the Baroque, but this presentation will explore the diverse music produced by his sons at the start of the Classical period.

4.30 Refreshments

4.45 Chris Murray (English)
Is it a bird? Is it a Plane? No, it's a talk about Formal Diversity in Comics!
This talk will discuss how comics appropriate lots of different styles, forms and techniques from other media, and look at how diverse comic traditions (Japanese, French, etc) have informed the visual and narrative style of Anglo-American comics, and vice versa.

5.00 Caroline Brown (Archive Services)
Being different: "insanity" in the 19th century
The University of Dundee Archive Services holds the archives of Sunnyside and Liff Asylums. Who were the people who were admitted to the asylums, why were they considered insane, how were they treated and what happened to them?

5.15 Brian Hoyle (English)
Who Know Where They're Going? Diversity in the films of Powell and Pressbuger
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were responsible for some of the finest films ever made in Britain, but they were slow to gain this recognition, partly because of their commitment to diversity in all things. They rarely covered the same ground twice and gathered around them a diverse technical crew to achieve their dream of "total cinema".

5.30 Rob Duck (Geography)
Geodiversity of Scotland: a personal perspective
Diversity in nature is usually taken to mean the diversity of living nature. Geodiversity, however, recognises the parallel importance of the range of abiotic nature and in this regard Scotland has no equal, as this personal perspective explores.

5.45 End


Previous Culture Days



Click here to see the programmes from previous culture days.

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