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Seminar: ‘Memoir and Memory’, 27 November 2012

The third and final seminar organised by The Open University Contemporary Cultures of Writing Research Group in association with The Institute of English Studies, in the series  'Life Writing: Borderlands Between Fact and Fiction', will be held on November 27 (5.30-7.30pm) in room G35, Senate House, London. This seminar is called 'Memoir and Memory' - with poet, memoirist and novelist Blake Morrison. Charles Fernyhough will be the Psychology respondent. This event is free and all are welcome. Follow this link for further information (and downloadable flyer).


Moral responsibility and control, 7 November 2012

Dr Lubomira Radoilska from University of Cambridge will be giving a talk on 7 November 2012 at 2.00 pm in Meeting Rooms 1-3, Ground Floor, Wilson A. All are welcome. See the Philosophy Department website for an abstract.


Seminar: 'Life Writing: Borderlands Between Fact and Fiction', 6 November 2012, room G35, Senate House, London. 

The next seminar in the current series from the Contemporary Cultures of Writing Research Group is called 'Telling the Truth' - with memoirist and novelist Rachel Cusk. Nigel Warburton will be the Philosophy respondent.

All are welcome, and please feel free to pass on details of the series. Further information (and downloadable flyer) can be found on the Contemporary Cultures of Writing website.

A Public Day Conference on Happiness

Saturday 14 April 2012, 09.30 – 18.30
Dr Williams' Library, Gordon Square, London

Recordings of the talks are now available online.

Professor Timothy Chappell
'Can doing philosophy make us happy? Should it?'

Dr Christopher Belshaw
'Pleasure, happiness and the evil of death'

Dr Piers Benn
'Happiness, meaning, and commitment'

Dr Julian Baggini
'The Politics of Happiness: Is well-being the business the government?'

Admission free

All welcome


Philosophy Department Seminar:
Dr Helen Frowe, University of Kent ‘Non-Combatants and Reasonable Opportunities’

2 May 2012

Personal website -

Time: 2 pm
Venue: Open University Milton Keynes Campus, Faculty of Arts,
Meeting Rooms 1, 2, 3 Wilson A.

All welcome.


More dates for ‘South Asians Making Britain, 1858-1950’ touring panel exhibition

Beyond the Frame is delighted to continue the UK tour of the original ‘Making Britain’ project touring panel exhibition ‘South Asians Making Britain, 1858-1950’ in partnership with the British Library. The display focuses on a wide range of South Asian-British networks and interactions including South Asian contributions to sport, the arts, domestic, cultural and intellectual life, resistance and activism, as well as national and global politics. Developed from ‘Making Britain’s’ extensive research, it examines a wealth of new material from archives in India, Sri Lanka, the United States and Britain. Since September 2010, when the first phase of the project ended, the UK exhibition tour has been co-ordinated and supported by The Open University and The British Library. It will be on show at the following locations with further dates to be announced:

  • Middlesbrough Library, Middlesbrough: 18 October – 15 November 2011
  • Swiss Cottage Library, London: 20 September – 14 October 2011
  • Barking Library, Barking: 1 August – 9 September 2011

See the Beyond the Frame website for the latest information.

The Arts and their Audiences
‘Methodologies’ Day-Workshop 20 February 2012 Michael Young Building 1, 2, 3 and 4 10 am - 3.30 pm

The ‘Arts and their Audiences’ is running a one-day workshop focussing on the range of methodologies we use to study audiences of the past, as well as to consider how audiences of the present and the future can be studied. Ultimately we seek to explore why we are undertaking the study of audiences and how it enriches our work as researchers and teachers. The general questions we will be tackling include:

  • What is/counts as an ‘audience’?
  • How do different disciplines study audience?
  • How do we identify, profile, or quantify an audience?
  • Why is it important to study audiences?
  • Do audiences determine the forms the arts can take?
  • What sorts of audiences have the arts had in the past, and what of the future?
  • Can/should arts research contribute to the finding/developing of new audiences?

Follow this link for further details.


Philosophy Department Seminar:
Professor Julian Dodd, University of Manchester 'Performing works of music authentically'
1 February 2012

Time: 2 pm
Venue: Open University Milton Keynes Campus, Faculty of Arts, Meeting Rooms 1, 2, 3 Wilson A.

All welcome.

Follow this link for further details.


Inaugural Lecture by Professor Robert Fraser: Biography and the morality of style, Tuesday 10 January 2012 - now available online

This lecture will examine the craft of biography from the historical, ethical and stylistic points of view. Does biography possess a justification, and wherein lies its wide appeal? Is it motivated by curiosity, or something more? What are the particular challenges involved in writing the lives of poets, especially of recently dead ones? Does it make any difference if one knew the person whose life one is striving to evoke? Has the biographical form changed over time, and does it continue to mutate? What exactly are the pressures bearing down on the biographer, and how does one cope? In grappling with these questions, a few glimpses will be offered into the biographer’s study, even into his storm-tossed mind. View this lecture online now.


Beyond the Frame exhibition to tour India, launching in Delhi on 25th November

Beyond the Frame: India in Britain, 1858-1950 celebrates the often overlooked, long history of the Indian presence in Britain. This ground-breaking exhibition, part of a larger project, Beyond the Frame: Indian British Connections, takes a new look at this little-known history and will tour India from 25 November starting at the British Council and 29th November at the National Archives of India in Delhi.

A multimedia timeline and Asians in Britain website have been created in partnership with the British Library to bring these stories alive for a much wider audience. As part of the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms programme there will be a range of educational activities running alongside the exhibition. A teachers’ pack will accompany the Indian run of the exhibition with free worksheets for school children. Find out more from the project's website.

Translation prize for OU PhD student

Henry Stead, a PhD candidate in the Department of Classical Studies, has won third prize in the prestigious The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2011, awarded for the original translation of poetry into English. His winning entry is a translation from Latin of an extract of Seneca's powerful tragedy, Medea.  One of the judges, Prof Edith Hall, comments: 'As a theatre enthusiast, I was delighted with the taut speakability of Henry Stead’s excerpt from his version of the grim Senecan Medea. I hope that it will encourage others to submit translations from verse drama, a category of translation in which poets such as Ted Hughes and Tony Harrison have recently shown English can be most effective.' Read Henry's winning poem.

The Ancient Olympics: Bridging Past and Present

The Open University has launched its new interactive website on the Ancient Olympics.  This outreach project, which has been overseen by Dr Aarón Alzola Romero of the Department of Classical Studies, aims to bring the ancient Olympics to life in anticipation of London 2012.  The site allows users to engage with the history and heritage of the Olympics experientially, through audio, animations, interactive maps and images.  The content, which was written in collaboration with various external institutions, is freely available under a Creative Commons licence.

Symphony on BBC4 from Thursday 3 November

Symphony, a new four-part series showing on BBC4, invites you to explore the secrets of the symphony, the highest form of expression of Western classical music. In the first programme Simon Russell Beale charts the history of classical symphonies, beginning with the works of three of the most renowned composers of all time - Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. For more information and related resources see the OpenLearn website.

Exhibition: The First Actresses 20 October 2011 - 8 January 2012

Curated by Prof Gill Perry, The First Actresses presents a vivid spectacle of femininity, fashion and theatricality in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Britain.

