University Culture Day

The University's annual Culture Day is now organised by the Culture & Arts Committee, a Senate committee which aims to support and promote cultural activity across the University. Established in 2015, it replaces the previous, informal Culture & Arts Forum that initiated Culture Day. Programmes for all of the events can be found here.

2021 Culture Day


The Sixteenth University of Dundee Cuture Day exploring themes of rebirth and regeneration

Friday 29 October, 1.45-5pm

Carnegie Building Lecture Theatre, Geddes Quadrangle, University of Dundee

Places MUST be booked in advance via Eventbrite




1.45 Welcome

1.50 Ali Floyd (School of Life Sciences)

A Wellcome Welcome to Culture

At the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research, regeneration and renewal are at the heart of our work, whether in discovering new medicines or in engaging with the public. You'll find out what the Centre does globally and locally, both on-campus and across Dundee, in some unexpectedly creative spaces.

2.05 Susan Mains (Geography, School of Social Sciences)

The Sea Inside Outside: Exploring Coasts, Place and Creative Practice.

The sea has been a landscape of fascination over many centuries, symbolising opportunities and challenges, as well as changing emotional states. Coasts in particular have increasingly become viewed as important settings for rejuvenation and renewal. Through a range of creative practices, Susan explores images of the sea and coast, and our connections to place.

2.20 Kenneth Baxter (Archive Services)

Charting the evolution and regeneration of Dundee Waterfront through the Archives

From its earliest days Dundee's waterfront has played an important part in the city's history. As Dundee developed in the 19th and 20th centuries its waterfront was greatly altered. The advent of the railways and expansion of the docks in the 19th century pushed the waterfront further away from the city centre, while developments in the 20th century eventually saw much of the waterfront cut off from the town, while the decline of shipping and industry had a major impact on the area. The 21st century as seen major work to regenerate the waterfront and reconnect it to the heart of the city. Using a variety of archive material including photographs, maps and unrealised plans, this talk will chart the evolution of the waterfront and its ongoing regeneration.

2.35 Break

2.50 Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

Growing Pains – The Rebirth of Dundee’s Art College

Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design is now one of the UK’s leading art schools, yet for many years it was the poor relation to Scotland’s other, larger colleges. An astonishing rebirth occurred in the mid 20th century, but it was a slow and at times painful process, with many difficulties along the way. This presentation will explore the challenges and personalities involved. 

3.05 Christine Kingsley (Design & Making, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Regenerating Local Pottery Traditions

Christine will talk about her work at Buttery Wynd Pottery, the regeneration of the material they are using (red earthenware dug locally) and reviving a tradition of the potteries in Fife that was a 19th Century industrial practice.

3.20 Kevin Frediani (Botanic Garden)

From A Garden: A Story of Continuity and Renewal

Dundee Botanic Garden is 50 years old this month. Reflecting upon that half century of the making of a garden, the incoming Curator explores the opportunities for rebirth and regeneration inspired by the living collection to connect to landscapes beyond the Garden walls.

3.35 Keith Dinnie (Marketing & Management, School of Business)

One City, Many Discoveries: Renewal and Re-focusing of Dundee’s City Brand

In recent years Dundee has reinvented itself through a commitment to culture and creativity. This presentation will explore current approaches to Dundee’s city branding by the public and private sectors, as well as identifying potential future directions for Dundee’s city brand.

3.50 Break

4.05 Theresa Lynn (Community Education, School of Education & Social Work)

Creative processes for engaged regeneration planning

Over recent decades in Scotland and the U.K., the desirability of creative consultation of communities, to achieve sustainable physical regeneration, as well as the renewal of community networks, has become widely recognised. We will look at the uses of arts-based activities as a basis to access underlying collective cultural strands, as a Cultural Planning process, through various local and national examples.

4.20 Keith Williams (English, School of Humanities)

The Ghost of Futures Past - Resurrecting the Lost Scottish Father of Transatlantic Science Fiction

This talk introduces the life and work of Cupar-born Robert Duncan Milne (1844-99). Milne published over fifty Science Fiction stories from 1879-99. He pioneered themes such as climate catastrophe, cryogenics, molecular re-engineering of the body, personality transfer, scientific terrorism and drone warfare, remote surveillance and telecommunications, satellite phones and technologies for visual time travel which anticipate cinema and TV. Scotland appears to punch below its weight in relation to early science fiction, yet Milne is an extraordinary lost presence who slipped through the cracks of the canon by a series of historical accidents - until now.

