Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


The Quo Vadis Festival of the Arts and Humanities

06 June 2022–09 June 2022, 11:00 am–3:00 pm

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The four-day festival, convened by the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, co-hosted by the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies and supported by the EI, will celebrate the Arts and Humanities in the modern world. The broad range of events include a roundtable with the Ambassadors of Europe; screening of four documentaries on contemporary London; and a workshop on research Impact and sustainability.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni






Stephen Hart and Florian Mussgnug

This year’s Quo Vadis Festival of the Arts and Humanities addresses the function of values in our world, whether they are the political values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity in the Roundtable with the Ambassadors of Europe, the value of art for wellbeing,  or the struggle against inequality and climate change (Wasteland, and Between Two Futures; 7 June). We look at the role that research plays in the elucidation of moral and historical values (Sigils and Fire; 7 June; Research Ethics, 8 June; Research Impact, 8 June), the changing role of languages and classics in the modern world, while celebrating how documentaries are able to interrogate everyday human values (Four Documentaries; Marc Isaacs, The Filmmaker’s House), thereby bringing us closer to an answer to Debra Castillo’s question: how do we promote a more human humanities? 


Monday 6 June 2022

11:00-12:30: Roundtable on “Language” at UCL, followed by a Q&A and debate (IAS Common Ground)

A roundtable on “Language” at UCL, consisting of a discussion with experts from various departments across UCL. The aim of this roundtable is to think through the ways in which UCL linguists can come together in order to produce a dynamic transformation in our understanding of the human ability to speak, read, interact and communicate through language. Could we move ahead on the research and methodology pioneered by The Survey of English Usage, founded in 1959 by Lord Randolph Quirk, which gathers samples of naturally-occurring language for the purposes of description and analysis? Could we also draw on the expertise we have in 115 languages at UCL ranging from Akkadian to Zulu, in order to work closely with a number of different language communities across London to create new mappings of how Londoners communicate in the 21st century?  Panel members are: Professor Richard Breheny (Linguistics), Professor Andrew Nevins (Linguistics), Professor Bas Aarts (English), Dr Jelena Celic (SSEES), Professor Kearsey Cormier (DCAL), Professor Geraldine Horan (SELCS), Professor Vieri Samek-Lodovici (SELCS) and Professor Kristen Kreider (The Slade School of Fine Art).

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/96798944978

13:00—14:00: A&H Book Launch I (IAS Common Ground)

This book launch will feature books published by A&H staff between June 2021 and June 2022 (including John Mullan, Emma; Dennis Duncan, Index, A History of; Maria Chiara D’Argenio, Indigenous Plots in Twenty-First Century Latin American Cinema)

16:30-18:00: The Value of Arts and Humanities to Health and Wellbeing Research  (IAS Common Ground)

Roundtable on the Arts, Health and Wellbeing, chaired by Sonu Shamdasani and Stephen Hart, consisting of 10-minute presentations by A&H Health/Well-being Research Fellows, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Presentations will be delivered by Leo Doulton, Leah Sidi, Thomas Kador, Hannah Sercombe and Sylvie McGowan. For more details on the projects, see below.

Leo Doulton, “Man & God - A Kodachrome Musical (Subtitle: exploring historic treatment of dementia through musical theatre)”

Director, writer, and game designer Leo Doulton studied History at University College London and Opera Making at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and he has been working with Professor Michael Berkowitz (UCL Hebrew and Jewish Studies) on a range of outreach projects, including Theatre in the Theresienstadt Ghetto (director), The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken (director/translator), and Man & God (director/writer). Their collaboration on The Tsar Wants His Photograph Taken contributed significantly to the work's Scottish premiere by Scottish Opera in 2021, which used Leo's translation and drew on Michael's research.

Leah Sidi, “NoMad: Creating a discussion about theatre and homelessness”

Dr Leah Sidi is a Lecturer in Health Humanities at UCL. Her research focus is on contemporary theatre and mental health, with a special focus on feminist theatre and psychoanalysis. She is currently recipient of an ISSF Wellcome Trust Award, researching feminist conceptions of community care.  Leah has published in Performance Research and is a regular contributor to the Institute for Medical Humanities’ The Polyphony. Her book, Sarah Kane’s Theatre of Psychic Life, will be published by Methuen Drama in 2023.

