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Ottoline Online: the NCH academic blog

By Dr Peter Maber, Lecturer in English, NCH — The Lonely Londoners (1956), by the Trinidad-born author Sam Selvon, depicts the lives of the ‘Windrush Generation’, the West Indian immigrants who came to Britain after the Second World War, taking up the British government on their promise of jobs. The London they discover could not be further from the golden city of their imagination. The hostile climate and attitudes they encounter create a different ‘kind of unrealness about London’. Selvon’s characters try out various survival strategies: Harris adopts the manners of an English gent, and ‘plays ladeda’, dropping the names of lords and ladies; while Henry Oliver, alias Sir Galahad, newly arrived from Trinidad, ‘plays boldface’, pretending he knows it all, only to be overcome by feelings of ‘loneliness and fright’.

At the Ottoline Club

“From 1066 to 1095: Family Traditions, Conquests, and the Appeal of the First Crusade”, a talk by Dr. Lars Kjaer, Senior Lecturer in Medieval History — In the intimate setting of the Thinkery, there was a good turnout to see Lars swim against the tide of recent interpretations of the First Crusade.

At the Ottoline Club

“Mind the Gap: Social Affairs between the Micro and Macro”, a talk by Dr. Sebastian Ille, Lecturer in Economics — With the help of on-screen simulations more sophisticated than anything previously seen at the Ottoline Club, Sebastian gave a vivid introduction to some recent developments in economists’ methods.

By Dr Catherine Brown, Head of Faculty & Senior Lecturer in English — When Russians and Britons discuss literature – especially British fiction, especially if written since the Lady Chatterley trial of 1960 – a difference often emerges in attitudes towards sex. Russians, it seems, prefer sex to be done but not described, known but not displayed – which is one reason for the Russian distaste of Gay Pride marches, which the West misinterprets as principally homophobic.

NCH is Hiring: Art History, Law and Human Geography positions now open

New teaching positions are now open at New College of the Humanities. NCH has a world-class team of professors with a reputation for academic excellence, supported by an enthusiastic and talented team of teaching staff.

By Dr Catherine Brown, Head of Faculty & Senior Lecturer in English — I am rereading Graham Greene’s 1966 novel The Comedians, which I first read as an earnest fifteen-year-old member of Amnesty International. Then, it worked along with Amnesty’s literature to drive a stake of horror deep into my mind. A proxy sense of living under the worst of dictatorships has remained with me ever since, and helps to motivate my current work on torture and fiction.

The Gold Standard: The One-to-One Tutorial

By Dr Catherine Brown, Head of English Faculty and Senior Lecturer, New College of the Humanities — ‘It is the gold standard’, Professor Anthony Grayling says frequently of the one-to one tutorial. He founded the New College of the Humanities, London, in part on the basis of this belief. Every week at NCH, each student receives a tutorial on their own with a qualified tutor.

A letter to MPs from Professor AC Grayling

Dear MP — I am sure - for reasons set out below - that you will not mind my writing to you again about the following: (1) The EU referendum of 23 June 2016 was advisory, non-binding, non-mandating, and explicitly so: Briefing Note 07212 issued to you on 3 June 2016, and which you very carefully read in preparation for debating the Referendum Bill, made this crystal clear (§5). It also explicitly pointed out (§6) that if there were to be any suggestion otherwise, that a supermajority would be required because of the major degree of constitutional change, and deprivation of citizens’ rights, that would be involved in a decision to leave the EU.

Moscow: History of a symbol

By Dr. Catherine Brown, Head of Faculty & Senior Lecturer in English — Russia doesn’t do towns. There are no Russian Granthams, Great Yarmouths, or Leighton Buzzards. Its vastness prohibits such chirpy, middling, interconnected entities. Instead, its farmers live in villages whilst everyone else huddles in metropolises. Despite the unlimited, dirt-cheap land across which they might spread themselves, the Russians pile in their hundreds of thousands in tower blocks, like stakes in a metal paling guarding an older, wooden centre and its kremlin from the near-empty expanses near-infinitely around.

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