4.35 Husam Al Waer (Architecture & Urban Planning, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Facilitating the 20 minute neighbourhood - Revisiting Urban Proximity, Density and Diversity in the age of Covid-19

This presentation will explore whether the ‘20 Minute neighborhood’ is a welcome or effective way to organise urban life. This initiative builds upon the long-established notion that people should be able to access most daily needs within 20 minutes of their home, thereby reducing commuting lengths and transport demand, and promoting local neighbourhood identity, health and liveability. However, this initiative raises some critical questions, particularly in the context of Covid-19 and the future of sustainable cities. This presentation aims to address issues such as: Can we accommodate an urban quarter in 20 minutes? Could it draw investment, services and power back into local communities? Or does it misjudge the hierarchical nature of cities, including the role of their centres? What would the benefits and risks be for the economy, health and the environment? For residents, traders, employers and transport providers? For the old and young, families and singles?

4.50 End

2019 Culture Day - Radical!

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Baxter Room 1.36, Tower Building, 1.30pm-5.00pm


The University’s annual Culture Day is a stimulating mix of talks and presentations across a wide-range of subjects united by a common theme. This year Culture Day celebrates its 15th birthday and like any stroppy teenager we’re in a radical mood! From radical politics to free radicals in our bodies, this stimulating event will definitely challenge the status quo.





Peter Mossey (School of Dentistry) –

Dentists without Drills - The switch from intervention to prevention

The future of the Dental profession may look very different from what the current situation is. Dentists and undergraduate dental curricula in the future will increasingly use evidence-based techniques to prevent dental decay and gum disease and therefore get rid of the need for drilling teeth. Peter will elaborate on the drivers for these radical changes.


Ellie Harrison (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Art, Activism and Well-Being in the City
Artist and Lecturer in Contemporary Art Practices, Ellie will introduce her new book 'The Glasgow Effect' focusing on her controversial art project which saw her confined to Glasgow for a whole year.


Richard Holme (School of Education & Social Work)

Pies, Pints and Professional Development

Traditional school-based professional development for teachers is far from radical. And for people in the ‘business of learning’, many teachers aren’t that keen to learn either. But some teachers are challenging this, by taking control of their development. The BrewEd movement is now organising high quality professional development days … in the local pub. Richard will explore how and why this is happening.  


Tim Morris (School of Humanities)

Radicals of Modernist Poetry

The Modernists of the early 20th century instigated a shift away from traditional poetic forms and embraced experimentalism and the avant-garde. Tim introduces some examples of the radical forms of composition that challenged and sometimes outraged contemporary readers, as poetry attempted to reflect the crises and uncertainties of the Modern Age.

2.35pm Break for refreshments


Inke Nathke (School of Life Sciences)

How, where and who: radical changes in research culture over the centuries

Using her own area of cancer research as an example, Inke will discuss the changes to research culture over the past 100 years. Originally focused solely on doctors and patients, today’s research encompasses a far more diverse group of people, and involves radically different technology and research capabilities. These changes have, however, introduced challenges which affect how research culture works.


Kenneth Baxter (Archive Services)

Archives of a Radical University

Dundee is known as the Radical Toun. Since it was founded in 1881 as University College, Dundee, the University of Dundee could fairly be described as a radical institution, starting with its revolutionary admission of men and women on equal terms. Since then it has also been the home to radical research and radical thinking. This talk will show how the University's Archives reveal this remarkable history.


Jane Fenton (School of Education & Social Work)

Social Work for Lazy Radicals

Should social workers be radical? Jane Fenton thinks so. This talk will summarise the thinking behind a ‘lazy radical’ approach to social work and will explain how such an approach can help recapture the moral heart of social work from the forces of neoliberalism and managerialism. Anyone who is at all interested in social work will have an opinion about the ideas presented here!

3.40 Break


Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

A Radical Monument? The controversial saga of the war memorial on the Law

The huge granite war memorial on Dundee Law was unveiled in 1925, and remains to this day the largest piece of public sculpture in the city. It followed six years of arguments and debates about the best way to remember those who had died during the Great War. This talk will explore its troubled origins.


