Tag Archive: Cambridge Festival of Ideas

What happens when you put an astronomer and a medical historian with poets and novelists?

What if the historian is also a poet?

And if the astronomer works in public engagement?

What if the novelists write about science, and one poet reviews for New Scientist?

Five voices from the arts and sciences discuss credibility in science:

 6-7 pm, Wednesday 26th October, Room 221

Lord Ashcroft Building, Anglia Ruskin University

 Part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2001

Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich

    •  Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer, Royal Observatory Greenwich

    •  Sue Guiney, Poet, Novelist, Writer-in-Residence, SOAS, University of London

    •  Richard Barnett, Wellcome Trust Public Engagement Fellow

    •  Laura Dietz, Novelist, Science Writer, Anglia Ruskin University

    • Kelley Swain, Poet, Reviewer, Writer-in-Residence, The Whipple Museum of the History of Science

Followed by a workshop on writing stories from science:

1-3:30 pm, Thursday 27th October, Whipple Museum of the History of Science

For the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2011, in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin

  • Led by Laura Dietz & Kelley Swain, with an introduction by Richard Barnett and a guest appearance from Sue Guiney

Photo: Whipple Museum

The Cambridge Festival of Ideas is quickly approaching, and I’m co-hosting a 2-part event with Laura Dietz, a talented historical novelist and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin.

On Wednesday 26 October, I’ll be hosting a discussion panel on reputation and credibility in science & in art inspired by science. The panel will consist of Laura, as well as poet and novelist Sue Guiney, and Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. All four of us have written about and communicated the crossover between art and science before. Laura, Sue and I have written or are writing novels that deal with a scientist as a character. And Marek’s job is to communicate the public understanding of science – the ROG’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year Award is an excellent example of the art/sci connection. The discussion will take place at Anglia Ruskin University.

On Thursday 27 October, Laura & I will host a workshop at the Whipple Museum, drawing on themes from the previous evening’s discussion. How do new concepts go from ‘fringe’ to ‘canon’? How are old certainties challenged? We will consider the stories of scientists who changed our ideas of the possible. We will create new poetry & fiction inspired by items from the Museum collection.

Both events are free.

If you’re interested in science-literature crossover, in historical fiction, and/or in any of our fascinating speakers, do attend!

Four our next writer-in-residence event at the delightful Whipple Museum of the History of Science in Cambridge, I am hosting a ‘Fantastic Fungus Day’ centred around a free poetry workshop. This event is open to all and FREE, so please sign up or help spread the word!


The workshop is part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. It will take place on Saturday, 30 October from 10-2, with a 1-hour lunch break.
The workshop will encompass the spectacular Dillon Weston hand-made glass fungus models which are part of the Whipple Museum’s collection. You can read more about the glass models here.
What: FREE creative writing workshop. Please note that booking is required for this event.
Email: hps-whipple-museum@lists.cam.ac.uk
Telephone: 01223 330906
Writers are invited to look, listen, and write in a workshop which will include a talk on the history of the glass fungi models on display in the Whipple Museum, a discussion on mushrooms in medicine, and a collection of poetry about mushrooms.
  • 10:00-10:30: Introductions; Kelley Swain, writer-in-residence at the Whipple, will lead a reading and discussion of samples of mushroom poetry. Guests will each receive a packet of collected mushroom poetry.
  • 10:30 – 11:00: PhD student Ruth Horry will give a short talk on the Weston display of glass fungi.
  • 11:00-11:30: Time for discussion, writing, and examining the glass fungi models.
  • 11:30-12:00: Reconvene for short talk on the history of mushrooms in medicine by Dr. Richard Barnett, author of the wonderful Medical London.
  • 12:00-1:00: Break for lunch.
  • 1:00-1:30: Time for discussion, writing. Real mushrooms will be available as writing prompts.
  • 1:30-1:50: Those who wish to share what they have written will be invited to do so.

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