Taking centre stage are the intriguing and notorious female performers of the period whose lives outside of the theatre ranged from royal mistresses to admired writers and businesswomen. The exhibition reveals the many ways in which these early celebrities used portraiture to enhance their reputations, deflect scandal and create their professional identities.

Featuring famous masterpieces alongside works that are on show for the first time, the fascinating stories of actresses such as Nell Gwyn, Kitty Clive, Hester Booth, Lavinia Fenton, Elizabeth Linley, Sarah Siddons, Mary Robinson and Dorothy Jordan will be explored through portraits by the leading artists of the period including Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, John Hoppner and James Gillray.

See the National Portrait Gallery's website for more information about this exhibition.

The exhibition is receiving widespread coverage in the media, with pieces in the Guardian Review, the daily Guardian, the Express, the London Evening Standard, Sunday Express and Times Higher Education. Radio 4′s Front Rowreviewed the exhibition on 19 October, with Mark Lawson in discussion with actress Romola Garai – who is an OU graduate with BA (Hons) English Literature. The podcast is available to download, and to listen again via the BBC iPlayer (from timecode 12.06).

Public Record Office and OU Ireland 'exploring local history' lecture series

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in conjunction with the Open University Ireland is hosting a lecture series for members of the community to delve into the history of family, poverty, religion and local Northern Ireland. Starting on 29 September 2011, the series will be delivered by Dr Janice Holmes, Dr Olwen Purdue, and Dr Barry Sheen from the Open University Ireland and will examine the major themes of local history and the sources available to local historians. PRONI staff will present examples of these sources from the archives. Follow this link for further information.


Greek Heroes in Popular Culture Through Time

This collection of video animations and audio discussions examines how the heroes of Greek mythology have been represented in popular culture, from ancient times to the modern day. What does ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’ have to do with Odysseus? How does Brad Pitt's Achilles in 'Troy' match up to Homer's original hero? And is Arnold Schwarzenegger the new Heracles? The videos mix archive film and TV clips with character animation, and bring a playful approach to classical myth. The audio discussions, featuring members of the OU's Classical Studies department, shine a more scholarly light on how today’s popular culture sees these myths differently from the Ancient Greeks. Watch the videos and listen to the discussions on OpenLearn.

Prof Phil Perkins on Radio 4′s ‘In Our Time’

Prof Phil Perkins, of the Department of Classical Studies, appeared on the In our Time programme on The Etruscan Civilisation (29 September 2011). Phil, who is an expert on Etruscan archaeology, discussed the Etruscans with Melvyn Bragg and other expert guests David Ridgway and Corinna Riva. You can listen to this programme again from the In Our Time website.


Prof Helen King on BBC Radio 4′s ‘In Our Time’

Prof Helen King, of the Department of Classical Studies, featured on In Our Time on BBC Radio 4 on 15 September 2011. An expert on ancient medicine, Prof King discussed the Hippocratic Oath with Melvyn Bragg and his guests. This programme is available from the In Our Time website.

OU Tutor and PhD student wins Bristol Short Story Prize

Emily Bullock, a tutor on A215 Creative Writing, has won the 2011 Bristol Short Story Prize. Her story, ‘My Girl’, will be published in Venue Magazine and Bristol Review of Books, as well as the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 4. The competition received a record 2,100 entries from more than 30 countries, with writers from as far afield as New Zealand, Brazil, India, Canada, USA and South Africa submitting stories.

Picturing Philosophers: Portraits of Thinkers

The pamphlet 'Picturing Philosophers', based on a tour of philosophers' portraits in London's National Portrait Gallery by Nigel Warburton, is available as a pdf [1.6 MB]. It focuses on figures such as Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Sartre, Russell and Iris Murdoch, exploring their philosophical ideas and raising the questions they considered.

New podcast series: Bio-Ethics Bites

Following the success of Philosophy Bites and Ethics Bites the Wellcome Trust is funding Bio-Ethics Bites by Nigel Warburton and David Edmonds. This series of interviews will cover various ethical perspectives, tackling controversial subjects arising out of recent scientific advances. Find out more from the Bio-Ethics Bites website.

OU Boundaries - Philosophy series

Derren Brown talks to The Open University's Nigel Warburton about topics including Memory and Identity and Intelligent Design. The series consists of 7 videos, to be uploaded over the next couple weeks. Remember to subscribe! Watch the videos here.

In Their Own Words: British Novelists
, BBC Four programmes and online resources

This series (broadcast from 16 August) tells the story of the British novel in the 20th century told by those who know it best – the authors themselves. Plundering the BBC archive, In Their Own Words: British Novelists reveals Britain’s greatest novelists talking candidly about their life and work. A special interactive tool helps you discover the connections between 20th-century authors. Find out more from the In Their Own Words website.

Crystal world, The Royal Society, London, 4 July - 5 October, 2011

Crystal world is an exhibition which explores modern artists' fascination with crystals. While crystals are important substances in many scientific disciplines, their powerful visual presence and metaphorical associations have also intrigued artists and philosophers over many centuries. Although a crystal appears 'lifeless' or dead, it can also suggest life; it has grown from a solution or compond. The artists in this exhibition have been inspired in diferent ways by these complex, transient chemical processes, and by their many aesthetic possibilities.

Curated by Professor Gill Perry of the Open University, Crystal world features the work of Hubert Duprat, Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, and Michelle Charles, alongside scientific imagery from Professor Naomi Chayen and her colleagues at Imperial College, London.

Contact Felicity Henderson at The Royal Society to make an appointment to visit Crystal world on 020 7451 2597 or



Multi-culturalism, security, law: Muslims in the UK
Cross-Cultural Identities Seminar Series, July 21, 2011

This event is co-organized by the Cross-Cultural Identities Research Group in the Faculty of Arts and the ‘Oecumene: Citizenship after orientalism’ Project in the Faculty of the Social Sciences. It brings together colleagues from the Open University, Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire to critically address controversial sites of mobilization and contestation for contemporary British Muslims around questions of citizenship and identity.

Time: 14:00-16:15
Venue: MR11 (Wilson A, Faculty of Arts).

All Welcome.

The programme and abstracts are available from the Cross-Cultural Identities website. Please contact if you would like to attend.


Interfaculty Heritage Studies Research Group seminar series - ‘Heritage and Human Rights: Changing Perspectives’, 7 July 2011
The Open University, Milton Keynes

Papers include Rodney Harrison - ‘World heritage, universal values and the politics of representation: an alternative view’ ; Louise Cooke - ‘Emerging debates: Human rights and earthen architectural heritage’; Lotte Hughes - ‘The implications of Kenya’s new constitution for cultural heritage-related claims, and increased tensions between  human and cultural rights’; Graham Harvey - ‘Respecting indigenous animate object-persons’ and Monica Grady (or Diane Johnson) - ‘Meteorites in Cultural Heritage’, followed by discussion and further questions. Further details and paper abstracts are available from the Heritage Studies website.