Matt Graham (School of Humanities)

Steve Biko and Black Consciousness: Remembering radical black thinking in the struggle against apartheid

While Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Desmond Tutu are celebrated heroes in the struggle against white minority rule in South Africa, the post-apartheid era has witnessed the rewriting of the past, excluding certain leaders and organisations. One such person is Bantu Steven Biko, who led the enormously influential Black Consciousness Movement, and deserves to be recognised as one of the giants of the anti-apartheid struggle. This talk will explore the emergence of Black Consciousness, which Matt will argue deserves greater acknowledgment in the modern history of South Africa.


Beverley Searle (School of Social Sciences)

Wellbeing:  how to save the planet

From well-known natural historians to school children, it is recognised that radical change is needed if we are to address the significant challenges affecting the environment. The first phase of that change, arguably, is to challenge our own beliefs and sense of personal meaning in the world.  This presentation will demonstrate how an individual’s wellbeing is an important contribution to whether or not they recognise a need for radical change to save the planet.  


Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden) –

Deep Down and Dirty: radicles, roots and the endangered soil ecosystem. 

Forget oil - after water, fertile soil is humanity’s most precious resource. We’ll think about the plant embryo’s first root (the ‘radicle’) and its adventures in the harsh soil environment, then see how alarmingly threatened the soil ecosystem is and what can be done to conserve it.

5.00pm End

Admission is free and you are welcome to come to as much or as little of the programme as you like. For catering purposes it would be helpful if you could book a place via Eventbrite.

Culture Day is part of the University's Festival of the Future.

2018 Culture Day

Examining the Body

Wed 17 October

Baxter Room 1.36, Tower Building, 1.30pm-5.00pm

Please come to as much or as little of the programme as you would like, but to help us organise catering please book a place via Eventbrite





Keith Williams (English, School of Humanities)

Reanimating Bodies: the Frankenstein Theme in Early film

As an ‘electrical’ medium which brought still photographic images of bodies to life, early film became quickly associated with themes of bodysnatching, duplication and artificial reanimation. This talk examines the reasons why adaptations of Mary Shelley’s novel and related narratives became a kind of self-reflexive commentary on the apparently uncanny potentials of the new medium to reanimate both the living and the dead.


Caroline Brown (Archive Services)

Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Using the theme of the body this talk uncovers some of the fascinating stories found in the University Archives. Pioneering experiments and discoveries, disease and health, art and fashion – all are explored through the medium of the human form.


Peter Amoore & Joanna Helfer (Exhibitions, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

A Body of Art

Cooper Gallery, DJCAD presents a talk on the ways in which the idea of 'The Body' is represented, discussed and questioned by artists, writers and thinkers within our recent programme. Considering which bodies we mean when we talk about 'The Body', we will show clips of film, discuss artworks and quotations that challenge socially normative ideas of the bodies.


Claire Cunningham (CAHID, School of Science & Engineering)

Our Silent Teachers - Body donation at the University of Dundee

[description tbc]

2.45pm Break for refreshments


Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

The Body Beautiful - Art and Anatomy

Dundee is now renowned for its unique Medical Art postgraduate course, but the University began bringing together art and anatomy from the beginning, thanks to the artistic interests of the first Cox Professor of Anatomy, Andrew Melville Paterson. This presentation will look at some of these early connections, as well as the beautifully created models, charts and other teaching aids used in the Anatomy department.


Allan Kennedy (History, School of Humanities)

The Body Brutalised: Torture in Scottish History

One of the most elemental facts about of the human body is that it is capable of feeling pain. This talk looks at the nature and uses of judicial torture in Scotland’s past. Focusing particularly on the early modern period (c.1500-c.1700), we will explore when and why torture was used by the Scottish authorities, before delving – in grizzly detail – into the precise techniques visited upon those unfortunate enough to come face-to-face with a torturer.


Diana Swales (CAHID, School of Science & Engineering)

The Stories Bodies Tell: Archaeological Narratives

Human remains from archaeological contexts and their treatment in death provide clues about the lives people led and the socio-cultural relationships of the living. This talk covers the osteobiographies of archaeological human remains including theories and case studies.

3.50 break


Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)

From the Metamorphosis of Plants to the Origin of Species:

Goethe, Darwin and the Development of the Plant Body

Goethe, the author of Faust, is the towering German literary figure. But he also saw himself as a scientist and put forward ideas on plant form which prefigure yet clash with the concepts of modern botany, informed by the insights of Darwinian evolutionary thought.


Chris Murray (English, School of Humanities)

Frankenstein and Comics

This illustrated talk will explore the many adaptations of Frankenstein in comics and graphic novels, with a special emphasis on comics responding to the novel produced by creators associated with the Scottish Centre for Comics Studies and Dundee Comics Creative Space.


