Author - Sarah Budasz, Blog, events, MLAC events, PG events, Reading Groups, Research Groups

MLAC EVENTS BULLETIN: 29th January -4th February

Talks and Events


Monday 29th January

IAS Fellows’ Seminar – Is philosophy necessary for all thinking and speaking?

13:00-14:00, IAS Seminar Room, Palace Green, Professor Vasilis Politis (Trinity College, Dublin)

Plato argues that we humans must attempt to mark-off or define things, and things we cannot directly perceive by the senses, if we want to think and speak at all—or so Professor Politis argues in this seminar.

This means that, for Plato, a certain kind of philosophical activity—what he calls dialectic—is necessary for thinking and speaking in general. This is, it seems to him, a highly interesting claim, and very different from how philosophy is commonly thought of today.

In this seminar, Professor Politis wants to consider what Plato means by this claim, but his interest is not primarily historical or hermeneutic. Professor Politis wants to consider whether there is an understanding of philosophy such that philosophical activity informs all though and speech; and what such activity would look like.

Professor Politis wants to do this both through some general arguments and considerations.

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.


Breathing in Choral Singing

19:30-20:30, North Road Methodist Church, Julian Wright

The fourth event of the Arts of Breath series will be practical lecture-workshop conducted by Julian Wright in the form of an open rehearsal with the Durham Singers to consider the place of breathing in choral singing.

It will illustrate different styles of performance related to different practices of breathing – phrasing dictated by the musical line; phrasing that follows the text. It will also show how a choral group rehearses more musically complex textures, which require different techniques of breathing for more various musical patterns. Illustration will be largely from works by J. S. Bach.

Durham Singers are an amateur chamber choir of about 40 singers, founded in the 1970s in the tradition of other great chamber choirs around the UK. Their core aim is to put on concerts of largely unaccompanied music, in and around Durham City, with a repertoire that ranges from the great polyphonic works of the Renaissance through to exciting contemporary music, and to build an enthusiastic audience through imaginative programming and top-quality singing.

This event is part of the Durham Vocal Festival

Free, no need to book. All welcome.

Contact for more information about this event.


Tuesday 30th January

Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Masculinities, Gender and Sport Seminar

17:30, Seminar Room, IAS, Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green, Alex Channon (Brighton)

Title: “Hit me!” Negotiating gender in sex-integrated martial arts training

Organized under the auspices of the Institute of Advanced Study, the History Department and the Anthropology Department of the University of Durham in preparation for the 2018/19 IAS Research Project Masculinities in Martial Arts: East, West and Global South.

For further information contact or


IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture – The Same With a Difference: adaptation between transformation and persistence of structure

17:30-18:30, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary’s College, Professor Ludmilla Jordanova and other contributors

‘Adaptation’ describes in nature and culture both a process and a product. The concept is extremely helpful in the sciences and the humanities alike. It is a key term – some argue that it is the most important one – in evolutionary bio­logy and it is used in epigenetics, metabolism, biochemistry and neu­ro­bio­logy alike to describe the change of structures which entails a ‘beneficial’ structural change. These adaptations occur, in opposition to adaptations in the cultural sphere, unintentionally. There is no subject that wills this change and designs the new structure which comes out of the adjusting alte­ration. Adaptations in the media, the arts, music or literature are a creative strategy with a wide range of intentions on the side of producer, artist, composer or writer and with as many different ways of perceiving this on the side of the consumer or recipient.

In this lecture Dr Pascal Nicklas will look at the different concepts in the sciences and the humanities of adapting structures and how they can be mutually enlightening. We will see that the precarious balance between conserving old structures and innovative adjustment is one of the central aspects of adaptation which is probably the most important mode of creation and imagination in culture. For the recipient adaptation can also be a source of considerable pleasure because the act of perceiving an adaptation as an adaptation seems to employ modes of memory, pattern recognition and learning which are very elementary in cognitive-affective terms and stimulating the reward system.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Dr Pascal Nicklas

Contact for more information about this event.


MLaC Language Café

18:00, Durham Student Union, Dunelm House, Elvet Riverside, Durham

The MLaC Language Café is back and will take place on Tuesday the 30th January 2018 from 6.00 to 8.00pm in the Students’ Union, Elvet Riverside. Everybody is welcome to attend – students as well as people from the wider community – if you want to practise a foreign language informally. Members for several languages will be present. See poster and

For more information please contact Laura Wichmann (


Musicon: The Clerks

19:30, Concert Room, Music Department

Cathy Bell, Ruth Kiang – alto
Alastair Brookshaw, Roy Rashbrook – tenor
James Arthur, Edward Wickham – basse
Edward Wickham Director – director

Three Heads, One Tale: How the Caput Mass changed music history

The programme includes music by Dunstable, Dufay, Ockeghem, Obrecht and the English Anonymous

The Missa Caput – composed by an unidentified English composer of the mid-15th century – was one of the most influential works of Renaissance music. It set the template for polyphonic composition for several generations, and directly inspired works by Jean Ockeghem and Jacob Obrecht, which were also in their own way ground-breaking. The mass is based on a highly virtuosic and florid English chant for Maunday Thursday, and this programme tells the story of its creation, its influence and the detective work carried out by 20th century scholarship which revealed its origins.

Tickets: £10, Students £4, Under 18s £1


Wednesday 31st January

MLAC Work in Progress Seminar: Language Learning and Linguistics

12:00, ER153, Sally Wagstaffe and Ekaterina Chown

Sally Wagstaffe: Translation, Language Learning and the CEFR

Ekaterina Chown: The Rise of Russian Clinical Linguistics in the Aftermath of World War II: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Contact for more information about this event.