ICCCR Annual Conference, 7- 8 July 2011
The Open University, Milton Keynes

The International Centre for Comparative Criminological Research (ICCCR) will be holding its annual conference at The Open University on 7 and 8 July. The theme of the conference is 'constructions of evidence' and the emphasis is on legal evidence. One of the aims of the conference is to foster new collaborations, so the conference has welcomed contributions from both academics and practitioners in a wide range of disciplines including law, psychology, computing, engineering, social sciences and humanities. Further information, including the conference programme, is available from the ICCCR website.

Latest Making Britain Exhibition Stop: Croydon

After successful stops in Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Woking, the 'Making Britain' touring panel exhibition is now on display at the Croydon Central Library from 6 June until 1 July 2011.

The 'Making Britain' team in partnership with the British Library is delighted to present the touring panel exhibition 'South Asians Making Britain, 1858-1950'. The exhibition focuses on a wide range of South Asian-British networks and interactions including South Asian contributions to sport, the arts, domestic, cultural and intellectual life, resistance and activism, as well as national and global politics. It has been developed from the extensive research of the project, examining a wealth of new material from archives in India, Sri Lanka, the United States and Britain. The exhibition has been funded by the AHRC, The Open University and The British Library.

The exhibition will visit regional venues across the UK throughout 2010-11. It will be on show at the following locations in 2011:

Birmingham Central Library, Birmingham: 10 January - 25 February 2011

Jubilee Library, Brighton: 1 March - 12 April 2011

Surrey History Centre, Woking: 3 - 27th May 2011

Croydon Central Library, Croydon: 6 June – 1 July 2011

Find out more from the Making Britain website.


Art and Politics Study Day: Joan Miró, Tate Modern, Saturday 25 June 2011, 10.30–17.00      

This Study Day explores issues raised by the major exhibition of Joan Miró at Tate Modern. Starting from the surrealist context of Miró's art it moves to the broader theme of the complex relationship between art and politics. Speakers address a range of issues, from the specific contexts in which Miró worked, to the ‘radicalism’ of surrealism. Curators, academics and artists contribute to the debates. Speakers include artists Frederic Amat and Eva Bosch, art historians and curators Jon Bird, William Jeffett, Robert Lubar and Gill Perry, philosopher Nigel Warburton, and curators of the Miró exhibition Matthew Gale and Marko Daniel. Find out more about this study day.

Two one-day seminars in material culture on 23 and 24 June 2011

The Material Cultures research group is hosting two all-day seminars at the Open University Milton Keynes campus. The Politics of Things (23 June) explores the role of material culture in materialising (or obscuring) partisanship and factional allegiance, while Materiality and the materials of research: theory and practice in the humanities (24 June) investigates current approaches to working with material culture. Full details of the programmes and how to register are available from the Material Cultures website.

Open University Ethics Centre/ Department of Philosophy Seminar Series, 2010-2011: Knowing and Deciding

This series runs from November to June. Further details of speakers and paper titles are available online.


A Day at The British Museum, 11 June 2011, 11:00-17:00

The Open University in London and The British Museum are presenting this family-friendly day of talks on 11 June. It's free to attend but booking is essential. The talks include:

  • A History of Archaeology: Mammoths and More;
  • Ancient Philosophy and the Happiness Index: What David Cameron can learn from the Greeks and Romans;
  • The Buddha and Manifestations of Buddhahood;
  • Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World; and
  • Museums and Peacemaking in a Post-Conflict State.

Follow this link for further details about the talks and to book a place online.

Royal Institute of Philosophy Seminar Series: ‘Knowing and Deciding’, 1 June 2011

Dr Alex Barber: Hedonism and the experience machine

If money isn’t everything, what is? Many governments, social policy theorists and members of the general public have a ready answer: happiness. Philosophers, in contrast, usually see this as a non-starter, especially since Robert Nozick came up with his famous experience machine example in 1974:

“Suppose there were an experience machine that would give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists could stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a great novel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you would be floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to the brain. Should you plug into this machine for life, pre-programming your life’s experiences?”

We are expected to follow Nozick in answering ‘No’. On the surface this is a beautifully simple dismissal the view that pleasure or happiness is ‘what really matters to us’ (to use Nozick’s phrase). It continues to be one of the most frequently and favourably cited thought experiments in philosophy. Its message has even reached Hollywood (The Truman Show, The Matrix). In this talk I suggest that the argument implicit in Nozick’s example (and in the Hollywood screenplays), rarely subjected to scrutiny, is riddled with difficulties. On the positive side I claim that his underlying point can be made more effectively by abandoning his reliance on our fickle intuitions about how to proceed in science fictional scenarios and reflecting instead on more familiar happiness-relevant preferences.

All welcome!

Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: Meeting Rooms 1, 2, 3, Wilson A Block, Ground Floor
More about this seminar series


International Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice (ICHPCJ) ‘Work in Progress’ seminar, 13 May 2011

This informal seminar gives members of the ICHCPJ an opportunity to present and receive feedback on their current research projects. Papers of around 30 minutes will be followed by 30 minutes discussion. Further details are available online.

Royal Institute of Philosophy Seminar Series: ‘Knowing and Deciding’, 4 May 2011 

Dr Hallvard Fossheim: Shared Decision Making in Aristotle 

The claim in this paper will be that, according to Aristotle, practical deliberation is not simply an intra-personal phenomenon. Integral to his treatment not only of deliberation, but of decision making and action as well, is the view that they are often cooperative undertakings.

I will argue that Aristotle offers the basis for a model of shared deliberation, and that the texts on many points make more sense once we realize that this is what Aristotle is up to. The argument is thus highly relevant to our understanding of Aristotelian friendship. According to Aristotle, complete friendship consists in activity upheld by a common conception of, and a shared life expressing, human goodness.

I shall argue that deliberation will typically be the shared activity in question.  Highlighting its deliberative aspect will at the same time add a new dimension to friendship as a condition for happiness.

All welcome!

Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: Meeting Rooms 1, 2, 3, Wilson A Block, Ground Floor
More about this seminar series


Royal Institute of Philosophy Seminar Series: ‘Knowing and Deciding’, 6 April 2011 

Dr. Chris Belshaw: Ceasing to be


There are several competing accounts of the sorts of things we are. How can we decide which of these is true?  The differences between these accounts will bear on the conditions under which we come into, and go out of, existence. How can we know whether some future events will, or will not, put an end to our being?

Suppose we are animals. I argue, against certain others, that the conditions under which we cease to be are somewhat vague. Suppose we are persons. Again, the conditions are vague. But we are neither animals nor persons. Nor are we things of a third kind. There is nothing – or nothing in particular – that we are.

All welcome!

Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: Meeting Rooms 1, 2, 3, Wilson A Block, Ground Floor
More about this seminar series


OU event at the Imperial War Museum, 20 March 2011

The OU, in association with the Imperial War Museum in London, is hosting a day of free activities and talks, on Sunday 20 March from 11am to 5pm. OU academics will be talking on a variety of topics during the day, and there will be other fascinating activities hosted by the OU and the Museum. Follow this link for details of the programme and information about how to reserve places for the talks and activities.


