The Clare Hall Colloquia 2005–06

Evan Zimroth
Lydia and Maynard: an improbable romance

David Sacks
Adam's curse and Adam's freedom: John Milton's concept of liberty

Howard Shevrin
The uses of abstraction in art, literature and science

8 Nov 2005

Professor Jim Utterback
Design inspired innovation

People today seem hungry for products that offer more than simply sufficient function, high quality and low cost. To delight it is necessary that a product be elegant as well as eminently good. If a product's use is apparent, simple and clear it will stand out from the welter of others competing for attention.  In retrospect great products are those, whose meaning and value have grown over their lifetime and those of generations of users. These are the products that capture the hearts of their users, making their lives easier, better or more interesting. Elegant products live on long after trivial variations have been forgotten in the trash heap.

This work explores the ways in which communities of art, design and innovation are merging and influencing each other in the world of material culture to create more meaningful products, which reside easily in the natural and cultural environment.  Young people seem to be struggling toward a world of greater beauty, humanity and ethics as well as meeting basic necessities. Our thesis is that products addressing this trend will be more profitable and enduring.

22 Nov 2005

Professor Daphne Hampson
French feminist theory and the critique of monotheism

Since Hegel there has been awareness of the fact that self-consciousness is formed as we are reflected back to ourselves through the other; further, that men have created a transcendental through which they have achieved self-actualisation. French feminist theorists have sought to understand the man/woman relation in these reflective terms. De Beauvoir grasped that the 'slave' sees the world through the eyes of the 'master' and thus spoke of the creation of a false consciousness. Recent French feminists, Irigaray and Kristeva, influenced by Lacanian psycho-analytic thought, likewise conceive that we are caught up in language and culture, such that the question of the possibility of an escape becomes prominent.

I think we should be less pessimistic than recent French thought and that Nancy Fraser is correct that transgressive practice leads to linguistic change and so to structural change. At the same time French theory has clearly plumbed the depths of the problem. As someone who has a marked spirituality (rather than being an atheist) I want furthermore to ask how that spirituality - for which masculinist forms of religion have been a vehicle - can find other forms of expression. Here feminist theory as well as other trends in our society do indeed suggest paradigms which differ markedly from the monotheism we need to overcome if we are to achieve equality.

Daphne Hampson held a chair at the University of St Andrews in Post-Christian Thought.

29 Nov 2005

Professor Erskine Clarke
Slavery and religion in the United States: some continuing themes

On September 11, 2005, the New York Times issued an apology about its previous failure to see and report on the deep poverty of the African American community in New Orleans. The Times was apparently not alone in its failure to see the harsh realities of African American life along the Gulf coast. Hurricane Katrina, it was said by many, had pulled back a curtain that hid deep divisions throughout American life. What some saw when they looked beyond the curtain was the bitter legacy of slavery.

This informal ASH presentation will identify certain important themes in the history of slavery in the U.S. and will reflect briefly on the complex interaction between slavery and the religious life of the American people in the years leading to the Civil War.  In the course of the presentation, I will place my present project at Clare Hall in the context of my larger interest and work. The presentation is intended to provide some historical perspective for interpreting what was seen when the curtain was pulled back by Katrina.

6 Dec 2005

Professor Leonidas Hill
Why did the German navy scuttle its fleet at Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919?

The British Navy had planned to seize the German ships a day after Germany carried out the scuttling.  Both navies thought in ill-defined terms of "honour": Germany had lost it by accepting internment, recovered some by the scuttling, lost more by breaking the Armistice agreement.  The British Navy had intentionally treated the Germans like lepers during their internment.  The German Navy had some revenge for that.  But these somewhat petty motives do not satisfactorily explain the German action.  The deeper motives were political and require examination of the German Navy's role and objectives during three crises, the Armistice (October-November 1918), the signing of the Versailles Treaty (May-June 1919), and the Kapp Putsch (March 1920).

In the crises over the Armistice and the Versailles Treaty the army and navy wanted to topple the government, install a dictatorship, prevent an agreement with their enemies, resume the war, retain or assert control over German territory in the east, and maintain their traditional position in Germany.  In the third, only the overthrow of the government and installation of a dictatorship were involved.  In all three crises the services were disloyal, even treasonous, but claimed that they acted to save their honour.

The central argument of the talk is that the German naval leadership scuttled the fleet at Scapa Flow not only for the honour of the navy and to spite the victors, but also because it hoped the scuttling would provide a powerful impulse for refusal of the Versailles Treaty, replacement of the government with a dictatorship anchored in a newly formed east German state, resumption of war, especially against Poland, but also against an expected invasion and occupation of Germany carried out by the victorious powers.  The reasons why none of this happened can be swiftly explained.  But the animosity of the German navy to the Weimar Republic was scarcely diminished and was the obvious reason for their disastrous support for the Kapp Putsch.

