Monday 19 March 2018
Neoliberalism is a political philosophy promoting individualism and personal choice. It is also a policy model aimed at rolling back the state and minimizing regulation so that entrepreneurs and financiers may create capital more freely. Neoliberal economics has arguably led to the emergence of new socio-economic categories including Generation Rent, the precariat, mumpreneurs and the ‘self-employed’ workers of the gig economy. For these, and many others, stability, security and life-long work in a single organization is increasingly unlikely. We have been told that we’re moving from a job for life to a lifetime of jobs and that we need to ‘step up’ to become the heroes of our own lives. Workers are required to take responsibility for updating skills, adapting to change and even self-branding.
As we negotiate the tricky terrain of our future hopes and plans who will guide us? Where are our maps and compasses? What lessons are there to be learned about living a successful life and who are our teachers? Reality TV, the self-help and career-coaching industries all purport to have the answers; offering us guidance on securing a job or client contract, getting a promotion or pay rise and developing a positive mindset. This presentation will critically explore some of these messages and reflect on the ways in which they skew the public conversation about social mobility and social progress.
Monday 15 January 2018
Identity today is increasingly entangled with our relationship to media and popular culture, raising questions about the consequences for our psychological and emotional lives. What do phenomena such as binge watching television or sharing emotional experience on social media mean, and why have they become so significant in our everyday world? This lecture explores the role of unconscious emotion underpinning this kind of experience, examining how television, film and other forms of popular culture offer reassuring ways of making sense of the world when uncertainty dominates the headlines. Using ideas drawn from object relations psychoanalysis, it explores the messy complexity of emotion and identity in our media-saturated environment. It also reflects on the opportunities afforded to us by popular culture to deepen a sense of being in the world during precarious times.
Monday 20 November 2017
For several decades clinicians and researchers have attempted to unravel the neurobiological underpinnings of schizophrenia and psychosis. Recent work in experimental animals has suggested that psychosis may develop due to over activity in brain regions that regulate memory and learning. Guided by these animal studies, evidence that the development of psychosis in humans is linked to neural ‘over activity’ is beginning to emerge. What are the implications of these studies for our understanding of the illness and how can they inform new treatments?
Monday 9 October 2017
In the last few decades, the digital age has forged new perspectives on knowledge. Knowledge is no longer primarily a quantitative sum of data to be acquired and transmitted universally. It needs to be discovered, understood and explored across technologies, shifting disciplinary boundaries, and cultures. It also needs to be transferred from and into different forms of languages, from verbal to visual, from conceptual to emotional. Forging passages between domains and establishing communication not only between humans but all living beings, is key to a meaningful purpose of knowledge. These epistemological ideas have been explored by philosophers of science such as Bruno Latour. Translation Studies scholars, on the whole, have struggled to reconcile abstract, metaphorical concepts of translation with the notion of translation as understood in the commercial world of communication, that of a product to be obtained through quick, efficient and cost-cutting processes of transfer across verbal languages. Yet both ideas of translation imply exchanges of perspective between domains, cultures and senses and are inspiring conceptually, artistically and socially. Even, and perhaps above all, the sleekest and most proficient commercial models require the constant transformation and reinvention of both objects and subjectivities in production and consumption. Bonds between metaphorical and practical ideas of translation are essential today. Translation is crucial as both instrument of equivalence between things and ideas, and as agent revealing differences between them. In this lecture, I will consider two areas of my research which straddle both ideas of translation: the translation of texts involving music, and those focused on the non-human natural world. Through examples taken from these, I will highlight the essential role of translation as instrument of empowerment for 21st century humans and as agent of social and intellectual cohesion in a fragmented world which has to be interpreted in multiple ways to be meaningful. As Michel Serres (2008) pointed out, the ‘soft bridges’ of translation are the best keys to understanding and sharing knowledge and ways of life in the 21st century.
Monday 19 June 2017
This lecture explores the role of ‘ambidextrous market learning’, that is, a firm’ ability to engage in both exploratory and exploitative market learning simultaneously in order to develop highly innovative products. Exploitative market learning builds on a firm’s existing market knowledge base, which in turn provides a foundation for a firm to acquire new market knowledge through exploratory market learning, and to assimilate it with the existing knowledge, and use it for innovation. Exploratory market learning, on the other hand, generates new market information and knowledge that can help renew and update a firm’s current knowledge base developed through exploitative market learning. Therefore, it is argued that ambidextrous market learning taps into the complementary effect of exploratory and exploitative market learning and has fundamental implications for a firm’s product-market strategies to ensure successful product innovation.
