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China’s self-identity as a modern civilisation

ucyow3c24 February 2014

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Written by Bobby Xinyue (UCL Greek & Latin)

How can the translation of a single word sum up the cultural history of a nation?

In the inaugural lecture of the Centre for Research into Dynamics of Civilisation (CREDOC) Professor Wang Mingming of Peking University argued that the way in which the word “civilisation” was translated into Chinese and understood in Chinese history is typical of the fluidity of civilisations — the bringing in of the outside.

Thomas Cole, 'The Course of Empire – Destruction' (1836)

Thomas Cole, ‘The Course of Empire – Destruction’ (1836)

Wang Mingming’s illuminating lecture was prefaced by a mission statement from one of the co-directors of CREDOC, Professor Maria Wyke (UCL Greek & Latin), who outlined that the objective of the centre is to bring together colleagues around the world to compare and explore the geographical, material, cultural and ethnic structures of civilisations, and to probe the relationships between all these throughout the history of mankind.

Professor Wang’s lecture, entitled ‘To learn from ancestors or to borrow from the foreigners? China’s self-identity as a modern civilisation’, demonstrated precisely how the centre’s objective could be achieved.

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Zoology and Mythology: Looking at Angels, Fairies and Dragons

Ben Stevens H P Stevens23 November 2011

From a very young age, each of us learns about winged creatures such as angels, dragons and fairies. But how many of us stop to ask exactly how these creatures are able to fly in the first place?

This was precisely the question that Professor Roger Wotton (UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment) sought to answer in his witty, playful lecture, Zoology and Mythology: Looking at Angels, Fairies and Dragons, on 16 November.

Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello

Paolo Uccello, Saint George and the Dragon, about 1470 © The National Gallery

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