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Air pollution, racism in football and autism to be debated in Leeds Cultural Conversations


Racism in football, autism and air pollution in urban-industrial Britain are three of the topics that will be discussed in a series of nine lectures to be hosted by Leeds Beckett University and Leeds City Council.

The sessions, part of the Leeds Cultural Conversations series, will run from September 2016 until May 2017, are to be held at either Leeds Town Hall, the City Museum or the Central Library, and are free and open to the public. The monthly talks are programmed by the Centre for Culture and the Arts at Leeds Beckett. For more information on the series please visit leedsbeckett.ac.uk/LCC.

The first event, ‘The dark age: air pollution in urban-industrial Britain’, will get underway on Wednesday 7 September from 12.30-1.30pm in the Sullivan Room at the Town Hall and will be presented by Senior Lecturer in Leeds Beckett’s School of Cultural Studies and Humanities, Dr Stephen Mosley.

A historian, Dr Mosley will discuss how during the 19th and early 20th centuries, sulphurous black smoke billowing from industrial and domestic chimneys dominated Britain’s cityscapes.

“Coal smoke was responsible for blackening urban architecture, blocking out sunlight, destroying vegetation and, not least of all, damaging people’s health,” he said. “However, despite the tangible nature of this particular form of air pollution, it was not until 1956 that the public was willing to support the passage of a meaningful Clean Air Act (now widely considered to be an important milestone in environmental protection). My talk is set to examine the complex cultural, technical, economic and political barriers to positive environmental change in Britain’s cities.”

On Wednesday 9 November, Leeds Beckett Senior Lecturer Dr Daniel Kilvington will evaluate the shifting nature of racism within contemporary English football. The efforts of football’s key stakeholders, social media organisations and the legal system will all be analysed before offering a number of recommendations on how to further combat racism on social media.

‘Autism, adulthood and fictions’ will be on the agenda when Dr James McGrath delivers his talk on Wednesday 7 December. He will discuss how autism and fiction have an odd relationship. The sessions will combine literary criticism with a post-diagnosis view of how autism is depicted in contemporary culture. Dr McGrath will address aspects of gender, class, and disability itself in relation to autistic identities, and will also consider the wider potential of culture in shaping (and challenging) expectations placed on autistic adults.

The series also includes: ‘Remembering Firths Carpets: responses to altered landscape in an ex-industrial community’ with Dr Lisa Taylor on Wednesday 7 October; ‘Scenery, antiquities and manufactures: touring 19th century Yorkshire with Murray’s Handbook for Travellers’ with Dr Grainne Goodwin on Wednesday 11 January, 2017 ; ‘W.G.Grace: Cricket Missionary to the North and Hero of 1895 (to Oscar Wilde’s villain)’ with Dr Neil Washbourne on Wednesday 8 February; ‘The trials of Oscar Wilde’s Salome: the Maud Allan libel case’ with Professor Ruth Robbins on Wednesday 8 March; ‘Verdant creativities: urban gardening and sensuous place-making in West Yorkshire with Zoe Tew-Thompson and Lynne Hibberd on Wednesday 5 April and ‘Measuring Morale in Second World War Leeds’ with Henry Irving on Wednesday 10 May.

Opening image: Dr Stephen Mosley

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