Virtual Summer Festival of Learning open talk descriptions | Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) skip to content

Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


Free open talks descriptions

In addition to the week-long courses, we are delighted to announce the proposed series of open talks with descriptions.

In case you have not registered your interest already, to attend the talks please register your interest via the link below: 

Register your interest

Once you have registered your interest you will receive a link from us shortly before the start of the Summer Festival which will allow access to any of the following talks. Talks will go live at 09:00 (BST) each day at the rate of 4-5 per day, on the dates indicated below. Please note that talks will be released daily, and not before the Festival has started (6 July). You can listen to them at any time during this period.  Please enjoy these short talks and taster sessions.

Please note:  these are proposed titles and speakers.  We reserve the right to make additions and alterations to this list, and changes to the release date.

Week 1: 6 July - 10 July

The impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns on air quality and climate: What have we learned so far? Dr Alex Archibald 
Lecturer in Atmospheric Chemistry Modelling, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge; Fellow, Emmanuel College

As a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented lockdown measures have been imposed worldwide to reduce the spread of the disease, causing huge reductions in economic activity and corresponding reductions in transport, industrial and aviation emissions. As well as lowering emissions of long lived greenhouse gases, this has resulted in a dramatic reduction in the emissions of components which affect air quality. We will discuss our work in this area and the implications for future strategies to improve air quality and climate.

Jean Paul Sartre as a public intellectual: WWII, the French Resistance and Existentialist Philosophy Professor Patrick Baert 
Professor of Social Theory at the University of Cambridge; Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge

The French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre was not widely known until 1944. With a few years, however, he had become a well-known and iconic figure in France and beyond, associated with existentialist philosophy and the ideas of freedom, responsibility and the politically committed intellectual. How can we explain his sudden rise? In this talk, we try to account for Sartre's sudden popularity by putting his persona and his philosophy in the context of WWII, the German occupation, French collaboration and the Resistance. 

Reading Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy Dr Jenny Bavidge 
Academic Director and University Senior Lecturer in English Literature, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

The publication of The Mirror and the Light in 2020 marked the end of Hilary Mantel's remarkable trilogy of novels charting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell. This lecture will explore the novels' close-up account of Henry VIII's turbulent court and investigate how Mantel's intimate style opens Cromwell's mind and motivations to modern readers.

An overheated world Sir Tony Brenton 
Former British Ambassador to Russia

After the end of the Cold War the international rise of democracy and concern for human rights looked unstoppable. But they have now gone into retreat. Why, and what happens next?

Lord Byron: still ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’? Simon Browne 
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

Byron has divided critics since he first published in 1807.  Wildly popular to contemporary readers, though reprimanded for immorality by censorious reviewers, he now lives on as the original Heathcliff - and is reprimanded for his aesthetics rather than his morality.  This short lecture will look at some of the elements that made him the hero of his age.

The strange adventures of H Sarah Burton
Novelist and biographer; Creative Writing Panel Tutor, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

An interview with Sarah Burton about her new novel: The Strange Adventures of H

Animal Rights Law Dr Seán Butler 
Fellow and Director of Studies in Law, St Edmund's College; Director, Cambridge Centre for Animal Rights Law

The current paradigm for animals is that they are property to be owned or killed as we choose. Animal rights challenges this, arguing instead that people should not have the right to exploit animals or kill them. In his talk, Dr Seán Butler explores what may be one of the most significant legal reforms of the next 50 years.

1989: why the Wall fell Dr Jonathan Davis 
Senior Lecturer in Russian and Modern History, Anglia Ruskin University

At the start of 1989, the Berlin Wall and the dictatorships that stood behind it seemed secure. By the end of the year, dictators had fallen, the Wall was open, and the world began to change in extraordinary ways. This talk considers changes in international politics and protest movements in the Soviet bloc to show how these facilitated the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.

Alan Turing and the Enigma machine Dr James Grime 
Mathematician, Speaker

Alan Turing may best be remembered as one of the leading code breakers of Bletchley Park during World War II. It was Turing's brilliant insights and mathematical mind that helped to break Enigma, the apparently unbreakable code used by the German military. We present a history of both Alan Turing and the Enigma leading to this triumph of mathematical ingenuity.