This little slice of history stimulates a rich array of conclusions, some possibly with contemporary relevance

13 Dec 2005

Professor Lynette Russell
The colonial culture of indigenous archaeology: a postcolonial view from Australia

This paper drawn from a new book in which Dr Ian McNiven and I explore the colonial legacy of Indigenous archaeology as it is practiced in settler societies (e.g. Australia, New Zealand Canada and the United States of America). Using post-colonial theory and a broad range of case studies, we filter our analysis  through what we have identified as four intricately related colonial tenets - subjectation, disassociation, appropriation and secularization. Each of these act as canonical knowledge and subsequently frame and constrain Indigenous archaeology creating inevitable tensions between archaeologists and Indigenous peoples. In this paper I will outline our argument that the colonial tenets that underscore these tensions need to be identified, historicized, critically explored and resolved if Indigenous archaeology is to have a viable future. It is concluded that if archaeology is to survive in settler colonial contexts, it must abandon the practice of using the archaeological heritage of Indigenous peoples to develop universal laws of humanity. Alternatively, we see the development of localized research partnerships between researchers and Indigenous communities where both groups co-own the process and co-develop research agendas. Such community-based research will help produce an acceptable past that does not colonize Indigenous cultural traditions.

17 Jan 2006

Dr Marika Hedin
A prize for grumpy old men? Some reflections on the lack of female Nobel laureates

For over a hundred years, being awarded a Nobel Prize has been regarded as one of the world's great honours. Only the very best achievers in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine (and from 1969, economic sciences), the most distinguished authors and the most diligent peace activists are considered for this honour.

Or so it is often claimed.

The story of the Nobel Prizes might not be that straightforward. Recent research suggests that a number of factors besides excellence - politics, eurocentrism, scientific and literary fads - have all played a part in explaining some of the Prizes awarded in the past. But perhaps one of the most significant factors seem to be gender: out of the total 776 awarded Prizes, a meagre 34 have been awarded to women. Why?

One simple answer could of course be that women simply haven't achieved as
well as men, neither as scientists, authors nor as crusaders for peace. But that
would be an easy way out of a much more complicated issue. The history of the Nobel Prizes can tell us a different story. In this talk, I'll show what I think can be learned from taking a closer look at some of the women who actually did win a Nobel Prize.

I curated part of the exhibition Beautiful Minds which is now on show until March 15th at the British Library in London (no entrance fee). The lack of female Nobel Laureates was given a small role in this broad overview of one hundred years of Nobel Prizes. In spite of that, I recommend a visit - not least because the exhibition features a film on Cambridge as a creative environment, for Nobel Prize Winners and others! See:

31 Jan 2006

Professor Jonathan Rubin
Social marketing and the environmental regulation of cars

With 210 million registered light-duty vehicles (cars, trucks, minivans, SUVs) there are almost as many vehicles as there are people in the USA. There are 181 million registered automobiles in the EU and 5 million in China. Passenger cars and light trucks alone account for 40% of U.S. petroleum use, are responsible for 20% of U.S. CO2 emissions and 57% of transportation CO2 emissions.

In the light-duty vehicle market, traditional regulations, while very effective in cases where consumers have no impact on outcomes, such as the elimination of lead in gasoline, are less effective when consumers can choose vehicles with different levels of environmental performance. This is seen most dramatically in the shift from cars to light-duty trucks witnessed in the United States since 1979 when light-duty trucks had a market share of 9.85 to 2003 when their market share rose to 50.1% of all new passenger vehicles. For products and services where consumer choice can have a substantial impact on the realized environmental impact, effective implementation of eco-information programs may be cost effective and desirable. The emerging growth of social or environmental marketing will be discussed in an application to light-duty vehicle purchase and use.

14 Feb 2006

Professor Yuriya Kumagai
Simultaneous interpreting:  the secrets and tricks of the trade

Have you ever given a lecture/talk through the simultaneous interpreter? Have you ever organised a conference that requires simultaneous interpreting? Have you ever listened to simultaneous interpreting? Have you ever wondered how it works? Simultaneous interpreting provided at bilingual or multilingual conferences enables participants to communicate in their own language(s) or their "active language(s)" in real time, without having to wait for consecutive interpreting.

