Curious Minds: Enjoy

A feast for the eyes and ears

Performances, lectures, audiobooks, essays and more.

Settle in, relax and treat yourself to some world-class entertainment: reading, watching, and listening.


Choral Singing Summer School Recitals

James Whitbourn presents recordings of choral recitals from past summer schools for your listening pleasure. James, who is Director of our Choral Singing Summer School and the Composing for Choirs Summer School, notes: 'Robert Parsons’ setting of Ave Maria is one of the most exquisite of all time, especially when sung in the generous acoustic spaces of Oxford. The piece is found in the beautiful set of partbooks compiled in Oxford between 1581 and 1588 by Robert Dow (The Dow Partbooks). Dow’s hand is so clear that our course singers were able to sing from facsimiles of these sixteenth-century manuscript books. Later generations of Oxford musicians are represented by recitals of John Stainer and William Harris, both of whom trained hundreds of choristers during the years they directed choirs at various Oxford colleges. Harris later moved to Windsor where he became music teacher to the young princesses Margaret and Elizabeth. John Stainer took his first Oxford degree in 1860 and later became organist at Magdalen College and finally Oxford’s Professor of Music.'

> Choral Singing Summer School Recitals

Oxford Festival of the Arts

The Oxford Festival of the Arts usually takes place, as the name suggests, in Oxford each summer. This year however, due to the pandemic, the festival has moved online and an array of free virtual lectures and performances are available for you to enjoy from home. The festival runs until Sunday 5th July and as the events are being recorded you can watch them live, or at a later date to suit you. Take a look at 'what's on' to view all upcoming events, or watch past sessions on their YouTube channel - including our very own Dr Janina Ramirez discussing goddesses and divine women of the past.

> Oxford Festival of the Arts

Project Gutenberg

Sandie Byrne, Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing, recommends Project Gutenberg. This online library of more than 60,000 eBooks is all free to download or read online. No special apps are required as each can be read using your standard web browser. 'Thousands of volunteers digitized and diligently proofread the eBooks, for enjoyment and education.'

> Project Gutenberg

Oxford at Home

Join Oxford at Home - a weekly, live 'tutorial' discussing research from the University of Oxford. From Rembrandt’s early life, to biomedically engineered bubbles, to Shakespeare's quarantine writings, and much much more - all hosted by Professor Rana Mitter. Details of upcoming tutorials, and recordings of previous events, can be found on the University's website.

> Oxford at Home


Tutor John Hughes recommends Kurzgesagt - a YouTube channel aiming to 'make science look beautiful'. John says that 'this has loads of really interesting videos on wider areas of science. The videos are roughly 10 minutes long (or shorter), are animated and explore questions in a concise and entertaining way'. Playlists include 'The Universe and Space Stuff', 'The Existential Crisis' and 'Human Stuff'. 

> Kurzgesagt

British Film Institute

Claire O'Mahony, Associate Professor in the History of Art and Design, says that 'one of the challenges currently facing our students is losing access to the physical evidence and experiences at the heart of design-history research. The British Film Institute (BFI) website provides access to free archive films and shorts, including this wonderful set of featured collections - which include documentary films about key design materials and manufacturing. Some of my favourites are the textiles, steel, shipbuilding and advertising on film collections. For a real nostalgia trip enjoy the pleasures and perils in Public Information Films and The March of Time newsreels.'

> BFI free archive

> BFI featured collections

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

Discover how modern neuroscience is researching the way the human brain can comprehend a working environment with The Future of Artificial Intelligence talk by Simon Stringer. Recommended by Thomas Hesselberg, Director of Studies in Biological Sciences, this talk formed part of The Future of Science Symposium, hosted by the Dunn School Graduate Student Association. 