Experiencing histories: mural painting in Britain Dr Lydia Hamlett 
Academic Director in History of Art, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge; Fellow, Murray Edwards College

This lecture will examine mural painting in Britain in the 17th and early 18th centuries in royal palaces and aristocratic houses. It will argue that murals were part of multi-media experiences rather than intended as wallpaper for the rich and famous. It will focus on three areas of experience: courtly performance, the animation of classical myth, and the illumination of contemporaneous historical events. The lecture will argue that murals were a key part of the visual culture of the times, intricately linked with the politics, history and society.   

Heart of oak – the oak in history, legend and natural history Dr Patrick Harding 
Freelance Lecturer, Broadcaster and Author

We consider the oak from Birnam wood to battleships, from charcoal to cathedrals and from dryads to druids. The talk also includes Charles II, chicken of the woods, cow wheat and references to bats, beetles, beef steaks and finally, Spike Milligan (the comedian) and Kate Moss (the model).  All are linked with the iconic British oak tree.

Lessons from Ophelia Vivien Heilbron 
Actor; Director; Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

Vivien Heilbron recollects: “When Patrick Stewart asked me to play Ophelia in a tour he was organising for America, my heart did not leap as it would have done had I been asked to play Viola, say, or Juliet. However, my initial lack of enthusiasm vanished as I began to rehearse. This process began with one question: ‘Why does Ophelia go mad?’ The journey as I looked for answers altered the way I have worked ever since.”

Neuroscience: unravelling the brain Professor Peter J Hutchinson, Mr. Jeremy Dearling, and the COMMIT team of investigators
Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Cambridge

The brain is one of the most important organs. However, traumatic brain injury is the largest cause of death in people under 40 in the developed world, also rising with ageing populations. Complex secondary changes can worsen outcome for the patient. Our neuroscience studies are developing better monitoring technology for guiding treatment.

How Roman was Roman Britain? Dr Nicholas James 
Consultant; Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Magdalene College; Affiliated Scholar in Archaeology and Institute of Continuing Education Panel Tutor, University of Cambridge

Hadrian's Wall, many of today's main roads and many of our place-names suggest major Roman impact; and it was the Romans who brought Christianity. Yet some of these features were older; and the early Middle Ages showed no sign of Roman heritage. How can we resolve the paradox?

Is there more to medieval warfare than fighting? Dr Philip Morgan 
Senior Lecturer, University of Keele

Most people think of the Middle Ages as addicted to violence, a world of battles, besieged castles and sharp-blade injuries. In this series of short talks we will look at different ways of writing about, seeing and remembering warfare in the Middle Ages. 

  • Writing medieval battles 

In July 1403 Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur) fought against Henry IV at the battle of Shrewsbury. When chroniclers came to write their accounts of what had happened, what issues did they think were important? We will look at several accounts of Shrewsbury to reveal the very different concerns of those accounts.

  • Picturing medieval battles 

Pictures of medieval battles are common in illuminated manuscripts. But, what exactly are the artists trying to illustrate? We will look at images of fighting, death and burial to reveal that artists too had their own ways of seeing medieval battles.

  • Remembering medieval battles

Battle Abbey is built on the site of the Battle of Hastings. Is it, and other foundations like it, really a war memorial?  What happened to the dead, and how were they remembered? We will start with the church of St Mary Magdalene, Battlefield near Shrewsbury to ask questions about medieval remembrance.

Sutton Hoo and the Golden Age of Early England Dr Sam Newton
Lecturer in Early Medieval and Wuffing Studies

A close look at some of the gold cloisonné masterworks found aboard the Sutton Hoo ship-burial, which, along with similar treasures from related sites, reveal a largely forgotten golden age in the history of art and culture among the early English-speaking peoples.

Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield: “a public of two” Dr Claire Nicholson 
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield were contemporary Modernist writers whose relationship was complex and often contradictory. The link between them was intimate but guarded, mutually inspiring but competitive. This lecture explores how their ambivalent relationship also brought them enough common ground for Woolf to celebrate their “public of two”.

