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Festival of Ideas Programme

Festival of Ideas LogoWe are pleased to announce that the Faculty of History will again play host to a programme of events for the 2017 Festival of Ideas! After the success of last year, our programme has grown from 9 to 16 events on a wide range of topics spanning the Festival’s two weeks.

The Festival will run from the 16th – 29th October and bookings for events will open on the 25th September at 11am. Last year, our events booked up within hours and places are limited, so please be sure to head over to the Festival website to book


Feminism in social sciences

Panel: Dr Amy Erickson, Dr Victoria Bateman, Dr Manali Desai 
Monday 16th October, 6.30pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

Our perspectives are shaped in multiple ways by our gender. This interdisciplinary panel discusses the effects of gender on intellectual focus and academic fields.

Empire and Brexit

Dr Shruti Kapila, Dr Tristram Hunt, and Victor Malet
Tuesday 17th October, 12.45 - 2pm, McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christi College

Conversation with Dr Tristram Hunt (historian, former MP and Director V&A) and Victor Malet (Asia editor, Financial Times) moderated by Dr Shruti Kapila (historian of modern India and global thought) will discuss the afterlife of the Empire and its role in Brexit, and the changing world order especially the rise of China and India and Britain’s identity in the Asian Century.

Speaking truth to power

Workshop: Dr Amy Erickson and Emma Nicholls
Tuesday 17th October, 5pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

When a person in authority makes a sexist or racist comment, it’s hard to know how to respond, even if we are not ourselves the target. This workshop brainstorms ideas for 'bystander training'.

Mahatma versus Modi? Indian democracy at 70

Dr Shruti Kapila,  James Manor, Mukulika Bannerji, Manali Desai, and Chandrahas Choudury
Tuesday 17th October, 6 - 7.30pm, McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christ College

Historian Shruti Kapila (Cambridge)  will be in conversation with experts on Indian democracy James Manor (SAS, London), Mukulika Bannerji (LSE), Manali Desai (Sociology, Cambridge) and Delhi-based novelist and journalist Chandrahas Choudury on the past present and future of India. How did Gandhi and his visible politics of truth lay the foundations of India democracy and has Modi transformed Indian democracy beyond recognition? How can we understand the relationship between media and truth from world's largest democracy?

Can we know ‘the truth’ about history?

Panel: Nailya Shamgunova (Chair), Patrick McGhee, Rodrigo I Garcia-Velasco Bernal, Dr Helen Roche, Chelsea Michta, Matthias Meng Yan Wong, Louise Moschetta
Wednesday 18th October, 6.30 - 8pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

This workshop explores how we find out what happened in the past. What sort of sources - textual, visual, material - do historians use to uncover the ‘truth’ about history, and, with the ascent of social, cultural, gender history and other fields, what is ‘the truth’ about history?

Truth and lies in British film propaganda 1939-1945

Dr Colin Shindler
Friday 20th October, 6pm - 7pm, St John's College, Old Divinity School

Joseph Goebbels once said, “The best propaganda is that which works invisibly” which is why he had such a profound respect for British wartime films. Was he right?

Fake news

Dr Annabel Brett, Prof. John Robertson and Dr Ben Slingo
Friday 20th October, 7.30 - 9pm, St John's College, Old Divinity School

Dr Annabel Brett, Prof. John Robertson and Dr Ben Slingo take a journey through the history of ideas, exploring the deep questions raised by fake news through a look back at an early modern political genre which deliberately manipulated the form of ‘news’.

The assassination of John F Kennedy: does anyone know the truth?

Dr Colin Shindler
Saturday 21st October, 11am - 12pm, Room 5, Faculty of History

It’s over half a century since President John F Kennedy was assassinated and we still don’t know the truth. Or do we? Did the Warren Report get it right after all?

The new woman: 150 Years of British and Indian women’s magazines

Asiya Islam and Owen Brittan
Saturday 21st October, 12pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

Since the mid-19th century, women’s magazines in India and Britain have portrayed changing ideals of femininity. This exhibition traces the shared history of these countries through woman in print.

Sex, lies & the Profumo affair

Dr Colin Shindler
Saturday 21st October, 2 - 3 pm, Room 5, Faculty of History

Jack Profumo resigned in June 1963 because he had lied to the House of Commons about his relationship with Christine Keeler. Would it have been different if he had told the truth?

A monarch in fashion: Elizabeth I, William Cecil, and constructions of power and authority through dress at the Elizabethan court

Abigail Gomulkiewicz
Saturday 21st October, 3.30 - 4.30, Room 6, Faculty of History

This talk investigates the clothing of Elizabeth I and her courtiers such as William Cecil to see what their choices reveal about the importance of dress at the Elizabethan court.

'The brightest and the best': what does a meritocracy look like?

Dr Amy Erickson
Monday 23rd October, 6.30pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

Studies of implicit bias and stereotype threat suggest that humans are incapable of identifying merit independently of race and sex. Where does that leave claims for meritocracy?

The European misunderstanding: competing truths about European integration in Britain and Germany since 1945

Dr Mathias Haeussler
Tuesday 24th October, 6.30 - 8pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

Through the personal story of the former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, this talk explores why post-war Britain and Germany have frequently been unable to see eye-to-eye over European integration.

Worlds of words: print, news, and new publics in colonial South Asia

Dr Leigh Denault
Wednesday 25th October, 6.30 - 7.30, Room 6, Faculty of History

Nineteenth-century South Asian print featured exciting experiments with new genres and new ways of integrating news and entertainment: come explore the material and intellectual world of the colonial Indian press.

Islands and the making of the world we know

Dr Sujit Sivasundaram
Saturday 28th October, 3pm, Bateman Auditorium, Gonville and Caius College,

In this multi-media lecture, Sujit Sivasundaram uses paintings, photographs, film, indigenous sources and colonial documents to tell a new history of the making of the modern world.

Pirates and the responsibility to protect (ages 9 - 14)

Jeremy Garsha
Saturday 28th October, 1pm, Room 6, Faculty of History

Come and find out what real pirates looked like and how they acted while separating ‘truth’ from imagination. Climb aboard for hands-on activities, drawing, and high seas adventure.