Knowing and Deciding: Department of Philosophy Seminar Series 2010-2011

The next seminar in this series will be held on 2 March 2011:

Do we know what justice is? Reflections on the method of enquiry in Plato's Republic

Professor Catherine Osborne (UEA)


In this paper I shall challenge the widespread idea that Plato (or Socrates) proposes a definition of justice in the Republic. I shall consider what it would be for a term like "justice" to be univocal across the two different domains that Plato considers, the state and the soul, and argue that he does not think that there needs to be a common definition. I shall explore how Socrates can deliver knowledge of what justice is, by describing an imaginary city in action, without ever giving or receiving anything like a definition. And I shall consider and reject two famous challenges that have supposed that there is something wrong with Plato's method and with the analogical reasoning it employs. (Handouts will be given out on the day)

Venue: The Open University Walton Hall campus, Meeting Rooms 1,2, 3 Wilson Building Block A. All welcome.

New website for Creative Writing at the OU

The Creative Writing at The OU website gives you more information about the team, the tutors, how our teaching works and what our students say. It also features taster materials and writing exercises. The Creative Writing Tutors' blog has the latest news about publications, readings and prizes.

Professor Helen King named as a top public intellectual

Professor Helen King in the Department of Classical Studies has been identified as one of the top two classicists in the Observer's list of Britain's top 300 public intellectuals. In an accompanying article the newspaper considers what makes a public intellectual.


Award for Dr Amanda Wrigley

Dr. Amanda Wrigley, who completed her PhD in the Department of Classical Studies in 2009, has won the Philadelphia Constantinidis Essay in Critical Theory Award 2010 for publishing a chapter of her thesis.

Amanda wins a plaque and $1000 for her article ‘A Wartime radio Odyssey: Edward Sackville-West and Benjamin Britten’s The Rescue (1943)’ in the academic journal Radio Journal - International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media.

The prize is awarded by the Board of the (American) Comparative Drama Conference for ‘the best comparative essay on any aspect and period of Greek drama or theatre published in English in any journal’. Our congratulations go to Amanda.


Nigel Warburton on free speech and Koran burning

‘Free speech issues are rarely straightforward’, as Nigel Warburton argues on the Free Speech blog. ‘First Amendment free speech protection doesn’t discriminate on the basis of the content of speech short of its posing a direct threat to others. Offensive expression, including symbolic flag- or Koran-burning, is just as protected as liberal political speech-making.’ Read this article online.

Creative Writing tutor wins Duff Cooper Prize

Sarah Bakewell, associate lecturer for Creative Writing (A215), was announced the winner of the 2011 Duff Cooper Prize on 22 February. Critically acclaimed, her biography of Montaigne, How to Live: A life of Montaigne, was previously one of only three shortlisted for the Costa Biography Book Award 2010. Listen to Sarah discussing Montaigne on Philosophy Bites. Read more about this story.


Using RED for Teaching and Research: A Workshop for Teachers in Higher Education, 25 February 2011

The RED team will be hosting a workshop designed specifically for teachers in Higher Education at The Open University in London, Camden Town. The purpose will be to explore how RED can be used by students in a range of academic disciplines, as well as in attendees’ own research projects. For example, data in RED can form part of a study of the reception of literary texts; it can help us understand the role of printed material in shaping popular ideas and opinions; and it offers information about what people in the past read, how and in what circumstances they read, what impact their reading had on them, and how the experience of reading changed over time. The workshop will include a demonstration of RED, and hands-on activity sessions using primary materials to show how users can explore RED, and contribute evidence to it themselves. There will be opportunities to discuss how RED can help train students in the use of digital resources in the humanities. Further details and a draft programme are available from the RED website.

What Are We Reading? RED Workshop for Librarians, Archivists and Information Managers, 24 February 2011

This workshop, held at the Betty Boothroyd Library at The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, is designed specifically for Librarians, Archivists and Information Managers. It aims to encourage attendees to explore how evidence drawn from material in their own collections might be included in RED, and how RED might be used as a way of engaging users of their own collections. The workshop will include a demonstration of RED, and hands-on activity sessions using primary source materials to show how users can not only explore RED, but can contribute evidence to it themselves. Further details and a draft programme are available from the RED website.


Nigel Warburton on Everyday Philosophy, Oxford Playhouse, 11 February 2011

What is philosophy? Who needs it? Writer and podcaster Nigel Warburton, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the Open University, discusses the relevance of philosophy to life today. From questions about the limits of free speech to the nature of happiness, from what art is to the impact of new technology, philosophy offers insights into questions that matter. Nigel will explore how the thoughts of some of the great philosophers of the past shed light on our present day predicament. More information and booking details are available from the Oxford Playhouse website.

Public staging of Arts doctoral student’s new translation of ‘Medea’

Henry Stead, a PhD student in the Department of Classical Studies, has written a new translation of the ancient Roman play Medea. It will be staged at the Burton Taylor Studio, Oxford, 9.30pm, from Tuesday, 15th February to Saturday, 19th February 2011. Find out more.


Classical studies’ Elton Barker is to lead a new project called DIALOG (Document and Integrate Ancient Linked Open Geodata). The 45K JISC funded project will employ Linked Open Data principles to connect textual, visual and tabular documents that reference places in Ancient world research. Other partners include the University of Southampton, the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (New York University), Tufts University, University of Cologne, King’s College and the Austrian Institute of Technology. Find out more about this project.

Workshop: Cross Cultural Identities: Interrogating Culture, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 2 February 2011


10:00-10:15 Coffee

10:15-10:30 Introductory Remarks (Paul-François Tremlett)

10:30-11:15 ‘Hierarchies, Dualities and Divisions: Intersecting Music Audiences’ (Linda Wilks)

11:15-12:00 ‘The Festival as Bridge between Place and Culture’ (Francesca C. Howell)

12:00-12:45 ‘From Glastonbury to Hungary: The Glastonbury Goddess Movement in Transit’ (Marion Bowman)

12:45-13:45 LUNCH

13:45-14:30 ‘Power for the Planet: Individual and Collective Empowerment in the Climate and Transition Movements’ (Maria N. Dennis-Jones)

14:30-15:00 Plenary


Download the programme and abstracts as a PDF file (25 KB).

Justice season on BBC FOUR from 23 January

The Justice season begins on BBC FOUR on Sunday 23 January with the following programme produced in partnership with The Open University: Justice: Fairness and the Big Society - 9.00pm (repeated on Monday 24 January at 11.00pm). From the Royal Institution in London, Harvard Professor Michael Sandel hosts a discussion to explore fairness in public policy and the Big Society. An audience of politicians, opinion-formers and the general public should ensure a lively and topical debate. Visit the Open Learn website to explore the meaning of justice in the modern world in a series of new films and online features. You can play our new interactive game, To lie or not to lie ..., devised by Prof Tim Chappell, to find out which philosopher you’re most like when it comes to your moral responses to different lies.

Follow this link to hear Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel in conversation with Nigel Warburton outlining three answers to the question 'What is Justice?', Jeremy Bentham's, Immanuel Kant's, and Aristotle's.

Susheila Nasta awarded MBE

Congratulations to Professor Susheila Nasta who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List for Services to Black and Asian Literature. Susheila was Founding Editor of Wasafiri, one of the first magazines to promote African, Caribbean and South Asian writing.

Creative Writing Associate Lecturer wins major fiction prize

Amy Sackville, Associate Lecturer for A215 Creative Writing, has won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize for her first novel The Still Point.

