The Rhetoric Professorship at Gresham College originated in the founding of the College in the Elizabethan era. 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 literature.

Current Professor
Past Professors

Professor Belinda Jack

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 Criticism at St John’s College, University of Oxford in 1989, having earlier obtained a degree in French with African and Caribbean Studies from the University of Kent. Her academic career over the past twenty years has been at Christ Church, University of Oxford, where she is an ‘Official Student’ (Fellow and Member of the Governing Body) and Tutor in French. Her main interest lies in French literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.

As well as her five books, Professor Jack is widely published through her many articles, essays, chapters and reviews. Her recent articles and reviews have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Literary Review, Times Literary Supplement, Times Higher Education Supplement, BBC History Magazine and Littérature. She is a regular on the BBC and international radio and television, as well as a frequent speaker at literary festivals throughout the British Isles and beyond.

In 2013 Professor Jack was appointed the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric. In her first year of appointment, her Gresham College lectures were on The Mysteries of Reading and Writing. She writes of her appointment and the series:

“Reading is a subject which has long fascinated me, not least because of my role in teaching undergraduate students to read ‘difficult’ literature with the greatest attention to detail, structure and internal connections. My most recent book, The Woman Reader, is a history of women’s reading from ancient times to the present day, and the writing of it deepened my interest in the subject of reading more generally. My Gresham lectures will draw on some of the material on which I based my book, including material that I didn’t have space to treat, and on the research I am currently undertaking. My primary aim will be to encourage informed reading of a wide range of material, which will make us reconsider literature, ourselves and the society in which we live.”

In 2015/16, Professor Jack continues her professorship with her third lecture series entitled The Mysteries of Writing Poems and Plays.

Professor Jack's previous lecture series' are as follows:

2014/15 The Mysteries of Writing Novels and Poems
2013/14 The Mysteries of Reading and Writing

All of Professor Jack's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

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Caleb Willis (1596/7)
Richard Ball (1598)
Charles Croke (1613/14)
Henry Croke (1619)
Edward Wilkinson (1627)
John Goodridge (1638)
Richard Hunt (1654)
William Croune FRS (1659)
Henry Jenkes (1670)
John King (1676)
Charles Gresham (1686)
Edward Martyn (1696)
John Ward (1720)
Jospeh Whateley (1759)
Joseph Thomas Waugh (1797)
F Newnham (1808)
Edward Owen (1817)
Charlton Lane (1863)
Thomas Francis Dallin (1875)
J E Nixon (1881)
Foster Watson (1915)
Oliver Elton (1929)
George Stuart Gordon (1930)
Arthur William Reed (1933)
Rowland Walter Jepson (1946)
Lord David Cecil (1947)
Nevill Coghill (1948)
William Empson (1953)
Richard Hughes (1954)
Bonamy Dobrée (1957)
Stephen Spender (1961)
John Wain (1963)
Cecil Day-Lewis (1963)
Patric Dickinson (1965)
Sir Robert Birley (1968)
All Professor of Rhetoric Lectures
WATCHED
Part of a series

The Poetry of Emily Dickinson, Metaphor and its Philosophical Mysteries

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 9 May 2017 - 6:00PM
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The Poetry of Robert Frost, The Power and Intrigue of Simile

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 11 April 2017 - 6:00PM
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' and Poetic Technique

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 21 February 2017 - 6:00PM
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Shakespeare's Sonnets and the Use of Personification

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 24 January 2017 - 6:00PM
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Charles Dickens, 'Hard Times' and Hyperbole

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 15 November 2016 - 6:00PM
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Jane Austen, 'Persuasion': Irony and the Mysterious Vagaries of Narrative

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 11 October 2016 - 6:00PM
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Theatre and Love: Tom Stoppard, 'The Real Thing'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 10 May 2016 - 6:00PM
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Theatre and Language: Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 12 April 2016 - 6:00PM
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Theatre and The Family: Anton Chekhov, 'The Cherry Orchard'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 23 February 2016 - 6:00PM
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Theatre and Individualism: Henrik Ibsen, 'A Doll's House'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 - 6:00PM
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Poetry and Co-dependency: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 - 6:00PM
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Poetry and Exile: T. S. Eliot, 'Four Quartets'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - 6:00PM
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Poetry & Immortality: John Keats' 'Ode to a Nightingale'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 12 May 2015 - 6:00PM
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Poetry & Remembrance: Thomas Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 - 6:00PM
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The Novel & Psychology: Edith Wharton's 'The Age of Innocence'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 24 February 2015 - 6:00PM
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The Novel & Idealism: George Sand's 'Francois le champi' (The Country Waif)

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 27 January 2015 - 6:00PM
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The Novel as Political History: Stendhal's 'Le rouge et le noir'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 25 November 2014 - 6:00PM
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The Novel & Morality: Samuel Johnson's 'Rasselas'

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 - 6:00PM
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How do Novels Beguile?

