Lecture, MLAC events

Events bulletin 23rd-27th February

Tuesday 23rd February

IMEMS Openness and Secrecy Seminar: Ingrid de Smet, University of Warwick – Secrets Unlocked: Locks and Keys from Instruments to Symbols of Early Modern Secrecy, 17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

In the Renaissance and Early Modern period locks and keys were, as they still are, essential instruments of concealment: produced in an ambience of trade secrecy, locks and keys were surrounded by concerns over access and security, trust, and power. Yet they are (with few notable exceptions in the 1990s) more often studied as material, artisanal objects, than for their representation in text and image. This paper is part of a larger book project on the material culture on Early Modern secrecy: it will examine the notion of secrecy in technical discussions of locksmithing as well as the literary and emblematic symbolism attached to locks and keys.


IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture: Dr David Macarthur, University of Sydney, Australia – Can there be Intuitive Evidence? 17:30-18:30, Senate Suite, University College

In contemporary culture we invariably think that our beliefs and our knowledge should be solely based on objective evidence: the sort of evidence that science studies and produces; the sort that is, as the OED puts it, “available”, meaning that it is accessible to anyone under the right circumstances. In this talk Dr David Macarthur’s aim will be to argue that we have allowed this scientific conception of objective evidence to obscure another important category of evidence from view. He will call it intuitive evidence. This kind of evidence is subjective, non-scientific, and not universally accessible but only available to those who have the requisite ‘eye’ (or ‘ear’ or ‘nose’) for it.


Annual lecture in Theology, Religion and Visual Culture: ‘Can Contemporary Art be Devotional Art?’ with Professor Ben Quash, 18:00-20:00, Hogan Lovells Lecture Theatre, Palatine Centre

This will be the 3rd annual lecture jointly shared with Theology and Religion, and Visual Culture. We are delighted that Professor Ben Quash from Kings College London will be returning to County Durham. As the Roman Catholic Church opens a pavilion at the Venice Biennale and many Protestant traditions cast aside their traditional distrust of images and storm back into the arena of contemporary visual art, a new set of critical categories may be called for. To be valuable, these should probably be both aesthetic andtheological. What makes a work of art ‘work’ in an ecclesial setting? And what ‘work’ should be expected of it anyway? Modern art’s concern to find visual languages that would speak across boundaries of geography and culture seemed capable of making common cause with the Christian Church’s traditional desire that art should unify and solidify community. Such works could be shared objects of contemplation. But it seems that the ambitions of Modernism have given way to a contemporary art of shifting, impermanent, interactive engagement through which we all negotiate our own unique pathways. Can such works ever have a place in public worship? Might they serve devotion in other ways?


Wednesday 24th February


Ecology & the Arts Research Group Seminar: Elizabeth Eva Leach (Oxford) – Unmusical and Musical Animals in Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour, 12:30, A56


EU Careers presentations and Q&A with Stephen Turkington, European Commission language officer, and Judite Petrovica, Durham University’s EU careers ambassador13:00-14:30, ER201

Stephen and Judite will talk about careers for linguists – and for graduates of other disciplines.


IMEMS – Durham World Heritage Site Research Strategy Launch Event13:00, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

The Durham World Heritage Site Research Strategy was published earlier this year. It aims to promote rigorous, academically informed research to progress our understanding and appreciation of the Cathedral, Castle and their environs. This launch event will provide an opportunity for interested researchers to discuss the priorities for research identified in the Strategy and aims to provide a space for the initial discussions which will lead to future research projects and funding proposals for them.



Inventions of the Text Seminar: Divinity in Being: Dismantling the God/World Dualism in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead17:30-18:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House

Inventions of the Text Seminar: The Theme of Twins in Shakespearean Drama18:00-18:30, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House


Thursday 25th February


Artist Talk: Haim Sokol’s Testimony16:00, ER149

The Russkiy Mir Centre is delighted to welcome Haim Sokol, a Moscow-based contemporary artist who is coming to participate at the AV Festival in Newcastle with his personal exhibition Testimony (27 Feb – 27 March, The Gallery at Tyneside Cinema) and a series of special events. In his talk at Durham Sokol will present his most recent projects and answer questions from the audience. Haim Sokol is an installation, sculpture, and video artist whose practice addresses the dramatic social histories of Russia and Eastern Europe. Though many of his works teeter on the edge of fiction and fantasy, Sokol roots his use of literary allusion in historical reality and the legacy of major 20th century uprisings, revolutions, massacres, and genocides. By compounding the grim realities of urban life with the complexities of exile and diaspora, Sokol’s works effectively capture experiences of alienation, isolation and disrupted communication specifically focusing on the histories that have been hidden, forgotten or oppressed.


IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture, Professor John Brewer, California Institute for Technology, USA: Sublime tourism, Enlightened science, and counter-revolution: three versions of Vesuvius and Pompeii in the age of Romanticism, 17:30-18:30, Fisher House, Ustinov College

Why was there such a fascination with Vesuvius and Pompeii in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries? This lecture examines the fraught struggles between religion and science, Revolutionary and counter-Revolutionary ideologies that shaped perceptions of and reactions to Vesuvian violence and the slow uncovering of the cities buried in the famous volcanic eruption of AD 79

Robin Dix Memorial Lecture: Professor Fiona Price, University of Chichester – The Early Historical Novel: Liberty and the Nation18:30-19:30, Senate Room, Durham Castle


Friday 26th February – Saturday 27th February

Conference: ‘Self-Commentary in Early Modern European Literature’ organised by Francesco Venturi [IMEMS]09:00 Friday – 17:30 Saturday, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

Registration is free. To reserve a place, please email: selfcommentary@gmail.com. Writers the world over have often accompanied their texts with a variety of annotations, marginal glosses, rubrications, and explicatory or narrative prose in an effort to direct and control the reception of their own works. Such self-exegetical devices do not merely serve as an external apparatus but effectively interact with the primary text by introducing a distinctive meta-literary dimension which, in turn, reveals complex dynamics affecting the very notions of authorship and readership. In the Renaissance, self-commentaries enjoyed unprecedented diffusion and found expression in a multiplicity of forms, which appear to be closely linked to momentous processes such as the legitimation of vernacular languages across Europe, the construction of a literary canon, the making of the modern author as we know it, and the self-representation of modern individual identities.

The Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) at Durham University will host an international conference on the topic of self-commentary and self-exegesis in early modern European literature, 26-27 February 2016 at Palace Green Library. Plenary lectures will include Martin McLaughlin (Oxford) on Leon Battista Alberti, John O’Brien (Durham) on Montaigne, and Federica Pich (Leeds) on Italian Renaissance poetry. Eight scholars from a range of disciplinary backgrounds will explore various literary traditions, from Neo-Latin Humanism to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English, French, and Polish literature: Harriet Archer (Newcastle), Gilles Bertheau (François Rabelais – Tours), Carlo Caruso (Durham), Jeroen De Keyser (Leuven), Russel Ganim (Iowa), Joseph Harris (Royal Holloway – London), Ian Johnson (St Andrews), and Magdalena Ożarska (Jan Kochanowski – Kielce).


Friday 26th February

Colpitt’s Poetry: Eleanor Rees and Colette Bryce20:00-21:00, Palace Green Library

Eleanor Rees’s latest collection is Blood Child (LUP/Pavilion 2015). Colette Bryce was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2014.







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