In 2022 Wondrium commissioned the 6-part course ‘The Folklore of Dreams’ which will become available exclusively via Audible later this year. Aimed at a general, non-academic audience, this six part audio book will explore how we have imagined, and told stories about dreaming. It will follow these stories, and the symbols, landscapes, heroes, and demons that populated them through the ages, looking at science, literature and storytelling, wherever it happened. This is what the blurb says:
Sleep and dreams have always been among the most mysterious, yet essential, aspects of the human condition, so it’s little wonder that a rich legacy of sleep-related myth and folklore has sprung from every culture across the world in every period in time. And these legends still shape pop culture today, linking, like an unseen thread, some of our most famous tales: the sleeping princesses of fairy tales, Morpheus in The Matrix, the nightmarish creatures in the dreamworld of Pan’s Labyrinth, the mirror worlds of Alice in Wonderland, or the Sandman myth in Neil Gaiman’s work of the same name.
The audiobook will be co-released with the latest release of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman – the precise release date is yet to be confirmed, but keep watching this space! Very grateful to the production team at Audible & at Bigdog studios, who really managed to record the entire thing in one sitting!
I am looking forward to be part of this panel to be speaking about my research into the common warfare framings of the pandemic & comparisons with World War II alongside war historian Jo Fox, and Risk Communication expert Brooke Rogers, chaired by Colin Philpott – tickets are free, but registration is essential; they’re available here [edit: the recording is now available on YouTube].
The event description reads: “During the two years of the Coronavirus pandemic, many comparisons have been drawn between the experience of living through Covid and living through the Second World War. Fear, restrictions on liberty, concern over shortages and several other anxieties were hallmarks of both. Morale and people’s varying willingness to comply with regulations ebbed and flowed during wartime and during the pandemic. One characteristic of the pandemic has been the use of military language to describe the ‘battle against Covid’.
So what lessons if any can be drawn from the two experiences – war and pandemic – which may be useful for future crises?
Joining us to discuss these issues are Brooke Rogers OBE, Professor of Behavioural Science and Security in the Department of War Studies at King’s College; Jo Fox, Professor of Modern History and Pro Vice Chancellor (Research and Engagement) and Dean, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Franziska Kohlt, Researcher in Science Communication at the University of York. The event will be chaired by author Colin Philpott.”
It was great to see my research on Covid narratives, and how they have shaped our understanding – and misunderstanding of the pandemic, and how it might end in The Guardian. If you’re interested in why some of the narratives framings of the novel coronavirus by UK government and media – especially the warfare framing – are not at all helpful in helping us navigate our way through and out of the pandemic, you can read the full paper here.
In 2021 I have most of all been really grateful that, in a still immensely challenging year, I had the opportunity to pick up some of the postponed projects of 2020, and also pursue new opportunities, expanding on my research in science communication, history of science and literature.
Amongst others, I had the opportunity to discuss both my research and practice in science communication, informed by the history of science, at COP26 and the Bristol Festival of Technology.
I saw a long-term project developing the “Adventures of Manuscripts” series with French-German TV channel Arte finally came to fruition, with all four episodes finally airing this year, after many Covid delays.
I will be one of the participants of “Catholics at CoOP26”, where I will reflect on science communication at COP26, effective climate communication, and how to overcome the challenges in this field, sharing insight from my work at the ECLAS project and science-religion narratives in Science Communication.
I am honoured to be in conversation alongside:
Dr Lorna Gold is a climate campaigner and author. She is vice-chair of the Laudato Si’ Movement, and a member of the Vatican Commission on the post-Covid World.
Dr Carmody Grey is Assistant Professor of Catholic Theology at Durham University. She specialises in theology and science, with particular interests in life sciences, ecology and evolutionary biology.
Dr Franziska Kohlt is a researcher in science communication and the history of science at the University of York and an ECLAS postdoctoral research associate.
Fr Joshtrom Kurveethadam is Coordinator of Ecology and Creation at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Cardinal Pedro Barreto (To be confirmed) is Archbishop of Huancayo, Peru, vice-president of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, and an advocate for the rights of indigenous peoples.
The panel will be chaired by Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford and lead bishop for environmental issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The meeting will be livestreamed & recorded.
From June 2022, I am taking on leading this fantastic programme at the University of Oxford’s Continuing Education Department (you can peruse the course contents here). The course will offer a fresh, thought-provoking take on the place of Lewis Carroll & his most famous books in their time, and their continuing appeal in ours. It will explore the role of Oxford in its creation, but also how looking at the Victorian contexts that inspired it – from science and medicine to music and logic – but also how that can help us navigate intellectual and social challenges of the past, but, hopefully, also illuminate our own – and teach us how to think, learn, talk and write about them.
I’m incredible honoured to be discussion why Science, Imagination and Communication are inseparable in conversations with two brilliant physicists at events over the next two weeks recordings of the Science & Imagination event on MacDonald and the Bristol Festival are now available.
I will be exploring this theme together with Professor of Natural Philosophy and Fellow of the Royal Society, Prof Tom McLeish through the life and works of George MacDonald – a trained scientist, theological thinker, educator and writer. Even though he is recognised in his literary influence, as the major source of inspiration for H.G. Wells, the Inklings J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis – and often credited with the conversion of the latter to Christianity – we rarely speak about his as a scientist, because of preconceptions that lead us to believe the two as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Exploring the ways in which MacDonald believed they were, rather, mutually constructive, can prepare us to challenge and interrogate our own ways of understanding science, and how we think we know “science” and “scientific fact” – especially, when these are understood as opposition to “fantasy” and “storytelling”.
This research touches on medical communication, history of science, theological themes. In a forthcoming book chapter ‘When words are poison: Toxic narratives in health communication‘, I explore how ill-chosen narratives in health scenarios pollute science communication environment, acting in a way analogous to polluting toxins. In a recent conference paper, I explore also what the history of science, science communication, and religion of past epidemics can teach us about the use of narrative in a public health crisis through a comparison of Covid-19 with the Victorian cholera epidemic, which also shows us what narratives and metaphors might be preferable. I have also written an article on the science communication of Christian ministers in the Victorian cholera epidemics for the Methodist Recorder. I expand on the comparison with the Victorian cholera epidemics in my contribution to a Historicising Covid-19 collection, forthcoming in 2021 with De Gruyter. If you’re pressed for time, I also wrote a shorter blog piece, which you can read here.