30 September 2015
Ethics in Research
Dr Lorayne Woodfield
This workshop explained Newman practice, including if and when students need to seek research ethics approval for their work.


8 October 2015 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Reading Lives, Reading Value
Dr Danielle Fuller (University of Birmingham)
This paper analysed the affective experiences of book readers when they reflect upon their reading lives. The case study is the design and build of an interactive prototype app for readers and the testing of it at book events in Birmingham. The app re-frames open text responses to the question ‘What role has reading played in your life?’ – data that was originally gathered from more than 3,000 readers in the UK, USA and Canada as part of a larger investigation (www.beyondthebookproject.org).

Reading Lives is a collaborative project which also involves a developer (Tim Hodson) and a small arts organisation, Writing West Midlands.


22 October 2015 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
The Economy of the Mendicant Orders of Medieval England
Dr Jens Röhrkasten (University of Birmingham)
In the early thirteenth century a new form of religious life emerged in Europe which combined elements of traditional monasticism with the ministry to the laity. Inspired by charismatic religious leaders, Francesco Bernardone (Francis of Assisi) and Dominic of Caleruega, men and women gave away all their property to live a life of devotion in total poverty, only accepting what was absolutely necessary for their survival as beggars (mendicants) or in exchange for work.

How did these groups survive to develop into well organised religious orders? How did they manage to establish a presence in virtually all major and many of the smaller European towns, including those of the British Isles? These and related questions were addressed in this paper which focused on the English provinces of the Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, Austin Friars as well as some less well known religious orders.


5 November 2015 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Research Funding and Impact in the Humanities
Dr Fern Elsdon-Baker & Lachlan Smith
Using Research Professional to identify research funding opportunities: This presentation demonstrated how to use RP to search for research funding opportunities in the Humanities and Arts. In addition it demonstrated the ways in which to save searches, modify searches to highlight different results and how you can share opportunities with colleagues. It also highlighted some different concepts in terms of impact in relation to humanities research and what challenges humanities researchers face in this regard.


11 November 2015
14-19 Physical Education: The transformation of PE and PE teachers
Dr Simon Bicknell
Over the last 40 years, there has been an expansion, what some have termed an ‘explosion’ in the provision of Physical Education (PE) related qualifications, both academic and vocational, in English Secondary schools. This paper will consider the implications of the emergence and rapid growth of the 14-19 PE curriculum for the subject of PE, PE teachers and their pupils.

This paper focused on the findings of a research study which explored the perspectives of secondary school PE teachers towards the subject of PE within the 14-19 curriculum. Specifically, the research focused on PE teachers’ perceptions relating to (i) the broader social processes which have influenced the development of 14-19 PE, and (ii) the impact of the development of 14-19 PE for the subject of PE, PE teachers themselves, and their pupils in English secondary schools.


25 November 2015
A critical evaluation of training load monitoring in sport
Dr Ibrahim Akubat
Modern day advances in technology have led to professional athletes being monitored in ways never possible before. The advent of athlete tracking technologies now seen used in most professional sports in combination with ever improving computer software is creating a race to find the golden bullet for optimised sports performance and injury prevention.

The prediction and optimization of sports performance is not a new premise. The first notable mathematical approach to modelling sports performance was in the 1970s. This seminar critically evaluated the current research and practice to relevant training theory. Dr Akubat’s research in soccer was also detailed along with proposed research to be conducted by his two doctoral students, Dajo Sanders (cycling) and Richard Taylor (Rugby Union) in this area.


3 December 2015 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Artist and Empire: The Bible in ‘Colonial’ Art
Professor Martin O’Kane (University of Wales, Trinity Saint David)
25 November 2015 saw the opening of a major exhibition, Artist and Empire, at Tate Britain which ‘will bring together extraordinary and unexpected works [from the 16th century to the present day] to explore how artists from Britain and around the world have responded to the dramas, tragedies and experiences of the Empire’.

Using the exhibition as a point of departure, the seminar assessed the important and influential role of the Christian Bible in the history of British colonisation, and the inspiration its narrative and stories provided artists in portraying the experiences of Empire from a number of different and contradictory perspectives. The presentation engaged with a selection of paintings from the exhibition itself, as well as from the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.


