Festival of Culture


Festival of Culture - Wednesday 5 June 2019

Festival of Culture listings by day.

Wednesday Morning Sessions

Arts and Sciences (BASc) End of Year Lab Conference | 09:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00

Location: Chadwick Building, B05 Lecture Theatre

(Arts & Sciences (BASc))

Come along and hear presentations from first year students on the Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree at UCL. Working in groups, students conducted some self-organised experiments and performed data collection. This presentation showcases the findings and results of their experiments.

Drop in, no booking required

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), our institution 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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Wednesday Lunchtime Sessions

UCL Special Collections Presents… | 12:00-19:00 (in bookable slots)

Location: Wilkins Building, South Junction Reading Room

(UCL Special Collections)

Join our team of friendly archivists and librarians at the South Junction Reading Room as they present some of their favourite rare books, archives and manuscripts in an informal setting.

We are running a range of displays in bookable slots throughout the day, including:

12:00-12:30 and 12:30-13:00
The colour of poetry: concrete poems from the Small Press collection
A history of borders: geography textbooks from the 18th and 19th Century

13:10-13:40 and 13:40-14:10
Highlights from the Ogden Library: hidden details discovered by our cataloguers
Students’ voices: magazines, petitions, and more from the College Archive

15:40-16:10, and 16:10-16:40
Treasures of print: highlights from our rare books collections
The Alex Comfort Papers: journals, manuscripts, and more from the influential scientist and writer

16:50-17:20 and 17:20-17:50
Youth movements: Forest School Camp and the Woodcraft Folk archives
The Huguenot Library: the daily lives of Huguenot immigrants

18:00-18:30 and 18:30-19:00
Autograph letters: tales from the lives of 19th and 20th century writers
Treasures of print: highlights from our rare books collections

The event is open to all aged 12 years and above.

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Passing In: An audience with the Lady Superintendent of Women Students | 12:00-13:00 and 14:15-15:15

Location: Meet at the Festival Hub - UCL Main Quad 

(Institute of Education/UCL Culture)

Come and meet Miss Rosa Morison for a walking performance around UCL’s Wilkins Building. Between 1883-1919 all intending female students at University College had to present a reference, in person, acceptable to the Lady Superintendent of Women Students – a process known as ‘passing in’. Kate Vigurs, a professional historical interpreter, will take on the role of Miss Rosa Morison, the first Lady Superintendent (1883-1912). Rosa will talk about her life and give the audience a short tour of the spaces and places open to women at UCL before the First World War. The performance is inspired by archival sources in UCL Special Collections and was researched and written by Georgina Brewis (UCL Institute of Education), Nina Pearlman (UCL Culture) and Kate Vigurs.

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What’s wrong with American English? (Nothing) | 12:30-13:30

Location: Wilkins Building, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre


American English is heard and spoken far more often than British English, and yet it is commonly regarded as a corrupted, invasive form of the language that needs to be resisted before it ruins or kills off ‘proper’ English. Join us for a discussion and Q&A where we will explore the nature of ‘Americanisms’ and the attitudes that they provoke. Are the differences between British English and American English simply a matter of a few words, or are they more significant? And why do so many people care anyway?
Kathryn Allan, of UCL’s Department of English Language and Literature, will be joined by Lynne Murphy, author of The Prodigal Tongue: The Love–Hate Relationship Between British and American English and the blog ‘Separated by a Common Language’.

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Wednesday Afternoon Sessions

Roma, Gypsies and Travellers Across Europe: Representations in Research, Art, and Activism | 15:00-17:00

Location: The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DP

(European Institute)

Join the UCL European Institute to explore a range of experiences of researching and representing Roma, Gypsies, and Travellers in various contexts in the UK and Europe. Artist, curator and researcher Dr Daniel Baker, a Romani Gypsy who is currently curating FUTUROMA for the 2019 Venice Biennale, will be joined in conversation by three UCL anthropologists: Prof. Michael Stewart, leading expert on the ethnography and historical ethnography of Roma and Gypsies in Europe, and on Roma under the Nazis; Dr Anna Hoare, who will tell us about her research on post-nomadic architecture and settlement forms in Ireland and the UK and her work developing an an online interactive map of London from the perspectives of Romanies, Irish Travellers and Showpeople for the organisation 'London Gypsies and Travellers’; while Dr Judit Durst will share some of her research findings around Hungarian Roma labour migration to the UK and the hidden costs of changing social class for university educated Roma from disadvantaged family backgrounds. 