The Shape of Free Speech: Rethinking Liberal Free Speech Theory

16:30-18:00, Seminar Room, Hallgarth House, Prof. Anshuman A. Mondal (University of East Anglia)

How far should ‘free speech’ be permitted? Should people be allowed to express antisemitism or Islamaphobia? This Inventions of the Text seminar will debate these challenging questions.

Noting the apparent inconsistency in attitudes towards free speech with respect to antisemitism and Islamophobia in western liberal democracies, this paper works through the problem of inconsistency within liberal free speech theory, arguing that this symptomatically reveals an aporia that exposes the inability of liberal free speech theory to account for the ways in which free speech actually operates in liberal social orders. Liberal free speech theory conceptualizes liberty as smooth, continuous, homogeneous, indivisible, and extendable without interruption until it reaches the outer limits. This makes it difficult for liberal free speech theory to account for restrictions that lie within those outer limits, and therefore for the ways in which restraints, restrictions and closures are always-already at work within the lived experience of liberty, for it is these – and the inconsistencies they give rise to – that give freedom its particular texture and timbre in any given social and cultural context. The essay concludes with an alternative ‘liquid’ theory of free speech, which accounts for the ‘shaping’ of liberty by social forces, culture and institutional practices

Contact for more information about this event.


“Photography, Race and Invisibility: The Liberation of Paris, in Black and White”

17:00 to 19:00, MLAC Common Room, A56, Elvet Riverside, Dr. Cécile Bishop (NYU)

Although colonial troops formed the majority of Charles de Gaulle’s Free French Army, the photographs of the liberation of Paris in 1944 feature mostly white-looking soldiers. This was no coincidence: France’s allies insisted that Paris should be liberated by white troops only. The absence of blackness is particularly significant because the liberation has been an iconic object of national collective memory since 1945. So far, the response to this erasure has consisted in unearthing alternative images demonstrating the contribution of black soldiers. Despite its obvious rhetorical value, this approach leaves intact the alignment between photographic indexicality and race that presided over the exclusion of blackness. This paper, by contrast, builds on recent reflections concerning photography and the ethics of spectatorship to question the forms of invisibility that are produced not just by leaving things out of the frame, but by race itself. By exploring the formal and aesthetic constructs that sustain the visuality of race, I explore the symbolic work performed by both blackness and whiteness in these photographs. Ultimately, I propose a form of criticism that is both interpretative and performative, in order to reveal not only the role of photographic representations in naturalizing race, but also the way race shapes photographic representations.

Contact for more information about this event.


Thursday 1st February

Inferno with Durham Student Theatre

1st-3rd February, 19:30, The Assembly Rooms Theatre

Wrong Tree Theatre presents Inferno

“Arabella, I would love to show you this world of mine… maybe you’d even have time for a tour?”

Bella is at the top of her game: respected, influential and the top authority in criminal law. But all of that changes when a new client arrives – Lucifer. Reluctantly whisked away to the bowels of Hell, everything that Bella believes in is called into question. Can she save the souls she deems worthy? Or will Lucifer drag her down to join him…

Wrong Tree Theatre’s newest devised production explores the boundaries between our corrupt modern world and the classical ideas of Hell. Loosely based on Dante’s Inferno, the 9 circles of Hell are brought into the 21st century and scrutinised against our modern moral ideals. With a completely original score that blends both classical and electric instruments, Inferno injects comedy and retells a classic tale through physical theatre to create what promises to be a truly thought-provoking experience.

Doors open at 19:00.

Ticket prices: Standard £6, Student £5, DST members £4

Online Booking is open at

Join the Facebook Event for the show at

Check out the devising process on our blog at

**Trigger warning: Inferno contains themes of sexual violence and suicide**

Inferno is proudly supported by Experience Durham


Next Week

Wednesday 7th February

IMEMS Seminar: Professor Tom McLeish and Professor Giles Gasper ‘Tours of the Cosmos from Dante to Dark Matter’

13:00, IAS Seminar room, Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green

Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis; booking is essential.

Dante’s gaze into Beatrice’s eye initiates a grand tour of the medieval cosmos, a structure of overwhelming grandure and consequence. A similar gaze into the new eyes we have constructed for ourselves over the last generation take us today on a similar tour of the vaster-still modern cosmological model. Are there any moral lessons for humanity, other than our insignificance to be learned from this, contemporary, grand tour?

Tom McLeish FRS is currently Professor of Physics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at Durham University (from 2018 Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of York, UK). His research has contributed to the new field of ‘soft matter physics’ – work with chemists, engineers and biologists connects molecular structure with emergent material properties. He has also led large academic-industrial collaborations. He is currently Principal Investigator of the UK ‘Physics of Life’ network, funded by EPSRC and BBSRC. Other academic interests include the framing of science, society and science policy, the history and philosophy of science (the ‘Ordered Universe’ project is re-examining scientific treatises from the 13th century), and theological narratives of science and technology, resulting in the recent book Faith and Wisdom in Science (OUP 2014). He has been a Reader in the Anglican Church since 1993 and is a trustee of the John Templeton Foundation.

Giles Gasper is a specialist in medieval thought and culture, and is Principal Investigator of the Ordered Universe project, dedicated to interdisciplinary readings of medieval science. Educated at the Universities of Oxford and Toronto, Gasper’s work focuses on medieval intellectual history, the social location of ideas, and the longer histories of science and religion.

A new exhibition at Palace Green Library will follow the story of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Reflecting the entire human experience, Dante’s work considers the power of resilience through difficult times and ultimately offers a message of hope.

Contact for more information about this event.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s