Festival of Culture


Festival of Culture - Tuesday 4 June 2019

Festival of Culture listings by day.

Tuesday Morning Sessions

Curator led tour: Staging Magic – The Story Behind The Illusion | 10:30-11:15

Location: Senate House Library, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU

A guided tour of the new exhibition Staging Magic - The Story Behind The Illusion at Senate House Library, University of London, celebrating the history of magic literature and revealing the world’s most loved magic tricks and stage illusions from the 16th century to the early 20th century. 

The exhibition takes people on a journey of the world’s greatest magicians of the golden age, such as Houdini, Harry Price and David Devant, and the magic books that influenced them. The exhibition explores classic tricks such as pulling rabbits out of hats, sawing women in half and dismembered talking heads right through to cigarette box magic tricks. Discover how sleight-of-hand tricks (legerdemain) and illusions staged in top theatres have been used to create mystery and entertainment, and then transferred to the home and even to the Tommies fighting in the trenches of WWI.

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Economics Walk: Learning history of economics from the streets around UCL | 11:00-12:30

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad 


As the oldest economics department in England (est. 1828), the Department of Economics at UCL has a rich and proud history. Bloomsbury itself is distinguished for its diverse history of culture, arts, educational and medical establishments, as well as home to numerous famous characters.

Dr Ramin Nassehi will lead this Economics Walk, delving into this history and talking about the famous economists and thinkers whose story is connected to our university including David Ricardo, Charles Darwin, John M. Keynes, Virginia Wolf and George Orwell.

Attendees will get the opportunity to visit the former house of the English naturalist Charles Darwin, Gordon Square and the house of renowned economist John Maynard Keynes, the Department of Economics at UCL at Drayton House (founded in 1828), as well as the main UCL Jeremy Bentham (philosopher and jurist) building.

The walk is open to all and guests do not need to be of an academic Economics background.

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A tour of UCL’s Main Library | 11:30-12:00

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad 

(UCL Library Services)

A tour of the Main Library in the Wilkins Building will take in the Flaxman Gallery and its central sculpture of St Michael overcoming Satan underneath UCL’s iconic dome, as well as the University’s first purpose-built Library, now named after architect Thomas Leverton Donaldson, which opened in 1849. Both have featured in films and television programmes. The current exhibition, From Small Library Beginnings: A brief history of UCL Library Services, will also be visited. Narrating the development of our libraries and learning spaces, today numbering 18 sites in Bloomsbury and beyond, it features highlights from some of the notable collections acquired over nearly 200 years. Coinciding with the exhibition, an installation, Steps to Progress, will be applied to the entrance staircase during 2019. Arranged by PhD student Harvey Wiltshire, representations of texts will celebrate our diverse community and challenge existing conceptions of the literary canon.

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Tuesday Lunchtime Sessions

The book that killed colonialism | 12:00-12:45

Location: British Library - Piazza Pavilion, King's Cross

(Dutch, School of European Languages, Culture and Society)

This free talk by Reinier Salverda (UCL Dutch) explores perhaps the greatest Dutch novel of all, Max Havelaar (1860), a dazzling work in which its author, Multatuli, takes on Dutch colonialism on Java, in what is today Indonesia.  

Still relevant to literature, history and politics Max Havelaar is the emblem of the Dutch Fair Trade Movement, and its latest English translation has recently been published by the New York Review of Books in its Classics Originals series. 

You can also see original books by and about Multatuli from the Dutch Collection of the British Library. These show-and-tell sessions with Curator of Dutch Collections Marja Kingma take place at 11.00 – 11.45 and 13.00 – 13.45. Spaces for these sessions are limited, and will be available on a first come first served basis. 

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Faith in Schools? | 12:00-13:00

Location: Wilkins Building, IAS Common Ground

(Institute of Education)

Few questions bring out more passion than that of faith in schools, both in terms of having religious education in schools and in terms of trusting schools with such a subject. A particularly contentious area is the presence and role of schools with religious character, commonly known as faith schools. A key concern around such schools is their widely assumed mono-religious character – thus, they are seen as not doing enough to prepare young people for life in a multi-cultural, multi-religious Britain. The issue has been more often debated in theory than with empirical evidence. The session will share findings of a small scale research exploring religious diversity in schools with religious character, focusing in particular how Anglican and Catholic schools respond to religiously diverse student body.

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Flint Knapping | 12:00-14:00

Location: UCL Main Quad 


Ever wondered how our ancestors made stone tools? This is your opportunity to have expert tuition in flint working (flint knapping) to make your own tool. Specialist staff from the UCL Institute of Archaeology will be on hand to lead you through the process.