Monday 22 May 2017
Steven Groarke, Professor of Social Thought from the Department of Social Sciences, will address the question of difficulty and its value in the contemporary context of the humanities and the social sciences. He will explore the proposal that difficulty constitutes an indispensable source of value, and as such provides an opportunity for the amplification of ourselves. He will support this proposal with reference to poetry as a particular form of difficulty.
Monday 27 March 2017
We are at present confronted with a wide range of poetry that has been informed by citation, intertextuality, and appropriation. Several critics have noted that the intrusion of found material in contemporary poetics serves to break up the purified realm of the poem, and it is precisely this type of intervention against purity which Jaeger's term 'carrion poetics' seeks to address. This lecture/reading will begin by noting some pioneering and contemporary examples of carrion poetics, and then consider in more detail several instances of the practice drawn from Jaeger's writing.
Monday 27 February 2017
What constitutes a just provision for students with disability and special educational needs is among the most contentious and challenging questions for philosophers and educators alike.
In answering this question, the lecture will present a conception of educational equality as capability equality, based on Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach. It will highlight how such a conception adds important insights to current debates on inclusion in education.
Monday 30 January 2017
The votes for Brexit, Trump and the swing towards populist parties across Europe have brought about instability, and question marks have been raised about many of our fundamental ideas of social justice, human rights and cosmopolitan values. We even have to face anger and aggression when we defend these beliefs. The current context raises the following questions: How did we get here? Where did it come from? What should we do?
These questions clearly need to be asked beyond the sphere of education, but education systems play a role and need to take responsibility for the societies that we form. This presentation will identify how young people learn to be politically engaged, and how disadvantaged students face barriers to learning political engagement throughout the education system. It will conclude by exploring how the current education system needs to be rethought so as to enable all young people to learn Global and European citizenship knowledge, skills, values and attitudes.
Monday 21 November 2016
The brain is the most complex biological system known to man. It is the control centre which directs action, feeling and thought. The brain has a fascinating innate ability to adapt, adjust and protect itself while managing its own resources; this is the logic of the brain.
This lecture will argue that when the brain’s operational logic is violated by internal (gene-related) issues or external factors such as chronic stress or drug abuse, its adaptive plasticity fails and maladaptive plasticity often takes over. Abnormal form and function follow, often to the detriment of the body. The lecture will illustrate how basic brain research can enhance our knowledge of brain disorders and prompt new investigations in applied clinical research. Basic brain research also provides evidence which can be used to direct society towards adopting healthier life styles.
Monday 17 October 2016
The Greeks had a word for it – rhetoric. The art of public speaking was central to life in the classical world, and rhetorical theory was developed over many centuries by the likes of Aristotle, Cicero and Quintilian according to five main parts, or ‘canons’: invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. In this lecture I shall consider these canons in turn, illustrating them with examples drawn from both Greek and Latin sources.
Monday 13 June 2016
In an environment of widespread deprivation following the Second World War a number of ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs in Malaya seized opportunities in rebuilding their economy by providing goods and services that had previously been supplied by British firms who did not return with the severely weakened colonial administration. The professorial lecture explores the development of a number of those ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs and the nature of their enterprises that continue to play a significant economic and social role in Malaysia and Singapore. That development is presented as one of often emotionally charged interaction among entrepreneurs and their supporters pretty much from the founding of their enterprise but also of prescience and foresight in which a number of stakeholders in multi-generational enterprises were able to systematically plan and prioritize their social and commercial role over rival interests led occasionally by powerful family members with a different, family-centered agenda.
Across generations of close control by a number of founding groups, the persistent confluence- as opposed to any separation- of the interests of founding groups with wider social and commercial interests in several ethnic Chinese enterprises has in fact turned out very advantageously for those enterprises as well as the economies of Malaysia and Singapore. The continuing importance of those enterprises in their respective economies suggests a number of structural and strategic lessons for entrepreneurial ventures, principally in how they may systematically select and serve core market needs from the outset of the enterprise and how key stakeholders of ventures may also stimulate the growth of other enterprises and the local economy by playing a prominent social- and occasionally political- role in the communities that their ventures serve.
Accordingly, the fortunes of certain social and commercial role-playing enterprises in Malaysia and Singapore led by ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs have become closely bound with the wider fortunes of their national economy in a way that recalls a historically similar level of importance of closely-controlled automobile and consumer manufacturers and retailers in the USA and other western economies. A core difference in Malaysia and Singapore seems to be the depth and breadth of economic and commercial influence that a few ethnic Chinese entrepreneurs and their enterprises appear to continue to exert in and beyond their national economies.
