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


Monday 12th March

IAS Fellows’ Seminar – Towards an Aesthetics of Adaptation

 13:00 -14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Dr Pascal Nicklas (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz)

In this seminar, we want to look at the theory of adaptation as a cultural and aesthetic practice. Adaptation today is the dominant practice in culture industry but it has also been for centuries the model of emulation in literature and the arts: originality has only in the past 250 years become the hallmark for literary genius. This historical perspective may open our eyes for the observation by Linda Hutcheon that ‘adaptation is not the exception but the norm of human imagination’. If this is so, we may wonder what kind of effect adaptations have on the reader or viewer who realizes that what she reads or sees is something she has read or seen before ­– though with a difference. The pleasure (or sometimes intense displeasure) at seeing an adaptation as an adap­tation might have something to do with our biological set-up and our cognitive-affective apparatus much older than the kind of cultural products we process mentally and emotionally today. So, there are two sets of struc­tures we want to look at: first, the structural consistency which permits re­cognizing an adaptations as an adaptation; second, the structure of our per­ception which shapes the range of reactions we may have to adaptations we have recognised as such.

Places are limited and so any academic colleagues interested in attending a seminar should register online in advance to reserve a place. Places will be confirmed within 48 hours of receipt (subject to availability).

Contact for more information about this event.


Tuesday 13th March

PG Seminar: Yvonne Teo

13:00, Lecture room, Music Department

Towards a Model of Theoretical Hybridisation

Free and all welcome

What method or methods would one use to approach works that are tonally centric yet incorporates a large amount of extended harmonies and non-traditional progressions? And how would one examine the relationship of rhythm to these musical parameters?

This paper proposes the design of a hybrid analytical method, encompassing three theoretical approaches, Schenkerian, Neo-Riemannian and Pitch-Class Set theories, to approach Neo-Classical music. This will be exemplified through a case study of the first movement from Hindemith’s Second Piano Sonata.

My analyses first perform the three approaches separately, before synthesizing the results. To determine which pitch collections will be examined, the music is segmented into its core beat class (e.g. 4/4 into quarter notes). Further segmentation facilitates closer examination of specific passages. My voice-leading analysis overlays three systems (Urlinie, pitch collection and Bassbrechung), combined with broadly neo-Riemannian data, which describes the transformation from one pitch collection to the next. Line graphs chart the voice-leading movement between pitch collections against the Urlinie, capturing the correlation between the melodic and harmonic factors. The rhythmic-phrase analysis is then integrated into the diagrams as a set of tables detailing its different hierarchies.

The results reveal the correlation between middleground layers and phrase design, and between rhythmic features and other musical parameters. In all, the detailed examination of different musical parameters that this hybridised model enables produces a comprehensive structural narrative for each piece. This moreover fills in existing theories’ lacunae by revealing a more detailed explanation of the harmonic content, an enriched middleground chart, and its articulation in other musical parameters. The hybridized model also has the potential to inform analytical approaches to musical perception and performance practice – in shaping a performer’s interpretation and how one would approach specific melodic figures (e.g. phrasing) and the significance of the large increases and decreases in the harmonic movement.


Language Policies in the Finno-Ugric Republics of Post-Soviet Russia: When Language Revival Fails?

16:00-17:30, 8 St Godrics Court Durham DH1 4TY

Seminar talk by Dr Konstantin Zamyatin (University of Helsinki)

As part of the OWRI-funded ‘Language & Identity in Post-Soviet Spaces’ seminar series, Dr Konstantin Zamyatin (University of Helsinki) will give a talk on language policies in the Finno-Ugric Republics of Russia.

Research on language policy in Russia and its ethnic republics titled after the ethnic groups speaking Finno-Ugric languages investigates language ideologies and planning as well as the impact of revivalist efforts on language practices. The designation of de facto minority languages with an official status in order to extend their compulsory use in the public sphere became a policy tool in the Russian Federation. However, official bilingualism of the titular languages on par with the Russian language also became a major constraint that limited the scope of this policy. Today, after more than two decades of policy implementation, it is possible to evaluate its accumulated lasting effects in Russia’s Finno-Ugric regions. Zamyatin has studied language policy as a public policy, assessing its impact on sociolinguistic situations in the regions in order to understand this policy’s scope and limits. This problem also has wider implications in the context of the larger theoretical debate about the scope and limits of language policies in multilingual states more generally.

Contact to register for attendance (required) or know more about the event.


Ecologies and the Arts Research Group Seminar: Dr Lesley Wylie (Leicester), “Nacido de arboles: Alejo Carpentier’s vegetal baroque”

16:00, TBC

Contact for more information about this event.


