Have you ever wondered what a Medieval person would make of the modern world if they could travel to the present? Or how much of the science in science fiction is plausible?
These questions and much more will be explored throughout the Tayside leg of the international Being Human festival of the humanities, hosted in Dundee from November 11-20.
The programme includes a walking tour with a difference – Dante 700: A Dead Poet’s Tour of the City – to mark 700 years since the death of the Italian poet and philosopher.
A varied programme
Those taking part in the tour will be asked to imagine that they’re taking the ghosts of Dante and Virgil on a tour of the city, telling them all about the different buildings, notable landmarks and people.
Meanwhile, an online discussion about the plausibility of Robert Duncan Milne’s pioneering science fiction will be held on November 16 at 5-7pm.
As part of Is It Plausible?, leading experts from several fields in the arts and sciences will come together for a lively debate exploring just how realistic the science is in the stories of the Cupar-born writer 19th century writer, who eventually settled in the USA.
The feedback from the evening will help form the ultimate anthology of Milne’s works, free copies of which will be later distributed to participants.
Is It Plausible? will also demonstrate the importance of speculative fiction in shaping human endeavour. A Victorian ahead of his time, the man from Fife has much to teach us. This event draws on and informs Ari Brin’s doctoral research into Milne’s works.
For the creatives, there will be a comics and zine-making workshop on November 17, hosted by The Scottish Centre for Comics Studies. Renewal! Zines and Comics, will be led by Zu Dominiak, and will involve making a zine using re-purposed images from magazines and newspapers.
“Irreverent and fun”
“These events are open to everybody, of all ages”, says Daniel Cook, Director of Being Human and a Reader in English at Dundee University.
“Our events are a mixture of serious and irreverent, creative and fun. For instance, in Dante 700 – A Dead Poet’s Tour of the City we’ll touch on Dante’s work, but there will be a quirky element of imagining that Dante’s ghost has come to visit Dundee.
“As far as we know he never actually visited Scotland, but in this activity people will be encouraged to imagine what a long-dead poet would make of present day Dundee.
Rebooting our understanding
“Working with an Edinburgh production company, we have recorded a recital of Dante’s work in the voice of Scotland’s worst poet, William McGonagall. There will also be soecial guests dressed up as McGonagall, Mary Slessor, Captain Scott and others.
“Our way of thinking is that we want the festival to reboot our understanding of the world – it’s about looking at the world differently.
“We like to find the creative in the sciences and the science in the creative”.
For the full programme of Scottish in-person and online events, visit https://beinghumanfestival.org/festival-events/region/7631?online=1