The annual Off The Shelf Festival of Words returns again this month, the first outing curated by Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield. 2017’s programme offers some solid keynote appearances from the likes of Robert Webb, Laurie Penny and Hollie McNish, but it’s the festival’s radicalism strand that has caught our attention.

‘Radical’ can mean different things to different people. “It doesn’t describe a particular set of ideas, but your relationship to the mainstream,” says Mike Braddick, Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, who curated this year’s politically-themed Off The Shelf events. “If all the radicals got together in a very big room, they would not agree among themselves.

“Being radical is not always a good thing, either. Radical ideas and actions often make us appreciate our mainstream and conventional values.”

Prof Braddick recommends Off The Shelf’s Ideas Alive at 5.45 series for its radical thinking, exploring topics like religion (10 Oct), surveillance (18 Oct), utopia (24 Oct) and the sex lives of older adults (11 Oct), while he notes that Sheffield’s strong history of citizen activism will be explored and celebrated by a radical walk led by Ron Clayton (8 Oct) and a session on stories of activism with Gary Rivett and Louise Briggs (14 Oct).

We’ve handpicked a few other events from this year’s programme, but there’s so much more going on between 7 and 28 October. The full programme can be found at offtheshelf.org.uk.

George Monbiot – Out of the Wreckage
Wed 11 Oct | 7pm | Pennine Theatre, Owen Building | £8 adv/£6.50 concs
This talk isn’t technically part of the radicalism strand, but we couldn’t resist including it here. Monbiot’s new book, subtitled ‘A New Politics for an Age of Crisis’, looks at how politics can be reinvigorated. An inspiring speaker. Link

Tariq Ali – The Dilemmas of Lenin
Fri 13 Oct | 7pm | Pennine Theatre, Owen Building | £8 adv/£6.50 concs
Journalist, author and historian Ali explores the legacy and contradictions of one of the 20th century’s most influential people on the centenary of the Russian Revolution he instigated. Link

Reds Film Screening
Sun 15 Oct | 4pm | The Void, Owen Building | Free
Based on Ten Days That Shook The World, John Reed’s famous journalistic account, Warren Beaty’s Reds is epic in its depiction of the 1917 Russian Revolution, and one of very few films to come out of Hollywood which can truthfully be described as ‘socialist’. Link

Melvyn Bragg – Now is the Time
Mon 16 Oct | 6pm | Cadman Room, Millennium Gallery | £7 adv/£5 concs
Now is the Time is a fictionalised retelling of the biggest popular uprising in English history, the Peasants’ Revolt or Great Rising of 1381, during which the boy-king Richard II was briefly overwhelmed by a rural uprising demanding reduced tax and an end to serfdom. Link

No More Love on the Dole
Sat 21 Oct | 5pm | Creative Lounge, Workstation | £6 adv/£5 concs
Love on the Dole, Walter Greenwood’s 1933 hugely popular novel about working-class life, was prevented from reaching the big screen until 1941 by the British Board of Film Censors, who considered it “a very sordid story”. Prof Chris Hopkins explores this stirring book and its often-overlooked sequel, Something in My HeartLink

Jenni Murray – A History of Britain in 21 Women
Sun 22 Oct | 1pm | Firth Hall, Firth Court | £9 adv/£7 concs
Woman’s Hour presenter Jenni Murray looks back at influential and inspirational British women, including Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (Britain’s first female physician and surgeon), Nancy Astor (the first female MP to take her seat) and fashion designer and icon Mary Quant. Link