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MLAC Events Bulletin: 5th – 11th December

Monday 5th December

IAS Fellows’ Seminar – Are Some Scales More Natural Than Others?

Professor Patrick McGivern (University of Wollongong, Australia)

13:00-14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green,

Many discussions of scale involve concerns about the naturalness of different scales. Sometimes this is described as a concern with the objectivity or ‘reality’ of scales, and it is contrasted with the view that scales are purely subjective or in some other way unreal. These kinds of questions can be found across a range of areas, both in the natural sciences and the social sciences. They raise a variety of interesting philosophical questions about the role of scale in science. Here, Dr Patrick McGivern will focus on two of these questions.

The first question concerns the idea of naturalness itself: what exactly is at issue with regard to the naturalness of scale? For instance, what criteria – if any – would distinguish ‘natural’ from ‘unnatural’ scales? Similar distinctions arise in various other contexts in science. It is common, for example, to distinguish between natural and unnatural kinds or types of entities. Elementary particles in physics, elements in chemistry, and species in biology are all examples that are often associated with natural kinds in this sense. Is there some analogous way of distinguishing natural scales?

The second question concerns the significance of the answer we give to the first question. What difference would it make if some scales were more natural than others? For instance, would this change our assessment of different models or explanations – leading us to look for models based on natural scales and reject those associated with unnatural ones? Obviously, the answer depends on the account of naturalness we give in responding to the first question: being ‘natural’ in one sense might be significant in certain contexts but irrelevant in others.

Developing a complete answer to either of these questions would be a major work. My goal in the seminar is to clarify some of the underlying issues in these questions and to explain how we might begin to address them.

Fellows’ seminars take place on Monday lunchtimes in the seminar room at Cosin’s Hall.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Click here for more information.


Tuesday 6th December

‘Inner speech and the voices within’

17:30-19:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library

Hearing the Voice are delighted to invite you to our forthcoming events exploring the cognitive and neural mechanisms that underlie voice hearing and other unusual experiences.

An important scientific theory about why people hear voices explains it in terms of inner speech: the ordinary silent conversation that people have with themselves. According to this theory, individuals hear voices when they produce some inner speech but, for some reason, do not recognise it as their own. In this event, Professor Charles Fernyhough (Project Director, Hearing the Voice) and Dr Peter Moseley (Postdoctoral Research Associate in Psychology, Hearing the Voice) we will consider some problems with the inner speech account of hearing voices, and describe some of the scientific work that is being done in Hearing the Voice to develop and refine the theory. Please reserve your place in advance by following the link below.

Contact for more information about this event.

Peasant Collectivity and Lordly Managerialism in the Emergence of Medieval Open-Field Systems in the Central Province.

17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Dr Susan Oosthuizen, (University of Cambridge)

Open fields have two defining characteristics:
(1) They are fields in which two or more cultivators have rights of property, and
(2) They are fields in which the boundaries between such properties are ‘open’. That is, they are sufficiently insubstantial to allow a person, if s/he wished, to walk from one side of the field to the other across holdings belonging to two or more different people. This paper discusses the introduction of open fields in England within the structure of a lightly-applied metaphor of two partners in a dance of variable pace. Beginning with an overview of the historiography, it moves on to take a property rights approach, beginning by defining common property rights and discussing the principles of their governance. It goes on to suggest a general hypothesis for the origins and development of irregular and, later, regular open-field systems in England: essentially, that the former evolved from prehistoric and Romano-British open-field systems, while the latter gave expression to a dynamic middle Anglo-Saxon collaboration between peasant cultivators of varying status intent on the careful governance of their rights of property in arable fields, and estate owners focused on increased managerialism in agricultural production. That is, it attempts through the case study of agricultural change in early medieval England to examine the interaction between long-standing tradition and individual agency in effecting historical change.

Dr Susan Oosthuizen is Reader in Medieval Archaeology at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. She is a member of the University’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, a Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge, and of the Society of Antiquaries of London.
Originally South African, she received her university education largely in Britain, at the universities of Southampton, London and Cambridge. Her research interests are currently focussed on common property rights in archaeological contexts as exemplified in Anglo-Saxon and medieval landscapes.

