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Talks and Events

Tuesday 7th March

Centre for Humanities Innovation – History of Humanities Series

Dr Julian Hamann (Universität Bonn) ‘The Formation of the German Humanities as a Thing of Boundaries’

16:00, ER153

How did the German humanities come about as a meaningful distinction in the academic world in the late 19th century? Julian Hamann reconstructs boundary-work strategies scattered in the programmatic manifestos, lectures, and introductions found in neo-Kantianism, historicism, Dilthey’s work, and not least in the Naturwissenschaften, showing how these brought about the ‘Geisteswissenschaften’ as a stable and robust social entity – a thing of boundaries. The analysis foregrounds the importance of symbolic boundaries as discursive effects that constitute new entities cumulatively from local negotiations.

Contact for more information about this event.



Documentary Screening and Roundtable Discussion

16.00-18.00 (screening will begin at 16.30), Lindisfarne Centre, St Aidan’s College

Join us to discuss the documentary “Yagé is Our Life”, about the indigenous people of Putumayo, Colombia, their relationship with yagé and their perceptions of the commercialisation of their traditional medicine. The film will be presented by the invited guest Neil White, a member of Ancestral Seeds which produced the documentary. There will be a round-table discussion of the film from experts in indigeneity and visual culture from the School of Modern Languages and the Department of Anthropology at Durham University, as well as an expert in the therapeutic applications of ayahuasca (yagé) from California State University. There will be a short reception with light refreshments and drinks before the screening and an opportunity for discussion after the screening. All are welcome and there is no need to register.

For more information about this event, please contact

The event is organised as part of the AHRC-funded Open World Research Initiative (OWRI) programme.

How Natural is Natural? Understanding the Ecology of the Medieval and Early Modern Landscape

17:30, Learning Centre, Palace Green Library, Professor Tom Williamson, (University of East Anglia)

This event is free to attend and open to all and will be followed by a drinks reception in the Courtyard Café, Palace Green Library.

Abstract: Most people, since at least the eighteenth century, have regarded the countryside as in some sense ‘natural’. But the medieval and early modern rural landscape was almost entirely an artefact, created by intensive and sophisticated management for food and fuel, and it was already extensively populated by introduced ‘alien’ species. This paper will explore the character of pre-industrial habitats and land use, and the implications that historical research may have for the ways we conserve ‘traditional’ landscapes today.

Professor Tom Williamson is Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia and has written widely on landscape archaeology, agricultural history, the history of landscape design and historical ecology. His recent books include An Environmental History of Wildlife in England, 1550-1950 (2013); and Rethinking Ancient Woodland (2015, with Gerry Barnes).

Register here for this and other seminars in the Landscapes series taking place during Epiphany Term (16th January – 17th March 2017)

Click here for more information.

Extractive Seeing: On the Visual Culture of Oil

18:00-20:00, Room 405, Business School

Centre for Visual Arts and Culture (CVAC) Annual Lecture on Environments and Visual Culture. Professor Janet Stewart, Head of School in Modern Languages and Cultures will deliver this public lecture.

This paper is part of a larger research project, Curating Europe’s Oil, which sets out to investigate the role that archives (of different kinds) and museums have in constructing and potentially deconstructing existing narratives about fossil fuels that make possible particular behaviours and responses, while closing down or erasing others. It considers the role that oil plays in twenty-first century cultural memory in Europe, investigating how Europe’s oil history is being archived, narrated and displayed in key cultural institutions, showing how an understanding of the processes through which the experience of ‘living with oil’ in Europe has been catalogued, controlled and challenged are invaluable in imagining new narratives of possible energy futures. This paper explores one aspect of the larger project, arguing that a particular way of seeing, linked to the 20th century’s dependence on fossil fuels, in general, and oil, in particular, comes to dominate in the construction of the visual record of Europe’s oil dependencies, and in the way in which that visual record is interpreted. The paper introduces the concept of ‘extractive seeing’, and employs it to frame an investigation of the visual culture of oil in Austria, a country not often immediately associated with Europe’s oil history.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday 8th March

International Women’s Day Conference: Unsettling the Myths We Live By: Human Nature, Culture and Freedom

09:00, St Aidan’s College

Keynote: Sally Haslanger

Supported by:

  • Centre for Sex, Gender and Sexualities
  • Department of Philosophy
  • Department of English Studies
  • St Aidan’s College

Registration and further information here.

Contact for more information about this event.

Networks Reading Group

12:00, A56

This group looks at work in new ontologies, new materialisms, systems theory, and intellectual and literary networks. It has looked at work by Bruno Latour, Caroline Levine, Franco Moretti, Niklas Luhmann, Benjamin Bratton, Jussi Parikka and Mario Blaser. The reading for 8 March consists of two brief pieces by Jason Moore, concerning capitalism, world-ecology and crisis. All colleagues and postgraduates are welcome; please contact Luke Sunderland for a copy of the reading.


The ultimate result of all ambition’: striving to construct a happy home in eighteenth century England, Early Modern Group Seminar: Barbara Crosbie (Durham)

16:30-18:00, Seminar Room 1, History Department

Click here for more information.

Ireland’s Spiritual Empire

17:30, Ushaw College

Dr Colin Barr (University of Aberdeen) will give this lecture as part of the Ushaw Lecture Series. The Ushaw Lecture Series explores different aspects of Ushaw College’s history and that of the Catholic community more generally, with expert contributors drawn from within and outside the University. Lectures take place three times per term.
The lecture will start at 6pm in the Exhibition Hall and will be preceded by a drinks reception at 5.30pm in the Refectory, and a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Centre for Catholic Studies at 4.40pm in St Cuthbert’s Chapel (optional). All are welcome.
To register, please email, stating which parts of the evening you would like to attend.
Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Historicist Interdisciplinarity in Literature and Science

17:30-19:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Dr Michael Whitworth (Oxford)

An Inventions of the Text seminar.

