New Graduates – and lots of events!

I hope everyone had a good reading week, and was able to take the opportunity of a little time away from classes to catch up with themselves! On the Wednesday of that week, we enjoyed celebrating the successes of our BA graduates, who completed their studies in the summer, and who came back to Bloomsbury to don gowns and hats and receive their degrees! It was lovely to meet with them, their families and friends, and to reflect on their achievements. Here are some rather fuzzy snaps taken on my phone – if anyone has some better images, do email them to me, and I’ll put them on another blog!



We talked about happy moments – when one student discovered she’d received a distinction on her dissertation – when we’d been able to inform two finalists that the BA exam board had awarded them prizes for their dissertations! Sue Prior received the Annabelle Rickets award for a BA dissertation on art or architecture before c.1800, whilst Sarah Thacker was given the Mo Price award for a BA dissertation on visual culture after c.1800. We also reflected on those more difficult times – the hurdles that so many students on our programmes have to face at some point or other, trying to juggle studies with family life and work. Many of the graduates in that hall last week were rightly feeling very proud indeed of having made it through tricky patches in the last three or four years of their lives – and we were feeling very proud on their behalfs! This is a good moment to remind all students on our taught programmes that it’s so important to keep your personal tutor abreast of any difficulties you’re experiencing, and to make appointments to talk through options if you’re ever struggling. You can now double check who your personal tutor is on your student record.

We have a cornucopia of events coming up! Here’s a selection of what members of staff are up to and have organised in the next few weeks.

*           The next paper in the Murray seminar on Medieval and Renaissance Art is coming up at 5pm on Thursday 19th November (room 112, Gordon Square). This seminar series began last year, and has been going from strength to strength, attracting academics and postgraduate students from other institutions in London and beyond, as well as our own community. Dr. Laura Jacobus will be looking at five generations of women who worshipped in the Arena Chapel in Padua, asking what insights we can gain when we place them at the centre of our enquiry. She’s come up with the engaging title of Four Weddings and a Funerary Chapel: a brief ‘herstory’ of the Arena Chapel.

Laura's pic

*           Dr. Dorigen Caldwell co-organises the Birkbeck/UCL Rome lecture series, and has alerted me to the next event coming up in their programme. On Friday 27th November, at 6pm, Dr. Helen Langdon will be giving a talk entitled ‘Salvator Rosa: Magic and Science in 1660s Rome’. Dr. Langdon’s work on art in early modern Rome includes her influential book, Caravaggio: a Life (1998). Her lecture will be looking at Rosa’s late paintings, and setting them in the context of the scientific world in Rome of the 1660s. It will take place in room 101 in 30 Russell Square, and is free – but do book your place.

Rome Lecture 27 November

*           A new exhibition, Positive Living: Art and AIDS in South Africa, opens in the Peltz Gallery in the School of Arts building today. It’s curated by Annie Coombes, our Professor of Material and Visual Culture, and she’s been busy installing it over the last few days. It’ll be running until 22nd January, and is not to be missed. Annie’s exhibition focuses on the struggle for self-representation by those affected by the virus during the worst period of AIDS denialism under former President Thabo Mbeki from 1999 to 2003. It explores the way fine art and the process of print-making, painting and other creative practices produced effective therapeutic treatments for HIV/AIDS sufferers and enabled proactive memory work to be performed as a legacy for bereaved families and children. As well as the display itself, there is also a rich programme of events – including a conference on 7th December entitled Women and HIV/AIDS in South Africa: Medicine, Art, Activism. Do take a look at the website to find out full details of everything going on.

*           Other colleagues are also, as ever, giving seminar and conference papers, lectures, and taking part in panel discussions. One coming up soon is Dr. Gabriel Koureas’s lecture entitled ‘Male Body Terrors’, being given at Senate House Library on at 1pm on Tuesday 17th November, to coincide with the exhibition ‘Illumination—How the Visual Captures the Imagination’. The heroic male body and associated ideals of masculinity have been challenged in recent years by the body of the male terrorist. However, Gabriel will be arguing that this recent phenomenon of male body terror can be found in other instances. One example he’ll be discussing is Robert Maplethorpe’s photographic work and his depiction of gay male sexual encounters, which provided a challenge at the time to perceived ideas of masculinity. His talk will attempt to juxtapose the male body of the terrorist and gay man in order to discuss transgressions of masculinities. For full details and to book a place, please follow this link.