Register here for this and other seminars in the Landscapes series taking place during Michaelmas Term (10th October – 16th December 2016).

Click here for more information.

Ecology & the Arts Research Group Seminar: Elizabeth Morrison, Senior Curator, J. Paul Getty Museum, ‘Bestiary Puzzles’

18:00, ER140

Click here for more information.


Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal – One Place, Two Ways of Seeing Its Beauty…or Not!

18:00-19:00, Room PG21, Pemberton Building, Palace Green, Durham

Durham World Heritage Site 30th Anniversary Lecture Series
Michael Ridsdale, the Head of Landscape at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal World Heritage Site, will deliver this lecture.

The story of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal is a great source of inspiration yet highlights many challenges. Michael will chart the journey of the acquisition of the estate from public ownership to the National Trust in July 1983. He will explore the ground-breaking conservation work done at the end of the twentieth century, the controversial construction of the Trust’s Visitor Centre and how that decision and the subsequent plans have encouraged a more holistic way of managing the site.
Michael has just celebrated 40 years of working for the Trust. He originally joined the Trust’s Head Gardeners’ training scheme in August 1976. He quickly got a taste for restoration, especially on sites with watery elements. Working at both Lyme Park & Dunham Massey, his knowledge and appreciation for the practical application of landscape conservation and restoration brought him to the attention of the Trust’s advisory team. They strongly suggested that he should move to Studley in 1984, where he has been working ever since.
The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception at the World Heritage Site Visitor Centre.
The lecture is free of charge. Please contact the organiser at to register your interest.


Human Scale: Time on a Human Scale Public Lecture series – Tales of Space and Time: H.G. Wells and Victorian time travel

18:15-19:15, PG20, Pemberton Lecture Rooms, Palace Green, Professor Simon J James (Durham University)

No body of writing has ever foreseen the future more perceptively than the work of H. G. Wells, and no writer has ever been in more of a hurry to establish the present in the future.

Now remembered as one of the founders of science fiction, in his lifetime Wells was one of the world’s most widely read public intellectuals, and an influential social and political thinker who enthusiastically promoted utopian projects such as world government. Wells’s political beliefs in the inevitability of progress, however, were often in tension with his scientific training, in particular with the degenerative possibilities of Darwinian evolution. Wells’s first full-length work of fiction The Time Machine sees the Time Traveller journeying to the year 802,701 and witnessing the eventual cultural and evolutionary consequences of the nineteenth century’s poor social organisation; this lecture will consider Wells’s relationship to ideals of progress in different versions of The Time Machine and across his fifty-year writing career.

Click here for more information.


Wednesday 7th December

Work In Progress Seminar

National cultures and languages in the storm of the Great War

12:00-13:00, ER152

Literature as Propaganda: Anglo-German cultural battles in the First World War

(Monika Smialkowska and Ann-Marie Einhaus, Department of Humanities, Northumbria University)

One prominent feature of British media discourse during the First World War was a denouncing of German ‘Kultur’ as barbaric, militarist and uncivilised, alongside some attempts to acknowledge the cultural legacy of Goethe and Schiller, Bach and Beethoven. Unsurprisingly, similar denunciations occurred in Austria-Hungary and Germany, where British culture was widely derided as inferior and materialistic. These views, however, encountered some challenges, such as the universal reverence for Shakespeare and other canonical writers and artists across both Britain and the German-speaking world. Our short paper draws on our respective research projects and explores two examples of literature used in the cause of propaganda, whether pro-war or pacifist: appropriations of Shakespeare, and literary texts in translation as cultural mediators in wartime.

War, hunger, and censorship: letters of Italian PoW’s in the Great War

(Carlo Caruso, Durham University, MLAC)

It is estimated that approximately four billion letters were exchanged between soldiers on the North-Eastern Italian front and their families and friends in Italy over the period 1915-1918. Part of this correspondence consisted of letters from Italian PoW’s which had been subjected to Austrian censorship, and a significant portion of this corpus was examined by a wartime Austrian censor who later became a leading scholar: Leo Spitzer (Vienna, 1886-Forte dei Marmi, 1960). Spitzer offered an innovative analysis of the material by stressing the correspondents’ inventive approach to language and expression, irrespective of their social class and condition.


