Conference, Lecture, MLAC events

Upcoming events this week

Tuesday 3rd November

IMEMS Openness and Secrecy seminar: Professor Carlo Caruso – Hidden in the Hieroglyphs? The Art of the Political Portrait in the Italian Renaissance.17:30 PGL Learning Centre – Palace Green Library, followed by a drinks reception at the Cafe, Palace Green Library

During the turbulent period known as the Italian Wars (1494-1527), a number of European potentates strove to secure hegemony in Italy and in Europe by forming ever new, as well as unstable, political alliances. To mark one such occasion, the Pope, Clement VII, commissioned Sebastiano del Piombo’s striking portrait of sea captain Andrea Doria (1466-1560). Painted in May 1526 when the European crisis was approaching its height, Sebastiano’s portrait appears to convey an encrypted (and as yet undeciphered) message of a political nature. [read more] Contact for more information at this event. Click here to book. 

IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture: Professor Heike Egner (Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt) – How Can Societies Learn From or For Catastrophes? 17:30-18:30, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary’s College

This lecture will show different examples to point to the difficulties of societal learning in general and to the specifics of learning in reference to disasters and catastrophes. The maxim “learning from damage” refers to the general assumption that we, as individuals, are capable of learning from experienced calamities. We take it for granted that this also holds true for groups, enterprises, or the respective society as a whole, as well as the (disaster-) management organisations and institutions for prevention and mitigation involved. The idea of learning from disasters is expected to be better prepared or to be more efficient the next time. Thus, we assume that the results of these learning processes are preserved as “knowledge” in the collective memory of a society, and that patterns of practices of learning have been adopted on this basis. However, looking closer at post-disaster learning, there is some evidence for the opposite: Analysing past calamities fairly often reveals hardly any societal learning (e.g. Fukushima) and, if so, “learning” often turns out to consist of quick fix solutions with unintended side effects (e.g. the suicidal German Wings pilot), or the disaster memory rarely lasts more than two generations (e.g. South Pacific-Tsunami 2004)For more on Professor Egner, click hereContact for more information about this event.

Wednesday 4th November

Work in Progress Seminar. 12:00-13:00, ER146

Claudia Nitschke, Abir Hamdar, Gerald Moore, Kerstin Oloff and Simon Ward will be sharing the results of their Working Group discussions on the new MA in Modern Languages and Cultures. All postgraduate students are warmly encouraged to attend. 

IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture: Professor Carlo Vecce (Instituto Universitario Orientate, Naples) – The Fading Evidence of Reality: Leonardo and the End. 17:15-18:15, Holgate House, Grey College

Leonardo da Vinci doesn’t like the “End”. As an artist, very few times he finishes his works, just because forced by his patrons, and mostly leaves them unaccomplished (the Adoration, the Sforza horse, the Battle of Anghiari). More than an incapability to finish, this aptitude reflects the very modern position of Leonardo (as a scientist and a philosopher) towards nature and reality, conceived as in movement, in continuous metamorphosis. We can trace it even in his writings, the most private and personal part of his laboratory. His textuality is a kind of ‘unended’ writing, without hierarchy, open to all research possibilities. Leonardo doesn’t finish any treatise or any book (libro): he leaves ‘open’ thousands and thousands of texts. More, there is no ‘end’ (border) between text and image: one merges in the other, in a complementary connection. Leonardo’s unended writing and painting correspond to his idea of reality as an universal ‘continuous quantity’. Objects look to have borders, contours (in Italian, fini and termini), but in fact the limit of a body is just the beginning of another body, and it is impossible to understand exactly the precise moment when we pass from an entity to the other. So, the ‘end’, the ‘limit’, doesn’t exist: it is ‘nothing’, and ‘nothing’ are the point, the line and the surface, the principles of geometry and also of painting. Leonardo’s paradoxal conclusion is that painting (and reality, and our knowledge of reality, and its fading evidence) is simply based on ‘nothing’. For more on Professor Vecce, click here[read more]

Thursday 5th November

IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture: Professor Barbara Dancygier (University of British Columbia). 17:30-18:30, Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede

Linguistic meaning pervades all aspects of our lives. Most of the things we do every day require dealing with language in some form. The way we perceive reality and reason about it also depends on conceptualizations available through language. Language is a window to how we understand and mentally represent the world around us. The multifaceted role of language raises many questions. How do complex linguistic meanings emerge? How are they represented in the mind? Why do we use sophisticated language forms to talk about things, people and events that have in fact never existed? Also, recent years have prompted a new set of questions, primarily about the interplay between language, image, and materiality in a whole range of multimodal artifacts, and especially about the conceptual underpinnings of their interpretation. We need to explain how we process artifacts as diverse as Shakespearean theatre on the one hand and posters raising the awareness of climate change on the other. This talk will argue that the mystery of understanding these artifacts lies not in what their form contains for us to uncover, but how more basic concepts can be combined, enriched and transformed to yield complex meanings – concrete, abstract, or ‘fictive’. Professor Dancygier will demonstrate how processing discourse in a broad range of forms relies on several mechanisms of meaning-construction. In other words, she will show how meaning is ‘made’, rather than just grasped. For more on Professor Dancygier, click here[read more]

Friday 6th – Saturday 7th November

Women in German Studies 27th Annual Conference. Van Mildert College.  [read more]


Montaigne in Early Modern England and Scotland. St. Chad’s College Chapel

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University is hosting an interdisciplinary conference on the reception of Montaigne’s Essais in early modern England and Scotland. Plenary lectures will include John O’Brien (Durham) on Montaigne in early modern Scotland, Will Hamlin (Washington State) on “god-language” in Florio’s translation, Warren Boutcher (Queen Mary) on “how Montaigne got on the English stage,” Richard Scholar (Oxford) on Shakespeare, Montaigne, and “thought experiments,” David Sedley (Haverford) on Montaigne, Bacon, and “the DNA of the essay,” and Kathryn Murphy (Oxford) on Montaigne, Burton, and the “logic of influence.” [read more] Registration is free. To reserve a place, please email:

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