Careers, Film, Lecture, MLAC events, Research Groups, Workshop

Events bulletin 7-10 March


Monday 7th March


Evidence on Trial Public Lecture: Professor Niamh Nic Daeid, University of Dundee – Science on Trial: the use of scientific evidence in criminal court, 18:15-19:15, Kingsley Barrett Room, Calman Learning Centre

There has been an increasing scrutiny in the UK and other jurisdictions (North America and Australia in particular) of both the nature of the fundamental science which underpins forensic evidence as well as the credibility of forensic scientists presenting their evidence in our courts. What is certain is that science has a role to play in the delivery of both criminal and civil justice for our society, but we must ensure that the science is robust and that our scientists, lawyers and jurors understand its strengths and limitations. This presentation will explore some of these issues and discuss the latest developments in the relationship between science and the courts in the UK.




Tuesday 8th March


Breathing in Context: Historical and cross-cultural perspectives on breath, 8th March 11:00 – 9th March 16:00, Joachim Room, College of St Hild & St Bede

This interdisciplinary two day symposium, organised by the Centre for Medical Humanities and Anthropology Department at Durham University as part of the Life of Breath project, offers an exciting platform to explore, discuss and gain insight into the perception and experience of breath and breathing practices both historically and cross-culturally. Breath, a physiological universal, is uniquely both an automatic and controllable process at different times; it is also a subjective experience, an elaborated technique, and a fundamental part of knowledge systems and world views. Breathing is interactive and offers a mode of relating to the world, engaging with others, objects, environments, and technologies. Crucially, the significance and meaning of breath varies according to the context in which it is understood and enacted. Yet breath is a theme seldom considered in anthropological or cross-cultural research, despite the implications this could have in comprehending just what breath is, and what it means to live and breathe. Places are limited so please register to attend at


Visual Evidence: Absences, Erasures and Invisibilities in Cityscape, Landscape and Marinescape Workshop, 14:00-18:00, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary’s College

This workshop is organized by the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (CVAC) and forms part of the Visual Evidence sub-theme. It is designed to bring together researchers who often work independently of one another, focusing on either cityscapes, or landscapes, or marinescapes, the latter often overlooked, as Allan Sekula has pointed out. Each of these areas, of course, is the province of a number of different disciplines, which seek to understand (and so constitute) the nature of the research object through related but often distinct practices of looking and of image-making, including mapping, photography, film-making and other forms of image capture and inscription. These practices, in effect, translate material artefacts into ‘evidence’ through processes of selection and interpretation. But how is visual evidence of the absent, the erased, the invisible and the hidden produced? How, conversely, might processes of evidence construction themselves lead to absences, erasures, invisibilities and hidden traces? What is seen and what remains unseen when different kinds of looking and image-making practices are employed? What is erased through different practices of looking? And what does it mean to render visible the invisible? This workshop sets out to investigate these questions in relation to the North East’s industrial heritage and its energy future, foregrounding absences and presences, thematising the erasure of particular pasts, and seeking to think through connections between cityscapes, landscapes and marine-scapes. It will include presentations by academics, artists and professionals from the cultural sector. The workshop is open to all. To register, please email


IMEMS Seminar: Professor Julia Smith, University of Glasgow – Gender and Authenticity in the Medieval Cult of Relics, 17:30-19:00, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

Professor Julia Smith (University of Glasgow) will deliver the seminar assessing the role of women as privileged witnesses to the trustworthiness of relics in the wider context the situational construction of their authenticity. Julia Smith is the Edwards Professor of Medieval History at the University of Glasgow, and is working on a project entitled Christianity in Fragments: Relics in Medieval Perspective. This examines the instrumental use of small material objects in late antique and early medieval Christian practice from a variety of perspectives, and offers a new analysis of the origin and growth of relic cults. She collaborates with archaeologists, heritage scientists and textile specialists to realise the historical potential of surviving early medieval relic deposits.


Annual Lecture in Environments and Visual Culture: Professor Robin Vader – Animating Landscapes: The Concept of Empathy in Early Twentieth-Century Dance Choreography and Garden Design, 18:00-20:00, Hogan Lovells, Palatine Centre

How do bodies respond to built and natural environments? In this talk, Robin Veder resurrects the theories of ‘physiological aesthetics’ that interactively informed landscape architecture and modern dance of the early to mid-twentieth-century United States. In this setting, landscape architects designed and built new spaces to accommodate new body cultures including modern dance. Primary sources suggest that landscape architects and dance educators themselves read physiological aesthetics and subscribed to the notion of kinesthetic empathy—acquired from German experimental physiological psychology—that posits the aesthetic experience occurs when a viewer’s neuromuscular system ‘empathizes’ with the physical form of an image, object, building, or landscape.’ Designed spaces thus stimulate physiological response and so were understood to function as structuring environments for neuromuscular programming. Within this logic of environmental determinism, landscapes discipline and even transform the bodies of people who live in them. And yet, Veder shows that American landscape architecture’s investment in empathy theory’s environmental determinism was modified by the methods of emancipated kinesthetic-awareness practiced by a transatlantic community of modern dancers. The physiological mode of aesthetic apprehension (premised on subjective ‘introspective’ physiological-psychology experiments) could be cultivated and regulated with physical exercises; this enabled empathy with agency. The paper begins at mid-century with the collaborative work of landscape architect Lawrence Halprin and his spouse, the modern dancer Anna Halprin, then looks back to the discourse of kinesthetic empathy that appears in key theoretical and pedagogical texts from American landscape architecture and dance education of the 1910s through 1940s. To register for your free ticket, please click here.


