Philosophy joins 2019 British Academy Summer Showcase

The Department of Philosophy’s Dr Rachael Wiseman is among a select group chosen to exhibit at 2019’s British Academy Summer Showcase.

Dr Wiseman will be joined by Durham University’s Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill, as they ask “What is philosophy for?”

Only 14 other humanities and social sciences research projects were chosen to exhibit at the free festival of ideas for curious minds, which takes place on June 21-22 in the Academy’s historic central London home.

Dr Wiseman said: “Philosophy sometimes seems to be completely separate from everyday concerns.

“But our research focuses on four philosophers who thought that philosophy was a central activity in human life – as central as cooking, raising children and playing games.

“It’s impossible to imagine life without philosophy, because philosophy is just thinking about life – about what is important or trivial, what is serious or silly.”

The British Academy Summer Showcase offers everyone the chance to delve into, ask questions and be inspired by research and ideas that are shaping our world. It helps demystify university study and make the case for the importance of these subjects for us all.

Dr Rachael Wiseman and Durham University’s Dr Clare Mac Cumhaill

It is free to attend, and open 10am-4pm on Friday 21 and 11am-5pm on Saturday 22 June. There will also be a Summer Showcase late-night view on Friday 21 June (6.30-9pm), offering evening visitors the chance to enjoy exclusive talks and performances over a drink at the bar – programme details will be announced in May.

Dr Wiseman said: “As well as learning about the four remarkable women at the centre of our research, visitors to our exhibition will be able to write a postcard to a philosopher.

“We have teamed up with An Post (the Irish Postal Service), the University’s Institute of Irish Studies and other partners to create #philosophybypostcard, in celebration of the life and philosophy of Iris Murdoch (one of our Quartet).

“One hundred philosophers from around the globe will answer 100 postcards sent to Iris Murdoch’s birthplace this summer.

“We will be asking visitors: what would you put on a postcard to a philosopher?”

Other exhibitors consider a wide range of topics; such as the connection between renaissance art and global trade; what indigenous electronic art might look like; the influence of 3D printing; whether the public can improve laws and challenging cultural attitudes about periods, among many more.

Hundreds of young students will also have the opportunity to enjoy a free Summer Showcase Schools Day on 21 June; featuring interactive activities, talks and performance guest-curated by broadcaster Dan Snow.

The historian who will be welcoming special guests to join him in conversation, including the author, presenter and research scientist Professor Lewis Dartnell; archaeologist and broadcaster Raksha Dave and historian Professor Sarah Churchwell. Schools Day will also provide a unique opportunity for students age 14+ to speak directly with researchers featured in the Summer Showcase about their work.

For more information about the British Academy 2019 Summer Showcase, please visit:

And find out more about #philosophybypostcard by visiting

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