Graeme Stevenson (Music)

A Body of Music

The “heart” and “eyes” are frequently mentioned in love songs but there’s a long history of anatomical references in music. Graeme will talk about and play some examples of these works including music by Buxtehude and Marin Marais.

5pm finish

2017 Culture Day


Wednesday 8 November 2017, 1.30-5pm

Lectuere Theatre 1, Dalhousie Building, University of Dundee

Please come to as much or as little of the programme as you would like, but to help us organise catering please book a place via Eventbrite


1.30 Introduction

1.40 Gaye Manwaring (Education, School of Education & Social Work)

Personal Growth

What can you do on a personal level to enhance your own wellbeing?  How can you develop your full potential as well as growing older?  How can you be resilient to the challenges you face in your life?

1.55 Caroline Brown (Archive Services, Culture & Information)

Botanising Excursions: Gardens and Landscapes through the Ages

This presentation uses the University archives to trace the growth and development of some of the plants, gardens and landscapes in the Tayside region.

2.10  Andy Jackson (Ninewells Library, School of Medicine)

Growth and Reflection for Medical students: How Poetry can Help

On Graduation Day, graduates of the Medical School receive their certificate, but they also receive a little book of poetry for doctors called Tools of the Trade. This presentation will look at the development of this book, and how the Medical School is using poetry to help doctors learn to reflect and grow into their roles.

2.25 Emese Nagy (Psychology, School of Social Sciences)

Sensitive Periods or Lifelong Growth: Lessons on Brains and Culture from Music

Where does music come from? Is it in our brains? Is it in the culture? Are there sensitive periods for this art form or the growth is life-long? How can music help people? Psychology and arts together are trying to answer these questions.

2.40 Break

3.00 Matthew Jarron (Museum Services, Culture & Information)

The Growth of On Growth and Form

D’Arcy Thompson’s ground-breaking publication is almost certainly the most influential book ever written in Dundee, but where did it come from?

3.15 Morag Hannah (Web Services, External Relations)

Because internet

The web is doing us a linguistic revolution and we cannot even with it. From neologisms to noun verbing, from birbs to very good doggos (13/10 would fuss again), we'll be exploring the growth and change in the vocabulary and structure of the English language via the important internet memes of recent years, and establishing once and for all (no really) whether 'important internet memes' is an oxymoron. Such web. So grammar. Wow.

3.30 Daniel Cook (English, School of Humanities)

Little People, Large World: Captain Scott's copy of Gulliver's Travels

On his first Antarctic expedition, in 1901-04, Captain Scott took with him a small but elegant copy of Gulliver's Travels. That copy had been gifted to him by his mentor Sir Clements Markham. But that’s only part of the story: before giving that book to Scott, Markham had taken it on his own journey to the Arctic in search of the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin, decades earlier. That book is now on display at The Discovery Point in Dundee. What else might we know about such a well-travelled copy of one of Ireland's greatest literary works?

3.45 Break

4.00 Karen Petrie (Computing, School of Science & Engineering)

The Growth of Artificial Intelligence

If you picked up most newspapers in the last month you will have seen an article on the growth of AI and how it will take over the world. This talk will look at what has changed to show this rate of growth and how it could affect us all.

4.15 Alasdair Hood (Botanic Garden)

Botanic Garden Growth and Development planning

What have we achieved, where are we going and how do we get there? This will be a look at the various development initiatives we have spent the last decade or so working on in order to try and grow the Garden. This will include horticultural development.

4.30 Janice Aitken (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Growing Penguins in Dundee

Find out how a major public art project grows from idea to reality.

4.45 Peggy Hughes (Literary Dundee, External Relations)

Beards of Literature

What growth more welcome than a beard? Here we take a closer look at beards in literature: Upton Uxbridge Underwood and his ingenious ranking of poets by beard weight. The many and varied euphemisms employed by Herman Melville in White-Jacket. Walt Disney's infamous pogonophobia. The beards invoked by Tolstoy and Whitman and Ginsberg and Dahl, not to mention the face forests of the writers themselves, of Edwards Gorey and Lear and Philip Ardagh, here is a whistlestop tour of the world of words through beards.  