Special Screening: Abram Room’s Bed & Sofa (1927), 18:30, Russian World Centre, A29

On Tuesday, 8 March, to celebrate the International Women’s Day, the Russkiy Mir Centre is organising a special screening of classics of early Soviet cinema, Abram Room’s Bed & Sofa (Tret’ia Meschanskaia / Ménage à trois, 1927). The film will be introduced by Dr Anna Hurina, whose research focuses on the early Soviet cinema and explores issues of gender, everyday life, and urbanism in cinematic narratives. She will talk about the ‘woman question’ of early Soviet times and its cinematographic representations of that period. The event will take place at 6.30pm in the Russkiy Mir Centre (A29, Elvet Riverside 1), the film will be shown with English intertitles. For more information about the event contact


International Women’s Day Concert, 19:30-21:30, Concert Room, Music Department, Palace Green

A free concert celebrating the creativity of female musicians throughout the ages. All the works performed will be conducted/directed by female students from Durham University. After the performance audience members will be invited to drinks and a discussion to reflect upon the great work of women in music and issues of gender equality. Although women are well represented within the musical life of Durham University as performers, the percentage of female conductors, and musical directors is much lower. This is a trend which can be traced equally throughout history and on the wider international level. This concert will present a number of works by female composers, ranging from early Byzantine hymn writers right through to the present day. This concert is FREE. To book tickets please visit:



Wednesday 9th March


Ecology & the Arts Research Group Seminar: Elizabeth Eva Leach, Oxford –  Unmusical and Musical Animals in Richard de Fournival’s Bestiaire d’amour, 13:00, ER143

Contact for more information about this event.


MLAC Alumni Careers Event,14:00-16:00, ER142

Five MLAC alumni return to Durham for our special careers event. They will share their experiences and their success in the job market with current students, talking about what they did after graduation and how the knowledge and the skills learnt during their time here were put to good use, and showing how a degree in Modern Languages and Cultures can open many doors and offer many diverse career opportunities.


Professor Sergey Zenkin, RGGU, Moscow: The Ambivalence of the Sacred and Verbal Culture (Bakhtin & Durkheim), 18:00, Russian World Centre, A29

The Russkiy Mir Centre is delighted to host Prof. Sergey Zenkin from Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU), Moscow, who will give a talk on the ambivalence of the sacred and verbal culture (Bakhtin & Durkheim). The notion of ambivalence, utilized by Mikhail Bakhtin in order to explain the carnival laughter and speech, had an important corresponding term in sociology: the famous ambivalence of the sacred, discovered in Great Britain by Robertson Smith and conceptualized in France by Durkheim and Mauss. Naturally enough, sociologists were scarcely concerned about verbal aspects of the opposition sacred/profane, privileging instead its material and behavioral manifestations. Bakhtin, who might have known some of their ideas, tends to fill that lacuna by providing a metalinguistic theory of ritual (and therefore sacred) word and laughter; he considers them as bearers of an ambiguous energy, destroying and reviving at once, and he builds up his conception of carnival ambivalence on the structural model of ambivalence of the sacred. His theory, grounded upon the notion of “social evaluation” of utterances, elaborated by him and his close colleagues in the 1920s, could not help raising some problems related to the difference of nature between discourse and action. Bakhtin’s theory, mainly stated in his Rabelais, became a point of methodological conflict between philology and philosophy of language, on the one hand, and sociology and anthropology, on the other hand, i.e. between introspective and external approaches to the sacred.


Castle Lecture Series: Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of Durham University – The Search for Order: Hindu-Muslim Violence in Post-Partition India, 19:45-21:30, Great Hall, Durham Castle

In the Twenty-First Century, Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan has cautioned economists and some other social scientists against taking physicists, rather than biologists or historians, as models to emulate. In this talk Prof Corbridge reflects on quantification and model-building in the social sciences and consider its strengths and limitations in the particular case of models of ethnic violence and specifically Hindu-Muslim violence in post-Partition India. He will close by returning to Kagan and reflecting more generally on questions of Difference and the Search for Order in contemporary social science.



Thursday 10th March


In Conversation with Oliver Stone, 17:30-19:30, Sir Arnold Wolfendale Theatre, Calman Learning Centre

This exciting and unique event on 10th March 2016 brings Oliver Stone and Durham academics together to consider how he draws on research to underpin films that have often explored political conflicts, issues of social justice and the challenges of modern democracies. Key to Stone’s work is his vision of past and present historical events and the role of individuals in them. As well as creating portraits of major figures in films such as Nixon, JFK, W., Stone has engaged with one of the most fascinating individuals in Classical Antiquity, Alexander the Great, for more than a decade. The film premiered in the cinemas in 2004, and several versions of it have been released on DVD, culminating with “Alexander the Ultimate Cut” (2014). The sociocultural history of the Hellenistic epoch represents one of the research foci of staff in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham, and the conversation will begin with an exploration of the film Alexander, led by Dr Ivana Petrovic, Dr Andrej Petrovic and Dr Ed Richardson. 
With Dr Gleider Hernández, from Durham’s Law School, the conversation will then consider how Oliver Stone’s films engage – often controversially – with political and social complexities, such as drug trafficking (Midnight Express and Savages); violence as a media spectacle (Natural Born Killers); and the war in Vietnam (Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July). Stone’s recent interest in issues of global security and data protection is explored in his current project, a film about Edward Snowden. What role does academic research play in Stone’s creative process? Come and find out. The event is hosted by the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University’s flagship research institute. Directed by anthropologist, Professor Veronica Strang, the IAS is committed to cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, and to bringing diverse international and disciplinary perspectives to bear on complex issues. Capacity at this event is limited and registration is therefore essential. To request a place, please complete this booking form. Please contact 0191 334 9354 if assistance to book is required.









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