Monday 18 April 2016
Opening her 1929 polemic, 'Shakespeare’s Sister', about the short, frustrated life of a woman seeking a way into the theatrical world of early modern London, Virginia Woolf writes: 'Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say'. In the years between Woolf's searing indictment of literary and theatrical gender segregation and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616, feminist scholarship has uncovered the facts surrounding women who did indeed write and perform in early modern England and beyond. This lecture will consider the difference these facts make to our understanding of the early modern theatrical canon, the responses of the virtuosic English boy actors to performing Englishwomen and the superstar actresses of continental Europe, and the way that this informs the dramaturgy and structure of the early modern dramatic canon. Focusing on the active contribution of the theatrical Englishwoman to early modern drama, the lecture discusses a history of women and theatre that has been hidden in plain sight.
Monday 7 March 2016
This lecture explores how a form of communication often dismissed as 'vapid sycophancy' – the loyal address – contributed to the emergence of public opinion as a political force in early modern England. Beginning with the curious tale of the Lord Protector's trunks, it will demonstrate how the re-telling of this story revealed the development of a critical political public that read and thought about itself. Despite its politically suspect origins in the 'usurpation' of the Cromwellian interregnum, addressing activity not only survived the restoration of monarchy but, in the eighteenth century, came to replace other well-established ways of representing public loyalty. Indeed, it helped fashion a consensus over the boundaries of legitimate popular political activity that continued into the modern era: We may now live in a mass-democracy but it is one in which the language and ritual of loyalty remains critically important.
Monday 1 February 2016
Monday 16 November 2015
With the TEF and a spending review imminent, UK higher education is characterised by uncertainty, complexity, measurement and risk. Meanwhile student numbers continue to grow and students’ lives are increasingly different from those who teach them. Networked through the digital world, students present themselves in multiple places at once. They sit in the lecture space yet at the same time they are elsewhere and knowledge is no longer solely in the possession of the orator. In these contexts academic life encounters a certain ambiguity and a strangeness. We find ourselves preparing students for a future we can’t really envisage, welcoming them from a school experience that is very different from our own and we teach using methods developed hundreds of years ago. Products like Powerpoint fail to make lectures modern. This lecture, informed by research into the student experience will argue that we are obliged to rethink the kinds of learning that our graduates will require in the 21st century and renew the pedagogies, curricula and learning environments we currently provide.
Wednesday 4 November 2015
Reflections on the concept of truth in post post-modernity – via the lenses of inter faith relations, science and religion, and climate change.
Monday 19 October 2015
Forest canopies play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, supporting around 40% of species on earth. Covering more than 45 million hectares of land, they form a dynamic edge between the Earth's terrestrial biosphere and the atmosphere. As natural forests become fragmented by human activities and new forests are planted, patches of trees and new edges are created. These are often challenging habitats for forest animals and plants. My research has focused on the response of insect populations and communities to habitat fragmentation and to management strategies that generate isolated trees and patches of forest. I will explore how small scale changes to the structure, composition and complexity of communities can have implications at the landscape scale and how our interaction with the environment can profoundly change its ecology.
Monday 1 June 2015
Award-winning playwright Graham White’s own writing and adaptation for radio has often pursued questions shared with his academic research. In a reflection on radio drama and the self-projection of protagonists fictional, real and in-between in the work of Laurence Sterne, BS Johnson and Primo Levi he’ll explore the search for answers and insights common to both practice and research.
Monday 20 April 2015
There are not many places that I find it more agreeable to revisit when I am in an idle mood, than some places to which I have never been. (Charles Dickens, 1860).
Dickens’s enthralment with places of the imagination remains undiminished throughout his life: childhood favourites like Robinson Crusoe and the Tales of the Arabian Nights provide exotic stereotypes of race. Yet a few years prior, in 1853, Charles Dickens pens his most infamous piece, ‘The Noble Savage’, depicting the Zulus comprising George Catlin’s show at St. George’s Gallery, Hyde Park Corner as ignoble ‘howling, whistling, clucking, stamping, jumping, tearing savage[s] which should be ‘civilised off the face of the earth’. Critics have largely read ‘The Noble Savage’ as an inexplicable temporary aberration. I will argue that ‘The Noble Savage’ is a useful referent for its time: it is emblematic of an historical moment which witnesses a shift in the perception of race as a product of social organization to race as a product of biology and genealogy. Through an examination of Dickens’s trip to America, the prevalence of displayed peoples in London, and his own engagement with the development of science, I will argue that Dickens’s approach to race is informed by the twin poles of his imaginary and his engagement with contemporary science.
