Academics Join Forces for Valentine’s Day Talk Giving Insights on Love

Kate Ashbrook and Darren Oldridge
Talk speakers Dr Kate Ashbrook and Professor Darren Oldridge

Professor of Early Modern History, Darren Oldridge and Senior Lecturer in Biology, Dr Kate Ashbrook, will be combining their areas of specialism to shed light on the subject at The Hive, in Worcester, on February 14, 7pm-8pm.

Titled ‘The Magic and Science of Love’, the free talk will be exploring what is the secret of love and how can we find it from a historical and scientific perspective.

Professor Oldridge will be looking at the practice of love magic in Tudor and Stuart times. He said back then people would go to magicians, wise men and women, or astrologers for help in affairs of the heart. They believed it was possible to cast spells that made people fall in love, or to answer questions about their future romance or current relationships, he added. Professor Oldridge has even unearthed some of the ancient ‘love potions’ from the 16th century.

“I’m interested in a magic-believing world, in a time when there was a belief in occult forces that influenced people’s hearts and minds,” he said. “Today we no longer live in a magic-believing culture, but we do believe in science. We no longer cast spells to create love, but we might accept the idea of a ‘science of love’ - so it’s interesting to combine the two approaches in this talk.”

Dr Ashbrook’s part of the talk will look at scientific research into love, focusing on animal behaviour, particularly birds and prairie voles and the long-term bonds that they form.

“Much of what we know about love actually comes from studies on animals who form long-term relationships,” she said. “Species such as prairie voles mourn the loss of their partner, whereas rats and mice don’t form pair bonds at all.

“Back in the days of my PhD, I studied the social behaviour of birds, and how, during food shortages, some of the caring behaviours between birds, such as looking after unrelated chicks and preening your partner, disappear. With Valentine's Day approaching, I wanted to return to thinking about long-term associations between pairs, bringing together pair bond research, the underlying brain chemistry and, extending from Darren's potions and spells, ask is there something that science suggests as a potential 'love potion'?"

Place are free but need to be booked. Visit The Hive website's What's On pages.