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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

Unsung heroines of classical history: Natalie Haynes in Conversation | 16:30-17:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G02

(Greek & Latin)

Star of the BBC Radio 4 series, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, Natalie Haynes brings her unique combination of ancient history and stand-up comedy to this year’s Festival of Culture.

In her latest novel, A Thousand Ships, broadcaster and classicist Natalie retells the story of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective. Ahead of her performance of Troy Story at the Bloomsbury Theatre later in the day, she will join Dr Antony Makrinos, Senior Teaching Fellow in Classics at UCL, for a conversation about the women who've been previously confined to the shadows and who now should take centre stage. 

Natalie Haynes is a classicist, comedian, writer and broadcaster. Her BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, is about to record its fifth series. She is the author of five books: her most recent novel, A Thousand Ships, was published in May. 

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Wednesday Evening Sessions

UCL Institute of Archaeology: short research talks | 18:00-19:00

Location: Institute of Archaeology, G6 Lecture Theatre


Come and listen to UCL Institute of Archaeology staff speak on topics ranging from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to Neanderthals. All are welcome and there will be an opportunity to ask questions.

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Women Against Pit Closures: Women and Feminism in the Miners’ Strike, 1984-5 | 18:00-19:00

Location: Roberts Building, G08 Sir David Davies Lecture Theatre

(History / qUCL)

This session will look at women’s activism in the miners’ strike of 1984-5. If you’ve seen the film Pride (2014) you’ll know that women’s support groups formed in coalfield communities to help raise money, provide soup kitchens and food parcels to striking miners and their families, and picket and demonstrate in support of the strike. In 2018-19 Dr Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite (UCL History) undertook a major oral history project with Dr Victoria Dawson (UCL History) and Dr Natalie Thomlinson (University of Reading) to talk to over 100 women from Scotland, the north east, Yorkshire, South Wales, Nottinghamshire and Kent about what it was like being part of this movement. In this session you’ll hear their own words. In particular, Florence will discuss what they’ve found about how the strike affected women’s views of feminism or ‘Women’s Liberation’. 

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Space in Relation - Édouard Glissant in architecture and urban studies | 18:00-20:00

Location: G22 Lecture Theatre, Pearson Building (North East Entrance)

(Urban Lab)

The poet/philosopher Édouard Glissant has been increasingly recognised as a major figure in postcolonial studies, but outside of literary and francophone disciplines his work is not widely known or critiqued. This panel will explore the possibility of applying Glissant’s influential writings and key concepts to discourse and thinking around urban studies, architecture and spatial practice. Organised by UCL Urban Laboratory in collaboration with Katy Beinart (University of Brighton) and Institut du Tout-Monde, speakers include Sylvie Glissant, Sam Coombes, Heidi Bojsen, AbdouMaliq Simone, and Charles Forsdick. 
Preceding the evening panel, an afternoon workshop (14.00 – 17.00) will run for researchers and others with an interest in a deeper examination of Glissant’s work. For further information and to RSVP for the workshop element, please email urbanlaboratory@ucl.ac.uk

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The Colonial Past of Postcolonial EUrope | 18:00-20:00

Location: Wilkins Building, IAS Common Ground


This talk builds upon selected themes addressed in Professor Elizabeth Buettner’s  (University of Amsterdam) book Europe after Empire: Decolonization, Society, and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2016), in which she considered the history of British as well as French, Belgian, Dutch, and Portuguese experiences of coming to terms with the end of empire ‘at home’. He work pays special attention to migration, multicultural societies, and memories of empire in postcolonial Western Europe. This lecture connects topics that have received most attention among scholars who focus on Western European national cases with a newer but growing body of work that positions colonialism and empire as decisive aspects of European history across the continent, extending to Nordic countries as well as Central and Eastern Europe. Professor Buettner argues that the ‘imperial turn’ should not only be applied to the history of individual nations, but rather a shared European history that entails taking a ‘continental turn’, allowing for fresh approaches to the history of Europe’s overseas and continental empires past, illuminating the still understudied colonial history and heritage of today’s European Union.

