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Turning an Arts & Humanities gaze on COVID-19

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In these troubled times, many people are finding solace in the arts. Dive in deeper with this new series of pandemic-inspired reflections from our Arts & Humanities researchers.

Academics in the School of Arts & Humanities are bringing their research to bear on the ongoing pandemic ­– in a series COVID-19 blogs which are thought-provoking, uplifting and entertaining.

The topics are wide-ranging, reflecting the broad scope of the Arts & Humanities – Art History, Classical Studies, English and Creative Writing, History, and Music.

But they are united by their focus on human experiences, imagination and emotions – something which makes the Arts & Humanities particularly well equipped to help us understand and cope with our current situation.

Dr Gemma Allen is Director of Research, Scholarship and Enterprise for the School. She says Arts & Humanities is a research-rich area at The Open University.

‘Our diverse research culture means we have lots of insights into the pandemic.

‘There are blog contributors from all the disciplines in our School, which makes for a wide variety of angles in the blog series.

‘Some of the pieces offer reflections very directly out of our ongoing research, others take a broader approach – thinking about how the Arts and Humanities can offer solace, reassurance and even entertainment in these unprecedented times.’

It’s a diverse collection which should appeal to a range of interests.

For history buffs there’s an outline of the history of solitude which suggests, encouragingly, we may be better equipped than our ancestors to face isolation.

In contrast there’s an intensely personal account of studying for a Creative Writing PhD while grieving alone in lockdown.

And surprising sources of comfort are identified in Classical Studies, from humorous plays, to beautiful frescoes, to a treatise on ancient Rome’s aqueduct system.

Although the ongoing blog series springs from the pandemic, it will also act as a showcase for the strength of the OU’s Arts & Humanities  research, says Dr Allen.

‘This is a series that is interested in making connections: connections between our wide-ranging research in Arts & Humanities and the life in the time of Covid-19; but also between us as researchers, and wider audiences’.

Read Arts & Humanities in the Time of COVID-19

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