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    Myth and the birth of drama

    By Ben Stevens, on 21 May 2013

    These days, when people think of classical drama they think of Greek tragedy. Professor Gesine Manuwald (UCL Greek & Latin) sought to redress this notion with her enticingly-titled lecture, ‘Drama & theatre in ancient Rome: braggart soldiers, parasites & murderers’ on 15 May, which formed part of the UCL Festival of the Arts.

    She began by outlining how Roman drama grew out of the regular festivals and ceremonies held in Republican Rome to honour various gods.Greek theatrical mask

    In 364 BC, the magistrates of Rome decided to introduce performances and Etruscan dancing to appease the gods after an outbreak of pestilence. However, it wasn’t until 240 BC that they commissioned Livius Andronicus (Rome’s first poet) to write a play – the first of its kind – one year after the Punic War to celebrate the victory.


    To Hell and back over lunch: an introduction to Dante

    By Lara Carim, on 16 May 2013

    The Vision of Hell viii, iII. Gustave Doré
    (UCL Library Special Collections)

    Severed heads, rivers of blood and pools of faeces might not seem the most appealing topics over lunchtime, but there was standing room only at Professor John Took’s talk at the UCL Festival of the Arts on 14 May about Dante’s Divine Comedy – one of the most horrifying, yet uplifting, poems ever written in western literature.

    In the words of Professor Took (UCL Italian), Dante’s Commedia (Comedy) – which charts one lost soul’s metaphorical journey to Hell, Purgatory, Heaven and back in several thousand lines of rhyming poetry – is “a work of tremendous stature, which lays hold of you by the throat and won’t let you go”.

    A note for the pedants: the Divina (Divine) prefix, by which the poem is better known, was added by the Church during the Counter-Reformation in an attempt to co-opt the work – which already tells you something about the poet’s representation of the Papacy.


    Mirror mirror, on the wall…

    By news editor, on 15 May 2013

    Brain for Georgie blog post

    The two hemispheres of the brain and their
    various functions

    pencil-iconWritten by Georgie Chesman, Graduate Trainee in UCL Communications and Marketing.

    A workshop encouraging doodling and making a mess? And it’s linked to self-identity? Over 90 minutes, Belinda Stojanovic, a psychologist from UCL Department of Hebrew & Jewish Studies, encouraged participants to engage with art as a way of exploring their self-identity.

    The workshop started with an introduction about the workings of the brain. Two hemispheres of the brain, the left and right, are associated with different cognitive processes, but are mutually dependent and connected via a ‘highway’ of neural pathways.


    Smoking at the Odeon: Memories of British Cinema-Going of the 1960s

    By Clare S Ryan, on 14 May 2013

    Cinema screen, by m4tik on Flickr

    Cinema screen, by m4tik on Flickr

    What are your most vivid memories of going to the cinema? Perhaps childhood visits to see cartoons, or seeing a film on a date? A new UCL project is asking people about their experiences of cinema-going in the 1960s, and, in doing so, raising interesting questions about what we remember about seeing films, and why.

    As part of UCL’s Festival of the Arts, Matt Jones (UCL History) gave a talk about how he is researching people’s response to 1960s cinema.

    The project is interested in how people remember films, what part cinema played in their lives and whether films have shaped their memory of the time.

    Going to the cinema seems to evoke strong memories in all of us. Even though I wasn’t around in the 1960s, my own memories – like most people’s – of going to see films are mixed up with memories of who I went with, how old I was and where I saw the film.