Thomas Kador, Hannah Sercombe, and Sylvie McGowan, “Places of learning as places for wellbeing: (re)positioning the role of creative health education”

Thomas Kador is Lecturer in Creative Health at UCL Arts & Sciences and jointly leads the MASc Creative Health programme. Hannah Sercombe and Sylvie McGowan are students on the new MASc Creative Health programme.

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/94538581926

18:30-20:00: Professor Debra Castillo (Cornell University), “The Scholar as Human” (online, by zoom)

Workshop convened by Professor Debra Castillo, the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Chair of Hispanic Studies, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She will be discussing her recent book, The Scholar as Human, a free e-book recently published by Cornell University, which is available for download here:


The  workshop will focus on two related themes, ‘The Scholar as Human’ and ‘Open Access’.  

In Part I, ‘The Scholar as Human’, Professor Castillo will be focussing on the post-theory, post profound budget cut climate we now live in. It is an environment in which humanists are more than ever questioning the last one hundred years of increasing specialization that put humanists in the academy, and turned the arts and performance into increasingly professional careers. The question is no longer, or not only, do the humanities have to be useful? We are now asking: what and how are some of the ways that the humanities are currently collaborating with and supporting communities outside those defined by our professional practice?   What are the literacies we need to cultivate, celebrate, and share?  How are meanings created and policed? Who is invited to the dialogue, and who is left out? How do competing politics and public philosophies shape and inform our identities, purposes, and practices as scholars?  How does engagement expand the topics and scope of inquiry in our work?  What kinds of conversations among the physical sciences, social sciences, and the humanities are necessary or enabled by these projects?  What distinctive things do arts and humanities have to offer to the work of engagement?  In short, how do we promote a more human humanities?

In Part II, Professor Castillo will be  focussing on the related theme of ‘Open Access’.  She will be drawing on several experiences both in book and journal publishing, and touch on the questions that always arise—such as how is open access in the humanities financed (we know how it is financed in the STEM fields—grants).  Some touchstones are:

Hathi Trust: https://www.hathitrust.org/

Cornell Open: https://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cornell-open/

Lever Press: https://www.fulcrum.org/leverpress

SUNY open access repository: https://soar.suny.edu/

Latin American Research Commons: https://www.larcommons.net/

Latin American Literary Review: https://www.lalrp.net/

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/94092650181

Tuesday 7 June 2022

11:00—12:30: Sigils and Fire: Speculative Captions of Colonial Worlds (IAS Common Ground)

A seminar based on the exhibition, "Sigils and Fire: Speculative Captions of Colonial Worlds", curated by Mataio Austin Dean (IAS Visiting Research Fellow) and Lydia Gibson (ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, Anthropology), and held in the space outside the Lecture theatre G22 in UCL, followed by a panel discussion of the interplay between field research and film in this project.

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/98244553630

12:00—13:00: Nicola Baldwin, “The City Dionysia”: Staged Reading of Wasteland Wasteland (IAS Forum)

An Academic, a Cleaner and a Student walk into a prize-winning building on the night before its prestigious opening; stranded by strike, student sit-in and rising flood, LOU, ROSA and JESS must cooperate to escape. Meanwhile THE PLAY attempts to interpret unfolding events... What does zero waste mean, applied to people? How can we outlaw single-use plastic while making workers disposable? Why do we find it easier to talk about Waste than global inequality that drives it? A work-in-progress reading of Wasteland, a new drama by playwright Nicola Baldwin (IAS Visiting Fellow), written for her UCL Creative Fellowship collaboration (“The City Dionysia: Narrating Wasteland in Urban Life”) with Dr Pushpa Arabindoo, Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and co-director of UCL Urban Laboratory, in response to the IAS and Urban Lab joint theme of ‘Waste’. Performed by Rebecca Crankshaw, Jimena Larraguivel, Tara Kearney, Shreya Patel. With discussion.