I would like to share with you the secrets and tricks of the trade of English-Japanese simultaneous interpreting by answering frequently asked questions, including "What is conference interpreting?" "How does it work?" "What is the difference between translating and interpreting?" "Why simultaneous interpreters have to work in teams of two or three?" "Which is harder to do, simultaneous or consecutive?" "Is simultaneous interpretation a stressful occupation?" - and the answer to the last question is "YES!" Speakers, organisers and participants can make a conference truly successful by reducing the interpreters' stress and rescuing them from the status of "invisible stagehands in the torture chamber" or ""tightrope walkers from one language to another without a safety net".

28 Feb 2006

Dr Hans Schwarze
Benjamin Britten:  War Requiem; ways how to blend music, poetry and filmed images

Benjamin Britten composed the WAR REQUIEM to celebrate the rebuilding and the consecration of Coventry Cathedral (1962). He combined the traditional Latin Mass for the Dead and a selection of poems by the British First World War poet WILFRED OWEN. The requiem is performed by 3 soloists, 3 choirs, 2 orchestras and organ. The film WAR REQUIEM was first shown in 1989, it was directed by Derek Jarman. It is a film without dialogue, strictly based on Britten«s score of
the requiem, his music and his choice of words. We will watch parts of the film and then talk about the blend of music and cinematographic art in relation to the rendering of Owen«s anti-war poems.

14 Mar 2006

Dr Elizabeth Garnsey
High tech Cambridge

The technology-based activity that has arisen in the Cambridge area originated as an unintended consequence of the presence of the university, where in other high tech centres  military spending and deliberate policy have been at work.  Developments can be compared to those identified in ecological succession models where autogenic and allogenic influences interact. High tech industry has become a larger employer than the university  as a result of knowledge diffusion, related here to serial spin-out and attraction influences. Channels of diffusion of knowledge and influence among local firms can be traced by charting the serial spin outs that have created specialized clusters. This talk provides an overview of the history of the "Cambridge Phenomenon" and examines rates of formation of new firms and their survival and growth. Technology-based firms have recently attempted collective responses to local problems, but many unresolved issues remain as Cambridge grapples with growth.

28 Mar 2006

Dr John Walker
The truth of realism: a reassessment of the German realist novel

In this informal ASH presentation, which draws on work in progress, I will argue that the German realist novel of the nineteenth century has a particular and unique achievement in the European realist tradition.

There is still a widely influential view, exemplified by the arguments of Erich Auerbach in Mimesis (1947), that the achievement of German narrative realism falls short of the wider European tradition because the nineteenth-century German novel, in its portrayal of social reality, lacks the breadth and depth which characterise the great Western European realists like Balzac and Dickens. This judgement is often linked to the view that German realism is more concerned with an inner psychological domain than it is with social critique, indeed that it privileges an idea of aesthetic beauty which is at odds with the truth of the modern social and industrial world. Marxist critics, e.g. Terry Eagleton in The Ideology of the Aesthetic (1990), often argue that this supposed deficit in German realism reflects the retarded development of German society, in which industrial and political modernisation occured later than in the rest of Western Europe.

Focussing on some short textual extracts from the work of Theodor Fontane, all of which are available in English and readily available to non-specialists, my presentation will challenge this view. I will argue that we can understand the truth of German realism only by reading German realist novels explicitly as narrative texts, not through the prism of the German idealist philosophy which was highly influential in the culture which produced them. I will suggest that , in some important respects, the German realist novel can be read in opposition to the dominant strands of German philosophy in the late nineteenth century, because it discloses a very different kind of truth about human experience from the one which the philosophical tradition suggests. In particular, I will argue that German narrative realism suggests an idea of the 'self' very different from the concept of the 'opposing self' through which Lionel Trilling approaches the great texts of nineteenth century realism and also a way in which we can continue to talk about a 'truth' of realism, embodied in a literary text, which much contemporary Anglo-American criticism tends to deny.

No knowledge of the texts or authors discussed is presupposed, and textual extracts in English will be provided as appropriate.

11 Apr 2006

Dr Chad Pecknold
The new debate on religion and democracy in America

Dr Chad Pecknold will speak on a new debate amongst philosophers of religion, political ethicists, and theologians in America. After the rise of the unholy alliance between 'neo-cons' and 'theo-cons' in Washington DC, many are rightly suspicious of the place of religion in American democracy. However, political philosophers and theologians are now locked in a heated debate: not about how to enforce Rawlsian restraints on religious reasons in public, but how to cultivate a democratic culture once those restraints have been effectively removed.