Amy was identified by The Telegraph as one of the top new novelists for 2010, and was long listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. The Still Point was BBC Radio 4’s ‘book at Bedtime’ in January 2010. Read more about this story.

Creative Writing workshops at The British Museum, inspired by the Book of the Dead

Enjoy one of four creative writing workshops hosted by Open University Creative Writing tutors, exploring themes from the exhibition ‘Journey through the Afterlife: Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead’. 

A Journey through the Afterlife   Saturday 4th December, 2010,   11.00-13.00 and repeated 14.00-16.00

Command of Special Powers
Saturday 29th January, 2011, 11.00-13.00 and repeated 14.00-16.00

Clore Education Centre, The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

Limited Places
Full Price: £15; Concessions, OU Students and Members of The British Museum: £10

Please book through The British Museum’s Box Office on +44 (0)20 7323 8181 or online from the British Museum's website.

Anni Albers: Innovation, Inspiration, Legacy, Saturday, 4 December 2010 – 10:00am – 5:00pm
Ruthin Craft Centre, Denbighshire

Anni Albers (1899-1994) is one of the best-known textile artists of the twentieth century. Her influential work also included prints, wall hangings and jewellery. To coincide with the opening of two complimentary exhibitions at Ruthin Craft Centre, this study day will look at Anni Albers’ innovatory work and her remarkable legacy. Speakers will include design historians and a new generation of artists inspired by her work.

Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator, Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
Professor Tim Benton, Professor of Art History, Open University
Dr Tag Gronberg, Reader of Art History and Design, Birkbeck College,
University of London
Ptolemy Mann, Woven textile artist and designer and Inspired by artist
Claire Barclay, Fine Artist

Chaired by Prof Gill Perry, The Open University and Ann Jones, Southbank Centre

Further details are available online.

Handel Study Day, London, 6 December 2010
Documents about Handel (and others)

Monday 6 December 2010, from 10.30am

free, pre-registration required

The Open University’s London Regional Centre, 1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden Town

This study day celebrates the preparation of a new collected edition of contemporary document texts relating to George Frideric Handel.

Speakers at the Study Day will include staff from the research project ‘G. F. Handel: the Collected Documents’ and other researchers who have been working in related areas. The provisional programme and booking details are available online.

OU Arts Creative Writing tutor shortlisted for Costa Book Award

Sarah Bakewell, an associate lecturer for the Level 2 Arts A215 Creative writing  module, is one of only three people to make it onto the Costa Biography Book Award shortlist for 2010.

How To Live a Life of Montaigne is the first full life of Montaigne in English for nearly 50 years, and is not a straight forward biography in the traditional sense. Sarah Bakewell relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing (when he was made to speak only Latin), youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Etienne de La Boetie and with his adopted 'daughter', Marie de Gournay.

Sarah teaches creative writing for the Open University in London, where she also teaches for City University. 

Does politics need more philosophy?

Today, more than ever, political parties need a clear set of values - a philosophy - that sets them apart from their rivals. This topic will be discussed by philosophers Baroness Mary Warnock and Nigel Warburton; the FT’s comment editor James Crabtree; and Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North. You can listen to a recording of this event on the RSA's website.

What does it mean to be a liberal today?

The OU's Nigel Warburton, author of Free Speech: A Very Short Introduction, was one of the speakers at the Battle of Ideas event on 31 October. You can listen to the session online now.

History Professor wins Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship

Prof Rosemary O’Day (Englander), Professor of History at the OU, has been awarded a two year Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship. Prof O’Day will spend her two year fellowship completing the research for and writing a book on Hester Temple, matriarch of Stowe in the seventeenth century. Find out more.

The appeal of Calvin and Hobbes

Phill Jupitus talks to Nigel Warburton about Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip about the little boy and his stuffed tiger named after eminent philosphers. You can listen to this programme online until 29 November.

Philosophy and humour ...

Norman Wisdom once observed that "People will always find the sight of someone falling or spilling something funny." He's probably right, but why is that? The OU's Nigel Warburton investigates philosophy's underwhelming attempts to get to grips with comedy in his latest podcast for Prospect magazine.


Reaching a wider audience for philosophy

Nigel Warburton will be talking about popularising philosophy and the Philosophy Bites podcast on BBC Radio Scotland's Book Café at lunch time on Monday September 13. You can listen to the programme online until 20 September.


Beyond the Frame Exhibition, 2-20 July, The Open University

The exhibition Beyond the Frame: India in Britain, 1858 – 1950 will be on show from 2-20 July at The Open University's Milton Keynes campus in the Berrill foyer. It will be launched on Wednesday 4th July from 5–7pm with a brief panel discussion by the project team, followed by a lecture by pioneering historian of Asians in Britain, Dr Rozina Visram on ‘The curry in history: from early origins to national dish’. Find out more from the project's website.


Colloquium: War as Spectacle, 15 June 2012, The Open University, Milton Keynes

This one day symposium will explore the theme of war as spectacle in classical antiquity and its reception in subsequent centuries, down to the present day. The event is generously sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and the Department of Classical Studies.

Follow this link for details of the programme and information about how to register.

"Athletic Foundations" conference, London, 18 June 2012

The Open University in London will host a half-day Olympics-inspired conference on June 18th 2012 from 5pm-8pm. Coordinated by Dr Aarón Alzola Romero of the Department of Classical Studies in association with the Olympics 2012 Humanities programme, this event explores how athletic events draw influence from heritage, thus allowing modern individuals and groups to construct, reinvent, consolidate and project their identities by establishing links with their past. The approach is multi-disciplinary, combining contributions from history, sociology, classics, anthropology, archaeology and political sciences.

Everybody is welcome. Attendance is free but places are limited. See the conference website for details of the programme and how to reserve a place.



Seminar: Britain, Empire and Afghanistan Date: 12 June 2012
1.30pm, Library seminar room 2

Speaker Shane Malhotra will give a paper on ‘The First Afghan War: through the eyes of Florentina Sale’, this will be followed by tea and a general discussion on British perceptions of Afghanistan, cross-cultural contacts, and 'tribes'.

Chair, Hugh Beattie (author of Empire and Tribe in the Afghan Frontier Region: Custom, Conflict and British Strategy in Waziristan until 1947. London: I.B.Tauris (Forthcoming)). All are welcome.

To book a place please email Heather Scott

For more information please go to the Ferguson Centre website.

Seminar: Religious Conflict: understanding the past to inform the future, Liverpool 12 June 2012

Over the last two years the Protestant-Catholic Conflict research programme has been engaged in research on the history of religious tensions in England and, through an extensive series of interviews, on present-day attitudes in Northern Ireland. A central aim of the project is to seek to explore parallels between long-standing Protestant-Catholic tensions in the United Kingdom, and the more recent prominence of Christian-Muslim-secular tensions, and thereby to derive constructive insights for forward-looking thinking and policy.

We are running seminars in Liverpool on 12 June, and Birmingham on 4 July. The Liverpool seminar will be held at The Western Rooms, Liverpool Cathedral, 12 June 2012, 2-5 pm [Map and directions].

