Our final Senior Societies of the term were led by Lit and Dram Soc, History Soc and Geography Soc as they welcomed 3 speakers to deliver talks on a hugely diverse range of subjects.
Lit and Dram heard from Dr Deven Parker of Queen Mary’s for a talk entitled ‘Canonical Poets, Material Texts: The Case for Reading Books as Artifacts’. Dr Parker explored what it means to study literature from a “material” perspective, one that originates in her early interest and studies in archaeology. What if we read novels, poems, and short stories as artifacts with concrete histories of creation and circulation? And how does literary meaning originate not just from words on a page but also from material features such as title pages, fonts, and other paratextual features? She explained her material approach to literary study by drawing on her recent research on the Romantic poet John Keats. She argued that Keats’s literary reputation and canonical status—and the ways we continue to present him in movies like Bright Star (2009)—are the result not just of the quality of his famous poems but also of the ways his three published books were printed, marketed, and sold to consumers.
History Society welcomed Carole Hillenbrand Emerita Professor in Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh and Professor of Islamic History at the University of St Andrews. She has received numerous awards for her contributions to Islamic studies including the King Faisal International Prize in Islamic Studies and a CBE. Her works include ‘The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives’ and ‘Islam: A New Historical Introduction’. She delivered a fascincating lecture on Saladin and his reconquest of Jerusalem in the 12th century.
Finally Geography Society enjoyed a talk from Royal Society University Research Fellow and Professor in Evolution and Behaviour at UCL, Professor Nichola Raihani. Her group’s research focuses on the evolution of social behaviour in humans and non-human species. She has been widely published in scientific journals, won the 2018 Philip Leverhulme Prize in Psychology for her research achievements, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology in 2018. She has also worked in the BBC Science Development Team, and appeared on several podcasts and radio shows, including BBC Radio 4’s ‘Hacking the Unconscious’ and ‘Thought Cages’.