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The Betty Behrens Seminar on Classics of Historiography

Date: Friday 30 September 2022, 2pm
Location: Multiple
Booking: via Eventbrite

The Betty Behrens Seminar on Classics of Historiography offers a unique opportunity for students and scholars to reflect on some great historical works and engage in discussion with renowned experts.

The charming and refreshing atmosphere of the Richard Eden Suite in Clare Hall will be the location for the first three discussions. The last meeting will take place in Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge, and will be followed by a tour of the Archive reading rooms and a glimpse behind the scenes.

Each meeting will last for three hours. The guest speaker will introduce the classic by talking for half an hour. After that, each participant will briefly express their understanding of the work by addressing some questions to the other participants and the guest speaker. In order to be ready for the dialogue, each participant is asked to read about fifty pages of the work under close scrutiny and then send a paper of 1,500-3,000 words to the seminar’s convener before each meeting. The selection of pages is chosen by the guest speaker and can be downloaded from the Clare Hall website.

There are only twelve posts available to guarantee the close dynamics of the discussion and the full involvement of the participants. Those interested may even apply for just one meeting. However, preference will be given to those who sign up for all four meetings. In addition, there will be space for a good number of auditors who will not actively participate. The sign-up deadline has been set as 6 September. 

This seminar series – running on 8, 15, 22 and 30 September – will endeavour to underline the importance of the Classics of Historiography for their relevant intellectual function in creating critical political thought.

Find further details and register via Eventbrite.

For any queries please contact Professor Davide Cadeddu, who is convening this seminar series, via

Information on each session

Seminar 1

The first seminar took place on Thursday 8 September 2022 in the Richard Eden Suite at Clare Hall.

Opening speech: Betty Behrens: a personal recollection and reflection – Gillian Sutherland, Fellow Emeritus, Newnham College, Cambridge.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1789) by Edward Gibbon. Download the text here.

David Womersley (pictured), Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford.

Seminar 2

The second seminar took place on Thursday 15 September 2022 from 2pm, Richard Eden Suite, Clare Hall.

Ecclesiastical History (IV c.) by Eusebius of Caesarea. Download the text here.

James Corke-Webster (pictured), Senior Lecturer in Classics, History and Liberal Arts, King’s College London.

Seminar 3

The third seminar took place on Thursday 22 September 2022 from 2pm, Richard Eden Suite, Clare Hall.

The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) by Herbert Butterfield. Download the text here.

Michael Bentley (pictured), Emeritus Professor of Modern History, University of St Andrews.

Seminar 4

*Please note alternate venue*

The final seminar takes place on Friday 30 September 2022 from 2pm, Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College.

History of the Peloponnesian War (V c. BC) by Thucydides of Athens. Download the text here.

Johanna Hanink (pictured), Professor of Classics, Brown University.

Presentation: The Papers of Betty Behrens and the Churchill Archives Centre

Allen Packwood, Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge and Director of Churchill Archives Centre.