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The Curiosity Conversation

The Curiosity Conversation

By Museums of the University of St Andrews
The Curiosity Conversation speaks with a different expert every month to explore the world through the unexpected, ground-breaking or contested aspects of the stories museums tell.

The Curiosity Conversation drops on the final Thursday of each month and is brought to you by the Museums of the University of St Andrews.

Show theme © Lidhmusic
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Dr Chris Leakey and Hannah Ladd-Jones: Sea Change

The Curiosity Conversation

Dr Adam Corner: Time for Change
This month, Eilidh and Matt talk to Dr Adam Corner, a behaviour change expert working on the Dive In project at the Museums of the University of St Andrews. They discuss the importance of sustainable behaviour, the impact of the ocean on our lives and how museums can impact human behaviour for the better. Visit the Dive In! website and discover more about the exhibition at  You can find out more about Adam at  Adam recommends... Music © Lidhmusic
September 30, 2021
Dr Luke Gartlan: Picture This
In this episode Eilidh talks to Dr Luke Gartlan from the School of Art History at the University of St Andrews. Luke's research and teaching concerns modern visual practices in the global nineteenth century, particularly with regard to histories and theories of photography.  Luke is currently pursuing a new research project, which concerns early photography in St Andrews within the context of local engagements in empire and global exchange. This study investigates the associations between concepts of British provinciality and empire through close analysis of selected family photograph albums and archives. They discuss the early history of photography and its connection to the town of St Andrews - from the pragmatics to the motivations; the work and legacy of Julia Margaret Cameron, and how our experience as makers and consumers of photography today is not so different from the Victorians.  Luke recommends... Checking out the thematic galleries and the Julia Margaret Cameron exhibition at the Wardlaw Museum -  Browsing the Photographic Archive online -  The St Andrews Photography Festival - And Eilidh mentions Potato Head - Music © Lidhmusic
July 29, 2021
Dr Richard Bates: Coast to Coast
In this episode Matt and Eilidh talk to Dr Richard Bates from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews. Richard specialises in geophysical survey techniques, coastal communities, archaeology and climate change. He is involved in protecting the cultural heritage of Kilwa Kisiwani, off the coast of Tanzania.  Richard is advising the Museums of the University of St Andrews' Dive In project, which is all about protecting our ocean. He also leads the Fife Coastal Zone project, an interdisciplinary look at the heritage of Fife as viewed from the coast, which aims to explore the past to better inform sustainable approaches to the future. They discuss ways to protect cultural heritage, the threats climate changes poses to intangible cultural heritage, where the responsibility for change lies and even the role of rap music in protecting the heritage that we cannot see. Richard recommends... To find out more about Tanzania and its cultural heritage, the University of St Andrews' impact report on Richard's project is a good starting point. You can also listen to the rap track Kilwa Yetu by renowned Tanzanian artist Chemical, mentioned by Richard in the episode. Music © Lidhmusic
June 24, 2021
Dr Susan Manly: Power Over Herself
Leonie Leeder and Nicola Law guest present this discussion with Dr Susan Manly, Reader in English at the University of St Andrews. Susan's research focuses on two 18th century female writers, Maria Edgeworth and Mary Wollstonecraft, early feminists who explored ideas of identity, sexuality and the female body. Leonie, Nicola and Susan discuss how these writers fought back against the oppression women encountered in society, the backlash they received as a result and what we can learn from examining marginalisation in the past. Susan recommends... Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon for Mary's feminism. Maria Edgeworth: Women, Enlightenment and Nation by Cliona O' Gallchoir for insights into Maria, her life and context. You can also find walks around sites related to Mary Wollstonecraft at Wollstonecraft Walks. Find out more of Edgeworth's life through the Opening the Edgeworth Papers project at the Bodlein Library, University of Oxford. And, of course, you can read the works of both Wollstonecraft and Edgeworth themselves. Music © Lidhmusic
May 27, 2021
Leonie Leeder and Nicola Law: Sex as Subversion, Fantasy and Power
Please note that this episode will discuss sensitive issues of an adult nature and will not be appropriate for all audiences. Listener discretion is advised. In this episode Eilidh and Matt talk to Leonie Leeder and Nicola Law, postgraduate students in Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of St Andrews. Leonie and Nicola will discuss their upcoming exhibition about the Beggar’s Benison Club, an 18th century society dedicated to the celebration of masculine sexuality, and consider what it tells us about sex, sexuality and consent in the 21st century. If you are affected by any of the issues discussed in this episode you can find sources of support at  Leonie and Nicola recommend... To find out more about the Beggar's Benison Leonie and Nicola recommend David Stevenson, The Beggar's Benison Club: Sex Clubs of Enlightenment Scotland and Their Rituals (2008). For enlightenment sex more generally try G.J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in Eighteenth Centure Britain (1992). On sex work through history take a look at the Whores of Yore website. Note that this website contains explicit imagery and strong language. Music © Lidhmusic
April 29, 2021
Dr Chris Leakey and Hannah Ladd-Jones: Sea Change
In this episode Eilidh and Matt talk to Dr Chris Leakey and Hannah Ladd-Jones, both part of the Scottish Oceans Institute, based at the University of St Andrews, and the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS). Chris and Hannah are involved in a new behaviour change initiative called People Ocean Planet, which aims to influence human actions so that they impact the ocean environment for the better. They are also working with the Museums of the University of St Andrews on a project called Dive In, which is all about looking after our ocean. They discuss the threats facing the ocean, the role of the behaviour change initiatives that can protect them and whether trying to change public behaviour might be sinister. Chris and Hannah recommend... To find out more about People Ocean Planet Chris and Hannah recommend that you follow them on Twitter @OceanBehaviours For Scotland's Marine Assessment see If you're interested in the psychology of behaviour change check out The Dragons of (Climate) Inaction podcast. Hannah especially recommends playing the Ocean Heroes game from WWF. Music © Lidhmusic
March 25, 2021
Dr Emma Bond: We need to talk about empire
In this episode Matt and Eilidh talk to Dr Emma Bond, Reader in Italian and Comparative Literature in the School of Modern Languages at the University of St Andrews. Emma works on the circulation of people, texts, objects and cultural artefacts across nations, touching on issues of colonialism, empire, slavery and migration. She is working with the Museums of the University of St Andrews on a project called Recollecting Empire, which explores how colonial presences in museum collections can be re-interpreted with input from communities, and how this approach can be embedded in the Museums' work and processes rather than being a short term focus. They discuss Emma's research, the signs of empire to look out for in everyday life, the role of museums in perpetuating marginalisation and ways in which we can change the narrative. Music © Lidhmusic
February 25, 2021
The Curiosity Conversation Trailer
The Curiosity Conversation speaks with a different expert every month to  explore the world through the unexpected, ground-breaking or contested  aspects of the stories museums tell. Brought to you from the Museums of the University of St Andrews. The first episode drops on 25th February, with subsequent episodes monthly on the final Thursday of the month. Music © Lidhmusic
January 19, 2021