Shooting From The HiP – Humanities In Public Launch Event

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Scene from Gothic Manchester – just one of HiP’s new features

Words by Lisa Burns

The launch of MMU’s new ‘Humanities in Public’ (HiP) programme last week attracted staff, students, guest speakers and successful alumni. They gathered in the university’s Geoffrey Manton building to kick off the year-long celebration of the Humanities.

Hosted by the Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research (IHSSR), the HiP programme, created by Professor Berthold Schoene and Helen Malarky, features talks, debates, film screenings, poetry readings and much more. Each event will be free and open to the public, so that the richness of the Humanities can be made available to all.  

The Big Issue In The North Editor, Kevin Gopal

The HiP festival is a new initiative designed to make the Humanities more relevant and accessible to the public at large, at a time when the Humanities are increasingly dismissed as ‘soft’ subjects. The Dean of the Faculty, Dr Sharon Handley, questioned that viewpoint, saying, “The Humanities disciplines are all about people. What’s more important than people?”

Dr Handley presented HiP as “the flagship of the HLSS Faculty”, adding that it reflects the vision and profile of the faculty. The Dean spoke as she introduced guest speakers including Mancunian writer Emma Jane Unsworth and MMU alumnus Kevin Gopal, the editor of The Big Issue in the North. Former Politics and Philosophy student Kevin enthused,

“The Humanities helped me to get to grips with an unfamiliar world and they helped me to get into journalism. It’s important to bang the drum for them at a time when they’re under threat”. 

Author Emma Jane Unsworth with journalists at HiP Launch

Emma Jane, author of Hungry, the Stars and Everything, gave an insight into why she believes that defending the Humanities is so important,

“Science provides fact, but context is crucial. The Humanities provide that context in a vital and inclusive way – making hard evidence relevant – like joining up the dots”.

Lecturers Dr Xavier Aldana Reyes and Dr Linnie Blake were present to promote the first set of events in the HiP programme – a series of sessions that will explore Contemporary Gothic Culture. The sessions will explore the evolving attitude towards the Gothic, and how Gothic Culture is linked to anxieties about social change. Dr Xavier acknowledged HiP’s role in providing a platform for such work, saying, “It’s fantastic that [we’ve been] given a chance to start something of this scale”.

The Inaugural Lecture of the HiP programme (‘Choosing Consumerism: Space, Place and the Art of Identity’) will be held on 30th September at 5.30pm in Geoffrey Manton Lecture Theatre 4.

For more information on the HiP project, visit

Lisa Burns studies History and English at MMU. When she’s not got her nose in a book, she loves having adventures in the great outdoors! Follow her on Twitter @LittleRobin09

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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