25 Apr 2006

Dr Robert Anderson
Adult education and visual culture in the nineteenth century

It has frequently been said that workers did not visit museums in the nineteenth century. Places such as the British Museum and the National Gallery were, the argument goes, preserves of the middle and upper classes. These kind of views continue even at the present - there is no point in admitting the public free, some museums directors say - the only people who benefit are those who can afford to pay anyway.

This talk will consider the accessibility of collections, museums and exhibitions to working people in Britain, America and Australia, and the affect it had on their lives. The major change came about from the 1820s, with the establishment of mechanics institutes, lyceums and schools of arts. These independent organisations invariably established libraries and very often museums as well, with designated curators. They frequently sponsored ambitious exhibitions, attended by thousands of visitors, the culmination of these being the Great Exhibition of 1851. In participating, workers had to contend with issues such as appropriate dress, inappropriate drinking and keeping the Sabbath. The Great Exhibition was the first of an international series of vast visual extravaganzas which were pursued for both commercial and educational purposes. That held in Hyde Park also led to a new kind of museum movement, of which the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum, and many such museums overseas, can be seen to be a direct outcome.

9 May 2006

Dr Dan Tidhar
Absolutely relative – harpsichord tuning and the identity of musical tones

Expressions such as "absolute pitch", "in tune", and "out of tune", which are very prevalent in discourse about music, seem to imply that musical tones correspond to fixed pitches (vibration frequencies) in a well-defined and "objective" way.

Even within the restricted realm of western tonal music, this view is a clear misconception, both with respect to individual tones, and to the
frequency ratios between them.

What is it, then, that determines the "identity" of a tone? What does it
mean for a musical interval to be "in tune"?

In this talk, I will try to shed some light on these matters from the special perspective of keyboard temperament. I will briefly provide some psycho-acoustical motivation to the western tonal system, and will then turn to describe different keyboard tuning schemes (temperaments), and demonstrate them on a small Italian harpsichord.  Buzzwords such as "Baroque pitch", "equal" and "non-equal" temperament will hopefully become clear. I will conclude by trying to demonstrate the effect of tuning and temperament on some selected harpsichord pieces.

Basic knowledge about music theory may of course be helpful, but is not a requirement. I'll be happy to explain all the necessary concepts as we go along.

6 Jun 2006

Dr Ernst Hamm
Goethe mines: A Hartz Journey in Winter

Goethe's reputation in the English-speaking world rests largely on Faust and to a lesser extent on being a polymath, on the plenty of other things he did besides writing a play, such as running a Duchy, writing novels and working in the natural sciences. He devoted many years to developing a colour theory, which is either deeply misguided or full of profound and lasting insight (depending on whom you ask). His work in botany and morphology may well have provided some of the conceptual foundations of Darwinian evolution. As for geology, his fascination with the mineral kingdom took him to the depths of mines, carried him to mountain summits, inspired him to assemble a vast mineralogical collection and direct the development of the University of Jena's natural historical museums, found expression in a series of essays and revealed itself in his poetry. Geology was the first science to capture his focused attention and it is crucial for understanding how he thought about change in the natural and the human world. In this paper I will argue that his 1777 journey to the Hartz Mountains can count as the beginning of his mineralogical work, and that A Hartz Journey in Winter, one his most enduring and elusive poems, can help us understand why minerals, mines and mountains were so important a part of his life and work.  Along the way I want also to show that it is not especially helpful to see Goethe as a polymath and that my own discipline, the history of science, can be of use for better understanding what it was that he was up to.

20 Jun 2006

Dr Naoko Yagi
Pinter the adapter: remembrance of things past in notes and drafts.

It seems beyond doubt that Harold Pinter has a soft spot for his screenplay version of Marcel Proustâs Remembrance of Things Past. Pinter has written and spoken about the adaptation on several occasions, but by far the most striking of his comments on the film-that-was-to-be may still be the short and decisive sentence which we find in an introductory piece, written by Pinter himself in 1978, for the Methuen edition of the screenplay: "Working on À la recherche du temps perdu was the best working year of my life." That Pinter has outlived his words for more than a quarter of a century is hardly an issue. For one thing, he has not as yet retracted the comment; also, and more pertinently, there is a simple fact that the Pinter version of Remembrance has never had an end-product, a film. Put bluntly, his memory of that particular ãworking year,ä which roughly coincides with the year 1972, has not been spoilt by an actual film. How, then, did the "working year" proceed? I shall try to delineate an overall picture of what happened during the year 1972, which has proven special not only for Pinter himself but also for those of us who are interested in his forty-year-long screenwriting career. Our analysis will centre around Pinter's handwritten and typed drafts as well as notes which are contained in boxes 45, 46, and 47 in the Pinter Archive at the British Library, St Pancras.

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