Tea, coffee, cake and fruit will be served from 1.30 pm, prior to a prompt start at 2.00 pm. There will be four speakers:

  • Prof John Wolffe (Global Uncertainties, Ideas and Beliefs Fellow, Professor of Religious History, The Open University) will outline the project and share interim insights and conclusions.
  • John Bell (Research Officer, Institute for Conflict Research, Belfast) will present evidence drawn from the 50 interviews he has conducted in Northern Ireland.
  • Dr Stefanie Sinclair (Lecturer in Religious Studies, The Open University) and
  • Mrs Anjum Anwar MBE (Dialogue Development Officer, Blackburn Cathedral) will give responses, focusing particularly on the implications for understanding and addressing religious prejudice and building relationships between religious groups both nationally and locally.

There will then be an extended period for questions and discussion, which we hope will assist both in drawing out policy implications, and in highlighting the most productive directions for further academic research and reflection.

For more information about this project, see the Protestant-Catholic Conflict research programme website.

Bharat Britain: South Asians Making Britain, 1870-1950
13-14 September 2010; British Library Conference Centre, St Pancras, London

This major international conference marks the culmination of the AHRC-funded project ‘Making Britain: South Asian Visions of Home and Abroad, 1870-1950’, led by the Open University in collaboration with the University of Oxford and King’s College London. ‘Bharat Britain’ will showcase new research from distinguished scholars, curators and writers worldwide. Held in partnership with the British Library, it will explore the manifold ways in which South Asians impacted on the formation of Britain’s cultural and political life prior to Independence and Partition in 1947. Speakers include: Humayun Ansari, Elleke Boehmer, Antoinette Burton, Mukti Jain Campion, Dominiek Dendooven, Chandani Lokuge, Susheila Nasta, Shyama Perera, Meera Syal and Rozina Visram.


  • Opening of panel exhibition ‘South Asians Making Britain, 1858-1950’.
  • Launch of online interactive database comprising several hundred entries on South Asians in Britain.

Further details, including the conference programme and registration form, are available from the conference website.

Arthritis Care creative writing competition winner announced

Marusia Forshaw, from Launceston, in Cornwall, has won this year’s Arthritis Care Creative Writing competition, with a first prize of £500 Open University vouchers, provided by the Faculty of Arts and Marketing.

The writer beat entrants from across the UK to win the top prize. Claire Lee, from Shrewsbury, was awarded second place as the runner-up. Find out more about the competition and Marusia's reaction.


Nigel Warburton reports back from Sci Foo 2010

This year one of the attendees at the Sci Foo 2010 Un-Conference was Nigel Warburton ('Philosophy Bites - podcast - clarity'). Find out what he thought about it on Virtual Philosopher.

In Their Own Words: British Novelists
, BBC Four at 9pm from Monday, August 16th

This series tells the story of the British novel in the 20th century told by those who know it best – the authors themselves. Plundering the BBC archive, In Their Own Words: British Novelists reveals Britain’s greatest novelists talking candidly about their life and work. A special interactive tool helps you discover the connections between 20th-century authors. Find out more from the In Their Own Words website.

What is Philosophy? Find the most tweetable definition

To celebrate the launch of Philosophy Bites, Waterstones are looking for the most tweetable definition of 'What is Philosophy?'. The winning entry will be selected from the top 100 entries and published in the sequel book Philosophy Bites Back. Follow this link for more details and how to enter ...

Peter King on Voices From The Old Bailey

Professor Peter King joins Amanda Vickery to discuss dramatised extracts from court cases with fellow historians Judith Hawley and Jeremy Barlow. Find out more about this series.
Listen to the programme on the BBC iPlayer (until 29 July).

Elton Barker wins Google Digital Humanities Award

Elton Barker (Classical Studies) has been awarded one of Google’s Digital Humanities Research Awards for a project entitled Google Ancient Places (GAP): Discovering historic geographical entities in the Google Books corpus. Elton is part of a team which includes Eric C. Kansa (University of California-Berkeley) and Leif Isaksen (Southampton University). The Google award will support 12 university research groups with unrestricted grants for one year. Find out more about the awards.

Reading philosophy on holiday podcast

Prospect magazine’s resident philosopher Nigel Warburton explains why a vacation may be the perfect time to start reading philosophy: and why some unlikely reading may help the rest of life make a little more sense too. Listen to this podcast.

Nicola Watson on Time Team, 28 June 2010

Nicola Watson was on the Time Team Special ‘Secrets of Westminster Abbey’, talking about Poets’ Corner. You can watch this programme on the Channel 4 website broadcast on Channel 4 until the end of July. Find out more about the programme from the Time Team website.

Prospect magazine’s ‘Everyday Philosophy’ podcast

Prospect magazine has just released a podcast of resident philosopher Nigel Warburton’s latest ‘Everyday Philosophy’ column. Follow this link to hear Nigel on the unenviable position of being envied.

The ethics of synthetic life

Nigel Warburton talks to Julian Savulescu, Director of Oxford University’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, about the implications of Craig Venter’s synthetic bacterium. You can listen to this interview on Nigel’s blog, Virtual Philosopher.

Philosophers’ football: match report

Nigel Warburton, who refereed the match, has written a report which you can now read online from Prospect magazine’s website.

Saving Britain’s Past wins Learning on Screen Award

Saving Britain’s Past, which forms part of the course materials for AD281 Understanding Global Heritage, has won the Special Jury Award at the British Universities Film and Video Council 2010 Learning on Screen Awards. The series first screened on BBC2 over the summer of 2009, and Rodney Harrison and Susie West, both Lecturers in Heritage Studies in the Faculty of Arts, acted as academic consultants on the series. Visit the website for Saving Britain’s Past. Find out more about the Learning on Screen Awards.

Open Arts Archive is launched, 27 March 2010

The Open Arts Archive is a major new archive and website linking The Open University with a range of collaborating museums, galleries and art institutions. It provides open access to a wealth of artistic, cultural and educational resources, featuring work from the ancient to the modern period. These resources include seminars, study days, artist interviews, research projects and archives. The website is available at and will continue to expand as more new material is added regularly.

Promises, promises ... Everyday philosophy article and podcast

With three pre-election debates between party leaders set to take place on national television, pledges will be coming from left, right and centre in the coming months. But what about politicians caught lying to the electorate - what will happen to them? Nigel Warburton explores this topic in the April issue of Prospect. Follow this link to listen to the free podcast.

Classics in the Modern World: A ‘Democratic Turn?’, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 18-20 June 2010

This international conference will be held at Milton Keynes in the Michael Young Building from Friday 18 – Sunday 20 June. For further information see the programme online.

Art, Music + Chance: The Legacy of John Cage (1912-1992), BALTIC, Gateshead, Saturday 19 June 2010

This Open University study day, in collaboration with BALTIC, explores the relationship between the visual arts, music and chance in modern and contemporary art, and complements three exhibitions being held at BALTIC, Gateshead in June - September, 2010. Artists, curators and art historians will consider these and other issues raised by the three exhibitions. The study day is relevant to OU Art History courses AA318, A216 and the Art History MA as well as Music courses A214, AA302 and the Music MA. Find out more by visiting the Art History website.