With thanks to UCL’s Global Engagement Office, UCL History, and the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies for their generous funding and support. 

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The inspiration behind The Dragon Lady: Stephen and Virginia Courtauld and the hidden art of Zimbabwe | 18:30-19:30

Location: Main Quad Pop Up G01 


Join us as we welcome UCL alumnus Louisa Treger to talk about her new novel, The Dragon Lady.

Opening with the shooting of Lady Virginia Courtauld in 1950s Rhodesia, The Dragon Lady tells the story of Ginie Courtauld, the snake tattoo running the length of one leg sealing her reputation as a boundary-breaker.

From the glamorous Italian Riviera before the Great War as a newly-wed Marchesa, via the Art Deco glory of Eltham Palace as an ostracised divorcée now married to Stephen Courtauld, to segregated Rhodesia in the 1950s – where the couple built their home, La Rochelle, funded projects including the National Art Gallery, but where their hopes to forge a new life as progressive liberals proved mortally dangerous – The Dragon Lady spans an era of enormous cultural and social change.

Subtly blending fact and fiction, The Dragon Lady explores the real Virginia Courtauld, a woman who rejected the role of submissive wife and was as unconventional as she was pioneering.

Louisa Treger, a classical violinist, studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. She subsequently turned to literature, earning a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship.  Her first novel, The Lodger, was published in 2014. Her second novel, The Dragon Lady, is published on 13 June 2019. 

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In Dialogue with Sharmaine Lovegrove, Founder and Publisher of Dialogue Books | 18:30-20:00

Location: Waterstones Gower Street

(English / Information Studies / qUCL)

Diversity and inclusion are central to Sharmaine Lovegrove’s imprint, Dialogue Books (Little, Brown Book Group). Since its launch in 2017, Dialogue Books has championed the work of marginalised writers, especially those from LGBTQI+, disability, BAME and working class communities. In doing so, Sharmaine has challenged the publishing world and produced award-winning, game-changing books. Works like Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton, a recent nominee of the Women’s Prize 2019, and The Old Slave and the Mastiff by Goincourt Prize winner Patrick Chamoiseau celebrate the stories of underrepresented characters. In collaboration with UCL’s English Department and the Department of Information Studies, Sharmaine will be in conversation with Associate Professor Melanie Ramdarshan Bold to discuss her invaluable work as the founder and publisher of Dialogue Books, in addition to her Rewriting the Canon course (which is in partnership with gal-dem magazine). Books published by the imprint, as well as Melanie’s book Inclusive Young Adult Fiction: Authors of Colour in the United Kingdom (2019) will be available to purchase at the event.

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Natalie Haynes: Troy Story | 19:30-20:30

Location: Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL Wilkins Building

(Greek & Latin)

Star of the BBC Radio 4 series, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, Natalie brings her unique combination of ancient history and stand-up comedy to UCL, following her 100+ date tour, Honour Among Thebes.

Natalie spent 12 years as a stand-up comedian, before returning to her first love with her book, The Ancient Guide to Modern Life. To coincide with her latest novel, A Thousand Ships (published 2 May 2019), she will take audiences on a tour around Trojan War, the greatest conflict in ancient literature, perhaps in literature full stop. From the causes of the war (divine displeasure) to its complex aftermath, this show encompasses some of the greatest poetry ever written: The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Oresteia, The Trojan Women and much more. The stories of the women whose lives the war affected have been largely untold, from the Amazon warrior, Penthesilea, to the priestess who saw the whole thing coming, Cassandra. Continuing a project she began with her novel, The Children of Jocasta, Natalie takes the women out of the shadows and puts them back where they belong: in the middle of the story.

Natalie Haynes is a classicist, comedian, writer and broadcaster. Her BBC Radio 4 show, Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, is about to record its fifth series. She is the author of five books: her most recent novel, A Thousand Ships, was published in May.

This event has a £5.00 charge. 

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