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Find the mind’s construction in the face: an exhibition of life and death masks

zclef7811 June 2014

noel

I have to admit that this was my first visit to the UCL Art Museum. After walking past it twice, I finally stumbled across the entrance to this carnivalesque little treasure trove and almost immediately part of me wished I hadn’t.

Surrounded by rows of the plaster life and death masks of poets and murderers, professors and highwaymen, child prodigies and medics, it wasn’t very clear where in this bizarre spectacle you might want to begin.

Thankfully, it was at this point that Dr Carole Reeves (UCL Science & Technology Studies) swooped in to put what felt like a macabre examination of someone’s final moments into its historical context.

The masks were collected in mid 19th-century Dresden by amateur phrenologist Robert Nole to illustrate ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of people.

Donated to UCL as part of the Galton Collection in 1911, they exemplify the trend in 19th century aristocratic circles for pseudo-scientific hobbies. Nole’s particular predilection was phrenology: the study of head morphology and the belief that it is intrinsically linked to a person’s character.

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You Must Read This Book!

Siobhan Pipa6 June 2014

Everybody has a favourite book, something that you return to time and time again. It might be a dog-eared copy of Lord of the Rings, a well-thumbed version of Pride and Prejudice or my personal favourite, To Kill a Mockingbird.

must_read_book_istockThese are all pretty popular ‘favourite’ books – making regular appearances on must read lists but what about lesser known novels:  the best book you’ve never heard of?

This was the question posed on Wednesday night in the UCL Festival of the Arts event ‘You Must Read This Book!’.

Chaired by UCL President & Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, seven UCL academics were given five minutes each to pitch the book they believed we should read.

Here’s a quick summary of their choices and why they think their book should have won:

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Conan Doyle’s ‘caveman in a lounge suit’

Ben Stevens H P Stevens19 December 2013

With Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation set to return to our screens in a New Year’s Day episode of Sherlock, it was refreshing to attend a symposium on 9 December dedicated to his much less well-known character, Professor George Edward Challenger.

Most readers, if they have heard of him at all, will know Professor Challenger from his first appearance in the novel, The Lost World (1912).

Arthur Conan-Doyle

Narrated by journalist Edward Malone, the novel sees the irascible professor lead an expedition to a South American plateau to prove the existence of dinosaurs there, accompanied by Malone, fellow scientist Professor Summerlee and Lord John Roxton, a hunter and adventurer.

Challenger’s adventures continued in two further novels, The Poison Belt (1913), The Land of Mist (1926) and two later short stories, When the World Screamed (1928) and The  Disintegration Machine (1929).

The symposium, ‘Challenger unbound’ – ably convened by UCL PhD student Tom Ue (UCL English) – explored all five works and brought together scholars from across the UK and North America including UCL’s John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature.

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Not ‘just’ a translation: Latin translation in Elizabethan England

news editor15 October 2013

pencil-iconBy Chris Stamatakis (UCL English Language & Literature)

Professor Gesine Manuwald

Professor Gesine Manuwald

When is a translation more than just a translation? When might it become an imitation? What happens when translators adopt, transpose, and freely modify writing in one language as they turn it into another? How does a translator do more than merely convey the words or sense of the original, and instead recreate something of the style and elegance of that language?

Aficionados of Latin and the curious layman alike had a wonderful opportunity to grapple with these questions at a talk on Latin as a language of translation in Renaissance England, given at UCL on 10 October by Professor Gesine Manuwald, in the first of this year’s ‘Translation in History’ lectures.

An expert on Roman literature, Professor Manuwald, Head of UCL Greek and Latin  , drew on her extensive interests in the reception and writing of Latin literature in England. In Elizabethan England, Prof. Manuwald explained, Latin was not only used as a literary language by English writers because it allowed them to reach a wider European audience (as Francis Bacon would prove); it also served as a language for developing fluency and stylistic elegance.

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