Author - Catherine Ellis, Blog, events, MLAC events, News

MLAC EVENTS BULLETIN: 30th January – 5th February

Monday 30th January

IAS Fellows’ Seminar – Histories of Scale in Anatomical Modelling

13:00-14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Dr Anna Maerker (King’s College, London)
Models have become a central element of modern knowledge production. From electronically enhanced plastic bodies for medical training to computer models of climate change, models play a key role for contemporary teaching, research and policy. However, the concept of the model defies easy definition. Historical scholarship has drawn attention to the cultural, social, and political contexts as crucial to our understanding of practices of model making and model use. Dr Anna Maerker’s current project Model Communities: The Science and Politics of Anatomical Models in the Nineteenth Century aims to contribute to this debate by providing empirical material on the historical emergence of the concept of the model in medicine, science and politics, and on the relationship between concepts and practices of modelling. The project’s focus is on the case study of a nineteenth-century model-making enterprise: the three-dimensional anatomical models developed by the French doctor Auzoux. The models were mass-produced at a factory, using a newly developed paper paste which allowed for the creation of robust, detachable models. The first models were life-sized, but the company soon developed miniaturised and enlarged models of human bodies, body parts, and animals. The models were exported globally to be used in medical training and general education, from medical schools in Egypt and India to lecture series by women’s rights activists and political radicals in the U.S. The concept of the model was mobilised in several ways: not only did the enterprise produce three-dimensional representations of human and animal bodies, Auzoux himself was described in biographical accounts as a model entrepreneur, while his factory was celebrated as a model for social improvement. His workers, and some colonial subjects, were singled out as ‘model students’. In the project Dr Maerker uses the Auzoux models to investigate this diversity of meanings. She wants to draw attention to the ways in which models are embedded in communities, and to argue that we need to understand this context to fully grasp how and why models work.The notion of scale is crucial for this understanding in several ways:

– How did the scale of models shape their reception? How, for instance, did scale raise concerns about the toy-like nature of “anatomical dolls”?

– Did changes in scale create or inform concerns about the validity of models – how did scale shape the perceived epistemological value of such representations?

– How did models visualise temporal development, e.g. in embryological series?

– How did anatomical models turn from being individually created works of art into mass-produced items, and did this scaling up render the representations’ claims to authority problematic?

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.

The Scale of Things Public Lecture Series: Species, Languages and Companies: are they getting worse at what they do?

18:15-19:15, Ken Wade Theatre, Calman Learning Centre, Professor Mark Pagel FRS (University of Reading)

Biological species, human languages and companies or firms all exist in competitive environments where only the fittest survive over the long term. Professor Mark Pagel will discuss how similar and unexpected laws of evolution apply at these three very different scales of organization, and how these laws describe a world in which nothing really ever gets better adapted. In fact, globalisation and internationalization have created an economic climate in which the best performing businesses have shorter life expectancies than they did fifty years ago. He uses these facts to think about the nature of businesses and the role of innovation in future economies.

Mark Pagel is a Fellow of the Royal Society and Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Reading University. He is best known for his work on building statistical models to examine the evolutionary processes imprinted in animal and human behavior, from genomics to the emergence of complex systems, including language and culture where his work has received widespread media attention.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Click here for more information.

Tuesday 31st January

Book Club

17:00-18:00, Palace Green Library

We read books based around Palace Green Library’s exhibitions. To join the Book Club, email us to be added to the Book Club mailing list. Alternatively, information is at our reception desk and we can contact you via telephone or post.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Iranian archives at Durham: A personal reflection on people, places and the public record

17:00-18:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Durham

Durham University is hosting a public lecture by Prof Sue Wright, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, one of three scholars from whom the archive material has been collected. Prof Wright will discuss the significance of the collection and what these reveal about the history, culture and politics of twentieth century Iran. Three significant archives of material related to 20th century Iranian history, will be available to view on the day of the event.

The archives, which include David Brooks’ Work, Life and Legacy, have been donated by Durham University from the collections of three British scholars who worked extensively in Iran during the twentieth century; Anne Lambton (of the region’s well known Lambton family), late Durham University lecturer David Brooks (Department of Anthropology, 1968-1989) and Professor Sue Wright, who will be giving the lecture.

Durham University is now home to three important archives containing materials relating to Iranian History, Culture and Politics. The archives originate in the work of three British scholars who worked extensively in Iran in the last century. The collection combines the work of the late Anne Lambton, the late David Brooks and Sue Wright. In future years the collection will mark Durham out as an important destination for researchers interested to know more about Iran in the 20th century. In this lecture, Professor Sue Wright herself will give a personal reflection on the content and significance of these three collections.

For more information about the event or the Iranian archive material held by Durham University please contact Professor Bob Simpson on 0191 334 0251 or email

Contact for more information about this event.

IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture – Scaling Matters: patterns by design from patterns of the divine

17:30-18:30, Sir James Knott Hall, Trevelyan College, Professor Ranga Narayanan, University of Florida.

Pattern generation in the sciences abound in materials processing, earth sciences, ecology and theoretical biology and even encompass fields well outside of the sciences. For example, scales and associated patterns in space and time are relevant in fields such as economics where competition between time-scales of supply and demand, or between controls and free-markets leads to cyclical patterns in time. Another beautiful example of patterns in space is seen in the “Sky and Water” painting of Escher where smooth morphological transitions emanate from an artist’s ingenuous ability to connect patterns and scale in an almost seamless manner.
Pattern formation in nature and in the physical sciences is intimately connected with nonlinear interaction of competing length scales. Nature’s patterns often occur spontaneously while engineered patterns must be carefully manipulated. Yet there is a way to relate the two. Physicists and engineers do this by an invention called a dimensionless group. In this talk Professor Ranga Narayanan shall introduce such groups to consider several instances where patterns by design emulate nature’s patterns – the patterns of the divine.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Click here for more information.

MLAC Language Café

18:00-20:00, Dunelm House, Elvet Riverside

Happy New Year to all of you! The MLaC Language Café will take place on Tuesday 31 January 2017 from 6.00 to 8.00 in the Students’ Union, (Durham, Elvet Riverside). Everybody is welcome to attend – students as much as people from the wider community  – if you want to practise a foreign language informally. Members for several languages will be present. See the attached poster or

For more information, please contact Christopher Da Silva ( or Laura Wichmann (

For your diary: the next Language Café will take place on Tuesday 28 February (easy to remember, in a month’s time).

We are looking forward to seeing you.

The Language Café team

Behind the Scenes at the Museum with Jo Quinton-Tulloch

18:00-20:00, Kenworthy Hall, St. Mary’s College

The National Media Museum is a relatively young museum – just over 30 years old. Its origin stems from the Science Museum, London, but it has grown over time by incorporating a number of other collections, originally developed by other bodies and individuals, at different times and for different purposes. This has resulted in a collection of some of the best, most significant and historically important visual material to be found anywhere in the world, spanning a range of cultural, scientific and aesthetic disciplines.

The talk will (briefly!) explore the museum’s core collections of Photography, Film and Television, then touch on some of the challenges faced by the Museum sector, using the recent experiences of the National Media Museum as a case study.

Click here for more information. 

The Ascent of Song: the first million years

19:30-21:30, Concert Room, Department of Music, Palace Green

The Clerks (vocal sextet) performs a programme including medieval chants, songs and carols, Renaissance polyphony, madrigals and a new work by Christopher Fox.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday 1st February

Behind the Scenes at the Museum: Masterclass with Jo Quinton-Tulloch

09:30-11:00, Pennington Room, Grey College

CVAC are delighted to welcome Jo Quinton-Tulloch to Durham to give our Annual Behind the Scenes at the Museum Masterclass. She is the Director of the National Media Museum in Bradford.

The National Media Museum is a relatively young museum – just over 30 years old. Its origin stems from the Science Museum, London, but it has grown over time by incorporating a number of other collections, originally developed by other bodies and individuals, at different times and for different purposes. This has resulted in a collection of some of the best, most significant and historically important visual material to be found anywhere in the world, spanning a range of cultural, scientific and aesthetic disciplines.

The masterclass will begin to consider musuems and the value of collaborations.

To book a place, please email

Click here for more information.

Work in Progress Seminar

12:00-13:00, ER152

Rethinking Innovation in the Humanities – 
Caitríona Ní Dhúill & Nick Roberts

Early modern intersections of architecture and natural philosophy – Dario Tessicini & Kimberley Skelton

Temporal and Spatial Scales: Scale in Ecological Systems, Past and Present Seminar Series – Exploring scales and proxies in archaeology and human evolution: From lifeways to landscapes

12:00-14:00, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary’s College, Dr Hannah O’Regan (Nottingham University)

Hannah works on the palaeoecology and palaeobiology of hominins and other large mammals. She has special interest in exploring the importance of mosaic environments in human evolution, as well as dispersal of mammals across the Old World. 
All are welcome. Attendance should be confirmed with

Click here for more information.

Charity Book Sale

13:00-16:00, Wallis Room, St John’s College, Durham

Sale of high quality new and used books on religion and on society and social issues.

Sale in aid of the Durham Palestine Educational Trust which, since 2001, has financed 35 scholarships for outstanding graduates of Palestinian universities to take Masters degrees at Durham. Bargain prices with many books at just 50p.

Contact for more information about this event.