Unlike evo-criticism and other critical approaches that draw their authority from science, the historicist study of the inter-relations of literature and science is not methodologically interdisciplinary with respect to the sciences. However, it draws on other disciplines, notably the history and philosophy of science; in recent years, a turn towards the history of the book has also been apparent. Moreover, in many cases the authors it studies can be said to have been interdisciplinary. In this paper, drawing on my own work in relation to modernism and early twentieth-century science, I will consider interdisciplinarity avant la lettre, and the relation of critical practice to other historical disciplines.

Contact for more information about this event.

Ustinov College Seminar presents: The Death of Multiculturalism?

18:00-20:00, Ustinov College, Fisher House

Has multiculturalism failed in Europe and the West? Sentiments expressed during Brexit debates and the American election seem to show a growing discontent with multiculturalism, yet many still hail it as an ideal to strive towards. This workshop will be chance to question multiculturalism, its benefits and downfalls and debate its relationship with global citizenship.
Our speaker for this event is Dr Matthew Nicholson, Durham Law School.

Contact for more information about this event.

Rethinking Japanese ‘National Isolation’ in the Tokugawa Period – Friends of the Oriental Museum Public Lecture

19:30-21:30, Lecture Room 009, Elvet Hill House
Dr Rebekah Clements of Durham University, will deliver this lecture, exploring Japanese contact with the outside world during the centuries of the Tokugawa period.

According to conventional wisdom, in the 1630s the Tokugawa shogunate severed links with the outside world due to fears of Christian incursions and a Confucian contempt for trade. In the two centuries that followed – so the story goes – Japan remained isolated and in doing so missed vital stimuli from the West that might have allowed it to develop at a pace equal to that of Western nations.

Although this narrative of isolation remains a powerful idea in some contemporary accounts of the Tokugawa Period (1600-1868), historians have increasingly questioned its accuracy, pointing out that Japanese authorities merely sought to control trade not to prevent it entirely.

In this talk, which is based on research carried out for her monograph, A Cultural History of Translation in Early Modern Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Rebekah will explore Japanese contact with the outside world during the centuries of the Tokugawa period. Contrary to the image of Tokugawa Japan as isolated, the period was in fact characterized by increasing interest in the outside world – and appetite that was supported by Dutch, Chinese, and Korean traders who brought foreign goods, novelties, and books for Japanese consumers. It was this early interest in foreign matters, and translation in particular, that in fact formed the basis for Japan’s seemingly miraculous leap into modernity in the 19th century after the Meiji Revolution of 1868.

This lecture is held in lecture room EH009, adjacent to the Oriental Museum). Open to all (there is a small charge for visitors).

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.

Thursday 9th March

Durham Italian Seminar

Dr Irene Iocca – ‘Autore ed Editore: i compromessi del testo critico’ (in Italian)

12:00, ER278

Dr Irene Iocca is currently Postdoc Visiting Scholar from the Università di Roma “La Sapienza”  in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (Italian Studies). She is the editor of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Caccia di Diana, Rome: Salerno, December 2016)

Cosmic Architecture – A Free Public Symposium

15:00-18:00, Appleby Lecture Theatre, Geography (West Building), Lower Mountjoy

This symposium forms part of the celebrations of the opening of the new building for the Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics designed by Daniel Libeskind. Five speakers (Professor Carlos Frenk, Daniel Libeskind, Professor Hiranya Peiris, Professor Mark Hannam and Lord Martin Rees) will explore a diversity of topics, from the major research themes pursued at the new building, through the relation between architectural time and space, the international nature of science and the recent discovery of colliding black holes, to the prospects for achieving a deep understanding of the nature of our Universe.

This symposium forms part of a series of events offered free to the public to celebrate the opening of the new Ogden Centre for Fundamental Physics.

Please note that although free to attend, you will require a ticket. Please book your free ticket online. For further information please call +44 (0)191 334 9354.


International Women’s Day: Women, Power and Visual Culture

17:30, Barker Research Library, Palace Green, Durham University

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Professor Ludmilla Jordanova, Centre for Visual Arts and Culture invites you to short presentations on images that help us reflect on women and power.

Students on the Leverhulme doctoral programme in Visual Culture will choose items of visual culture to provoke discussion.

All Welcome

Contact for more information about this event.

Friday 10th March

Editing behind the Scenes: a multidisciplinary approach

10:00-17:30, Senate Suite, University College, Professor Carlo Caruso

The Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at Durham University will host a one-day workshop on the topic of Editing in Literature, Theatre, Digital Humanities, Music and Cinema. The concept of editing will be considered in its broadest sense by examining the variety of its use amongst different disciplines as well as in different cultural and historical contexts. The event will focus on methodologies and approaches adopted in selecting, revising and arranging written, audio and visual materials. Six scholars from diverse fields will present and discuss their work as practising editors: Carlo Caruso (MLAC, Italian Studies – Durham), Jan Clarke (MLAC, French Studies – Durham), Tina Gharavi (Digital Media/Film – Newcastle), Peter Heslin (Classics – Durham), Michael O’Neill (English Studies – Durham), Magnus Williamson (Music – Newcastle). The workshop will be followed by a roundtable discussion.


Organised by Giulia Crespi, Barbara Tanzi-Imbri and Valentina Vignieri.

Contact for more information about this event.

Click here for more information.



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