Author - Sarah Budasz, Blog, events, MLAC events, PG events

MLAC EVENTS BULLETIN: 30th October – 5th November

Monday 30th October
IAS Fellow’s Seminar – Ptolemy’s Disciples and the Nomos of the Earth: The Structure of Geopolitical Space in German Thought (1890-1950)

13:00 to 14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Dr Jörg Kreienbrock (Northwestern University)

This paper traces the infamous notion of Germany being a people without space (Volk ohne Raum) as the most radical version of an ideology, which roots politics in geopolitical notions of Lebensraum. These forms of planetary thinking (Heidegger) are based on the idea of the world being structured by a concrete living environment, not an abstract political or mathematical ideal. They are most explicitly expressed in Gottfried Benn’s novella Ptolemy’s Disciples and Carl Schmitt’s study The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of Jus Publicum Europaeum. Benn, Schmitt and others insist that the configuration of organic life-space resists its integration into a geometrical model, calling for political strategies that are simultaneously geo-and biopolitical.

Places are limited at these lunchtime seminars and so any academic colleagues interested in attending, should contact the Institute in advance to reserve a place.

Contact for more information about this event.

Public Talk: ‘Urban Commons and Public Space in Cities’

18:00-19:30, Prior’s Hall, The College, Durham Cathedra, Duncan Mackaz and Prof Christian Liddy, chair: Richard Moss

The 1217 Charter of the Forest was the charter that gave Magna Carta its name. This series of public talks explores the historical meaning and relevance of the charter today.
Duncan Mackay, principal advisor on green space at Natural England, and Professor Christian Liddy, Department of History, Durham University will deliver this talk, whic will be chaired by Richard Moss, Political Editor, BBC News North East & Cumbria.

All events are FREE. Talks will begin at 18:30, with tea and coffee served from 18:00.
Free tickets can be reserved via the Eventbrite website (search #charteroftheforest).
No guaranteed entry without an Eventbrite reservation.

Contact for more information about this event.

Tuesday 31st October
Structure Workshop: Thinking ecologically about policy and structure

13:00-17:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Studies

Organised by Nancy Cartwright, Durham and Hakan Seckinelgin, LSE and funded by K4U (ERC project) and Durham’s IAS

Workshop One: Learning how to affect change in stable structures

This workshop will look at the philosophical foundations of ecological structure as an explanatory mechanism and aims to explore 1) methods for studying the causal pathways that different social structures afford and 2) how far one can intervene in social settings without altering their basic structures.

Florian Fischer (Universität Bonn)
Title tbc

Peter Simons (Trinity College Dublin) : Variant Configurations
A configuration is an arrangement of parts or elements of a whole or system, where the structural relations may be spatial or functional or both. Variant configurations exist when the elements of a common structure can be configured in more than one way, whether temporarily or permanently. Such variants are important in engineering and manufacturing as they permit efficient flexibility of production and operation. We will explore the conceptual geography of variant configurations and consider how the notions may carry over to social wholes.

Jacob Stegenga (University of Cambridge)
Title tbc

All welcome and refreshments provided – please contact the Centre Administrator to register attendance at

Contact for more information about this event.

 The Naked City: New York Modernism 1845 / 1919 / 1947 with Professor Peter Hulme

18:00, ER 201, Elvet Riverside

Talk co-sponsored by MLAC, CVAC and English Studies at Durham University

Peter Hulme, a profoundly influential figure in both English and Hispanic Caribbean studies, is Emeritus Professor in Literature at the University of Essex. He has contributed extensively to the fields of Renaissance and anthropological studies, comparative colonial and postcolonial studies, travel writing and literary theory.

Hulme is the author of two groundbreaking books: Colonial Encounters: Europe and the Native Caribbean, 1492-1797 (Routledge, 1986 and 1992), and Remnants of Conquest: The Island Caribs and their Visitors, 1877-1998 (Oxford UP, 2001). More recently, he has authored Cuba’s Wild East: A Literary Geography of Oriente (Liverpool UP, 2011), and edited W. Adolphe Robert’s These Many Years: An Autobiography (University of the West Indies Press, 2015). He is currently working on a project titled: ‘The Dinner at Gonfarone’s: Pan-American Writing in New York, 1915-1919’, which looks at the relationships between Hispanic and Anglo writers in New York in the early twentieth century.

With Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham Department of History and Director of CVAC), Hulme coedited The Enlightenment and Its Shadows (Routledge, 1990). He has also coedited The Tempest: Sources and Contexts, Criticism, Rewritings and Appropriations (W.W. Norton, 2004), The Cambridge Companion to Travel Writing(Cambridge UP, 2002), The Tempest and Its Travels (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000), Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges (Bristol Classical, 1999), Cannibalism and the Colonial World (Cambridge UP, 1998), Colonial Discourse / Postcolonial Theory (Manchester UP, 1994 and 2004), Wild Majesty: Encounters with Caribs from Columbus to the Present Day: An Anthology (Clarendon, 1992), and Uses of History: Marxism, Postmodernism, and the Renaissance(Manchester UP, 1991).

Contact for more information about this event.

Tercentenary Lectures: Horace Walpole and His Legacies’ – Creativity and Collaboration: The Case of The Mysterious Mother

18:15, ER 141, Elvet Riverside

With its themes of incest and horror, Horace Walpole’s gothic drama was certainly compelling. Explore more in this free public lecture from our Walpole and His Legacies series. Join the conversation via #WalpoleLegacies.

Incestuous sexuality, clerical corruption, and horrors piling implacably upon horrors: Horace Walpole’s Gothic tragedy, The Mysterious Mother (1768), is one of the most extraordinary closet dramas of the eighteenth century. Though unperformed—and perhaps even ‘unperformable’—in its own day, the play was nonetheless highly influential upon Gothic writing, both dramatic and fictional, towards the end of the century, its outrageous subject matter only rivaled by such later Romantic works as John Polidori’s Ernestus Berchtold (1819) and P. B. Shelley’s The Cenci (1819). The circumstances surrounding the conceptualization, writing, and eventual publication of The Mysterious Mother are as intriguing as the play itself, and have much to tell us about Horace Walpole’s approach to such crucial matters as collaboration, gender, sexuality, ‘genius’, and the process of literary creation. Drawing upon a range of visual, archival, and lesser-known published resources, this lecture offers a fresh consideration of Walpole’s understudied drama, reassessing not only its place within the writer’s oeuvre, but its relation to the history of Gothic and Romantic literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries more generally.

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Wednesday 1st November
Lunchtime Concert Series

13:15-13:45, Music Department Concert Room, Durham

Ellie is a flautist and piccolo player with the Durham University Orchestral Society and the founder of the Divinity Wind Quintet. Ellie will be performing a concert of solo flute works. Vocalists Ashleigh Charlton (president of Durham Opera Ensemble) and Hannah Cox (vice president of Music Durham) will also be performing. The concert is free of charge.

Contact for more information about this event.

‘St Cuthbert’s Society’s Annual Fellows’ Lecture: Light and Colour in Life and Art 

18:00-19:30, ER201, Professor Petra Sijpesteijn (University of Leiden)

Professor Anya Hurlbert from the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, will deliver this public lecture. Light shapes human behaviour, giving rise to conscious perception and unconscious biological rhythms. We both see and feel variations in light, constructing colours in our minds from the light reflected by objects, and adapting our moods to changes in the environmental illumination. Why are strawberries red even when they reflect blue light? What does it mean to see red? Does blue light make us more alert? Why do different people see colours differently? Was Monet unusually “colour-inconstant”?

In this lecture, Anya Hurlbert will explore the effects of light and colour on seeing and feeling, in the natural world and in art, and explore the challenges and opportunities afforded by new lighting technologies, for human perception and performance.

Contact for more information about this event.
Friends of the Oriental Museum public lecture series: The Teabowl: East & West

19:30- 21:15, Room EH009, Elvet Hill House, Durham, DH1 3TH, Dr Bonnie Kemske

Noted for its sophistication, simplicity, and the reverence in which it is held around the world, the teabowl has become an iconic form in contemporary ceramics. The speaker, Bonnie Kemske, has recently written a book on this subject, wide in scope and thorough in detail, with lavish illustrations of the work of many contemporary teabowl makers. Her lecture will explore the question, ‘What is it about the teabowl that so appeals to potters and collectors?’ within the context of its history through to its current status and use.

This lecture is open to all. Lectures are free to Friends. For visitors the cost is £3 (£1 concession).

Dr Bonnie Kemske is a ceramic artist, writer, and curator. She was Editor of Ceramic Review 2010 to 2013. She regularly writes features and reviews for international publication as well as contributing papers to the academic press.

Contact for more information about this event.


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