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 13 May 2014 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Reading as a Reader and Reading as a Critic

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 8 April 2014 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Modern Reading in Historical Context: From Gutenberg to Naked Women

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 25 February 2014 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Ancient Reading in an Historical Context

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 - 6:00PM
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Reading for Pleasure

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

What is Reading?

Professor Belinda Jack
Tuesday, 1 October 2013 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Lessons from the Past, Warnings for the Future

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 9 April 2013 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

'The Great Unwashed'

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 26 February 2013 - 6:00PM
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Blue Funk and Yellow Peril

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 - 6:00PM
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The White Plague

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 27 November 2012 - 6:00PM
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The Great Pox

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 - 6:00PM
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The Black Death

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 25 September 2012 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Decolonization: The End of Empire?

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 27 March 2012 - 6:00PM
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Exploitation and Resistance

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 28 February 2012 - 6:00PM
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From Conquest to Control

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 24 January 2012 - 6:00PM
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The Scramble for Africa

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 22 November 2011 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

Formal and Informal Empire in the Nineteenth Century

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 18 October 2011 - 6:00PM
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Empire in the Pre-Industrial World

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Tuesday, 20 September 2011 - 6:00PM
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Part of a series

The Victorians: Empire and Race

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 11 April 2011 - 6:00PM
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The Victorians: Religion and Science

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 14 March 2011 - 6:00PM
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The Victorians: Gender and Sexuality

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 14 February 2011 - 6:00PM
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The Victorians: Life and Death

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 13 December 2010 - 12:00AM
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The Victorians: Art and Culture

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 4 October 2010 - 6:00PM
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The Victorians: Time and Space

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Monday, 13 September 2010 - 12:00AM
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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 - 12:00AM
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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 - 12:00AM
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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 - 12:00AM
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War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: The Crimean War, 1854-1856

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Thursday, 3 December 2009 - 12:00AM
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War and Peace in Europe from Napoleon to the Kaiser: War and Revolution in 1848

Professor Sir Richard Evans FBA
Thursday, 5 November 2009 - 12:00AM
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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 - 12:00AM
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Tearing up the ideological maps, and squabbling over the compass

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 3 March 2009 - 12:00AM
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Ideological weddings: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 2 February 2009 - 12:00AM
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Other Britains: One size doesn’t fit all

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 13 January 2009 - 12:00AM
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The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 9 December 2008 - 12:00AM
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Building Jerusalem in England

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 4 November 2008 - 12:00AM
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How long was the twentieth century?

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 14 October 2008 - 12:00AM
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Do we need a martian invasion in order to avoid attacking each other?

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 3 March 2008 - 12:00AM
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Explanations of enmity: pessimists, optimists and sceptics

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 4 February 2008 - 12:00AM
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Demonisation and witch hunts in religion and politics

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 7 January 2008 - 12:00AM
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Do governments and societies need enemies?

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 10 December 2007 - 12:00AM
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Enemies at home: from class war to the war on crime

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 5 November 2007 - 12:00AM
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The rhetoric of enmity

Professor Rodney Barker
Monday, 1 October 2007 - 12:00AM
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What do rulers do when they rule?

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 6 March 2007 - 6:00PM
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Caps of Liberty: The Oddity of Democracy

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 6 February 2007 - 6:00PM
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Covenants without Swords; Swords without Covenants

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 9 January 2007 - 6:00PM
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Humour and satire as the canary down the mine shaft of government

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 5 December 2006 - 12:00AM
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The plumage of the naked ape

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 31 October 2006 - 6:00PM
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Should we take our leaders as seriously as they take themselves?