5.00 End


2016 Culture Day


Wed 14 December, 1.30-5pm

Baxter Room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee


Please come to as much or as little of the programme as you would like, but to help us organise catering please book a place via Eventbrite


1.30 Introduction

1.40 Keith Williams (English, School of Humanities)

H G Wells@150: Seeing the Future (but also How the Future Would See)

It’s a cliché that H G Wells ‘saw the future’. Many of today’s technologies and social changes were anticipated by his prophetic science fiction. Much less well known are Wells’s anticipations of how the future might see, imagining moving image media which shape the modern world. This illustrated talk (one of several activities marking Wells’s 150 anniversary) will showcase this alternative aspect of Wells’s visionary work.

1.55 Caroline Erolin (CAHID, School of Science & Engineering)

Zoology Museum 3D

Caroline has been working with Museum Services to digitise specimens from the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum. Smaller specimens have been scanned using a micro CT scanner, while larger specimens have been captured using hand-held structured light scanners.  The resulting 3D models are hosted online via Sketchfab and are available for viewing and downloading worldwide. In this talk Caroline will be discussing the impact new technologies are having on museums and looking at the role of digital engagement and widening access.  

2.10 Richard Holme (Education, School of Education & Social Work)

Teachers as Rogue Learners and DIY Professional Development

The nature of teachers as learners is evolving, with many taking back ownership of their own development. Digital technology and social media has facilitated this but there seems to be something deeper at work. We may be at the beginning of a major shift change in school education – which is being led by teachers themselves.

2.25 Graeme Morton (History, School of Humanities)

The Culture of Weather Watching in an Age of Innovation

The wider acceptance of meteorologists’ observational and measurement data in the Victorian age was undermined by the continued popularity of weather folklore and proxy data (from nature and agriculture). This talk explores the relationship between culture and science in Scotland’s history of meteorological observation.

2.40 break

3.00 Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

Ten Dundee Designers

The recent UNESCO designation of Dundee as a City of Design is highlighting the wealth of current design talent we have here, but what of Dundee’s history of design? Here we will meet ten notable designers from the past 200 years, all innovators in one way or another.

3.15 Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)

Out with the Old? - Innovation and Conservation in Evolution

A famous Dundee graduate and the Battle of Britain will lead us to how Natural Selection makes do and mends in producing evolutionary novelties.

3.30 Norman Alm (Computing, School of Science & Engineering)

Computer-based support for communication and enjoyment usable by people with dementia and their carers

People with dementia, because of their problems with working (short-term) memory, find it difficult to communicate and to have enjoyable pastimes. A group of researchers from the fields of psychology, design and software engineering have developed two innovative touch-screen systems that produced breakthroughs in this area: a conversation support system based on multi-media reminiscence, and a set of interactive games that can be enjoyed without the need for short-term-memory.

3.45 break

4.00 Graeme Stevenson (Music)

From Pythagoras to Bach

Graeme will tell us a story of musical innovation – how we ended up with 7 white and 5 black notes that could play pieces in any key.

4.15 Jan Merchant (Archive Services)

From Papyrus to Pixels: Innovations in Recording. 

Using examples from the University Archives this talk look at how innovations in the way we record and keep information have impacted on how we remember and understand the past. 

4.30 Brendan Body (Animation, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design)

Intuitive Technological Developments in Animation Studies

Brendan will talk about some of the techniques and the facilities used in DJCAD and what impact recent innovations in technology and software are having on animation. Using some recent examples of students’ work he will show how developments from the games industry are affecting filmmaking as well as show how software and hardware are becoming more intuitive, helping artists realise their visions.

4.45 Brian Hoyle (English & Film Studies, School of Humanities)

The Cinema is Dead, Long Live the Cinema

This talk will examine recent innovations in digital cinema by filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway, Jean-Luc Godard and Agnes Varda and will show that this newfound so-called ‘amateur’ film technology has inspired certain film-makers to match and recreate some of the boldest innovations of the last days of silent cinema, when film was a purely visual medium.

5.00 End

2015 Culture Day

Wednesday 18 November


Baxter Room 1.36, Tower Building



1.30pm - Introduction


1.35pm - Caroline Brown (Archive Services)

A Sense of Place: Strathmartine Hospital

Capturing different memories of an institution, a workplace and a home. This talk will provide an overview of an oral history project with staff and former residents of Strathmartine hospital. 


1.50pm - Susan Mains (Geography)

Ties to the Tay: Place, People and Storytelling

The River Tay has featured in a range of artistic mediums and is a key component of Tayside geographies. The Tay is also interwoven with connections to special places and memories - stories about this material and social landscape help us make sense of our own journeys and can also offer a new sense of belonging.


