With Late Summer Lectures 2017 beginning on 16th August, here’s a chance to reflect on the topics covered by last year’s lecturers. Enjoy listening to these podcasts, and then come along to the new Series to open your eyes to the best new literary research.
The series began at the end, with Diletta De Cristofaro looking at apocalypse in literature. In an age of climate change we’re more anxious than ever about living on the brink of catastrophe. But Diletta wondered whether literature could offer a compensatory solace, by reminding us that a more utopian life could be built out of the ashes of disaster.
Returning from ends to beginnings, we were taken back to the foundation of Durham Cathedral by Abigail Steed. While St Cuthbert is venerated as its patron saint, Abigail unearthed some of the surprising legends surrounding his acts of vengeance, and even misogyny, towards women.
Along a similar theme of revising traditional wisdom, Jon Greenaway shook up our expectations around Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While readers today view the monster as the embodiment of evil, the theological conventions of Shelley’s own time might have tended to see the creator as actually the more malevolent.
Frankenstein is often viewed as a foundational work of science fiction, and Arthur Rose followed the genre to the modern day, out into the coldness of space and deep into underwater abysses. He looked at the way in which breathing – or lack of it – is both a key device of plot and characterisation, and tells us something about a bodily action that we usually take for granted.
Lastly, we went on a quest for the Holy Grail and Philosopher’s Stone with Curtis Runstedler. Although ultimately unsuccessful, along the way we encountered deathly wizards, Nazis and muppets, and learned about the medieval alchemy that underpins some of our most popular modern movies.
Late Summer Lectures 2017 begins on 16th August. The series continues each Wednesday evening in Alington House, Durham from 17.30. Entry is free, and everyone is very welcome.