Gresham Professor of Rhetoric

The Rhetoric Professorship at Gresham College originated in the founding of the College in the 16th century. Although it has seen lectures on this classical art of discourse and persuasion in recent times, it is more often interpreted to cover topics such as history, politics or philosophy.

Next lecture

Current Professor

Belinda Jack is Fellow and Tutor in French at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She features regularly in the press and media thanks to the popularity and insight of her published works, including books such as The Woman Reader, George Sand: A Woman’s Life Writ Large and Negritude and Literary Criticism: The History and Theory of "Negro-African" Literature in French.

Professor Jack obtained her D.Phil. in Negritude and Literary...

Past professors

1 Caleb Willis - 1596/7
2 Richard Ball - 1598
3 Charles Croke - 1613/14
4 Henry Croke - 1619
5 Edward Wilkinson - 1627
6 John Goodridge - 1638
7 Richard Hunt - 1654
8 William Croune FRS - 1659
9 Henry Jenkes - 1670
10 John King - 1676
11 Charles Gresham - 1686
12 Edward Martyn - 1696
13 John Ward - 1720
14 Jospeh Whateley - 1759
15 Joseph Thomas Waugh - 1797
16 F Newnham - 1808
17 Edward Owen - 1817
18 Charlton Lane - 1863
19 Thomas Francis Dallin - 1875
20 J E Nixon - 1881
21 Foster Watson - 1915
22 Oliver Elton - 1929
23 George Stuart Gordon - 1930
24 Arthur William Reed - 1933
25 Rowland Walter Jepson - 1946
26 Lord David Cecil - 1947
27 Nevill Coghill - 1948
28 William Empson - 1953
29 Richard Hughes - 1954
30 Bonamy Dobrée - 1957
31 Stephen Spender - 1961
32 John Wain - 1963
33 Cecil Day-Lewis - 1963
34 Patric Dickinson - 1965
35 Sir Robert Birley - 1968
36 John Morley Pick - 1985 and 1987
37 Jan Kott - 1986
38 J M Rae - 1988
39 Sir Andrew Derbyshire - 1990
40 Peter G Moore - 1992
41 Peter Hennessy - 1994
42 Lynette Hunter - 1997
43 Richard Sorabji - 2000
44 Kathleen Burk - 2003
45 Rodney Barker - 2006
46 Sir Richard Evans - 2009