2.05pm - Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)

Painting the Back Yard: Andrew Wyeth and Claude Monet

Two painters with such a strong sense of place that they restricted much of their work to, respectively, two and a single location(s).


2.20pm - Mark Robson (English & Theatre Studies)

The Politics of Dramaturgy

Dramaturgy is concerned with the structures within which events take place. In theatrical terms, it can be taken to indicate the ways in which different elements of a performance relate to each other, and the processes by which the performance comes into being. But in creating the world of the play, dramaturgy also creates a vision of the world beyond the play. So what are the politics of these acts of world-creation?


2.35pm – break for refreshments


2.55pm - Annie Tindley (History)

Landscape and the Clearances: the shadow of history?

As Scottish politicians grapple with a new Land Reform bill, this talk will explore the historical background of this contentious issue, from the Highland clearances, and how perceptions of these events have, and continue to, shape legislation and public opinion. We will examine the nature of power and conflict in rural Scotland, and how its history and traditions have permeated Scottish culture and continue to set the political agenda today. 



3.10pm - Andy Milligan (DJCAD)

Domestechtopias – Domestic Technologies Utopias

Rediscovering the domestic interior as a site for dwelling, interacting, distracting e.g. living together yet apart. Looking at some of the myths, fantasies and utopian visions around the home e.g. Homes for the future…..dystopian domesticity and heterotopian hell-holes


3.25pm - Derek Robertson (Education) & Deepak Gopinath (Town & Regional Planning)

Minecraft on the Waterfront: Where learners are contenders!

Minecraft has become a global phenomenon but can this digital construction kit be used to support learning? In this presentation Derek & Deepak will discuss their recent work with primary and secondary schools that explored the use of Minecraft in the context of the developing waterfront of their city. The learners involved were given a brief that challenged them to reimagine, redesign and rebuild what they thought Dundee waterfront should like were they the designers!


3.40pm - Daniel Cook (English)

Mary Shelley's Dundee: The Gothic City

Did you know that the inventor of modern science fiction, Mary Shelley, lived with the Baxters on Dundee’s South Baffin Street as a teenager? This talk outlines what we know about Shelley's experiences here, and re-examines the Gothic descriptions of the area in her ground-breaking novel Frankenstein (1818) and other works.


3.55pm - break for refreshments


4.15pm - Reinhard Behrens (DJCAD)

40 Years of Expeditions into Naboland

An artist's exploration of a parallel world


4.30pm - Hope Roberts (Museum Services)

Everything in its Place

A place for everything and everything in its place, this could be a museum mantra. But how does giving objects a place in a museum benefit people? In this talk, Hope will reveal some of the great things we can do with museum collections when you are involved!


4.45pm - Nick Hopkins (Psychology)

Living with the Gods at the Sangam: Place and pilgrimage in north India

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims gather at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers where they live on the rivers’ sandy floodplains for one month. During this time conditions are demanding, yet pilgrims report a great sense of calm and fulfilment. What is it about their experience of this environment that contributes to such a sense of spiritual fulfilment?


5pm – JOOT Theatre Company

'Ic pis giedd wrece': Old English Elegies as Dramatic Monologues

The Old English elegies as a whole are largely about exile. The Wife's Lament, for example, is about a woman who is abandoned by her lord n a Gothic landscape and there mourns the loss of her friends and home.  In The Wanderer, we find a thane whose lord has died and, as a result, he must roam the earth looking for a new home.


5.25pm – End

2014 Culture Day - Wednesday 1 October

Heroes & Villains

The Tenth Annual University of Dundee Culture Day


Organised by the Culture & Arts Forum in collaboration with the Centre for Scottish Culture

Part of Scottish Heroes & Villains Month

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Baxter Room 1.36, Tower Building


Free admission – all welcome


1.30     Welcome

1.35     Graeme Stevenson (Music) – The Sounds of Victory

Graeme will be performing music composed to commemorate Admiral Duncan's victory at the Battle of Camperdown, including Dussek’s The Naval Battle and Total Defeat of the Grand Dutch Fleet by Admiral Duncan

1.55     Eddie Small (Creative Writing) - The Villainous Hero: McGonagall the Spoilsport

Debate rages over McGonagall's ‘poetry’ : was it intentionally, and therefore Villainously, bad, or did our Hero simply strive to do his best, stoically oblivious to criticism, abuse and derision? By examining contemporaneous sources, we will now definitively solve this age-old conundrum once and for all.