Monday 2 March 2015
Communication underpins the social behaviour of humans, and of our primate relatives. While language is unique to our own species, the other primates have complex repertoires of calls, which they use to convey diverse messages. My research has explored the form and function of primates’ vocalisations, and the size and structure of their vocal repertoires. Many scientists have studied primates to help understand the evolution of human language; I will argue that the opposite approach – using linguistic approaches to analyse primate vocal communication - can be equally enlightening.
Monday 2 February 2015
Most research and teaching in Business Administration or more specifically in Marketing has focused on consumer goods for mass markets. Many frameworks, theories and models fit those very well, but fail to explain services. This talk will first elaborate the differences of services and products and explain the challenges that arise from those differences. For example, a product can usually be tried before buying and even returned for a certain while after buying, while for services both are not usually feasible. This talk elaborates on a number of research projects that focus on the challenges that services impose on consumers and Marketing, such as services in on-the-go consumption, consumers’ perceptions of sustainability in complex supply chains, new service models in sharing, and what is called collaborative consumption. The talk will conclude with some comments on what needs to be changed in research and teaching within Business Administration.
Monday 17 November 2014
Poetry and music share their abstract formal character and many of the formal strategies they each deploy. An examination of those abstract forms returns us to the performative and experiential quality music and poetry share. Underlying what both forms are, in other words, is the relationship they share with their human makers and audience: and what discursive role they fulfill, which this lecture discusses with reference to Wittgenstein, Shelley and the “national” poets Mahmoud Darwish, Yehudi Amichai and Yannis Ritsos.
Monday 13 October 2014
Education and semiotics (the science of signs) are both about making sense of the world, so it is surprising how little semiotics has been used hitherto to answer fundamental questions about education. In this lecture, Andrew Stables will give an introduction to philosophical semiotics and attempt to show how strong semiotic perspectives can alter the way we look at the world by challenging our most basic assumptions about who we are, what we know, how we learn and how we should act. All this has significant implications for how we understand teaching and learning. It can also offer new perspectives in educational research, and Andrew will conclude his talk by discussing an ongoing project looking at the effect of school architecture on the experience of students and teachers.
(or how we came to believe it does and what we should do about it)
Monday 14 July 2014
In recent years, early childhood education and care has moved to the centre stage of an increasingly global policy environment where it is seen as key tool for addressing a wide array of societal problems. But to determine what – and who – early childhood policies and practices are for is not as straightforward as it might appear. It crucially depends on our understandings of, and our hopes and aspirations for society present and future. Pedagogy and politics, the private and the public, are inextricably intertwined and what is seen as 'good' and appropriate practice in relation to and with young children, their families and communities is highly contested. In this lecture I undertake a critical exploration of the early childhood landscape: How did we get to where we are, where should we be going, and, not least, who should have a say in determining the latter? Exploring these questions, I argue, opens a space for radical re-conceptualisation of early childhood practice and research.
Respondent: Peter Moss, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Education, Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU).
Monday 2 June 2014
The character of a nation is embodied in its people’s dances; so professed the promoters of English dances at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century. What was embraced was surprisingly diverse: examples include hornpipe, maypole, country, morris, pavane, minuet and, by the 1920s, modern ballroom dancing. As the sun dimmed on the British Empire, performances of Englishness in the mother country appear to have multiplied. What role did dance play during this period in contributing to the cultural identity of Englishness? Whose values were espoused as those of the English people? And what legacies of dancing Englishness, if any, remain today?
Monday 7 April 2014
The Tudors have become increasingly prominent in contemporary British culture, whether in print, on television, or in films. However, very often these depictions reflect contemporary politics and culture, not the historical reality of the sixteenth century. This lecture explores the ways in which Tudor England was politically and culturally very different from our own times, yet also shows many parallels with our current experience. It argues that those parallels are important because the Tudor period laid the foundations for many of the features of contemporary Britain. Therefore we can appreciate twenty-first-century Britain more clearly if we view it from the perspective of the sixteenth century, and especially from the viewpoint of Roehampton.
Monday 3 February 2014
It is 150 years since John Ruskin penned what might be the mantra for a green economist, 'There is no wealth but life', as part of his contribution to political economy published as 'Unto this Last'. Interestingly, this book was cited by the first Labour MPs as having had the most significant impact on their approach to politics. While British socialists have responded to Ruskin's call for social justice, they have ignored his deeper insights into and need for a closer relationship with nature and a respect for beauty and culture. It is this focus on material quality at the expense of spiritual quality that has led us to the paradoxical situation of living in an economy where excess and dissatisfaction coexist. As evidence mounts that human society is in the midst of both ecological and spiritual crises, I explore the limitations of the globalised capitalist economy in providing sustainable prosperity and explore what the green approach to political economy has to offer.
18 June 2018
Professor Stephen Drinkwater