‘Ethnicity Crime and Justice; Historical and Contemporary perspectives’, The Open University, Milton Keynes, 8-9 June 2010

This two day conference aims to bring historians and criminologists together around common themes. The conference partly comes out of a recent ESRC-funded research project on ethnicity, crime and justice in England in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and the desire of Peter King and John Carter Wood, who are writing a book out of this research, to bring together historians and criminologists working in this field. Further information including contact details, the conference programme and registration form is available from the ICCCR website.

Talk: Professor Jim Moore on ‘Phases of Darwin biography’

One of a series hosted by the The Biographical Methodologies Group, The Open University, 27th May, 2pm in Meeting Rooms 1, 2, and 3 Wilson A Building.

The talk reviews how responsibility for shaping Darwin’s image and reputation shifted from Darwin, to his family, to ‘scientists’, to the ‘Darwin Industry’ and finally to social and intellectual historians. It concludes with a few words about the way that Darwin’s science-history is written today.

Jim Moore is Professor of the History of Science at the Open University. He has published extensively on Darwin and Victorian lives. His and Adrian Desmond’s best-selling Darwin (1991) won many prizes and has been widely translated. Their Darwin’s Sacred Cause. Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins, was hailed by London Review of Books as the Darwin bicentenary’s ‘most substantial historical contribution.’

OU philosopher to referee rematch of the Monty Python classic, the Greeks vs Germans philosophers’ football fixture, Sunday May 9 2010

On Sunday May 9th in Wingate and Finchley’s North London stadium Nigel Warburton will be stepping in to Confucius’ boots to referee a replay of the Monty Python classic, the Greeks vs Germans philosophers’ football fixture. The teams include former England manager Graham Taylor, Mark Steel, A.C. Grayling, Terry Jones, Laurie Taylor, Gary Lineker, John Humphrys, Tony Hawks, Arthur Smith and David Edmonds. The event is a fundraiser for Philosophy Shop, an organisation that sends philosophy graduates into primary schools. You can find out more from Nigel’s blog, virtual philosopher and from


James Robson shortlisted for the 2010 Runciman Award of the Anglo-Hellenic League

Dr James Robson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classical Studies, has been shortlisted for the Runciman Award. This is awarded by the Anglo-Hellenic League to a book on Greece or some aspect of the Hellenic scene. Books published in English anywhere in the world are eligible for the Award. The aim of the award is to stimulate interest in Greek history and culture from earliest times to the present; to reward and encourage good and accessible writing and to promote wider knowledge and understanding of Greece’s contribution to civilisation and values. For more information see the Anglo-Hellenic League’s website.


‘Policing and the Policed in the Postcolonial State’: An International Workshop
29 – 30 April 2010, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London

See the Colonial and Postcolonial Policing Group website for further details of this workshop.

Music Research Seminar: Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra: A Por Por funeral for Ashirifie, 7 April 2010

This seminar will comprise a showing of Professor Steven Feld’s (University of New Mexico) recent film, A Por Por funeral for Ashirifie, followed by a discussion with the author. Music Research Studio, Perry Building D, Walton Hall, Open University, 2:00 pm. Further details are available online.

Tate/OU Abstraction Study Day dedicated to the memory of Professor Charles Harrison, Saturday 27 March 2010, 11.00–17.00

Dedicated to the memory of Professor Charles Harrison, Emeritus Professor of the History and Theory of Art at The Open University, this study day considers some of the broad issues and ideas associated with the concept of ‘abstraction’. The day also includes contributions from contemporary artists whose practices include explorations of abstraction in different media. Speakers include Paul Wood, Jason Gaiger, Briony Fer and Matthew Gale. Tate Modern Starr Auditorium. Cost £15 (£12 concessions), booking recommended. For tickets book online or call 020 7887 8888.

Launch of The Open Arts Archive, 27 March 2010

The Open Arts Archive is a major new archive and website linking The Open University with a range of collaborating museums, galleries and art institutions. It provides open access to a wealth of artistic, cultural and educational resources, featuring work from the ancient to the modern period. These resources include seminars, study days, artist interviews, research projects and archives. The website is available at and will continue to expand as more new material is added regularly.

Seven Ages of Britain on BBC ONE, from Sunday 31st January at 9.00 pm

David Dimbleby journeys through the nation’s past, from Iron Age pre-history to the present day. This is a history of British society told not through documents and written records, but through the material culture of each age – works of art, craft, and industry. Dr Rachel Gibbons, Academic Consultant for The Open University, comments: “Seven Ages of Britain is our social and cultural history, telling the story of the nation and its peoples through art and artefacts, through the precious treasures and the everyday objects created in Britain. Each of these objects and artefacts is evidence of the society in which it was produced. They all have value to historians for what they can tell us about our ancestors and how we, as a society, have become who we are now.” More information is available from the series website, where you can also order your free Exploring History booklet.


Nigel Warburton on The philosophy of Myleene Klass, Prospect magazine, February 2010

We are increasingly taking the law into our own hands, from attacking burglars to jumping red lights. But, asks Nigel Warburton, can this be morally justified? For a summary of this piece, see Nigel’s blog post on Platform. The full article is available from Prospect magazine.

A History of Christianity, Saturdays on BBC 2 from 30 January 2010

This new series co-produced by the BBC and The Open University, will provide fascinating insights into Christianity, the world’s largest religion. The six programmes will show how different forms of the religion evolved over time because of different events and will indicate intriguing alternative possibilities, such as how Baghdad, rather than Rome, nearly became the centre of the Christian world. Find out more from the series website.


Success for Creative Writing Tutor’s debut novel

Amy Sackville’s debut novel Still Point is currently being read as Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. Amy tutors Creative Writing (A215) in London and has also been featured in an article on Top new novelists for 2010 in the Telegraph. You can listen to Still Point on the BBC iPlayer.

What the ancients say about being ancient - podcast and download available

Nigel Warburton appeared on Radio 4’s You and Yours on 30 December to consider what the ancients had to say about being ancient and how the individual and society can make the best of it. In particular he was much taken by the thoughts on the matter of the first century BC philosopher and statesman, Cicero. You can listen to the programme on the BBC iPlayer or download it from the You and Yours website. Nigel’s section runs from 25'45" in to 32'33".


Articles of Faith: A Seminar on Material Religion, Thursday March 11, 2010

The role of material culture in formulating, communicating and changing religious beliefs is now the focus of debate in several disciplines, including Religious Studies, Art History, Sociology and Classical Studies. The seminar will bring together academics from different OU departments to explore a number of exciting case studies and to share their theoretical approaches to the subject. We also look forward to welcoming Crispin Paine, one of the editors of Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, as external discussant. Find out more from the Material Cultures Research Group website.

‘Climate Change: Science, Values, Creativity’, 5th March 2010, OU Library Seminar Rooms

This event aims to bring together Open University academics and postgraduate research students who have an interest in this subject area, and hopes to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and dialogue. Further details are available online.

Digital Humanities seminar, 2 March 2010

The guest speaker was Professor Charlotte Roueché, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine Studies, King’s College London on: ‘Pursuing digital epigraphy: an intellectual journey and its implications’. Full details and a recorded webcast are available from the Digital Humanities website.