English as a Lingua Franca: A progression in attitudes towards the phenomenon experienced by English teachers in Germany

12:00-13:00, ED134, School of Education

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


The Future of Learning – Professor Sugata Mitra (Newcastle University).

13:00-14:00, ED134, School of Education

In this talk, Sugata Mitra will take us through the origins of schooling as we know it, to the dematerialisation of institutions as we know them.
Seventeen years of experiments with children’s education takes us through a series of startling results – children can self organise their own learning, they can achieve educational objectives on their own, can read by themselves.
Finally, the most startling of them all: Groups of children with access to the Internet can learn anything by themselves. The mechanism of this kind of learning seems similar to the appearance of spontaneous order, or ‘emergent phenomena’ in chaotic systems.
From the slums of India, to the villages of India and Cambodia, to poor schools in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, the USA and Italy, to the schools of Gateshead and the rich international schools of Washington and Hong Kong, Sugata’s experimental results show a strange new future for learning.
Using the 2013 TED Prize, he has built seven ‘Schools in the Cloud’, where Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) and a ‘Granny Cloud’ of mediators over the Internet, interact with unsupervised children. The results of this three-year study are not yet fully analysed but Sugata will present some of the preliminary findings.

We begin to see some glimpses of what schools should be for and what curricular, pedagogic and assessment changes will be required in the future

Contact for more information about this event.


Shakespeare and the King’s Men: Theatre History as Endgame

16:30-18:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Lucy Munro (KCL)

Dr Lucy Munro took her BA in English Language and Literature at Manchester University, moving to King’s College London for her MA and PhD. She worked at the University of Reading and Keele University, where she taught for the English, Film and Media degree programmes, before returning to King’s in September 2013.

She is Secretary of the Marlowe Society of America, Publicity Officer for the Malone Society, and a member of the Architecture Research Group at Shakespeare’s Globe and the steering group of the London Renaissance Seminar.

The thread that runs through Dr Munro’s research is an interest in the dynamic relationship between old and new in literary cultures and their afterlives. As a scholar and teacher of early modern literature, she is often concerned with presenting old texts to new audiences. Moreover, her research has dealt explicitly with questions such as: the place of youth in early modern theatre; the function of outmoded style in early modern literary culture; the revival and reshaping of old plays in performance; and the role of ageing and memory in the theatre.

She has published two books to date. The first, Children of the Queen’s Revels: A Jacobean Theatre Repertory (Cambridge University Press, 2005), focused on the most prominent of the children’s playing companies of early modern London – the ‘little eyases’ of Shakespeare’s Hamlet – examining the company’s history and their involvement in crucial developments in dramatic genre in the early 17th century. The second, Archaic Style in Early Modern Literature, 1590-1674 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), is a study of the ways in which early modern writers use linguistic, poetic or dramatic styles that would have seemed old-fashioned to their first audiences or readers. Looking at the works of canonical figures such as Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser and Jonson alongside those of Robert Southwell, Anna Trapnel, William Cartwright and others, it argues that the attempts of writers to reconstruct outmoded styles within their own works reveal a largely untold story about the workings of literary influence and tradition, the interactions between past and present, and the uncertain contours of English nationhood.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


Thursday 8th December 

Unique opportunity to meet our local MPs

16:15-17:30, Appleby Lecture Theatre – Geography

On 8 December the University is hosting a public Question and Answer session, open to all, with Iain Wright (MP for Hartlepool) and Roberta Blackman Woods (MP for Durham Central). This is a unique opportunity to speak to both to find out more about life as an MP and the work of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Select Committee, which is Chaired by Iain Wright MP and is visiting Durham on the same day.

The Q&A will take place from 4.30pm – 5.30pm in the Appleby Lecture Theatre (Geography), no sign up needed.

