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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Durham Book Festival: Writing in the Academy: Meet the Authors - Professor Douglas Davies, Dr Amanda Ellison, Professor Linda McKie

25th October 2012, 12:30 to 13:30, Cosin's Hall, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL


Writing in the University requires a particular set of skills and is shaped by some very particular pressures.  Academic authors need to present original research, to respond to the cut and thrust of peer reviews, to engage in scholarly debate with colleagues, and to be accessible to wider audiences.  What is it like to write in this context?  Find out by meeting a range of University authors at these events.

This event is free and open to all.

This event is in conjunction with the Durham Book Festival and features:


Professor Linda McKie; 'Understanding Families'

Families are at the core of our society. Our experience of them affects many aspects of our everyday lives shaping our expectations and future plans.

This book adopts a global perspective to usefully examine how modern families can be explored and understood. Packed with critical pedagogy, including case-studies, think points, key words and a glossary, it guides students through topics such as relationships, sexualities and paid and unpaid work.

Linda McKie joined the staff of Durham University in May 2012 having previously graduated from Ustinov College in 1989 with a doctorate in the sociology of education and training.  Following her graduation she has held posts at the universities of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian, researching and teaching in the sociologies of health and illness, gender and work, and research methods and management. Linda's current research considers a number of topics under the broad umbrella of Organisations, Work & Care, and families and relationships including the evaluation of the Personal Development Project (PDP) and the resettlement process for veterans’ families.  In 2004 Linda was elected to Academy of Social Sciences (AcSS) and in 2010 she was appointed a member of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF), Sub-panel 23: Sociology. Since 2001 she has been an Associate Director at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships.  Linda is also a member of editorial board for the journal Work, Employment and Society.

Professor Douglas Davies; 'Natural Burial Traditional - Secular Spiritualities and Funeral Innovation'

From the 1990s the British developed an interest in natural burial, also known as woodland, green, or ecological burial. Natural burial constitutes part of a long, historical legacy for British funeral innovation; from Victorian cemetery monuments and garden cemeteries through the birth and rise of cremation to the many things done with cremated remains. The book sets natural burial in the context of such creative dealing with death, grief, mourning, and the celebration of life. Themes from sociology and anthropology combine with psychological issues and theological ideas to show how human emotions take shape and help people consider their own death whilst also dealing with the death of those they love.

Professor Davies and co-author Dr Hannah Rumble explore the variety of motivations for people to engage with natural burial and its popular appeal, using interviews with people having a relationship with one natural burial site created by the Church of England but open to all. They illustrate people’s understandings of life and death in the sacred, secular and mixed worlds of modern Britain.

Douglas Davies is Professor in the Study of Religion and Director of Durham University’s Centre for Death and Life Studies. His numerous books on death and other aspects of Religious Studies reflect his combined skills as both Anthropologist of Religion and Theologian. In 2009 Davies was made an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is also a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales.


Dr Amanda Ellison; 'Getting your head around the brain'

Have you ever wondered how it's possible to walk down a street, with your thoughts on what you're going to have for lunch? What's telling your legs to move while your mind is on other things? And how are you reading these words right now? The simple answer: it's your brain.

By answering these questions and more, Getting Your Head Around the Brain is your first stop for understanding human behaviour. It provides intriguing insight into the brain's awesome abilities, and covers fascinating topics like sensation, memory and emotion. Whether you're studying for your psychology degree, or whether you just want to learn more about human behaviour, Getting Your Head Around the Brain is a fun-and-friendly guide to this mysterious and often misunderstood organ.

Amanda Ellison is Senior Lecturer in the Psychology department at Durham University. She has been teaching Biological Psychology and other neuroscientific topics for over 15 years. Her research interests include the neuroscientific basis of vision; neuronal disruption in migraine headache; visuomotor systems; sensorimotor cortical interfacing; thalamocortical dysrhythmia and the rehabilitative benefits of TMS.  She is particularly interested in how different parts of the brain talk to each other when we are doing everyday things.

Contact for more information about this event.