13 January 2016
Does School Prepare Men for Prison? The life histories of eleven former prisoners
Dr Karen Graham
Eleven men who have served time in UK prisons give in-depth accounts of their school experiences. They vividly bring to life the exclusionary practices that were a main feature of their schooling. These rarely articulated stories lead to difficult questions about the purposes of these exclusions and the connections between social control and education.

Classic sociological theories of reproduction frame the analysis of the narratives. The findings show that school, by its very nature, is not always a benevolent place. Those excluded from or marginalised in education can become the collateral damage of a system that is not merely concerned with the benign transfer of knowledge and social skills; what is usually seen as educational failure is conceivably successful social control.


21 January 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Military Tribunals, Exemption and Conscientious Objection in the Shires: Worcestershire, 1916-18
Dr John Peters
The implementation of the Military Service Act in January 1916 formally introduced conscription to the UK for the first time since impressment was outlawed in 1660. Military Tribunals were established across the country to hear claims for exemption on a variety of grounds, including those of conscience.

Worcestershire is lucky in having some surviving tribunal records alongside records kept by those seeking to support conscientious objectors. Together with press reporting of the tribunals, these provide a valuable insight into the workings of the Military Tribunals, public opinion on exemption, attitudes towards the War and the broader social values of the time.


25 January 2016
Ethics in Research
Dr Lorayne Woodfield
This workshop, an updated repeat of the one held in September, explained Newman practice, including if and when students need to seek research ethics approval for their work.


3 February 2016
Terror and reformation: The 1853 Birmingham prison scandal and its causes
Dr John Moore
This paper provided a detailed account of how the Birmingham prison scandal unfolded following the death of Edward Andrews on 27 April 1853. It explored how the abusive and illegal practices exposed by the Royal Commission had developed in the prison by looking at the regimes of both of its first two Governors, the reformative Maconochie and the disciplinarian Austin, explaining how each contributed to the subsequent cruelties.

Moore’s paper “Reformative rhetoric and the exercise of corporal power: Alexander Maconochie’s regime at Birmingham prison, 1849–51” (available online at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1468-2281.12128/abstract) also provided valuable background.


11 February 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series – joint seminar with the Centre for Science, Knowledge and Belief in Society
Tyndall and Draper on Science and Religion: Revisiting the Origins of the “Conflict Thesis”
Professor Bernard Lightman (York University, Toronto)
This paper traced the connection between John Tyndall, British physicist and evolutionary naturalist, and John William Draper, American chemist and historian. In the past, both have been seen as adherents to the “conflict thesis,” in part due to the views on the relationship between science and religion that they both expressed in 1874. This was the year that Tyndall delivered his infamous “Belfast Address” as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and that Draper’s well-known History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science was published.

An examination of these two important works in the context of their friendship shed light on the significance of the “conflict thesis” in the second half of the nineteenth century.


24 February 2016
It’s not what you do, but why you do it! Understanding the role of motivation in goal pursuit
Dr Laura Healy
In daily life, individuals are regularly pursuing important goals, with varying degrees of success. Until recently, the impact of the motivation underpinning these goal pursuits – the reasons why people are working towards their goals – had not been explored within the literature.

This presentation explained the different motivation that individuals may have for their goals, and discussed my research examining goal motives in relation to goal-related outcomes and well-being. The presentation was relevant to colleagues pursuing their own goals, and also those supporting others to be successful in goal striving.


3 March 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Applied Theatre: is it a case of seeing more rightly with the mind or through the heart?
Dr Persephone Sextou
This seminar was about learning and the pedagogy of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal, a methodology that is used in Applied Theatre practice worldwide. There can be no ‘zone’ between acting and spectating. The boundaries between ‘stage’ (authority) and auditorium’ (participant/learners) are elevated. The audience is invited to actively explore the lives of the characters, negotiate ideas, challenge social stereotypes, and try out solutions to real life dilemmas within fiction. Is there likely to be an element of metaxis, in-betwixt space, for the negotiation of the ‘old’ experience (values, ideologies, beliefs) needs be discussed. How does this space enable the participant/learner both to believe and not to believe, both to feel and to be distant, both to empathise and to be critical and reflective at one and the same time?

This was a particularly important discussion to all teachers (from Nursery to Higher Education) who are interested in pedagogy and the use of theatre in liberating learning through the eyes of others.