Little lights with big ideas Professor Rachel Oliver
Professor of Materials Science, Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge

Light is all around us, and we rarely give any thought to its nature.  However, our understanding of light as both a wave and a particle is inspiring new types of light source which emit a controlled number of quantum particles of light.  These amazing "little lights" contribute to some big ideas about the future of computation and secure communication.

Greek art and ideas in the Cambridge Museum of Classical Archaeology Jan Parker 
Senior Member (Tragedy and Classical Epic) of the Faculties of Classics and English, University of Cambridge; Finals supervisor Emmanuel College and Gonville and Caius College; Chair, Humanities Higher Education Research Group, Lucy Cavendish College

In the Faculty of Classics we use our Museum of Classical Archaeology (the Cast Gallery) not only to reveal the development of Greek statuary but also the aesthetic and philosophic ideas they represent. This virtual tour  of the gallery will explore art and ideas, setting the statues - from the first great standing figures through to those of Periclean Athens and beyond – in their historical and cultural history.

Courting Shadows and Rifling Paradise Professor Jem Poster 
Poet and novelist; Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University

An interview with Jem Poster about his two historical novels, Courting Shadows and Rifling Paradise

Serving a villain: Cardinal Wolsey and Henry VIII Dr Jessica Sharkey
Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History, University of East Anglia

Thomas Wolsey rose from lowly origins to become both the dominant figure at the court of Henry VIII and also an important force in European politics.  His is a classic tale of rise and demise, of fortune's wheel turning full circle.  This talk considers the realities, rewards and dangers of serving a king like Henry VIII.

Digital productivity and digital wellbeing Tyler Shores 
ThinkLab Program Manager, University of Cambridge; Senior Research Associate Jesus College

Many of us are now spending more time online than ever before — both for our work, as well as our personal and social lives. In these unusual times, it can all feel like too much. This talk will be an opportunity to rethink aspects of digital technology in our everyday lives how we engage with online news, social media, as well as how we interact with others. 

Week 2: 13 July - 17 July

Medieval literature and race: exploding the myths Dr Lucy Allen-Goss
Irish Research Council postdoctoral fellow at Trinity College Dublin 

Lucy Allen-Goss’s talk responds to ongoing debates about race and history, and to the myth of a crusading ‘white Christendom’ emerging from medieval literature that has in some cases been adopted and “weaponised” to support racist ideologies. She examines how medieval literature represents race as a concept, and in doing so, exposes flaws in the construction of our own ideologies of race.

Plastic planet Dr Claire Barlow 
University Senior Lecturer, Cambridge University Engineering Department; Fellow, College Lecturer, and Director of Studies, Newnham College

Waste plastic has a devastating effect on our environment but packaging can save huge amounts of resources if used and disposed of wisely. This talk looks at the big picture around the environmental consequences of plastics for packaging, and examines the alternatives.

Living in the shadow of the Bomb: Hiroshima and after Sir Tony Brenton
Former British Ambassador to Russia

The advent of the Atomic Bomb transformed global power relations. We thought we had the beast confined, but now it is reemerging. And the rise of cyberconflict offers a new and parallel set of threats.

Liberal values in retreat: Westphalia here we come Sir Tony Brenton 
Former British Ambassador to Russia

After the end of the Cold War the international rise of democracy and concern for human rights looked unstoppable. But they have now gone into retreat. Why, and what happens next?

Shakespeare's Othello: Venice, Cyprus and a man ‘of royal siege’ Simon Browne 
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

Shakespeare gives Othello a fairly complicated back story and also an emotional link to location.  What he is in Venice seems to be different to what he is in Cyprus. In this lecture we will look at the elements Shakespeare has used to create the complex characterisation of his central figure.

Impostors and A Double Life Sarah Burton  
Novelist and biographer; Creative Writing Panel Tutor, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

An interview with Sarah Burton about her two works of creative non-fiction, Impostors and A Double Life

Can Archaeologists excavate the Nazis? Dr Gilly Carr
Academic Director, University Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education  

Archaeology is a discipline associated with the distant past, but in recent years archaeologists have turned their attention towards the more recent past. In this 75th year of the end of the Second World War, this lecture explores just how archaeologists can excavate the Nazis. Indiana Jones would have approved!

