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UCL events news and reviews


This is Where We Came in: Memories of 60s Cinema-Going

By zclef78, on 10 June 2014

60s cinema An acre of seats in the garden of dreams.

Trips to the big screen are often some of our fondest childhood memories. So it was no surprise that the first UCL Festival of the Arts film event was a popular one as we spent a nostalgic hour reconstructing the space of 1960s cinema in Britain through the memories of cinema-goers.

The tiered flip down chairs of the Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre and slideshow of iconic cinematic moments—Sean Connery and Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger, Marilyn Monroe, Breakfast at Tiffanys—set the scene for Dr Melvyn Stokes and Dr Matthew Jones (UCL History) to talk about the findings of their research project, which explores how cinema shaped the collective experience of during a period of turbulent social change.

Their research opens up questions about our notions of the relationships between memory, experience and space, as well as questioning received narratives of the 1960s decade.

Dr Henry K. Miller (film historian and critic) complemented their talk with a discussion of his research into the history of the first university film department to open in the 60s at UCL Slade School of Fine Art.


You Must Read This Book!

By Siobhan Pipa, on 6 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:


How to have visions and influence people

By uclektm, on 18 March 2014

“My central enquiry is how people in different social groups use persuasion to achieve what they want, and what this suggests about different people.”

It could be the opening of a new age psychology book, but it’s actually the basis of Dr Antonio Sennis’s (UCL History) research into the Middle Ages, amiably shared with us in a 13 March Lunch Hour Lecture, titled “Medieval Languages of Persuasion”.

So, what exactly can we learn about medieval Italian society based on the methods people used to influence each other?

The Abbey of Farfa today

The Abbey of Farfa today

A world of persuasion
Dr Sennis illustrated some of the key features of persuasion in this period through a topical example.

At UCL, we are persuaded to attend the Lunch Hour Lectures through a relatively gentle advertising campaign involving some unobtrusive posters and emails.

Perhaps we might feel somewhat dumber for our non-attendance, but the campaign seems underpinned by the kind of do-as-you-like liberalism that we expect from our democracy. Right? (more…)

Entangled histories

By Ben Stevens H P Stevens, on 25 June 2013

There is still considerable anger surrounding the use of public money to bail out several of Britain’s major banks, so can you imagine the furore if it were used to compensate former slave-owners?

And yet, this is exactly what happened in 1833 when Parliament abolished slavery in the British Caribbean, Mauritius and the Cape. It wasn’t a small amount of money, either – £20 million or £16 billion in today’s money.

However, according to Professor Catherine Hall (UCL History) in her Lunch Hour Lecture, ‘Britain and the legacies of slavery’, at the Museum of London Docklands on 11 June, there was no such public outcry.

A Harlot's Progress, William Hogarth

A Harlot’s Progress, William Hogarth
IMAGE: Museum of London

Vested interests
The reason for this, she explained, was that the slavery business had tentacles deep in British society, ranging from shipbuilding to textiles and sugar – all of which were industries that employed hundreds of thousands of people.

So when Parliament voted in favour of abolition, the slave-owners were able to drive a particularly hard bargain in both the Commons and the Lords for the loss of what they deemed their ‘property’.

As an aside, Professor Hall pointed out that the compensation recently awarded to the Kenyans tortured by British forces during the Mau Mau uprising only amounted to £20 million in today’s money.