Saturday, 3 November 2012

Gresham College free public lectures

When you lack energy, want a history fix but find no stimulation in Pawn Stars, Ice Road Truckers and other gems offered by Canada's supposed History Channel, point your browser to and watch a good lecture.

There is a wide variety of topics, some from the past month on history are:

The Great Pox
The sexually transmitted disease syphilis is generally thought to have been imported into Europe from the Americas in the late fifteenth century as part of the ‘Columban exchange’, in which other diseases, notably smallpox, travelled in the other direction, with terrible consequences for Native American society. It spread rapidly through Europe, spread above all by armies moving across the continent in the many wars of the time. Painters from Dürer to Rembrandt represented the ravage it wrought, while the threat it posed gave rise to numerous treatments in literature and drama (notably Ibsen’ Ghosts) and strongly affected attitudes to sexuality and prostitution, both explored in this lecture. It remained common well into the twentieth century and still kills millions worldwide every year; reasonably effective treatment only became possible just before the First World War, and the search for a complete cure led to dangerous medical experiments on involuntary human subjects later in the twentieth century, raising major issues of medical ethics.

The Historical Collections of the Guildhall Library
Originally founded in the 1420s under the terms of the will of Richard Whittington, Guildhall Library now specialises in the history of London, but amongst its many other collections of national and international importance is the largest collection of food, cookery and drink related books in the UK. Dr Peter Ross, Principal Librarian at Guildhall Library, will narrate both the history of the library and this remarkable collection, which includes material from the 16th century onwards and the personal libraries of food writers such as Andre Simon and Elizabeth David.

The City of London's Guildhall Library has an extensive collection of iconic documents and valuable books, ranging from the Magna Carta to a lesser-known yet fascinating collection of cookery books.

Building the Victorian City: Splendour and Squalour
By 1900 Britain had produced the world’s largest cities and the first industrial cities. These phenomena led to vast technical, social and architectural challenges. Victorian architects and engineers met these with some of the most impressive feats of construction since the cathedrals of the middle ages. 

This is a part of the lecture series, English Architecture: Into the Modern World.
Simon Thurley’s four lectures complete his survey of English building from the Saxons to the present day. The theme is modernity and tradition. This is the story of how British architects struggled to find an architectural language that met the needs and aspirations of a society in a state of rapid change while negotiating deep and popular traditions and beliefs. Two World Wars shook the nation producing the seemingly contradictory emotions of nostalgia and progress. Out of this has come the world in which we live.

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