Meeting House showing multi-coloured windows

Sussex Festival of Ideas

The Sussex Festival of Ideas is a dynamic and engaging programme of talks, events and activities, from the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

2024 Festival

Photo of Aleema Gray.

Monday 22 April, 11.30am - 12.30pm

Curating is an activity with different iterations, from curating a small collection of objects on a mantelpiece, to a large scale art exhibition in a gallery. Dr Aleema Gray, curator of the Black British Music exhibition opening at the British Library in April, will talk about the exigencies of curating exhibitions and her own experience

Read more and book now.

Photo of person using an old fashioned printpress

Letterpress Masterclass & Publication Launch

Monday 22 April, 2pm - 4pm (workshop), 5pm-6.30pm (launch)

Have you ever thought of experimenting with printing, making your own books or zines? Did you know that Sussex University has a working printing press that is being used to create unique publications? Join Richard Lawrence for this letterpress masterclass!

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Photo of Manasi Barmecha

Who’s that next to you

Monday 22 April, 5.30pm - 7.30pm

This interactive session, facilitated by student Manasi Barmecha, invites you to reconnect with yourself and the other participants in a way that is fun, different, and meaningful.

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Photo of Boris Johnson.

A roundtable on the post-truth rhetoric of the Covid-19 pandemic

Wednesday 24 April, 3.30pm - 5pm

Join a panel of experts from the fields of Media, Politics, English, and Medicine as they discuss how post-truth rhetoric continues to shape both our comprehension of and responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

Read more and book now.

Photo of a label and booklets lying a blue cloth.

The Concept of the Archive in Early Modern and Contemporary Poetics

Wednesday 24 April, 5pm - 7pm

An evening of presentations, a performance lecture and discussion exploring the concept of the archive and “archival gestures” in poetry, art and politics. Drinks and snacks will be provided, and all are welcome. Supported by the School of Media, Arts and Humanities.

Read more now.

Text on book cover saying 'Do your own thing'

Do Your Own Thing: A Conversation with artist Richard Phoenix

Thursday 25 April, 3.30pm - 5pm

Musician and artist Richard Phoenix talks about his work, including the 2024 Turner Prize Year 9 education programme and the ‘best underground arts scene you’ve never heard of’, Do Your Own Thing, a project run by learning disability arts organisation Heart n Soul.

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Photo of Namse Udosen.

African Storytelling Fiesta: A journey into African Knowledges

Thursday 25 April, 6pm - 7.30pm

Join us for an evening of storytelling and discussion led by University of Sussex Chevening Scholar and writer Namse Udosen, Pendo Fondo (Sussex MA graduate International Relations), and Mamoudu Sanghre (MA student International Education and Development).

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Photograph of bird singing in tree.

Bird Bath

Sunday 5 May - Sunday 12 May

Created by meditator and broadcaster Alistair Appleton (Mindsprings) and musician and ecoacoustician Alice Eldridge (University of Sussex), Bird Bath transforms beautiful buildings into restorative spaces by inviting you to pause, rest and ‘bathe’ in the sound of local birdsong.

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Photograph of the Towner building, painted in colourful stripes.

Remember When the Turner Prize Came to Sussex?

Friday 10 May, 7.30pm - 9pm

Join a panel of speakers who have worked on the project as they discuss Turner Prize 2023 in Sussex, its impact on the local area, communities and economy, and exciting future plans for the arts in East Sussex.

Organised by University of Sussex in partnership with Towner Eastbourne.

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Photo of Zoe Howe

The Radical, Revolutionary Witch

Saturday 11 May, 7.30pm - 8.30pm

Dr Laura Kounine (University of Sussex) will be in conversation with Zoë Howe (author and host of Rock and Roll Witch on Soho Radio) about her book Witchful Thinking. They will discuss in particular how the witch in contemporary culture has come to represent feminism and radical and revolutionary activism.

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Photo of Jeremy Deller

Now That’s What I Call Magic

Tuesday 21 May, 7pm - 9.30pm

Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller (and University of Sussex alumnus) talks collaboration, British history, protest and pop culture with Professor Lucy Robinson, author of Now That’s What I Call a History of the 1980s: Pop Culture and Politics in the Decade That Shaped Modern Britain.

Organised by University of Sussex in partnership with Towner Eastbourne

Jeremy Deller on University Challenge, photo courtesy of the artist.

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Photo of Subira Joy

Radical Remembering

Wednesday 22 May, 7.30pm - 9pm

Combining spoken word, discussions, performances, and more to explore queer and Black activism, archival research and radical lineages, Radical Remembering invites you to challenge how and why we hold our histories.

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Photo of Augusto Corrieri showing someone a card.


Friday 24 May, 9am - 3pm

Inside a working café, surrounded by unsuspecting customers, magician Vincent Gambini invites you to sit at a table and watch a 10-minute performance. In front of your very eyes, playing cards transform inexplicably and sugar cubes vanish without a trace. But as you listen to the magician’s pre-recorded voice and the sounds of the café on headphones, the line between reality and fiction becomes increasingly thin: is this a real café, or a film set filled with actors?

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Photo of a white person swear a mask make out of shells and wearing purple fabric, against a backdrop of the sea.

New Beginnings Explored through Speculative Fiction 

Friday 31 May, 1.30pm - 5pm

How can diverse new beginnings be imagined through speculative fiction? What would a new worldview built on the principles of inclusivity, care, activism or belonging with more-than-human beings look like? In what way can film be a language of new beginnings based on reciprocity and resilience in the face of adversity? These research questions will be explored during a symposium that will include a panel and a workshop. This event is organised by Annie Goliath, Creative and Critical Practice PhD student. 

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Photo of a blank a4 paper on brown paper.

Preface, Prelude, Prologue: an interdisciplinary symposium 

Wednesday 5 June, 9.30am - 4.30pm

Can you think of an opening moment in a narrative work that engages you, sparks your curiosity, and establishes the themes and politics of the whole piece? Talks will cover a diverse range of creators from Kate Bush, Franz Liszt, and Thomas Pynchon, to Kelly Reichardt, Andrea Arnold, and Powell & Pressburger.

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If you have any questions, email