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/99689586192

13:15—15:00: "Between Two Futures": Jessie Greengrass on Literature in the Anthropocene (IAS Common Ground)

Is anxiety the only possible response to the unfolding climate emergency? Can literature point towards other experiences and emotions: furious defiance, utopian longing, an intimate desire to care about small, close things? In this event, award-winning novelist Jessie Greengrass will read from her work, including her latest novel, The High House (2021), and will speak about climate activism and the arts, in conversation with Dr Lara Choksey (English) and Prof. Florian Mussgnug (School of European Languages, Culture and Society). This event is part of the "Writers of the Anthropocene" series, hosted by UCL Anthropocene, and in support of the UCL Sustainable Development Goals Initiative. 

15:30—17:45 The Values of Europe: A Roundtable with the Ambassadors of Europe (Christopher Ingold Building, XLG2, Chemistry Auditorium)

A roundtable chaired by Professor Geraint Rees (Vice Provost Research, Innovation and Global Engagement, UCL)

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2012) states in its opening paragraph the following: “Conscious of its spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law”. In 2022, in direct contrast to these values, we seem to be living in a world in which war – or the threat of war –  is openly used to de-stabilize democracy, a world in which disinformation and fake news are used to undermine human dignity and freedom, a world in which energy, natural resources and food are weaponized in order to break down solidarity and the rule of law. It is clear that Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have had their role to play in the birth of some of these tensions in the modern world, but what is also clear is that we are at a turning-point in the history of Europe’s role in the world, and thus we propose that it is timely to hold a debate on “The Values of Europe”. 

15:30-15:35:    Welcome by Professor Geraint Rees (FMedSci), Vice Provost Research, Innovation and Global Engagement, UCL

15:35-15:45:    The Swedish Ambassador, Her Excellency Mikaela Kumlin Granit

15:45-15:55:    The Spanish Ambassador, His Excellency José Pascual Marco

15:55-16:05:    The Dutch Ambassador, His Excellency Karel van Oosterom

16:05-16:15:    The Czech Ambassador, Her Excellency Marie Chatardová (pre-recorded presentation)

16:15-16:25:    The Austrian Ambassador, His Excellency Michael Zimmermann

16:25-16:35:    The Polish Ambassador, His Excellency Piotr Wilczek

16:35-16:45:    The Italian Ambassador, His Excellency Raffaele Trombetta (pre-recorded presentation)

16:45-17:15:    Q&A co-ordinated by Professor Stephen M. Hart

17:15-17:45:    Reception

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/96074891400

Wednesday 8 June 2022

11:30—12:30: Research Ethics and the Arts and Humanities (IAS Common Ground)

This roundtable will be looking at some of the inconsistencies that emerge when we begin to think through the interplay between the discourse of research ethics and that of the arts and humanities. Is it acceptable, for example, that in the eyes of Research Ethics, literary criticism and artistic activity are “not research”? Should we adopt a new category of “no risk” to go alongside the traditional categories of “low risk”, “medium risk” and “high risk”? Questions such as these will be addressed by Professor Cheryl Thomas (Laws), Professor James Wilson (Philosophy), Sonu Shamdasani (Health Humanities; SELCS) and Professor Andrew Flinn (Information Studies) in a roundtable chaired by Professor Stephen Hart (SELCS).  

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/99021200768

13:00—14:00: A&H Book Launch II (IAS Common Ground)

This book launch will feature books published by A&H staff between June 2021 and June 2022 (including María E. López, Gender Violence in Twenty-first-century Latin American Women’s Writing; Florian Mussgnug, Mathelinda Nabugodi, Thea Petrou (eds), Thinking Through Relation: Encounters in Creative Critical Writing (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2021); Anneleen Masschelein, Florian Mussgnug, Jennifer Rushworth (eds),  Mediating Vulnerability: Comparative Approaches and Questions of Genre (London: UCL Press, 2022); Gesine Manuwald, Cicero’s Post reditum;  Emily Baker, Nazism, The Second World War and the Holocaust in Contemporary Latin American Fiction; Sebastian Coxon, Beards and Texts: Images of Masculinity in Medieval German Literature; and Heinrich Bebel, Facetiae: Jokes and Funny Stories from the Sixteenth Century (edition-translation); James Wilson, Philosophy for Public Health and Public Policy)