Other worlds: the rise of the Multiverse in Fundamental Physics Dr Harry Cliff 
Science Museum Fellow, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge

The idea that our universe is just one of a vast number has been growing increasingly prominent in physics over the past decade. In this lecture, particle physicist Harry Cliff will explore the reasons some physicists have become convinced that we live in a multiverse, why others find the idea repugnant, and whether experiments will ever be able to tell us one way or the other.

Turning points in the History of Science Dr Seb Falk 
Rosamund Chambers Research Fellow, Girton College

What do we mean by scientific discovery (or invention)?  How should we celebrate it?  This lecture will examine some iconic achievements from the history of science.  From Newton’s apple to Nobel prizes, we will unpack the popular myths surrounding them, using an array of media sources and objects in Cambridge’s museums.

Tudor neuroscience Dr Christina Faraday
Affiliated Lecturer in History of Art, University of Cambridge

What did Tudor people think happened in the mind? In this talk we’ll explore a model of the brain inherited from Aristotle via the Middle Ages, where seeing was physical and thoughts were images, and a worm controlled your memory. We’ll also discuss the ramifications of these theories for Tudor views of art.

The costs and benefits of dating vampires: economics and Young Adult fiction Meghane Flynn & Sarah Hardstaff
Librarian and PhD candidate, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge; PhD graduand, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge

Literature and popular culture often act as forms of commentary on economic conditions, reproducing and challenging ways of thinking about the economy. In this talk, two children’s literature scholars look at representations of money, society and decision-making in Young Adult blockbusters Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games.

Illustrating Britain’s mythic origins Dr Amy Jeffs

In this talk, author and artist, Dr Amy Jeffs, will introduce word and image in relation to the mythic origins of Britain. Focusing largely on one 12th-century narrative, while travelling from manuscripts, through printed books and Stonehenge to her own artistic practice, she will ask how its illustrations have worked and what we might learn from them today. As an academic with an impulse to create (and in the knowledge that in this, she is far from alone), she will consider the compatibility of academic research and artistic creativity.  

Existential Risk: an introduction to studying the end of the World Dr Luke Kemp
Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, CRASSH, University of Cambridge

What is an existential risk? How can we study the prospect of human extinction? This talk will unravel these questions by providing an introduction to the study of existential risk. We will explore the difference between a collapse, global catastrophe and an existential risk, and the tools for studying our darkest futures.

The BBC: broadcaster to the world Dr Seán Lang
Senior Lecturer in History and Politics, Anglia Ruskin University

How did the BBC become the most famous broadcaster in the world?  This talk will look at the development of the BBC from its early radio days, though the experience of WWII, when it became a symbol of freedom, to its troubled heyday in the sixties and seventies, through to the Netflix-dominated digital world of today.   

Realism and Fantasy Dr John Lennard
Formerly Fellow and Director of Studies in English, Trinity Hall and Professor of British and American Literature, University of the West Indies, Mona; Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education; Associate Member and Director of Studies in English at Hughes Hall

These modes of writing fiction are often supposed mutually exclusive — but they aren’t. This lecture investigates our misunderstandings of both.

COVID-19: the story of an Apocalypse… but in both senses of the word Dr Calum Nicholson
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

The COVID-19 pandemic of course constitutes a public health and socio-economic apocalypse, in the modern sense of the word  - cataclysm. In this lecture, Dr Nicholson argues that it also constitutes an apocalypse in the original sense of the word - a revelation of things that had previously been concealed.

The history of English Karen Ottewell
Director of Academic Development and Training for International Students, The Language Centre, University of Cambridge; Fellow and Graduate Tutor, Lucy Cavendish College; Senior Pro-Proctor.

A light-hearted and yet enlightening gambol through the history of the English language, starting from its Anglo-Saxon roots through to its status today as Globish, a global language. 