> The Future of Artificial Intelligence

The New Yorker

Tara Stubbs, Associate Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing, recommends The New Yorker Poetry Podcast. Each month, Editor Kevin Young invites poets to read and discuss works by others as well as their own. Tara states that it’s ‘accessible and challenging at the same time, and they're all free to download. They also have a monthly fiction podcast, with readings and discussions of short fiction, hosted by editor Deborah Treisman.' 

> The New Yorker Poetry Podcast

> The New Yorker Fiction Podcast

Curious Minds Podcast

Dr Elizabeth Gemmill, Associate Professor in History and Director of our Weekly Classes programme, says: 'What strikes me, as an historian, is the number of times that I’ve heard people looking to the past to try to contextualise our present experience. Any scholar worth her salt will live her subject; and so I find myself thinking about the Middle Ages.' In episode one of our new Curious Minds Podcast, she explores medieval accounts of epidemics and in particular their uncertainties about the causes, course and consequences of disease.

> Curious Minds Podcast: Episode One


Bring music into your home with this online concert hall from Konserthuset Stockholm. While the site primarily features concert films with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, it also presents other genres of Konserthuset's extensive range of performances such as jazz, chamber music and concerts for children.

> Konserthuset


Audible are providing free access to a wide range of audio books for kids to help keep young minds active and engaged. However, if you look past the stories for children and tweens you will discover a range of Literary Classics including Jane EyreLes Miserables and Frankenstein as well Folk and Fairy Tales for all to enjoy. 

> Audible

Our Planet

For many years, Netflix has provided its educational documentaries free to schools. Now, the 'Our Planet' series, along with many other wonderful documentaries, are being offered for free to the world. Thomas Hesselberg, Director of Studies in Biological Sciences, recommends the eight-part documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough as 'the "Our Planet" series gives us an incredible view of the planet's remaining wilderness areas and their animal inhabitants, across fifty countries. It's produced in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund - and there are even classroom educational resources provided.'

> Netflix educational documentaries

> 'Our Planet' educational resources


Douglas Bamford, Tutor in Philosophy and Political Economy, recommends a series of online lectures from political philosopher Michael Sandel. Justice is the first Harvard University course to be made freely available online and Douglas notes that 'these free online lectures are a good preparation for anyone interested in taking a course in political philosophy, ethics or bioethics.' The question 'what's the right thing to do?' forms the core of the course, and lectures include 'The Case for Cannibalism', 'The Good Citizen' and 'Putting a Price Tag on Life'. 

> Justice

Big Tent! Big Ideas!

Big Tent! Big Ideas! from The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) brings world-leading speakers and humanities researchers at the University into conversation with one another to explore the biggest questions of our day through the lens of their academic research. What the past can tell us about tackling disease in the present? Keen to explore how the arts can shape our responses to environmental concerns, medical issues, and peace and conflict on the global stage? Then tune in live every Thursday at 5pm (UK time), or watch at a time to suit you on the TORCH YouTube channel

> Big Tent! Big Ideas!

Linear Algebra and Calculus

Cezar Ionescu, Associate Professor of Data Science, says, ‘Linear Algebra will mean different things to you depending on whether you have a physics, computer science or mathematical background. These YouTube videos provide a grounding in Linear Algebra to understand it on a numerical and geometric level.’ Cezar also recommends watching the Essence of Calculus for a visual and straightforward introduction using a series of videos, which aim to teach you Calculus as if you had discovered it yourself.  

> Linear Algebra playlist 

> Essence of Calculus playlist

National Theatre at Home

While theatre doors are closed, the National Theatre has stepped in to ensure that we can all enjoy the excitement of live performances from the comfort and safety of our own homes. Under the banner of 'National Theatre at Home' they are releasing a new play on YouTube every Thursday (7pm GMT), each recorded as part of their NT cinema live programme. Each play will be available to watch for one week - including bonus content such as post-stream talks and Q&As. Previous perfomances shown include One Man, Two Guvnors and Jane Eyre.