14:30-16:00: Classics in the Modern World (IAS Common Ground)

This roundtable on ‘Classics in the Modern World’ will discuss what ‘Classics’ means today, how the understanding and teaching of the subject has evolved, in what ways the study of the subject can still be relevant today and can help with navigating the modern world as well as how it relates to other subjects. The conversation will thus touch on key questions related to the relevance and ‘applicability’ of academic study in today's world. Participants engaging with the subject from a variety of angles will offer their views. Panel members: Gesine Manuwald (Greek and Latin), Fiachra Mac Góráin (Greek and Latin), Valentina Arena (History), Chris Stamatakis (English), Ffion Smith (Greek and Latin), Melissa Pires Da Silva (Greek and Latin).

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/97985079772

17:00—18:00: Screening of four Documentaries on contemporary London (IAS Forum)

The screening of four 8-minute Documentaries on contemporary London, directed by UCL MA Film Studies students, followed by a Q&A and discussion

Invisible Pockets (2022; dir. Chenfei Huang, Di Wu and Qi Wu)

Lao She in London (2022; dir. Yuchong Mao, Chuxian Gan and Xiaoyue Zhang)

Foodbank (2002; dir. Jiatong Tu, Cheng Shang, Xiang Li and Huan Li)

How (Not) to be Lonely in London (2002; dir. Maria Zurita Muzquiz; Wenxin Cai and Chang Liu)

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/96947426414

18:30-20:45: Marc Isaacs, The Filmmaker’s House (IAS Forum)

Screening of Marc Isaacs’s recent film, The Filmmaker’s House, followed by a Q&A with the director (Marc Isaacs, interviewed by Stephen Hart)

When the Filmmaker is told his next film must be about crime, sex or celebrity to get funded, he takes matters into his own hands and begins shooting in his home with a cast of characters connected to his own life. Two English builders, employed to replace the garden fence, temporarily remove the barrier between the house and a Pakistani neighbour. A homeless Slovakian man charms the Filmmaker's Colombian cleaner to let him in and tests everyone's ideas of boundaries and hospitality.

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/95193620407

Thursday 9 June 2022

11:00—12:30: 8 films on A&H Research, curated by Florian Mussgnug (Foster Court 235)

The screening of eight 3-minute films showcasing the variety of research projects currently underway in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities – on social care, classical antiquity in cinema, Henry James, art education in Kenya, subtitling in Netflix, Palestinian statelessness, public policy in Russia and Ukraine, and shaping NHS policy – followed by a Q&A and debate on the ways in which research has impact in the modern-day world


13:00-15:00: Research Impact and Sustainability (Malet Place Engineering Building, 1.20)

This workshop will consist of a 45-minute presentation by Dr Jennifer Edmond, Trinity College Dublin on “Research Impact and Sustainability”, followed by 10-minute presentations by a selection of the A&H Impact Fellows 2022 on their findings, and concluding with a wrap-up on lessons learned. The following Impact Fellows will be presenting on their work:

Dr Ranjita Dhital (Interdisciplinary Health Studies) (in-person)

Dr Adam Crymble (Digital Humanities) (in-person)

Dr Antonis Bikakis (Department of Information Studies) (remotely)

Professor Maria Wyke (Department of Greek and Latin) (remotely)

Dr Jennifer Edmond’s research career has been diverse and highly transdisciplinary and has a particular focus on the impact of technology on the arts and humanities, leading a number of successful, large-scale, funded research projects, including CENDARI (FP7), Europeana Cloud (FP7), PARTHENOS (H2020), and PROVIDE DH (CHIST-ERA). This body of research explores how we support the 'digital turn' for humanists, respecting their strong tradition of qualitative methods and cultural sources. Currently she is finding very fruitful ground in the exploration of how understanding the intersection of technology with the study of the humanities provides new insight into social challenges, in particular as pertains to the use of information and communication technologies. This was the focus of the SPECTRESS Network (FP7) and the KPLEX project (H2020), as well as a number of initiatives currently in application stage. In her presentation she will be focussing on “Research Impact and Sustainability”

Zoom link: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/92084556900





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