Drop in, no booking required

Singing and scholarship | 12:30-13:30

Location: Wilkins Building, Haldane Room 

(Hebrew & Jewish Studies)

Since 2014, UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies have worked with artists to create outreach projects, ranging from performing long-lost cabarets written by Holocaust victims to creating brand-new musicals about the inventors of colour film. Here, some of the artists and academics involved will talk about how working together has shaped their work, share their processes for combining creative and artistic goals, and present extracts from their new musical, Man and God. Reflecting on half a decade's work, this event demonstrates and explains the benefit of collaborations between academics and the arts.

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What Do Economists Really Do? | 13:00-14:00

Location: Wilkins Building, Garden Room


In this session, young economists from this year's Explore Econ undergraduate research conference discuss their work on topics ranging from firm reaction to GDPR style regulations to whether the NHS leads to too many doctor visits. They also review the diversity of research projects currently ongoing in the department, including why and how rebel armies form, Russia's military interventions in Ukraine, and the effect of AI on employment.


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Lunch Hour Lecture: Object-based learning and wellbeing: a case for slow and authentic education | 13:00-14:00

Location: Darwin Building, B40 Lecture Theatre

(Arts & Sciences (BASc))

In an ever more connected and digital world we tend to assume that information is available at the press of a button. However, what such instant content cannot provide is deep understanding and personal meaning making. For this to happen, a slow and more intense engagement is required. In this lecture Dr Thomas Kador (Senior Teaching Fellow, UCL Arts and Sciences (BASc)) will argue that material culture, and in particular heritage and museum collections, are ideally suited to create opportunities for such slow learning and meaning making. As an increasing body of research demonstrates, such authentic and experiential engagements do not only have educational benefits but can also help to support human wellbeing. The lecture will present some of this research, which will form the basis for a new and innovative Masters programme at UCL East, alongside a number of practical case studies. It will be followed by several practical object handling workshops at the Grant Museum of Zoology (separate booking required).

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Multilingualism in childhood: Language, Cognition & Brain | 13:30-14:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G01

(UCL Centre for Applied Linguistics)

We are living in the most linguistically diverse city in the world! More than 300 languages are spoken in London’s schools, offering new cultural perspectives and linguistic richness to all of London’s pupils. 

The UCL BiLingo team invites parents, teachers, multilingual children and anyone interested in childhood bilingualism/multilingualism to join this interactive session. 

Discuss questions and concerns about raising bilingual/multilingual children with language experts at a ‘drop in’ childhood bilingualism/multilingualism surgery, and hear the team sharing preliminary findings from current fascinating research study on childhood bilingualism effects on cognition and the brain (in collaboration with brain experts from the UCL Institute of Child Health). 

This research aims to investigate what might be different about the brain of a bilingual child and how this may be related to better performance in specific cognitive tasks, e.g. cognitive flexibility. 

Adults and children will have the opportunity to try cognitive tasks used to investigate the effects of bilingualism in cognition and also see interesting brain images. 

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Tuesday Afternoon Sessions

Material Encounters at the Grant Museum: an exploration of object-based learning | 14:15-15:00, 15:15-16:00, 16:15-17:00

Location: Grant Museum of Zoology

(Arts & Sciences (BASc))

For one afternoon only, exclusively for the UCL Festival of Culture, Dr Thomas Kador, one of UCL’s foremost experts in object-based learning, will open some of the University’s museum drawers and cases to grant participants the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of our rare objects and specimens. The 45 minute workshop will include practicing the art of slow looking and offer an opportunity to handle a range of museum objects in the inspiring setting of the Grant Museum of Zoology.

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A conversation on flow and force in Leonardo da Vinci | 15:00-15:45

Location: British Library - Piazza Pavilion, King's Cross

(History of Art)

Join Alison Wright (UCL History of Art) in conversation with Dr Martin Clayton, Head of Prints and Drawings for the Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle, on the eve of the British Library exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion. 

On this 500th anniversary of the artist's death, they consider how and why effects of flow, force and turbulence, which Leonardo studied in pioneering analyses of fluid dynamics, are present in his art. What do his unprecedented descriptions of fleeting phenomena and imagining of natural disaster enable us to see?

Martin Clayton is an expert on Leonardo da Vinci and organiser of Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing, the 12 nationwide exhibitions of his drawings from the Royal Collection which opened in February 2019. 

Alison Wright is Professor of Italian Art c. 1300-1550 with a special interest in fifteenth-century Florentine art and design. 