> National Theatre at Home

Battling Bad Science

Professor Carl Heneghan, Director of Oxford’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, recommends a TED Talk delivered by his colleague Ben Goldacre. Carl says, 'Battling Bad Science has had more than two million views, and is an engaging and rewarding 15 minutes in which Ben, epidemiologist and debunker, examines the ways evidence can be distorted.'

> Battling Bad Science

The Moby-Dick Big Read

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick is an epic novel often left unread due to its sprawling dense read. Luckily, The Arts Institute at Plymouth University has created The Moby-Dick Big Read. Recommended by Ben Grant, Departmental Lecturer in English Literature, each of the 135 chapters is read aloud by a ‘mixture of the celebrated and the unknown’ so you can listen to a new chapter at a pace to suit you.

> The Moby-Dick Big Read

Oxford Mathematics Institute Public Lectures

The Oxford Mathematics Institute invites the world's best mathematicians to share the pleasures (and occasional pain) of their subject with a wider audience through their Public Lectures programme. Previous lectures are available to watch online on YouTube and our Marketing Officer, Stacie Cullen, particularly recommends the 2019 playlist: watch Marcus du Sautoy discuss how AI is learning to write, paint and think; Chris Budd gets festive and breaks down the maths to some Christmas related questions including why does Rudolph have a shiny nose?; and David Sumpter asks 'could a Premier League team one day be managed by a mathematician?'

> Oxford Mathematics Institute 2019 Public Lectures 


Carly Watson, Departmental Lecturer in Literature and Arts, is proud to share VIDES - or Volume of Interdisciplinary Essays - which is the student-produced journal of the MSt in Literature and Arts (MLA). Carly states 'every aspect of it, from the cover design to the contents, is created by the students. The 2020 issue contains interdisciplinary essays on a remarkable range of subjects, from early sixteenth-century pew ends in a church in Northamptonshire to late Victorian lesbian vampires. It is a testament to the hard work and collaborative efforts of the students, and a fitting tribute to the originator and former director of the MLA, Dr Cathy Oakes.'


The Show Must Go Online

'The Show Must Go Online' is a weekly live reading of Shakespeare by actors from across the globe. A different play will be performed each week, in the order it is believed that they were written, starting with 'The Two Gentlemen of Verona'. Watch the actors live from their living rooms or view at a time to suit you.  Recommended by Tara Stubbs, Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing. 

> The Show Must Go Online

Oxford University Podcasts

Oxford University Podcasts brings together over 6000 audio and video lectures, seminars, interviews, teaching resources, and more from the University - all free for everyone to enjoy. Content is added regularly and as well as watching or listening online, you can also download content for free. Not sure where to start? Then take a look at this list of recommended podcasts to get you going.

> Oxford University Podcasts

Philosophy Now

Philosophy Now magazine claims that it ‘aims to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible’. Their podcast series, recommended by our Director of Studies in Philosophy Marianne Talbot, lets you explore dozens of topics. Start with ‘The History of Philosophy in Less Than an Hour’ and then move on to matters of right and wrong, Buddhist philosophy and God, to name but a few.

> Philosophy Now

The Met Opera

The Metropolitan Opera hope to 'brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark' by making available a different performance from their Live in HD series each day. These will be available for free streaming on the Met website, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, from 7:30 p.m. EDT until 6:30 p.m. the following day. If you aren't familiar with opera then now is a great time to discover the art form. Performances will include complete shows from the past 14 years, featuring some of opera’s greatest singers.

> The Met Opera

Oxford Centre for Life-Writing

The Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW) is a research centre designed to support those who write auto/biography and those who undertake research on different forms of life narratives. Frank Egerton, Creative Writing Tutor at the Department, recommends the OCLW Podcasts as 'the hot topic of recent years has been the blurring of boundaries between fiction and life-writing. The OCLW has, in a very short time, become a vital part of the city's creative writing network. The podcasts make its brilliant events available to the world beyond Oxford.'

> Oxford Centre for Life-Writing Podcasts


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