All Gresham Professor of Rhetoric lectures

How do Novels Beguile? Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 13 May 2014
Reading as a Reader and Reading as a Critic Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 8 April 2014
Modern Reading in Historical Context: From Gutenberg to Naked Women Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 25 February 2014
Ancient Reading in an Historical Context Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 28 January 2014
Reading for Pleasure Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 26 November 2013
What is Reading? Professor Belinda Jack Tuesday 1 October 2013
Lessons from the Past, Warnings for the Future Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 9 April 2013
'The Great Unwashed' Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 26 February 2013
Blue Funk and Yellow Peril Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 29 January 2013
The White Plague Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 27 November 2012
The Great Pox Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 30 October 2012
The Black Death Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 25 September 2012
Decolonization: The End of Empire? Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 27 March 2012
Exploitation and Resistance Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 28 February 2012
From Conquest to Control Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 24 January 2012
The Scramble for Africa Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 22 November 2011
Formal and Informal Empire in the Nineteenth Century Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 18 October 2011
Empire in the Pre-Industrial World Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Tuesday 20 September 2011
The Victorians: Empire and Race Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 11 April 2011
The Victorians: Religion and Science Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 14 March 2011
The Victorians: Gender and Sexuality Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 14 February 2011
The Victorians: Life and Death Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 13 December 2010
The Victorians: Art and Culture Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 4 October 2010
The Victorians: Time and Space Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Monday 13 September 2010
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: From Balkan War to World War, 1908-1918 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 22 April 2010
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: The Russo-Turkish War, 1875-1878 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 4 March 2010
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: The Wars of German Unification, 1864-1871 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 4 February 2010
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: The Crimean War, 1854-1856 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 3 December 2009
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: War and Revolution in 1848 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 5 November 2009
War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: The defeat of Napoleon, 1806-1815 Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA Thursday 8 October 2009
Tearing up the ideological maps, and squabbling over the compass Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 3 March 2009
Ideological weddings: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue Professor Rodney Barker Monday 2 February 2009
Other Britains: One size doesn’t fit all Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 13 January 2009
The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 9 December 2008
Building Jerusalem in England Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 4 November 2008
How long was the twentieth century? Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 14 October 2008
Do we need a martian invasion in order to avoid attacking each other? Professor Rodney Barker Monday 3 March 2008
Explanations of enmity: pessimists, optimists and sceptics Professor Rodney Barker Monday 4 February 2008
Demonisation and witch hunts in religion and politics Professor Rodney Barker Monday 7 January 2008
Do governments and societies need enemies? Professor Rodney Barker Monday 10 December 2007
Enemies at home: from class war to the war on crime Professor Rodney Barker Monday 5 November 2007
The rhetoric of enmity Professor Rodney Barker Monday 1 October 2007
What do rulers do when they rule? Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 6 March 2007
Caps of liberty: The oddity of democracy Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 6 February 2007
Covenants without swords; swords without covenants Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 9 January 2007
Humour and satire as the canary down the mine shaft of government Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 5 December 2006
The plumage of the naked ape Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 31 October 2006
Should we take our leaders as seriously as they take themselves? Professor Rodney Barker Tuesday 10 October 2006
The Rise and Fall of the British Empire Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 21 June 2006
Great Britain and the ‘Scramble for Africa’ Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 10 May 2006
Great Britain and the Middle East Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 22 March 2006
Great Britain and the other imperial powers: Conflict over China Professor Kathleen Burk Tuesday 17 January 2006
Imperial Rivalry with the Russian Empire Professor Kathleen Burk Monday 28 November 2005
India: The Jewel in the Crown Professor Kathleen Burk Monday 10 October 2005
Britain and Germany: from ally to enemy Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 4 May 2005
The Grand Tour of Europe Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 6 April 2005
At war with the French: Louis XIV and Napoleon Professor Kathleen Burk Thursday 10 March 2005
At war with the French: the Hundred Years Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 9 February 2005
In the beginning: the Roman, the Viking and the Norman Conquests Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 12 January 2005
Anglo-American marital relations 1870 - 1945 Professor Kathleen Burk Tuesday 2 March 2004
‘What, then, is the American, this new man?’ Professor Kathleen Burk Thursday 12 February 2004
The American Revolution 1763 - 1783: Separation and Divorce Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 14 January 2004
Seadogs, Religion and Wars Professor Kathleen Burk Wednesday 26 November 2003
Anglo-American relations: Where we are, and how we got there Professor Kathleen Burk Tuesday 21 October 2003
The half dozen most seminal Philosophy books Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 4 June 2003
Is space finite? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 21 May 2003
Did the universe have a beginning? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 14 May 2003
