Aberystwyth academics feature at Hay Festival

Credit: Sam Hardwick

Credit: Sam Hardwick

12 May 2021

Three Aberystwyth University academics will feature in the programme for this year’s Hay Festival, which will be broadcast for free online from Hay-on-Wye from 26 May–6 June.  

At the festival, Professor Mererid Hopwood, who joined Aberystwyth University as Professor of Welsh and Celtic Studies in January 2021, will be introduced as the new Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow.  And some pertinent questions facing the world today within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be addressed at two lectures delivered by Aberystwyth academics. 

In her lecture ‘Women and Leadership’ at 13:00 on Saturday 29 May, Dr Jenny Mathers from the Department of International Politics will ask whether the world would be different – and better – if more women occupied leadership positions.

Dr Mathers explains the basis for her lecture: “I will re-examine this controversial question in the context of the global pandemic. Gender is part of the explanation for the stark contrast between the COVID experience of Jacinda Ardern’s New Zealand and that of Donald Trump’s America. Some have argued that the 2008 Global Financial Crisis might have been mitigated if more women had been seated at the top tables of key financial institutions. But female leadership is still relatively rare, and the women who lead governments and organisations through crises are treated more harshly than their male counterparts.”

On Wednesday 2 June, 13:00, Dr Siobhan Maderson, ESRC Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, will speak on ‘The Great Reset: Co-designing an inclusive, sustainable, post-pandemic future’.

Dr Maderson explains: “As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses, many of us are feeling cautiously optimistic about the future, tempered by an awareness of the social and economic devastation wrought by the pandemic. In my lecture I will ponder what the new normal could look like and how a reset could work for everyone – and other species – in the wider environment. My talk will reflect on past mistakes, explore current initiatives, and consider bold imaginative visions of the future.”

Both lectures will be pre-recorded, and Dr Mathers and Dr Maderson will be available during and immediately after their lectures are broadcast to answer questions from the audience in the chat.

Professor Hopwood’s lecture on Sunday 30 May will discuss how poets have imagined language and how these imaginings help us understand this essential tool of literature. 

The Aberystwyth academic has won major National Eisteddfod competitions on three occasions, including being the first woman to win the Chair at the National Eisteddfod in 2001. She has been Children's Laureate for Wales and was awarded the Glyndŵr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards, 2016.

Professor Hopwood said: “As the Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow this year, it’s great to see how the work is reaching not only across the sea but also to new places in Wales. I’m looking forward very much to developing some of the thoughts I shared last year about bilingualism, and to consider this time how language is imagined in poetry and prose.”

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth University, added: “As a University with a reputation for teaching and research excellence, we share many values with the Hay Festival – a place where the biggest issues of our time can be confronted and debated.  We are delighted to be partnering with Hay Festival 2021, a continuation of our wider relationship through initiatives such as Hay Festival Scribblers Tour, Hay Levels and our plans for a joint annual Festival at the Hen Goleg (Old College) in Aberystwyth when it reopens in late 2023.”

The free digital programme of events for the 2021 Hay Festival will bring together writers and readers for an inspiring array of conversations, debates, workshops and performances online from Wednesday 26 May to Sunday 6 June.  To see the full programme of events and for free online registration, visit: www.hayfestival.com.