University of York Open Lectures

Talks presented by the University of York as part of its online autumn Open Lectures series. The programme covers a wide variety of topics and is aimed at a general audience. A selection of free events is listed below and the full programme is available at

England’s Hidden History
Friday 23 October, 7pm to 8pm

Among the glamour and intrigue that surrounds the Tudor period is the untold story of people of African descent who lived and worked throughout England – not as slaves but as members of society. Join pioneering and internationally recognised historian, writer and presenter Dr Onyeka Nubia.

An evening with Peter Brathwaite
Monday 26 October, 8pm to 9pm

Join opera singer Peter Brathwaite for an extraordinary evening detailing his passion for ‘degenerate music’, the ways in which his work has paid tribute to and been informed by Black histories in Britain, and his extraordinary lockdown project to discover Black portraiture.

Medieval hygiene
Monday 2 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Everyone knows that medieval people were dirty, smelly and largely indifferent to their own filth – or were they? In fact, medieval physicians were well aware of the health benefits of good hygiene. Dr Katherine Harvey of Birkbeck, University of London, reveals how all the evidence suggests that medieval people, both rich and poor, were much cleaner than we assume.

How the Vikings “got Allah”
Thursday 5 November, 6.30pm to 8pm

Stephennie Mulder, Associate Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses How the Vikings “got Allah”: Toward an Integrated Medieval Studies in an Age of White Nationalism.

The emergence of the English
Friday 6 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Susan Oosthuizen, Emeritus Professor of Medieval Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, reveals why the emergence of the English should be sought in the evolution, adaptation and innovations of late Romano-British communities to a post-imperial world.

Celebrating outstanding history: Wolfson History Prize 2020 panel online
Tuesday 24 November, 7pm to 8.15pm

From humankind’s relationship with the world’s oceans to Indian cricket, and from Chaucer to the kingdoms of West Africa, how can history shine a light on the big issues we face today?Join Wolfson History Prize 2020 winner David Abulafia and three of the shortlisted authors.

The rise of the valkyrie: Mythical and real women of the Viking world
Wednesday 25 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Life and death in a Viking battle depended not on military prowess, but on the favour of the Valkyries, who took the warriors who died back to Asgard, the realm of the Norse gods. But why were these powerful beings female, and what do they tell us about the Vikings’ society? Join Dr Jóhanna Katrín Friðriksdóttir of the National Library of Norway.

Hidden in plain sight: The unexplored histories of the medieval north at the time of the Black Death
Friday 27 November, 6.30pm to 7.30pm

Professor Sarah Rees Jones of the University of York exposes and explores some of extensive medieval archives relating to the medieval north (and particularly to Yorkshire) which remain largely unpublished and unexplored. Discover how the impact of the Black Death from 1349 led to a remarkable increase in the creation and curation of written records documenting many aspects of daily life.

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