Is our future fixed by causes that were in operation before we were born? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 11 December 2002
Is there a continuous self? Buddhism and its Indian opponents Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 27 November 2002
How might we survive death? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Thursday 14 November 2002
Just War: Ancient influence on Islam and on the Spanish Conquistadors Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 13 November 2002
When was the idea of human rights invented, and do we need it? Lord Justice Stephen Sedley Wednesday 22 May 2002
Facing Things Stoically: the Stoic recipe for remaining calm Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 15 May 2002
If we do not survive death, is it irrational to feel dismay? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 12 December 2001
Could time go in a circle, so that we survive through our past lying also in our future? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 5 December 2001
Thou shalt not kill - not even animals? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 23 May 2001
Are Ideas Indestructible? Revision and Revival in the History of Thought Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 16 May 2001
Scientific Ideas, Ancient and Modern: The Vacuum Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 9 May 2001
Some Great Philosophers Waiting to be Rediscovered Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 22 November 2000
Emotion and Peace of Mind Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 1 November 2000
Do we have a true self? Professor Richard Sorabji FBA Wednesday 25 October 2000
Rhetoric and Ethics 1999-2000 Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 3 November 1999
Textual Communities: How do we recognise value in the verbal arts? Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 18 March 1999
Video Cicero: Modern Orators on Television and Radio Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 11 March 1999
Do you take risks when you read? Risk-taking in literature Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 11 February 1999
Is Letter-Writing Literature? And what about Diaries? Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 18 November 1998
Will Cross-Cultural Theatre ever work on the English Stage? Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 21 October 1998
Sex, Politics (and Religion)? Contemporary Plays and Classic Revivals in British Theatre Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 14 October 1998
Lost in Hyperspace Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 7 May 1998
Electronic Etiquette in the Global Community Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 16 April 1998
Telling Stories / Telling Tales Professor Lynette Hunter Thursday 19 February 1998
Orature, Oratory and Getting the Message Heard Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 12 November 1997
Global Voices: Second-Rate Writing from Third World Countries? Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 29 October 1997
What Is Literary Value? Professor Lynette Hunter Wednesday 15 October 1997
‘The Sea-Changer’: James Callaghan, 1976-79 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 18 February 1997
‘The Somersaulting Modernisier’: Edward Heath, 1970-74 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 4 February 1997
‘Country Values’: Alec Douglas-Home, 1963-1964 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 19 November 1996
‘The Colonel and the Drawing Room’: Anthony Eden, 1955-57 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 5 November 1996
“In history lie all the secrets”: Winston Churchill, 1951-55 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 22 October 1996
‘Shadow and Substance’: Premiership for the Twenty-first Century Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 5 March 1996
‘The Tigress Surrounded by Hamsters’: Margaret Thatcher, 1979-90 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 20 February 1996
‘Quiet, Calm Deliberation’: Harold Macmillan, 1957-63 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 21 November 1995
‘A Sense of Architectonics’: Clement Attlee, 1945-51 Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 7 November 1995
‘Organised by History’: The Office of Prime Minister Professor the Lord Hennessy Tuesday 24 October 1995
Measuring Prices and Inflation Professor Peter G. Moore Wednesday 9 March 1994
Official Statistics: Counting with Confidence Professor Peter G. Moore Wednesday 9 February 1994
Better Late Than Never: Late Development in Education Professor John Malcolm Rae Tuesday 5 June 1990
What is the role of the independent schools in British education? Professor John Malcolm Rae Tuesday 27 March 1990
Who is responsible for bringing up our children: home or school? Professor John Malcolm Rae Wednesday 15 November 1989
How do we create good schools? Professor John Malcolm Rae Tuesday 13 June 1989
How should we organise the school system? Professor John Malcolm Rae Wednesday 17 May 1989
What should we teach the children? Professor John Malcolm Rae Wednesday 12 April 1989
Do the British know what education is for? Professor John Malcolm Rae Tuesday 8 November 1988
Where did the war-time dream go wrong? Professor John Malcolm Rae Tuesday 18 October 1988
Gambling Fever: The Mirage of Sudden Riches Professor John Pick Tuesday 10 May 1988
Miracle Cures: Spas, Shrines and Spirits Professor John Pick Tuesday 3 May 1988
Money Mania: The South Sea Bubble Professor John Pick Tuesday 26 April 1988
1888: Jack the Ripper Professor John Pick Friday 4 December 1987
1848: The Chartists' Revolution in London Professor John Pick Friday 27 November 1987
1665: The Great Pestilence of London Professor John Pick Thursday 19 November 1987
Laughter and Television Professor John Pick Thursday 16 April 1987
Stand-Up Comedy Professor John Pick Thursday 9 April 1987
The Radio Comedians Professor John Pick Thursday 2 April 1987
Is Shakespeare Still Our Contemporary? Professor Jan Kott Wednesday 22 October 1986

Further information

The 2012-13 Gresham Rhetoric lectures by Professor Richard J Evans will be on
The Great Plagues: Epidemics in History from the Middle Ages to the Present Day
The description of the lecture series is as follows:

Epidemic diseases have been as important as war in their devastating effects on human society through the ages. This series of lectures looks at them in their relation to society, the economy, culture and ideas, and the state. Almost always their origin and spread are conditioned by human interactions, and the effectiveness of medical intervention still depends heavily on the social and political context. We will be examining the extent to which epidemics have brought about social change, how they have affected politics, and where they have affected, or been affected by, the state. The lectures will consider the cultural impact of epidemics, in art and literature, and in religious belief. And we will be looking at the possibilities of future epidemics and the threats disease poses for human society today.