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2015 UCL Scholarships and Bursaries Reception

GuestBlogger18 March 2015

pencil-iconWritten by Luana-Maria Totea, Information Management for Business BSc student

Maurice Watkins, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Leon Veal, Samantha Leung and Professor Michael Arthur

Maurice Watkins, Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Leon
Veal, Samantha Leung and Professor Michael Arthur

On Monday 9 March, UCL held its fifth annual Scholarships and Bursaries Reception to celebrate the positive impacts of philanthropy. There was a wonderful, vibrant atmosphere as students and guests came together in the North Cloisters for the event, which was a fantastic opportunity for scholars to thank donors for their generosity and support.

Professor Michael Arthur, UCL President & Provost, opened proceedings by welcoming guests and delivered some good news concerning UCL’s developments over the last year. This was followed by several speakers who talked about philanthropy from their personal points of view, emphasising how donors’ generosity has an impact, on a personal, institutional and community level.

The first student speaker, Samantha Leung, a bright and ambitious final-year law student from Canada, shared her experiences of UCL and spoke about the influence bursaries have, both on the individuals themselves as well as the wider community:

“My bursary, kindly and generously provided by the Jirasarunya Family, allows me to take on less paid work during the academic year in order to fund my education. With the extra time I have as a result, I can do more pro bono work: I volunteer in law-related charities and outreach programmes, educating children and youths about the law, as well as giving legal assistance and advice to those in our society who cannot afford legal services.

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Eugenics. What does the word mean? What is its genesis? And more importantly, what is its legacy?

GuestBlogger7 November 2014

pencil-icon Written by Natalie Clue, Human Genetics BSc

Eugenics tree, 1921

Eugenics tree, 1921. Credit: American Philosophical Society.

I write this post after a whirlwind introduction to the discipline of eugenics and its inextricable connection to our university, upon reading an article written by Dr Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman, recently published in Times Higher Education. In a matter of weeks, I came to learn much more about the dark legacy of the celebrated figurehead in which our university takes immense pride: Francis Galton.

He is lauded as a polymath and eminent scientist who worked on biostatistics and human genetics, as well as a traveller and inventor of scientific instruments and a contributor to the subjects of meteorology and criminology. He was also the founding father of eugenics.

I learnt that the word eugenics is derived from the Greek word eu (‘good’ or ‘well’) and the suffix –genēs (‘born’), and that it was coined by Galton in 1883. I learnt that his definition of eugenics was “the study of the agencies under social control that may improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations“.

I also came to discover that a prime motivation for the research which led to many of the ‘achievements’ noted above was the motivation to determine what constituted ‘desirable’ and ‘undesirable’ traits among the peoples of the world, to legitimise the theory of racial supremacy – with the ‘Aryan’ race being the ‘master’ of all and the ‘Negro’ being the least of the ‘lesser’ – and to classify these ‘lesser’ races as non-occidental or ‘other’.

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Lunch Hour Lectures: Bright Sparks – the history and science of fireworks

KilianThayaparan3 November 2014

FireworksWith 5 November just around the corner, this Lunch Hour Lecture on how fireworks have helped to develop a relationship between science and art from Dr Simon Werrett (UCL Science and Technology Studies) made the perfect prelude to the annual lighting up of the UK’s skies.

Dr Werrett began by talking about his interest in fireworks, explaining to the sizeable audience (which he was pleasantly surprised with considering the “freakishly warm weather” for this time of year) that their incorporation of and connection with the seemingly conflicting fields of art and science has always fascinated him.

He then guided the audience through the history of fireworks, starting with their Chinese origins. Dry bamboo with gunpowder inside is recognised as the first type of firework, the ‘big bang’ used to ward off “mountain men of evil spirits”. In the 12th century, this technique and others like it were then used to create firework displays for Chinese emperors.

The Mongol invasion of Asia followed by central Europe brought firecrackers and gunpowder technology to this continent in the 13th century, and by the late 15th century firework displays were relatively common. One key example is the Girandola in Rome – a display that celebrated the election of a new Pope, the apocalyptic nature of the display symbolising death and rebirth.

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Translating the poem: Henri Meschonnic’s poetics of translating

GuestBlogger28 October 2014

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Written by Silvia Kadiu (PhD student, UCL Centre for Multidisciplinary and Intercultural Inquiry)

Dr Marko Pajević

Dr Marko Pajević

Translating poetry is a notoriously difficult, if not entirely impossible, task. Yet, poems are translated into other languages all the time. Why is poetry such a challenging genre to translate? What does this impossibility tell us about the nature of language? And how can one overcome it in practice? Dr Marko Pajević’s exploration of Henri Meschonnic’s philosophy of language and particular way of thinking translation, given as part of the Translation in History lecture series, provided compelling answers to these questions.

His comprehensive and clearly-organised lecture took the audience on an inspiring meander into Meschonnic’s thinking. After introducing Meschonnic and his work, Dr Pajević then discussed the linguistic philosophies of Emile Benveniste and Wilhelm von Humboldt, before explaining how they influenced and shaped Meschonnic’s poetics, politics and ethics of translating. Continuously navigating between theoretical and practical considerations, Dr Pajević’s presentation exemplified the central idea of Meschonnic’s poetics: the inseparability of form and content.

Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) is a relatively unknown figure in the Anglophone world. A French poet, linguist and translator, he is the author of over a dozen texts about translation, only one of which has been translated into English: Ethics and Politics of Translating (2011). Dr Pajević explained the reasons for this lack of recognition, stressing Meschonnic’s controversial positioning and deliberate isolation throughout his career, especially in opposing influential movements such as hermeneutics, structuralism and deconstruction.

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