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The Advanced Propulsion Lab, UCL East and de-carbonising the transport sector | 16:00-16:20

Location: UCL Main Quad

(UCL East)

A 20 minute talk about fuel cell technology and UCL’s work to de-carbonise the transport system. Focused around UCL’s very own fuel-cell powered car, the Toyota Mirai. Join us in the main quad to see the car and hear about how hydrogen technology can drive a clean future for our energy and transport system. Presented by the Advanced Propulsion Lab and UCell.
UCell is a public engagement group based at the Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL, which is focused around comprehensible explaining how and why we should use fuel cells, hydrogen and batteries. 

Drop in, no booking required


Tuesday Evening Sessions

Languages of London: Celebrating Languages and Multilingualism in the City | 18:00-19:00

Location: Roberts Building, G06 Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre

(School of European Languages, Culture and Society / School of Slavonic & Eastern European Studies / English / Anthropology / Geography)

It is estimated that over 300 languages are spoken in London. Many London residents are bilingual or multilingual, and use their languages on a daily basis in a variety of situations and contexts, both public and private. Please join us for our event, in which we explore what it means to be a multilingual speaker in the metropolis, and consider the social, cultural and communicative enrichment that multilingualism brings with it. As part of the event, there will be a panel discussion involving linguists and anthropologists, geographers, educators, and multilingual speakers. Audience members will be invited to share their own language biographies, and to contribute to a languages of London map during the event.

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Learning from the voice and from the hands: how multimodal language helps children link words to the world | 18:00-19:00

Location: Roberts Building, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre

(Institute of Education / Division of Psychology & Language Sciences)

We tend to think of language as something solely spoken or written, but most language is actually exchanged in face-to-face contexts where visual communication cues such as hand gestures, facial expressions and eye contact closely accompany speech. Our research investigates how children use visual cues, as well as cues in speech itself, to learn the meaning of words. 2-3 year-olds are talented word learners – their vocabulary grows quickly at this age. And yet the task of word-learning is very challenging: how do children work out, from many potential meanings, what words actually refer to? We present some results from current studies which reveal that care-givers make use of the richness of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies to support children’s word-learning. 

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Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism | 18:30-20:00

Location: Wilkins Building, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre

(School of European Languages, Culture and Society / Institute of Advanced Studies)

How did people become complicit in the Nazi machinery of exploitation, brutality and mass murder? Why did so many remain passively on the side lines, turning a blind eye until it was too late? And how did those who witnessed or became involved in acts of perpetration later live with their past? How have cultural representations of ‘perpetrators’ affected individuals, and how do we respond to such images today? Using historical and cultural sources, this discussion – based on our AHRC-funded research project, ‘Compromised Identities? Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism’ – reflects on the ways in which people engage in moral compromises, or seek to justify or disassociate themselves from behaviours which compromised their identities in their own eyes or in the view of others.

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Revolution: UCL Publishers’ Prize 2019 | 18:30-20:00

Location: British Library - Piazza Pavilion, King's Cross 

(Information Studies)

The UCL Publishers’ Prize 2019 theme is Revolution. We are living in a time of constant political and social change, and this has inspired the original short stories and poems written by UCL students and alumni featured in the sixth edition of the UCL Publishers’ Prize. The anthology has been edited and produced by a team of students from the Publishing MA course. Join us at this event to hear our winning authors read out their poems and short stories, and to celebrate the latest emerging talent in creative writing at UCL.

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Queer Comics | 19:00-20:00 

Location: Gay's the Word Bookshop Bloomsbury


What are queer comics? How can comics illustrate the diversity of queer lives differently than other narrative forms? How has the creation and distribution of comics changed in recent years? The history of comics has always been queer and contemporary LGBTQ+ comics artists are continuing to explore and push the potential of comics to tell the stories of queer lives. Join cartoonists Eleanor Crewes (The Times I Knew I Was Gay) and MJ Wallace (Bi the Way) in conversation with UCL English Lecturer Dr Christine "Xine" Yao at Gay’s the Word Bookshop for an in-depth discussion into the world of comics, which will surely result in a long list of titles to watch out for.

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History Showoff | 19:30-22:00

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G02

Join some of UCL's funniest researchers and alumni for an evening of hilarious stories and jokes from the past. 

History Showoff is a comedy cabaret event all about the past, where a cast of historians, archaeologists, museum experts, geographers and comedians try to make sense of the olden days, and laugh at them a bit. You'll meet a cast of informative and entertaining experts ready to take you back, bringing weird and wonderful tales to life. History Showoff is hosted by Steve Cross, comedian and Wellcome Engagement Fellow, and a man who is proud that he didn't study history past the age of 13 (which is why he's had to make friends with all these knowledgeable people). History Showoff has previously appeared at the Bishopsgate Institute, Southwark Cathedral and British Academy. It's time for UCL!

This event has a £5.00 charge. 

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