2.10     Jan Merchant (Archive Services) - My Hero, the Archivist

Archives are the repositories of our personal and community histories and identities. The mission for archivists is to care, manage and provide access to records that tell stories, provide evidence, and offer insights into our history. This talk illustrates the heroic range of projects, enquiries and activities that archivists do to engage, inform, educate and testify.

2.25     Billy Kenefick & Derek Patrick (History)Architect of Victory?: Douglas Haig and the Great War

Douglas Haig remains a divisive figure. For many Haig is largely responsible for tens of thousands of Great War dead, an obstinate and detached commander-in-chief, whose refusal to engage with new technology cost the lives of many of his men. Criticised by later politicians and pilloried by historians, Haig’s reputation has suffered, conditioning public perceptions of the man who arguably led the British army to its greatest victory. However, in the wake of the Great War, the Field Marshal enjoyed unprecedented popularity, working tirelessly for veterans’ charities. This paper will explore the man and the myth in an attempt to establish whether he was a hero or villain.

2.40     Break for Refreshments

3.00     Matthew Jarron (Museum Services) – The Celtic Revival in Dundee – heroes in art at the turn of the century

Led by the painter John Duncan, Dundee became one of the major centres for the Celtic Revival movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. This talk will explore this fascinating period of art and culture, and show that many of the paintings and murals created during this period depicted great heroes of Scottish history and legend.

3.15     Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden) – Sweden 0 England 1: Carl Linnaeus, John Ray and the Naming of Names

The Swedish botanist Linnaeus enjoys a largely undeserved reputation as the father of scientific plant classification; in this talk Neil will argue that that honour should belong to the almost unknown Englishman John Ray.

3.30     Dominic Smith (Philosophy) – Committed to the Flames: David Hume, Hero or Villain?

David Hume was a man of many real or apparent contradictions – a proud Scot who ardently supported Union with England; one of the most celebrated British philosophers, who, to this day, is still listed as an ‘historian’ in his official citation at the British Library; and a librarian who famously claimed that certain types of book should be ‘commit[ted]… to the flames’. This talk will attempt to lay out some of the contradictions surrounding Hume, and to see through some of their ‘villainous’ and ‘heroic’ implications. Above all, Hume was a great debunker of myth and mysticism, and this, Dominic will argue, is where his true ‘heroism’ (or is it ‘villainy’?) resides for us. 

3.45     Susan Mains (Geography) – Pirates of the Caribbean: Resistance, Security and Nostalgia in Jamaican Seascapes

In recent years we have come to associate images of Caribbean pirates with big budget Hollywood depictions of witty scoundrels and subversive heroes. Exploring the context of Jamaica, this presentation digs a little deeper to explore some of the hidden stories surrounding a range of historical and contemporary pirates, and the implications these have for our understandings of local, national and transnational geographies.

4.00     Break for Refreshments

4.15    Rebecca Brown (Continuing Education) – Shakespeare’s Heroes and Villains

In this presentation, Rebecca will offer a (very) brief exploration of the divided self of Shakespeare's tragic figures.

4.30     Karen Petrie (Computing) – The Women of Station X

Bletchley Park was the central location for the UK's code breaking efforts during World War Two. It is not well-known that women made up the majority of the personnel and made a significant contribution to the code breaking.? This talk (organised by the University’s Revealing Research) will try to tell some of these women's stories. 

4.45     Brian Hoyle (Film Studies) – Henry Fonda Shot Me in the Face While James Cagney Tap-Danced and Other Unusual Tales of Hollywood Heroes and Villains

The Hollywood studio system carefully cultivated the images of its stars and were often reluctant to allow them to display the full range of their acting talents in order to preserve that image. However, many of the most memorable performances by Hollywood stars came in works where they were cast against type, with the heroes exploring their darker side or screen heavies displaying disarming charm and kindness. This paper will look at the roles of several great actors including Henry Fonda, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Fred MacMurray, Kirk Douglas and Lee Marvin.  

5.00     JOOT Theatre Company – Herod the Great

The company will end our event with a dramatized reading of the mediaeval Mystery pageant Herod the Great from the Wakefield Cycle

5.30     End

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 achievements 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.

Previous Culture Days



Click to see the programmes from previous culture days.

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