Courts and Palaces of the Renaissance Dr Sarah Pearson
Architectural historian and writer

The Courts and Palaces of Northern Italy provide a fascinating glimpse into the spread of Renaissance Art and Architecture, and of the huge variety in the tastes of patrons. When leading families commissioned artworks, it was to demonstrate their discrimination, erudition and also to distinguish themselves from their neighbours. This lecture examines the Courts of Mantua, Ferrara, Rimini and Urbino and considers how they employed art and architecture to promote their identity.

Brought to light - Jem Poster's poetry Professor Jem Poster
Poet and novelist; Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University

Sarah Burton interviews Jem Poster about his poetry

Framing the city: Sickert’s Girl at a Window, Little Rachel Jo Rhymer  

Girl at a Window, Little Rachel (1907), is a dark and enigmatic interior scene. Despite our close proximity to the girl as she reaches towards the French window, perception of her and the London view outside are obscured by Sickert’s emphatic brush marks. With such brevity of detail, what is revealed?​

Which type of technologies can we use for fighting a pandemic?​ Dr Clarissa Rios Rojas

This talk describes diverse types of emerging technologies that are currently being repurposed to find solutions during the COVID19 crisis. We will talk about 3D printing, Artificial intelligence, Machine Learning, Computational modelling, DNA medicine, Recombinant Vaccines, Nanomaterials and Antibody therapeutic treatments.

The riches of English medieval funerary art Professor Nigel Saul
Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, Royal Holloway, University of London

Among the many treasures to have come down to us from the Middle Ages are the tombs and brasses in our churches: the knights in their armour, the ladies in their fancy dresses. These monuments are often under-rated masterpieces, tributes to the sculptor’s art.  They can be appreciated for their aesthetic and artistic merit; but they can also be interrogated for their historical interest.  For the historian, they open a remarkable and perhaps unexpected window onto the medieval past.

  • Tombs and tomb-makers

Medieval craftsmen are often anonymous, unlike their more attention-seeking counterparts in the Renaissance.  Are there any documentary sources that allow us to identify them by name?  What can we learn about their trade, and how and where they operated?

  • Status and salvation

Why were these monuments commissioned?  It is easy to say they are all about the preservation of memory. But what did memory mean in the Middle Ages? A clue is afforded by the wording of so many of the inscriptions on them – pray for me: prayers for the soul.  But, as we will see, considerations of status were involved too.

  • Design and meaning

Some monuments were big and elaborate, others simple and small. All, however, were constructed so as to convey meaning. All were expected to evoke a response. How, then, are we to interpret them? Can we begin to understand the responses of people at the time?

"A brave, bad man": the historical reputation of Oliver Cromwell Dr David Smith
Affiliated Lecturer, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge; Fellow, Director of Studies in History, Tutor for Graduate Students, Selwyn College

This lecture will examine the changing nature of Oliver Cromwell's reputation from his own lifetime down to the present day. It will explore why Cromwell has given rise to such strong opinions, both favourable and hostile, and consider why he remains a highly controversial figure.

The joy of steps Dr Matthew Wilkinson
Panel Tutor for the Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge; College Teaching Associate, Sidney Sussex College; freelance zoologist, writer, voice artist and actor

The irresistible urge to explore an unfamiliar alleyway and the euphoria of the runners’ high: both are manifestations of a 600 million-year-old neural system, which evolved to make us want to move. Zoologist Dr Matt Wilkinson will explain how it works, and how to tap into it.

Week 3: 20 July - 24 July

The Middle Ages illuminated Dr Rowena E Archer 
Lecturer in Medieval History at Christ Church and Fellow of Brasenose College, University of Oxford

Colour and vibrancy are synonymous with medieval culture, never more so than in its surviving manuscripts and paintings. In this select mini series there will be a focus on three of the great treasures of the later period which will be first set in their context and then examined in some detail.

  • The Wilton Diptych

The Wilton Diptych c.1395 is a folding altarpiece that was almost certainly commissioned by King Richard II (1377-99). Richly executed with expensive pigments it is most obviously of religious significance but less obvious is its commentary on Christian kingship and the king’s ideas about his role.