Wednesday 14th March

Fundamental Structures – International Conference (Day 1)

14-16 March, College of St Hild and St Bede, Professor Nancy van Deusen (Claremont Graduate University); Professor John Hendrix (Roger Williams University)

This three-day international conference will explore conceptualisations of ‘fundamental structures’ across a range of disciplines. A unifying focus will be a thematically interconnected set of presentations dealing with one of the great foundational texts of Western philosophy, Plato’s Timaeus, which presents an account of the formation of the universe as the work of a δημιουργός or ‘master craftsman’ who imposes mathematical order on chaos to create a cosmos (κόσμος). Plato’s poetic narrative proposes an underlying structural congruence between all phenomena in the human and natural realms, unifying such disparate fields as astronomy, music, law, and architecture. It will consequently serve as an excellent point of departure for thinking about the ways in which fundamental ordering and structure-imparting agencies have been envisioned in different domains across the humanities and sciences (including music, history, architecture and the other visual arts, psychology, political science, law, and theoretical physics), and the ways in which these have changed over time and manifest themselves differently in varying cultural contexts.
The conference will serve to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue on the following questions:

  1. the commonalities that might exist between envisionings of deep structures in different fields;
  2. the current philosophical status and continuing relevance of ideas of fundamental structure in different intellectual domains, and of concepts of a fundamentally ordered universe.
  3. the relations between the fabric of physical structures, including potentially Durham Cathedral itself, and philosophical and theological ideas stemming from the classical tradition.

Keynote speakers include Professor Nancy van Deusen ((Claremont Graduate University), an outstanding mediaevalist whose recent research encompasses philosophy, the natural sciences and musicology; and Professor John Hendrix (Roger Williams University), an expert on the cosmological foundations of medieval religious architecture and its dependence on the ancient and medieval philosophical tradition.

The conference will take place Wednesday 14th to Friday 16th March 2018 in the College of St Hild and St Bede. Contact Dr Edmund Thomas ( for further information.


Lunchtime Concert: Full Score

13:15-13:45, Concert Room, Music Department, Palace Green

Join Music Durham for their final lunchtime concert of the term, this week featuring our youngest society – Full Score. Full of toe-tapping barbershop classics and impeccable harmonies, this is the perfect way to round off the term.

The concert is free of charge.

Contact for more information about this event.


Why History Matters – Reflections on the Origins and Significance of the Iranian Revolution of 1979

15:00-16:30, IM102, Al-Qasimi Building

The School of Government and International Affairs and the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies presents:
“Why History Matters – Reflections on the Origins and Significance of the Iranian Revolution of 1979” presented by Dr Michael Axworthy, Director of Centre for Persian and Iranian Studies, University of Exeter

Dr Michael Axworthy has visited Iran many times and served as the Head of Iran Section in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 1998-2000. After he left the FCO in 2000 he turned his interest to early and contemporary Ianian history. He published his first book The Sword of Persia, about the Iranian conqueror Nader Shah in July 2006. He has also written a number of articles and made numerous TV and radio appearances discussing Iranian subjects.

His second book appeared in November 2007 as Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran, now translated into Dutch,Czech, Italian,Spanish, German and Finnish. REVOLUTIONARY IRAN, Michael’s latest book, published in 2013, tells the story of Iran since the revolution of the ayatollahs, including a full account of the terrible Iran-Iraq War, one of the most bloody since the Second World War and a conflict which has had a profound impact on Iranian society.

RSVP by 7th March to Prof Paul Luft (

Contact for more information about this event.


Durham Early Modern Group – IMEMS/Department of History

16:30, Seminar Room 1, History Department, 43 North Bailey, Katarzyna Kosior

Durham Early Modern Group Seminar by Katarzyna Kosior

title Anna Jagiellon: A Woman’s Political Career in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Contact for more information about this event.


Breath in Fiction and Poetry

18:15-19:15, ER142, Michael Symmons Roberts

For our seventh Arts of Breath event, Michael Symmons Roberts will be reading from his novel, Breath, and from his poetry.

In conversation with Prof David Fuller he will discuss how breath-related illness has cast a shadow on in his family background, and how breathing and breath feature in his work both as subject and as affecting poetic form and the performance of poetry.

Michael Symmons Roberts is an award-winning writer. He has published seven collections of poetry and has also written novels, libretti and texts for oratorios and song cycles. His work has been awarded the Forward Prize, the Costa Poetry Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award and been nominated for numerous others. He writes and presents documentaries and dramas for broadcasting, and is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Free. All welcome.

Contact for more information about this event.


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