Professor Rodney Barker
Tuesday, 10 October 2006 - 12:00AM
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The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 21 June 2006 - 12:00AM
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Great Britain and the ‘Scramble for Africa’

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 10 May 2006 - 12:00AM
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Great Britain and the Middle East

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 22 March 2006 - 12:00AM
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Great Britain and the other imperial powers: Conflict over China

Professor Kathleen Burk
Tuesday, 17 January 2006 - 12:00AM
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Imperial Rivalry with the Russian Empire

Professor Kathleen Burk
Monday, 28 November 2005 - 12:00AM
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India: The Jewel in the Crown

Professor Kathleen Burk
Monday, 10 October 2005 - 12:00AM
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Britain and Germany: from ally to enemy

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 4 May 2005 - 12:00AM
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The Grand Tour of Europe

Professor Kathleen Burk
Tuesday, 5 April 2005 - 11:00PM
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At war with the French: Louis XIV and Napoleon

Professor Kathleen Burk
Thursday, 10 March 2005 - 12:00AM
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At war with the French: the Hundred Years

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 9 February 2005 - 12:00AM
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In the beginning: the Roman, the Viking and the Norman Conquests

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 12 January 2005 - 12:00AM
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Anglo-American marital relations 1870 - 1945

Professor Kathleen Burk
Tuesday, 2 March 2004 - 12:00AM
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‘What, then, is the American, this new man?’

Professor Kathleen Burk
Thursday, 12 February 2004 - 12:00AM
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The American Revolution 1763 - 1783: Separation and Divorce

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 14 January 2004 - 12:00AM
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Seadogs, Religion and Wars

Professor Kathleen Burk
Wednesday, 26 November 2003 - 12:00AM
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Anglo-American relations: Where we are, and how we got there

Professor Kathleen Burk
Tuesday, 21 October 2003 - 12:00AM
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The half dozen most seminal Philosophy books

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 4 June 2003 - 12:00AM
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Is space finite?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 21 May 2003 - 12:00AM
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Did the universe have a beginning?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 14 May 2003 - 12:00AM
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Is our future fixed by causes that were in operation before we were born?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 11 December 2002 - 12:00AM
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Is there a continuous self? Buddhism and its Indian opponents

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 27 November 2002 - 12:00AM
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How might we survive death?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Thursday, 14 November 2002 - 12:00AM
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Just War: Ancient influence on Islam and on the Spanish Conquistadors

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 13 November 2002 - 12:00AM
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When was the idea of human rights invented, and do we need it?

Lord Justice Stephen Sedley
Wednesday, 22 May 2002 - 12:00AM
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Facing Things Stoically: the Stoic recipe for remaining calm

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 15 May 2002 - 12:00AM
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If we do not survive death, is it irrational to feel dismay?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 12 December 2001 - 12:00AM
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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 - 12:00AM
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Thou shalt not kill - not even animals?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 23 May 2001 - 12:00AM
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Are Ideas Indestructible? Revision and Revival in the History of Thought

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 16 May 2001 - 6:00PM
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Scientific Ideas, Ancient and Modern: The Vacuum

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 9 May 2001 - 12:00AM
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Some Great Philosophers Waiting to be Rediscovered

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 22 November 2000 - 12:00AM
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Emotion and Peace of Mind

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 1 November 2000 - 12:00AM
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Do we have a true self?

Professor Richard Sorabji FBA
Wednesday, 25 October 2000 - 12:00AM
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Rhetoric and Ethics 1999-2000

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 3 November 1999 - 12:00AM
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Textual Communities: How do we recognise value in the verbal arts?

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 18 March 1999 - 12:00AM
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Video Cicero: Modern Orators on Television and Radio

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 11 March 1999 - 12:00AM
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Do you take risks when you read? Risk-taking in literature

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 11 February 1999 - 12:00AM
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Is Letter-Writing Literature? And what about Diaries?

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 18 November 1998 - 12:00AM
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Will Cross-Cultural Theatre ever work on the English Stage?

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 21 October 1998 - 12:00AM
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Sex, Politics (and Religion)? Contemporary Plays and Classic Revivals in British Theatre

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 14 October 1998 - 12:00AM
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Lost in Hyperspace

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 7 May 1998 - 12:00AM
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Electronic Etiquette in the Global Community

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 16 April 1998 - 12:00AM
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Telling Stories / Telling Tales

Professor Lynette Hunter
Thursday, 19 February 1998 - 12:00AM
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Orature, Oratory and Getting the Message Heard

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 12 November 1997 - 1:00PM
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Global Voices: Second-Rate Writing from Third World Countries?