  • The Très Riches Heures

The Très Riches Heures is a Book of Hours made for the wealthy Jean duke of Berry (d.1416). It is of the type of prayer book that was owned and used by laymen and women but its exquisite high quality images makes it probably the most famous and richest to survive, and combines both the sacred and the secular worlds

  • The Beauchamp Pageant

The Beauchamp Pageant c.1480 is a unique series of 50 uncoloured images recording the life of Richard Beauchamp earl of Warwick (d.1439), one of the greatest soldiers of the Hundred Years’ War. It was probably commissioned by his daughter Anne Neville, as an exemplar of knighthood for her young son, which raises questions about the reliability of the portrayal

The origin of our Universe Dr Matthew Bothwell 
Postdoctoral Researcher, Kavli Institute for Cosmology, University of Cambridge

The 20th century saw an unprecedented transformation in our understanding of the Universe. Matt Bothwell will discuss the discoveries and debates which led to the birth of modern cosmology.

Machiavelli and the virus Sir Tony Brenton 
Former British Ambassador to Russia

The Coronavirus, a global problem, has produced little international cooperation but a surge of competitively nationalistic reactions. What does this say about the likely long term impact of the crisis on international politics?

The only British survivor at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Dr Gilly Carr

At the liberation of Bergen-Belsen, only one British survivor of the camp was still alive to crawl towards the liberating soldiers’ trucks. Who was this man, why was he in Belsen, and why is his story not better known, despite his post-war fame?

The Holocaust, Nazi persecution and the Channel Islands Dr Gilly Carr
Academic Director, University Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

The story of the British experience of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution is little known because the United Kingdom was not occupied by Nazi forces in the Second World War. Yet a small part of British territory was occupied: the Channel Islands. What happened to these Brits between 1940-45?

The Cherokee Indians and the Trail of Tears Dr Ian Chambers
Lecturer in History, University of Cambridge

In the 19th century America was getting bigger and more people were arriving to live there. The American government put in place a policy called Indian Removal, to relocate Native people who were “in the way”. This talk will look at the impact of this policy on the Cherokee Nation.

Using entrepreneurship to solve the biggest problem Dr Chris Coleridge 
Senior Faculty in Management Practice, Cambridge Judge Business School 

The climate emergency is going to have to be addressed primarily by changes in government policies.  However, history tells us that certain types of innovation can only be driven by entrepreneurs, not by corporates—we will review these, with examples, and unpack what that means for the next generation of ‘climate tech’ entrepreneurs and the investors and policy makers who want to support them.

What evolution does - and does not - tell us about humans Professor Simon Conway-Morris
Emeritus Professor, Ad Hominem Chair in Evolutionary Palaeobiology, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge; Fellow, St John's College

Humans and chimpanzees closely related? No question. Humans evolved from australopithecines to Java man to us? No contest. So why are we so different? Animals vocalize but never use language. So too some use tools but never use one tool to make another. And the list goes on.All down to bigger brains and what-not? Maybe, but our language, mathematics and music point to a different and much more interesting story.

Finding your voice as a writer Miranda Doyle

As a writer, your voice will be the most important relationship any reader has with your words.  From punctuation to word choice, voice gives your work its unique personality.  Your characters will be loveable, unputdownable, your story unique, because of the way you tell it.  

Shakespeare and spirituality Valentin Gerlier
Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge; St Edmund's College

This lecture will explore the question of spiritual meaning in a number of Shakespeare’s works, including King Lear, The Winter's Tale and The Tempest. We’ll look at how historians, scholars, philosophers, theologians and spiritual writers have approached the subject, and consider how these might suggest a spiritual dimension to Shakespeare’s work.

The Jurassic world of fossil hunter Mary Anning Dr Aaron Hunter
Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge  

We will look at the 19th-century palaeontologist Mary Anning and how she searched the Jurassic rocks of SW England to unearth what were believed to be sea dragons. We will follow the story behind the discovery of these marine reptiles and see how palaeontologists, then and, now have revealed how these ancient extinct animals lived.

The Presidency of John F Kennedy, 1961-63 Nicholas Kinloch
Former Head of History at the Netherhall School and Sixth Form College, Cambridge

John F Kennedy was the youngest-ever elected president of the United States, and the first to be born in the 20th century. His assassination in 1963 meant that in the years since his death, historians have found it difficult to assess his administration except in terms of unfulfilled promise. But how significant were the Kennedy years? Were they, as some allege, a triumph of style over substance? How effective was Kennedy as a national leader? Were his years in the White House a modern version of Camelot, or did his personal shortcomings significantly affect his leadership?