17 March 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
The Suppression of texts in Early Modern England: The binders and the regulators
Dr Matthew Day
To date, research into the history of early modern binding has tended to valorise the role of binders and their work, extolling exceptional productions while research on censorship and the regulation of the press has focussed on textual content, motives for regulation and the relationship with authors. This paper, instead, looked at issues of regulation and textual control in relation to book-binders and book-binding. In Early Modern England, books were produced unbound and consequently the binding of books was a vital process in making them usable. The state recognised this and deployed the Stationers Company to regulate bookbinders’ work while also including book-binders in proclamations and legislation relating to the control of texts and their circulation.

This paper considered the practices and discourses of binders about book-production in relation to instances of regulation. It examined cases where book-binders were investigated for the quality of their work and those where they were prosecuted for involvement in the production and the circulation of illicit texts. In doing so, the paper sought to shed light on both the discourses about the role of the book-binder and to gain some sense of the impact on book-binders of state regulation. After outlining government directives pertaining to binding quality and the control of texts, and looking at some examples of censorship, the paper concluded by looking at the unusual case of Samuel Purchas’s Hakluytus Posthumous, or Purchas his Pilgrimes (1625) in which the binder is reputed to have refused to bind the work with its full contents and in effect became an agent as well as recipient of press regulation.


20 April 2016
The Voice of the Child in Care
Dr Maureen Winn Oakley
Newman University’s Working with Children, Young People and Families subject area is currently supporting Birmingham City Council with research on the voice of the child in care and with a follow up study on the voices of care leavers. Under The Children Act 1989, professionals should consider the wishes and feelings of the child before considering any action they take.

The latest statutory guidance, Working Together To Safeguard Children 2015 confirms safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and adheres to a child-centred principle of a clear understanding of both the needs and the views of the child. Advocacy is promoted within the guidance and the government has produced child friendly versions explaining the role of an advocate. Children in Care have a legal right to advocacy under the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

This seminar focused upon some of the findings of research studies about those with personal experience of the care system whilst broadening out the debate about why professionals continue to fail to listen to, engage with, or inform children and young people about issues that concern them.


28 April 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
The emergence of the public service ethos in British administration 1832-65
Dr Ian Cawood
In the years between the Great Reform Act of 1832 and the 1854 Northcote-Trevelyan reforms of the Civil Service, a new ethos began to emerge, spontaneously, among public servants in Britain. This disinterested, altruistic concern for the protection of the weak and vulnerable was illustrated in the career of Leonard Horner, one of the first government inspectors ever appointed in Britain, who gained his position through patronage and political connections, but who was praised by Karl Marx as the one man who ‘rendered undying service to the English working class.’


5 May 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Travels with ‘Lady Icarus’: Inspiring Flight in Orlando
Dr Kathryn Simpson (Cardiff Metropolitan University)
In May 1928, Lady Mary Heath (known as ‘Lady Icarus’) completed the first solo flight from Cape Town in South Africa to Croydon Airfield near to London in her open cockpit Avro Avian biplane. She arrived in Croydon, looped the loop and, after a 9000-mile journey, which took three months, stepped out of her plane dressed in a fur coat, heels and a cloche hat.

While Orlando’s roots in the life and adventures of Vita Sackville-West are secure, the paper speculated on the effect of the aviation fever gripping the nation at the time of the novel’s composition.

Work cited: Woolf, Virginia (1977), Orlando: A Biography (London: Grafton).


19 May 2016 Humanities Research Group Seminar Series
Helen Bass Williams: Massive Resistance to Mississippi’s War on Poverty, 1965-68
Dr Emma Folwell
Helen Bass Williams was the African American executive director of one of Mississippi’s largest Head Start programs, Mississippi Action for Progress. Exploring her role within this flagship program offered insights into the relationship between the war on poverty and civil rights activism in the late 1960s. Williams faced a concerted campaign waged by white Mississippi – led by Mississippi’s segregation watchdog, the State Sovereignty Commission – to secure her removal from her post. This campaign showcased the evolution of white opposition to African American advancement after 1965, a previously unexplored dimension of massive resistance to the civil rights movement.


Thursday 2 June 2016 Newman Humanities Research Centre special event
A Poetry Performance
Dr Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
Elizabeth-Jane’s creative practice is interdisciplinary, performative, and often collaborative. She explores intersections of art and activism and work has a committedly playful ecological focus.

Key publications include: Her Body: The City, Exotic Birds and oh-zones and poetry has been anthologised in Dear World And Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America & the UK (Reality Street).

She read a mix of former work and works-in-progress.