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 29 October 1997 - 12:00AM
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What Is Literary Value?

Professor Lynette Hunter
Wednesday, 15 October 1997 - 1:00PM
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‘The Sea-Changer’: James Callaghan, 1976-79

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 18 February 1997 - 12:00AM
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‘The Somersaulting Modernisier’: Edward Heath, 1970-74

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 4 February 1997 - 12:00AM
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‘Country Values’: Alec Douglas-Home, 1963-1964

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 19 November 1996 - 12:00AM
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'The Colonel and The Drawing Room': Anthony Eden, 1955-57

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 5 November 1996 - 1:00PM
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“In history lie all the secrets”: Winston Churchill, 1951-55

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 22 October 1996 - 6:00PM
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‘Shadow and Substance’: Premiership for the Twenty-first Century

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 5 March 1996 - 12:00AM
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‘The Tigress Surrounded by Hamsters’: Margaret Thatcher, 1979-90

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 20 February 1996 - 12:00AM
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‘Quiet, Calm Deliberation’: Harold Macmillan, 1957-63

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 21 November 1995 - 12:00AM
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‘A Sense of Architectonics’: Clement Attlee, 1945-51

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 7 November 1995 - 12:00AM
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‘Organised by History’: The Office of Prime Minister

Professor the Lord Hennessy
Tuesday, 24 October 1995 - 12:00AM
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Measuring Prices and Inflation

Professor Peter G. Moore
Wednesday, 9 March 1994 - 12:00AM
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Official Statistics: Counting with Confidence

Professor Peter G. Moore
Wednesday, 9 February 1994 - 12:00AM
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Function, Fashion and Finance: A new sense of architectural purpose for the City?

Professor Sir Andrew Derbyshire
Tuesday, 27 November 1990 - 6:00PM
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Better Late Than Never: Late Development in Education

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Tuesday, 5 June 1990 - 12:00AM
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What is the role of the independent schools in British education?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Tuesday, 27 March 1990 - 1:00PM
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Who is responsible for bringing up our children: home or school?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Wednesday, 15 November 1989 - 1:00PM
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How do we create good schools?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Tuesday, 13 June 1989 - 1:00PM
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How should we organise the school system?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Wednesday, 17 May 1989 - 1:00PM
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What should we teach the children?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Wednesday, 12 April 1989 - 1:00PM
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Do the British know what education is for?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Tuesday, 8 November 1988 - 1:00PM
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Where did the war-time dream go wrong?

Professor John Malcolm Rae
Tuesday, 18 October 1988 - 12:00PM
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Gambling Fever: The Mirage of Sudden Riches

Professor John Pick
Tuesday, 10 May 1988 - 1:00PM
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Miracle Cures: Spas, Shrines and Spirits

Professor John Pick
Tuesday, 3 May 1988 - 1:00PM
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Money Mania: The South Sea Bubble

Professor John Pick
Tuesday, 26 April 1988 - 1:00PM
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1888: Jack the Ripper

Professor John Pick
Friday, 4 December 1987 - 1:00PM
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1848: The Chartists' Revolution in London

Professor John Pick
Friday, 27 November 1987 - 1:00PM
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1665: The Great Pestilence of London

Professor John Pick
Thursday, 19 November 1987 - 1:00PM
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Laughter and Television

Professor John Pick
Thursday, 16 April 1987 - 12:00PM
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Stand-Up Comedy

Professor John Pick
Thursday, 9 April 1987 - 12:00PM
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The Radio Comedians

Professor John Pick
Thursday, 2 April 1987 - 12:00PM
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Is Shakespeare Still Our Contemporary?

Professor Jan Kott
Wednesday, 22 October 1986 - 12:00AM
All Professor of Rhetoric Series

Rhetoric and the Life of Literature

The Mysteries of Writing Poems and Plays

The Mysteries of Writing Novels and Poems

The Mysteries of Reading and Writing

The Great Plagues: Epidemics in History from the Middle Ages to the Present Day

The Victorians: Culture and Experience in Britain, Europe and the World 1815-1914

The Rise and Fall of European Empires from the 16th to the 20th Century