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The University’s Department of Music, Media and Performance is presenting four yuletide talks at Storyhouse in Chester, on Wednesday December 8.

The drop-in lectures are an hour-long each and will run one-after-the-other in the multi award-winning cultural centre’s Garret Theatre.

In the first lecture, ‘Shepherding, Carolling and Rocking’ at 12pm, Professor Darren Sproston will shed light on how Italian shepherds busking at Christmas could impact on seasonal music more broadly. A number of historic accounts demonstrate their influence on composers through to the 19th century and Professor Sproston will look at whether it is possible that this continued into the 20th century by returning to its ‘popular’ origins.

The second lecture by Dr Katie Barnett at 1pm will explore the subject of ‘Son of Santa: Fathers and Christmas in Hollywood’. Whether it’s Tim Allen knocking Santa off the roof and becoming the next Father Christmas, or Michael Keaton being reincarnated as a walking, talking snowman, Dr Barnett will discuss how Christmas is a time of second chances for these less-than-perfect Hollywood dads. She will transport the audience back to the ‘90s to take a festive look at fatherhood on film.

In the third lecture starting at 2pm, Dr Stef Kerrigan will be ‘Remembering and Reimagining Christmases Gone By with Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. Since the first publication of Theodor Seuss Geisel’s story, there have been numerous adaptations, and, looking back at some of these, this lecture will consider the cultural fascination with the act of adaptation.

The afternoon will be rounded off with a talk on ‘Elvis and Christmas’ by Dr Mark Duffett at 3pm. The festive season was an important, cherished time for Elvis Presley, with his recorded output including a number of Christmas songs, and the lecture will aim to explore the connections in both his career and public life. Dr Duffett will offer insights on how Elvis experienced Christmas, his musical take and how fans connected.

Prof Sproston, Director of the School of Arts and Media and Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said: “We are really looking forward to this year’s Christmas Lectures, run with and at the fantastic Storyhouse.

“The Lectures have become a Christmas tradition in themselves, and we hope people enjoy the choice of topics.”

For more information on the Lectures, Storyhouse and COVID safety measures in place, please visit:

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