Kipling and the Imperial "ideal" Dr Seán Lang
Senior Lecturer in History and Politics, Anglia Ruskin University

Rudyard Kipling was a phenomenally popular writer in his lifetime, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, his poems endlessly recited, his stories beloved and turned into Hollywood films.  Yet now he is derided as a racist apologist for Empire. This talk will introduce to the real Kipling and show how important he is to an understanding of the Imperial past.

Jane Austen and her modern collaborators Dr John Lennard
Formerly Fellow and Director of Studies in English, Trinity Hall and Professor of British and American Literature, University of the West Indies, Mona; Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education; Associate Member and Director of Studies in English at Hughes Hall

In 1998 there were 63 published sequels to Pride and Prejudice; there are now at least 2,000. How can this be? This lecture investigates the Pride-and-Prejudice explosion driven by fanfic and self-publishing.

A Nazi in the family Derek Niemann
Tutor in Creative Writing, University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

When author and creative writing tutor Derek Niemann made the horrific discovery that his grandfather had been an SS officer involved in the Holocaust, he resolved to research and tell the story of his family’s darkest secret. He charts the creative and emotional challenge of producing an exceedingly difficult book.

The Pardoner's Tale: self and story in The Canterbury Tales Dr Lotte Reinbold
Fellow and Director of Studies, Selwyn College

The Pardoner is one of the Canterbury Tales' most elusive and compelling speakers, feared and despised by his fellow travellers for his immorality and hypocrisy. Yet even as he attempts to sell false pardons and spurious religious relics, his Tale seems to be a powerful moral exemplum, extolling the dangers of greed to his captive audience. In this talk, Dr Lotte Reinbold will think about the relationship between object and text in the Pardoner’s Tale, asking whether we can find a way of reconciling the Pardoner with his tale, the presented self with his projected story.

The beauty of silk Dr Darshil Shah
University Lecturer in Materials (Fixed-term), Department of Architecture, Centre for Natural Material Innovation, University of Cambridge

This talk focuses on silkworms and the fantastic fibres they produce, how we have developed new materials with their fibres and our quest to be able to produce biodegradable fibres like silk using low-energy methods and water as a solvent to help towards solving the current plastic pollution problem.

The future of perovskites for solar power and lighting Dr Sam Stranks
University Lecturer in Energy; Royal Society University Research Fellow; Fellow, Clare College

Halide perovskites are generating enormous excitement as next-generation solar cells and lighting technologies that can be produced at extremely low cost on flexible spools. This talk discusses their future as a groundbreaking technology and the challenges to get there.

Why read Ulysses? Getting to grips with James Joyce's masterpiece Dr Mark Sutton
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education

This talk is aimed primarily at anyone contemplating getting to grips with Joyce’s Ulysses for the first time. It does not aim to summarise the book, so much as to give a flavour of its literary scope, and stylistic innovations; in short hopefully to answer the question: ‘Why read Ulysses?’

Mao, Maoism and political revolution in Communist China Robert Weatherley
Affiliated Lecturer in Chinese Politics and History, University of Cambridge

This lecture examines the political thought and practice of Mao Zedong during three key stages of Chinese Communist rule: land reform, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. In particular, we examine Maoist conceptions of class and revolution and assess the extent to which Mao deviated from orthodox Marxist principles. 

"Nothing is funnier than unhappiness": approaching Samuel Beckett's tragicomedy Dr Andy Wimbush
Panel Tutor for the University of Cambridge, Institute of Continuing Education

Samuel Beckett’s plays and novels often provoke both laughter and pity, sometimes at the same time. This lecture explores how Beckett unites comedy and tragedy in his work through playful, ironic pessimism, his use of aphorisms, stifled laughter, and his debts to a pair of ancient Greek philosophers.

The University's International Summer Programmes are an embodiment of our mission 'to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence'.

Professor Graham Virgo QC (Hon), Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education)

How to book a Summer Festival course