Seminar on Practical Reasoning and Reasons for Action, 10 February 2010

The Mind Meaning and Rationality Research Group is continuing its seminar series on practical rationality. The next seminar in the series will be held on Wednesday 10th February 2010. Dr Maria Alvarez (Southampton University) will be speaking on Practical Reasoning and Reasons for Action. Further details from the group’s website.

Digital Humanities seminar, 20 January 2010

The seminar began with presentations about two digital humanities projects at the OU. Professor Lorna Hardwick, Director of Classical Receptions in Late Twentieth Century Drama and Poetry in English and Dr. Shafquat Towheed, Project Supervisor of The Reading Experience Database shared their experiences and invited comment. The guest speaker was Arthur Burns, Professor of Modern British History, King’s College London on ‘Opportunities and costs for the archival researcher in a digital world: the case of the Clergy of the Church of England Database’. Full details and a recorded webcast are available from the Digital Humanities website.

Making sense of Hamlet

David Tennant brings his Hamlet to the TV Saturday 26 Dec 17:05 BBC TWO. The OU’s Dr Hannah Lavery (English) investigates Hamlet in the context of Elizabethan England, the process of pulling together a production of Hamlet and how the casting of Hamlet affects our perception of the play. See the Hamlet website for further interviews, clips and resources to help you get more out of the play.

Christmas with John and Yoko: Maurice Hindle’s New Statesman article

In December 1968, a year rocked by revolutionary upheaval, Maurice Hindle (now Senior Faculty Manager in Arts at The Open University in London) hitch-hiked to John Lennon’s home in Surrey in search of the Beatle and his new partner, Yoko Ono. You can read an extract from the interview online at the New Statesman website.

Discussion on the abolition of capital punishment (podcast)

December 16th 2009 sees the 40th anniversary of the abolition in the UK of capital punishment for the crime of murder. In this specially recorded discussion, Dr. Nigel Warburton, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at The Open University, Professor Gary Slapper, Director of the Centre for Law at The Open University and Professor Barbara Hudson, Director of the Centre for Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Central Lancashire explore some of the fundamental issues underpinning our attitudes to this most severe of punishments. You can listen to this discussion on iTunes U or on OU Podcasts.

Interdisciplinary workshop on Sound, Soundscapes and Sonic Environments, 14-15 December 2009

The relationships between sounds and environments remain an underexplored yet potentially productive area of interdisciplinary inquiry in the humanities and social sciences. This workshop draws together work from the fields of music, anthropology, geography and sociology. Find out more about this workshop.

Open University takes part in international Darwin celebrations

Just how controversial was Charles Darwin? Was he a reluctant revolutionary? And how did he reconcile his religious convictions with his scientific values? When Darwin’s theories were first published in the nineteenth century, he initially felt that the whole scientific establishment was against him. The OU, in partnership with the British Council, has published a selection of podcasts and short videos to commemorate Charles Darwin’s legacy in fields including arts, history, heritage and language in his anniversary year. The materials include a podcast by Jim Moore, Darwin biographer and Professor of the History of Science at The Open University, where he explores the social and scientific context in which Darwin developed his ideas. Listen to Darwin in context on iTunes U, or if you don’t have iTunes on your computer, go to the OU Podcasts version.

Against Charity: Slavoj Žižek at the Royal Society of Arts

Nigel Warburton chaired a discussion with the renowned Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Žižek at the Royal Society of Arts on Tuesday 24 November 2009. Žižek – radical philosopher, polymath, film star, and author of over 30 books – is one of the most controversial and leading contemporary public intellectuals. He asks the question: if we can pour billions of dollars into the global banking system in a frantic attempt at financial stabilization, why has it not been possible to bring the same forces to bear in addressing world poverty and environmental crisis? You can download or listen to a recording from the Royal Society of Arts website.


A History of Christianity, BBC 4 at 9.00pm from 5th November 2009

This new series co-produced by the BBC and The Open University, will provide fascinating insights into Christianity, the world’s largest religion. The six programmes will show how different forms of the religion evolved over time because of different events and will indicate intriguing alternative possibilities, such as how Baghdad, rather than Rome, nearly became the centre of the Christian world. Find out more from the series website.


Death of Professor Charles Harrison

Professor Charles Harrison died on 6 August 2009. He was one of the leading art historians of his generation with an outstanding international research profile and record of prestigious research publications. His contribution to teaching was no less impressive. He contributed written units, audio-visual components, and TV programmes to ten OU courses, including A103, An Introduction to the Humanities and AA100, The Arts Past and Present. His support for Associate Lecturers across the Arts disciplines remained an ongoing priority within an extremely busy academic life. Follow this link to read tributes to Charles Harrison.

Integrity in Public Life lecture series now available as podcasts

The series of lectures on ‘Integrity in Public Life’ are now available online as audio files from the OU Podcast service. The lectures in the series are: Dr John Githongo: The Paradox of Two Recessions (6 May 2009); Lord Butler: Integrity and Politics (20 May 2009); Professor John Cottingham: Integrity and Fragmentation (27 May 2009); and Baroness O’Neil: Trustworthiness, Accountability and Character (17 June 2009). Follow this link to listen to or download the lectures.

MA student wins prestigious prize

The Association of Art Historians dissertation prize has been won by an OU student on the art history MA programme for the second year in a row. Marie Palin was awarded this year’s prize for her dissertation, "Hans Bellmer’s Poupées, Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and the Subversion of Female Gender Stereotypes in Interwar Germany". In 2008, the prize went to Anthony McGrath for his dissertation "Challenging Hogarth: A Revisionist Account of the Authorship of the Court Room at the Foundling Hospital London". Marie’s dissertation was supervised by Dr Ekaterina Morozova, and Anthony’s was supervised by Dr Nicholas Grindle. Another of Dr Grindle’s students, Ruth Jochum-Glasser, won the Dr Maria Schaumayer Foundation prize in her native Austria in 2008 for her MA dissertation, ‘Gender and Transgression in J.M.W Turner’s Landscape Imagery 1810-1840’. The OU awarded its first MAs in art history in 2006. Find out more about the MA in art history.

Philosophy Bites in iTunes Best of 2008

Philosophy Bites, the podcast series of interviews made by OU philosopher Nigel Warburton and OU PhD graduate and BBC World Service radio producer, David Edmonds, has been included in the recently released iTunes Best of 2008 audio podcasts listing. So far the series has had over 3 million downloads. See iTunes for more information.

Getting ready for AA100 website

If you are thinking of studying AA100 The Arts Past and Present this autumn you might like to visit our new Getting ready for AA100 website. This has some useful suggestions for things you can do before the course start and also features a short video introduction to the course.

An expanded selection of Arts course materials is now freely available online

The OpenLearn website gives you access to Open University learning materials that are freely available for you to study in your own time, away from any formal teaching environment. Now you can access a variety of Arts course materials on topics such as starting to write poetry and fiction; using family photographs for historical research; the French revolution; Delacroix and Goya; Brighton Pavilion; classical Latin and Greek; the Holocaust; introductions to philosophy and concepts such as freedom and the nature of persons; the history of medicine ... The extracts range from introductory level through intermediate and advanced to masters and contain from 4 to 16 hours’ of study material. You can choose to use the site as a ‘guest’ or create a profile to log in and communicate with other learners. Go to the OpenLearn website and explore the ‘Arts and History’ section of the LearningSpace.