Library Lates: Melancholy - Mind & Matter

Image of an illustration of the side profile of a man's head with no hair and words relating to parts of the brain coming out of the top of the head


Library Lates: Melancholy - Mind & Matter

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  Friday 12 November 2021

  7 – 9.30pm

 Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

 Admission free

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About the event

As part of our Library Lates series come and join us for an interactive exploration of mind and matter, inspired by our current exhibition Melancholy: A New Anatomy.

The exhibition celebrates the 400th anniversary of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. First published in 1621 the text is an innovative encyclopaedia of mental and emotional disorder, as understood in the late Renaissance. 400 years later we are still exploring the different ways to treat mental health. On Friday 12 November come and explore our common experiences and connections over time through a variety of activities designed to uplift the mood and invigorate the mind. 

Get creative with origami for wellbeing and myriorama making. Try laughter yoga to boost your mood or test your knowledge with brain jenga. Borrow Oxford researchers for a chat in the Living Library and enter the world of sleep. Wake up with music for the brain and print a Burton keepsake to remember his instruction 'Be not solitary, be not idle'.


  Led by the Department of Psychiatry

Brain Jenga  

Test your understanding of how the brain works – do you know truth from myth?

Guess the facial expression

Can you tell how people are feeling?  Test how good you are at reading facial expressions.

Experimental medicine board game

Experience the highs and lows of new treatment development as you compete against your collaborators to be the first to complete an experimental medicine study.

  Led by the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute (SCNi)

Sleep Quiz

Take a quiz on your sleep habits and discover your Sleep Score – are you a Lark or an Owl?

Asleep or Awake?

How can we measure a good night's sleep? See what sleep and wakefulness look like in the brain in real time.

Sleep cloud

How would you describe your sleep?  Add to the word cloud and see it transform.

Origami for wellbeing

  Dr Lizzie Burns

Busy your fingers and calm your mind with origami shapes to make and share.  Follow demonstrations to make a heart (7.15pm), twisty rose (7.50pm), jumping grasshopper (8.15pm) and peace dove (8.50pm) with other designs to try throughout the evening.

Live cello performances

  Professor Armand D'Angour

7.30pm, 8.30pm
Enjoy live classical music played on the cello by Professor Armand D'Angour, Professor of Classics and regular performer with the London Brahms Trio in London and Oxford.

Living Library

Chat with academics in our living library, where books have been replaced by real researchers. Browse the catalogue, choose a book and sit down for a chat.


Travel afar without leaving Oxford! Make your own myriorama to create imaginary landscapes – switch the cards around and discover somewhere new. 

MIND Stall - MIND Oxfordshire

Find out more about MIND, the mental health charity that offers advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Printing - Bodleian Libraries Biblio Press

Print a keepsake on the historic Albion Press to remember Robert Burton's instruction 'Be not solitary, be not idle'.

Exhibition visit

Visit the exhibition Melancholy: A New Anatomy to explore the surprising echoes and differences between Robert Burton's holistic approach to melancholy four hundred years ago, and psychiatry today.

Space for Reading

Relax in Blackwell Hall's new public area, currently featuring the Maktabah, a pop-up library of books about Syria in Arabic, Kurdish and English for all to read.


Living the ancient Greek dream: dreams and dream interpretation in ancient Greek literature

  Valentino Gargano


How did the ancient Greeks dream? How were dreams influenced by Greek religion? Was there any such a thing as a 'Freudian' interpretation of dreams in ancient Greece? Starting with these questions, this talk will trace a development in the way ancient Greeks conceptualised and interpreted dreams.

From false dreams sent by deceitful gods in the Iliad, to disturbing premonitions in tragedy, the talk will explore both traditional dream representation in Greek literature and the more scientific, more modern, and more subjective conceptualisation of the oneiric experience in Artemidorus' Oneirocritica, a Greek treatise from 2nd century CE that seems interestingly akin to modern theories of dream interpretation.

The healing power of reading and writing

  Dr Richard Lawes


Robert Burton tells us that he wrote The Anatomy of Melancholy '…to ease my mind by writing, for I had gravidum cor, foetum caput [a heavy heart, a full head], a kind of imposthume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of, and could imagine no fitter evacuation than this.' This idea that writing and reading can be psychological therapy is woven into the very fabric of Burton's Anatomy. In this talk, Dr Richard Lawes will discuss  bibliotherapy (therapeutic reading) and 'scriptotherapy' (therapeutic writing), and the growing interest in these in recent years.


Hatha yoga


Calm the mind with a yoga session featuring gently moving standing and floor seated sequences, simple breath techniques and tips for general health and wellbeing. Suitable for beginners or the more experienced. Yoga mats will be provided. Please wear comfortable clothing and bring a hand towel, water and a face covering. Booking required.

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Laughter yoga

8–8.30pm, 8.45–9.15pm

See the funny side with a laughter yoga session involving laughter exercises and a laughter meditation. Booking required.

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 Booking information

The event is free but booking is required. When you have booked your place, the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation. 

The yoga workshops require booking in addition to the main event. All other activities or talks can be joined on the night.


Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.

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