Also on the 8 December the BEIS Select Committee is holding a Public Evidence session in the University as part of its inquiry into the Industrial Strategy. The committee will take oral evidence from a range of business and industry leaders from the region. This will take place in the Lindisfarne Centre between 14:00 – 16:15 and is open to the public on a first come first served basis.

Contact for more information about this event. 


Engaging Men in Building Gender Equality – A Public Lecture with Dr Michael Flood

16:30-18:30, Sir Arnold Wolfendale Lecture Theatre (CLC013), Calman Learning Centre

Dr Michael Flood, Co-Director of the Centre for Research on Men and Masculinities at the University of Wollongong in Australia, will be visiting the Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse (CRiVA) in December. He will give a public lecture on his research around engaging men in preventing violence against women, and working with women to create a world of gender justice.

There has been some progress towards gender equality in countries around the world. And increasingly, men are being invited to help build gender equality. There is a growing belief that men have a vital role to play in working with women to create a world of gender justice, in campaigns such as HeForShe and in programs addressing domestic violence, parenting, and health. But is gender equality good for men? What do men gain from more gender-equal relationships, families, and communities? What do men lose? Does feminism need men, and do men need feminism?

Dr Michael Flood is a researcher, educator, trainer, and activist who has made a significant contribution to both scholarship on and community understanding of men’s violence against women. He has published widely on the primary prevention of violence against women, as well as such topics as men and gender inequality, young men’s heterosexual relations, fathering, pornography, anti-feminist men’s groups, and homophobia.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


Agamben Reading Group

17:00, A56

The next meeting of the Agamben reading group will be at 5pm, 8 December in Elvet Riverside A56. The reading is Chapters 7 and 8 of Part 1 of the Use of Bodies and the Intermezzo following.

All staff and postgraduates are welcome at this group, so please circulate this notice as you see fit.


Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh: A Life – Book Presentation with Dr Avril Pyman

17:00-18:00, Russkiy Mir Centre, A29

Andrei Bloom (1914-2003), better known as Anthony Bloom, or Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh, led an extraordinary life. From the difficulties of Russian émigré life that conditioned him as ‘a monk without a monastery’, through the trials and suffering of war and revolution, to his calling as Priest and Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain, he moved between many changing landscapes, striving always to take his bearings in prayer and contemplation. In her new book, Avril Pyman draws on a mosaic of available evidence to offer deeper insight into the life and times of a remarkable spiritual teacher, charismatic speaker and priest whose cosmopolitan background, character and experience of science and medicine made a unique and significant contribution to Orthodox Christian thought and practice throughout the world.

Dr Avril Pyman was awarded her PhD by the University of Cambridge in 1958 and continued as a British Council research scholar in Leningrad. Pyman taught Russian and Russian Literature at the University of Durham and is now retired. She is the author of many articles on and translations of Russian literature and of The Life of Aleksandr Blok (2 volumes, 1979-1980); History of Russian Symbolism (1984) and Pavel Florensky – A Quiet Genius (2010).

The event will take place at 5pm on Thursday, 8 December, 2016 in the Russkiy Mir Centre (A29, Elvet Riverside).

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


The Empathetic Imagination and the Dream of Equality: Shakespeare’s “Poetical Justice” – Professor Kiernan Ryan

18:00, St Chad’s College Chapel

A special Shakespeare anniversary public lecture.

Kiernan Ryan is the author of Shakespeare (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1989; 2nd ed., Prentice Hall, 1995; 3rd ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), Ian McEwan (Writers & Their Work, Northcote House, 1994) and Shakespeare’s Comedies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and he wrote the Introduction to the Penguin Shakespeare edition of King Lear (2005, reissued as a Penguin Classic in 2015). He is also the editor of King Lear: Contemporary Critical Essays (Macmillan, 1993), New Historicism and Cultural Materialism: A Reader (Edward Arnold, 1996), Shakespeare: The Last Plays (Longman, 1999) and Shakespeare: Texts and Contexts (Macmillan, 2000). His latest book is Shakespeare’s Universality: Here’s Fine Revolution, published in the Arden Shakespeare series by Bloomsbury (2015). His next book is Shakespearean Tragedy, scheduled to be published by Bloomsbury in Spring 2018.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


Ustinov College Race, Crime and Justice presents: Xenophobic Britain? An exploration of Brexit and implications for harmonious citizenship

18:30-19:00, Ustinov College, Fisher House

The UK’s decision to leave the EU was the result of a democratic voting process. But for many British people, there seemed to be more at stake than issues of trade and sovereignty.

