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Theme: Rebellion and Reconstruction

Join us for new perspectives on rebellions, wars, diplomacy and reconstruction. From the 1916 Easter Rising, to the dramatic events of 1956, to living with Communism, the Festival shines new light on events across the world. 

What's on

Sat
18
Jun

Wartime: Britain in the Second World War

Drawing on his new book, Britain’s War, Daniel Todman explores the importance of timing in understanding the experience of conflict. Though ‘wartime’ is often presented as an invariable, Daniel explores how, by linking together the stories of the home and fighting fronts, we can bring new understanding to how the Second World War proceeded and what it meant.

Thu
16
Jun

Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists

Journalist David Aaronovitch talks about his new book Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists. A memoir of early life among communists, Party Animals first took David back through his own memories of belief and action. From there he found himself studying the old secret service files, uncovering the unspoken shame and fears that provided the unconscious background to his own existence as a party animal.

Thu
16
Jun

1956: The World in Revolt

Historian Simon Hall, author of 1956: The World in Revolt, discusses one of the most dramatic years of the 20th century – a year that saw ordinary people across the globe speak out, fill the streets and city squares, and take up arms in an attempt to win their freedom. Under challenge, those in power fought back ruthlessly to maintain their position. It was an epic contest and one whose outcomes changed the world.

Tue
14
Jun

Eamon de Valera and the Irish Rebellion of 1916

Learn more about Eamon de Valera’s role in the 1916 Irish rebellion. Why was he the senior surviving officer in the Irish Volunteers to escape execution and how did he win power as the unquestioned leader of the Irish revolution of 1916 to 1921? How were the seeds then sown of his emergence as both the greatest and most divisive of Irish politicians? Join Ronan Fanning of University College Dublin to find out.

Mon
13
Jun

This Orient Isle

In 1570, Elizabeth I of England was excommunicated by the Pope. Jerry Brotton of Queen Mary University of London discusses how this was the beginning of an English alignment with Muslim powers. It led to cultural, economic and political exchanges with the Islamic world of a depth not again experienced until the modern age. Learn more about this surprisingly unfamiliar picture of a part of our national and international history.

Fri
10
Jun

Theatre and the 1916 Easter Rising

Drama and theatrical performance played a key role in the 1916 Irish rebellion. For James Connolly, Constance Markiewicz and others, pageants, parades and nationalist drama galvanised insurrectionary feeling and aided recruitment. Theatrical performance also influenced the concept and later commemorations of the revolutionary moment itself. Join Lionel Pilkington of the National University of Ireland to learn more.

Fri
10
Jun

The Tsars and the Orient

Explore Russia’s relations with Ottoman Turkey and Iran of the Safavid period during the 16th and 17th centuries with Elena Kashina of the University of York. The talk, which is illustrated by the diplomatic gifts in the Moscow Kremlin Museums’ eastern collection, ranges from the time of the establishment of diplomatic contact until the interruption in the peaceful exchanges by a series of wars in the 18th century.

Thu
9
Jun

Understanding Maximilien Robespierre

Maximilien Robespierre is one of the most hotly debated political figures to emerge from the French Revolution. Often hailed as a democrat and a social leveller far in advance of his time on the left, he is reviled on the right as the architect of the Terror of 1793 to 1794 and a proto-totalitarian. What made him tick?

Tue
7
Jun

Landscapes of Communism

From 1917 until 1991, large swathes of Europe and Asia had an economic system without land ownership, landlords or private investment. Did these cities ever manage to create something genuinely different - better or worse - than the cities of capitalism? And is there anything we can learn from their eventual failure? Join writer Owen Hatherley to find out more about the architecture and landscapes of communism.

Tue
7
Jun

1916: The Irish Rebellion

Join us for an edited screening of the documentary 1916: The Irish Rebellion presented by its writer and producer, and a renowned Irish historian, followed by a panel discussion featuring the Ambassador of Ireland to the UK. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the documentary tells the dramatic story of the events that took place in Dublin during Easter Week 1916 when a small group of Irish rebels took on the might of the British Empire.

Festival themes