Durham World Heritage Site 2017 Lecture: ‘The Worship of God is Song and Dance’: Processions, Music and Ceremony in Durham Priory and Cathedral

17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, The Reverend Canon Dr David Kennedy, (Durham Cathedral)

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Cafe, Palace Green and optional dinner. The lecture and reception are free and open to all, however, booking is essential.

Please click here to register for this event. If you would like to attend the dinner, please book your place no later than Monday, 23rd January.

The Reverend Canon Dr David Kennedy is Vice-Dean and Precentor of Durham Cathedral and a part-time lecturer in Liturgy in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, and at Cranmer Hall, Durham. He was formerly lecturer in Liturgy and Christian Spirituality at Queen’s College, Birmingham and part-time Lecturer in the Department of Theology, Birmingham University. He served for 10 years on the Liturgical Commission of the Church of England, and as national Chair of Praxis, Enriching Worship Today, and is chair of Durham Diocesan Liturgical Committee. He has written books on the Eucharistic epiclesis and on liturgical time.

Abstract: Durham Cathedral can be described as a series of related liturgical spaces. The lecture will chart how the Cathedral’s spaces have been used liturgically and adorned by music in the days of the Priory, in the Reformation period and beyond, and in the modern era. Recovery of the past has enabled a new models of mission to be developed in the present, with a special emphasis on pilgrimage. The contemporary flowering of creative music and liturgy in Cathedrals has important implications for the appointment of the building, a work which is still in progress.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Thursday 2nd February

French Seminar Series:

Professor Nicholas Harrison (KCL) – “Teaching in a Time of Crisis: Lessons from Colonial Education”.

17:00, ER147

Postcolonial critics and teachers have often been drawn to heroic models of the public intellectual and of political intervention, of a sort advocated by Edward Said, among others. This raises questions about their own work in education, especially if they teach literature, an activity that may look like a luxury in a time of crisis. What is more, the tradition of literary pedagogy may appear contaminated (as it did to Said) by its historical association with colonialism and nationalism.

This paper will reflect on these issues through a discussion of the work of Mouloud Feraoun (and will assume no prior knowledge of his writing). Best known as a novelist, and sometimes dismissed as an ‘assimilated’ figure, Feraoun continued to work as a teacher and educationalist in the French colonial system – as well as continuing to write – throughout the Algerian war of independence. That decision placed his life at risk both from Algerian nationalists and from the colonial Right. In its way, then, his commitment to education was heroic, but it was a paradoxical heroism, at once political and apolitical. It is this story, and this paradox, that the paper will explore, arguing that Feraoun’s work may have something to tell us about our own work as teachers in a time of crisis.

Contact for more information about this event.

IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture – How Does Time Since, and Magnitude of, Change Affect Plant Communities in Fragmented Landscapes?

17:30-18:30, Fisher House, Ustinov College, Professor Sara Cousins, Stockholm University

Long, sometimes several millennia, of low intensive grassland management has created some of the highest patch-scale plant diversity today, e.g. semi-natural grasslands. Thus current patterns of species diversity can be seen as a reflection of past cumulative landscape management that sometimes no longer exists. Today these habitats are threatened by abandonment and habitat fragmentation, i.e. habitat loss and increased isolation of habitats. Although time and succession is central for the development of any ecosystem, how time (i.e. landscape history) as a cumulative process has shaped vegetation patterns in fragmented landscapes have received less attention, compared to the effect of spatial patterns. How species, communities and biodiversity respond with time to changing patterns, habitat loss and fragmentation is one of the most important theoretical and conservation issues in ecology today. By using internationally unique historical datasets together with rigorous landscape history it is now possible to conduct empirical observations and experiments, to test concepts such as community extinction debt for example.
This lecture is free and open to all.

Click here for more information.

Language Encounter

18:00-20:30, Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College

Aidan’s is hosting an evening for native and non-native speakers of RUSSIAN, SPANISH, FRENCH, GERMAN and ITALIAN on Thursday 2nd February 2017, from 6pm – 8.30pm in the Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College. Come along at any time from 6.30pm onwards to converse and make friends. This is an excellent opportunity to practise your language skills in an informal and relaxing setting. In the past we have run joint evenings like this one and also separate evenings for each language; by attending you can help by sharing ideas for future activities and themes.

Finger food and drinks will be served, and everyone is welcome from across the University and our local communities. We look forward to seeing you there. For any further information please contact

 Sunday 5th February

Classical Guitar Recital

14:15-16:00, SCR Concourse, Grey College

David Clappison will give a Classical Guitar Recital. The programme includes ‘Prelude, Fugue & Allegro’ BWV 998 by J.S.Bach; Sor’s ‘Theme and Variations from The Magic Flute’; ‘Danza Espanola no.10’ & ‘La maja de Goya’ by Granados; and ‘El Decameron Negro’ by Brouwer.

All are welcome at this free event – no need to book

Contact for more information about this event.


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