“There has been considerable intolerant political discourse focusing on immigration and an increase in xenophobic sentiment… the Brexit referendum seems to have led to a further rise in ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment, fuelled by politicians and the media.” (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, 2016).
Join RCJ and Dr Christian Schweiger, Senior Lecturer in Government and International Affairs, to discuss how migration was used as a political tool during Brexit, and its implications for multi-cultural Britain.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.


Conserving Sahrawi Culture: Language, Arts, and Identity amidst Political Uncertainty in the Western Sahara – Tara F. Deubel, PhD, Dept. of Anthropology, University of South Florida

18:00, ER231

In the context of the protracted conflict over the Western Sahara following Spain’s decolonisation of the territory in 1975, Sahrawis have witnessed numerous political and social ruptures in recent decades. What processes have affected the cultural identity of Sahrawis affected by the politics of Moroccan integration in Western Sahara and the vulnerability of refugee status in Algeria under the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) government-in-exile? How do populations in persistent states of occupation, exile, and political instability accomplish the work of cultural conservation? Based on ethnographic research with Sahrawi communities on both sides of the divide, this talk focuses on several aspects of contemporary conservation efforts, including the maintenance of Hassaniya language, preference for traditional dress styles, and the performance of Sahrawi music and oral poetry in Hassaniya and Spanish. I argue that cultural conservation efforts serve as a central strategy in promoting larger Sahrawi political projects of resistance and autonomy.

Contact for more information.

Click here for more information.


Friday 9th December

Temporal and Spatial Scales: Scale in Ancient Astrology, Workshop

Friday 9th – Saturday 10th 4:30-19:00, Revised Venue – Seminar Room, IAS, Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green

International workshop sponsored by the British Academy and the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham. Held under the auspices of the Durham Centre for the Study of the Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East.

Ancient astrology confronts both ancient and modern interpreters with an acute problem of scale. Given the vast spatial and temporal gulfs between celestial and terrestrial phenomena, how can the former be mapped onto the latter? How could the movement of Jupiter be linked to the price of commodities in Babylon? How could the configurations of the planets be related to the outcome of a single battle? The emergence of personal astrology towards the end of the first millennium BC makes the problem even more acute – how did ancient scholars move from the cosmic scale of planetary motion to the tiny scale of a single human lifespan?

This interdisciplinary workshop compares the ways in which Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek astrology dealt with this problem of scale. All three cultures had in common the cosmic scale of celestial movements which can ultimately be understood and predicted by mathematical means, and their astrological conceptions and techniques are linked by various patterns of contact and influence. Yet the ways in which they each ‘scaled down’ to human affairs were different. Even where concepts and techniques were borrowed cross-culturally, the relationship between events in heaven and earth was reconfigured, sometimes subtly, sometimes in far-reaching ways.

The workshop brings together world experts in the different cultures, and takes as its starting point the simple question: how were celestial and terrestrial events connected? By approaching this question across different branches of astrological scholarship, the workshop will explore the points of intersection and divergence between Babylonian, Egyptian and Greek astrology, as well as changes within each tradition over time. Which conceptual frameworks were shared, and where were the areas of dissonance? How do these map onto patterns of cross-cultural borrowing? How were traditional frameworks reinterpreted in the light of new data? We will compare not only the conceptual leaps each culture made between celestial and terrestrial scales, but also the mathematical techniques and models they used to do so, in order to achieve a holistic perspective on how three ancient cultures dealt with one of the most timeless problems of scale.

Click here for the programme and more information.


Saturday 10th December

Temporal and Spatial Scales: Scale in Ancient Astrology, Workshop

10:00-16:30, Revised Venue – Seminar Room, IAS, Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green

See above for more information.


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