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Ottoline Online: the NCH academic blog

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This blog has moved!

This is to announce that the NCH Academic Blog, "Ottoline Online",  has now moved to the NCH London website. Please click on the link below to continue reading: https://www.nchlondon.ac.uk/blogs/academic/    

Pedagogy and the Varieties of Knowledge

In this post, I want to discuss three kinds of knowledge, and then relate them, briefly, to tuition at NCH. In particular, it has been claimed that there are three kinds of knowledge pertinent to higher education.

There are, I find, many advantages to being born relatively late for your generation. Your parents know pretty much what they are about; they grow old when you still have a strong arm with which to support them; and, most importantly, they connect you to a bigger historical span.

At the Ottoline Club

“J S Mill’s Philosophy of History”, a talk by Dr. Callum Barrell, Lecturer in Politics & International Relations. As a colleague whose research interests are decidedly interdisciplinary, Callum duly delivered a talk that straddled the faculties. His main thesis was that John Stuart Mill developed over a period of years a philosophy of history which very much informed his mature political ideas and in particular his proposals for political change.

At the Ottoline Club

“Torture and Fiction”, a talk by Dr. Catherine Brown, Senior Lecturer in English and Head of the English Faculty In the United States and some of its allies, the years since 2001 have seen major changes in policy and attitudes regarding torture. Torture has been more openly advocated, and its mode of representation in various media has decidedly altered. Catherine’s current writing, impelled by these changes, considers the manifold relations between torture and fiction.

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’.

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.

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.

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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