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York Festival of Ideas launches new podcast series

Posted on 8 June 2017

A new podcast series exploring the meaning behind everyday objects throughout history will launch next week as part of the University of York’s Festival of Ideas programme.

The three-part series is presented by archaeologist, Dr Penny Spikins, and philosopher, Dr Dorothea Debus.  They will explore the stories behind three different objects and investigate if they help people explain the world they live in today.

A Palaeolithic hand axe from the Yorkshire Museum, a brooch containing an old photograph, and a children’s book are discussed during the series from both an archaeological and philosophical perspective.

Dr Spikins said: “We will be using these objects to investigate why human beings become so attached to their possessions – is it inherited from our ancestors or is it a more modern societal phenomenon?

“We are keen to hear from our podcast listeners, on this topic.  Do they have an object that has emotional or historical meaning or value? We want to hear their stories to understand how objects help define our lives.” 

The podcast, called The Story of Things, coincides with a York Festival of Ideas event on Wednesday, 14 June, where Dr Spikins and Dr Debus will be talking to a live audience about some of the objects that have been submitted to them as part of their online research survey. 

Dr Debus said: “Is it the stories behind the objects that make them meaningful to us? Or is it that objects provide us with a sense of personal uniqueness in an increasingly competitive and fragmented world? This podcast will help our listeners decide and think about their own attachments."

The podcast series has been produced by third year students, Matthew Edwards and James Legros, from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television, and the music was written and performed by PhD student, Richard Evans, from the University’s Department of Music.

A teaser trailer for The Story of Things podcast can be downloaded from SoundCloud or any preferred podcast app here.

Episode one of the series will be live on Thursday, 15 June and will examine a 70,000 year-old hand axe from the Yorkshire Museum. 

Further information:

Members of the public are invited to hear from the researchers on how they have evaluated certain attachments to objects at a live event in The Treehouse, at the Berrick Saul Building, University of York, from 6.15pm on Wednesday, 14 June.

To register for the event, The Stories Behind our Favourite Things, visit:

To take part in the online research survey click here

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