Programme: 2018 – 2019

This page is now an archive of the lectures that were held in the 2018-2019 season.  The page includes some photographs and links to the transactions and elsewhere associated with each lecture.


1st October 2018
President’s Address

Digital Humanities: Old wine in new bottles

President Prof. Nigel Wood and Immediate Past President Sir Kent Woods with the Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ross Grant

Click here for the article in the transactions

15th October 2017

The Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity

Professor Sir Michael Marmot
Director of the Institute of Health Equity, University College, London

Professor Bertha Ochieng, Professor of Health and Social Care at De Montfort University with the speaker Sir Michael Marmot and President Prof Nigel Wood

Taking action to reduce health inequalities is a matter of social justice. In developing strategies for tackling health inequalities we need to confront the social gradient in health not just the difference between the worst off and everybody else.  There is clear evidence when we look across countries that national policies make a difference and that much can be done in cities, towns and local areas. But policies and interventions must not be confined to the health care system; they need to address the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age.  The evidence shows that economic circumstances are important but are not the only drivers of health inequalities. Tackling the health gap will take action, based on sound evidence, across the whole of society.

Click here for the article in the transactions

Sponsored by De Montfort University

22nd October 2018 at 5.30 pm in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre in the Fielding Johnson South Wing (behind the David Wilson Library) at the University of Leicester

University of Leicester Centenary Lecture

History and Memory: the first 100 years of the University of Leicester

Professor Gordon Campbell FBA

A recording of this lecture is available here.

Click here for the article in the transactions.

29th October 2018

Shelley’s Women

Professor Kelvin Everest
A.C. Bradley Professor of Modern Literature, Liverpool University

Shelley’s relationships with women caused great controversy during his short life, and continue to do so to this day. The lecture will consider the successive adventures, catastrophes and mysteries of these relationships, including those with his first love Harriet Grove, his first wife Harriet Westbrook (who committed suicide), his second wife Mary Shelley, her step-sister Fanny Godwin (who also committed suicide), and his entanglements with Emilia Viviani and Jane Williams among others. The lecture will attempt to set these affairs in the context of Shelley’s radical idealism.

(l to r) President Prof. Nigel Wood, Speaker Professor Kelvin Everest, with Prof. Martin Stannard who gave the vote of thanks

Click here for the article in the transactions.

Sponsored by the University of Leicester

12th November 2018

Victoria and Albert Museum: The Past and the Future

Dr Tristram Hunt
Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Lecture held in Partnership with New Walk Museum

Dr  Hunt will discuss how the museum’s founding commitment to design, education and industry continues to define it today. Tracing the museum’s genesis from its Victorian roots, he considers how the V&A’s civic foundations – the national and the global – engendered a world-class collection. He will use this cultural lens to consider the museum’s place in the world today.

President Prof. Nigel Wood, Dr Tristram Hunt seated,  Prof. Alison Yarrington who gave the vote of thanks and Dr. Rosemary Shannon who coordinated  the event as a Museum Partnership Lecture with New Walk Museum.

The audience awaits!

Click here for the article in the transactions.

26th November 2018

Sacrifice and Remembrance

Mr Jeremy Prescott
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)

This presentation evolved when Jeremy Prescott was Chief Executive of the charity RCC (Leics & Rutland) as he thought of ways of supporting rural communities in their commemoration of the 100th anniversary of WW1. The presentation which received Heritage Lottery funding  covers the scale of the sacrifice in that war, the evolution of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, personalities involved, stories behind some of the headstones and how we now  commemorate the fallen in recent conflicts.

Click here for the link to the transactions.

7th January 2019

The Ediacara biota and its role in the evolution of the modern world: an update of recent major advances

Dr Phil Wilby
Team Leader for Palaeontology, British Geological Survey

Dr Mark Evans, Chairman of Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society Section C (Geology), who gave the vote of thanks, the speaker, Dr Phil Wilby in the centre, and President Prof. Nigel Wood

Dr Phil Wilby, Team Leader for Palaeontology at the British Geological Survey, a palaeobiologist with particular expertise in taphonomy and sedimentary geochemistry, will talk about the late Ediacaran period (about 580-541 million years ago) which was transformative in the evolution of the Earth- like system. At this time there were dramatic changes in the compositions of the oceans and atmosphere and the emergence of large organisms and development of the first complex ecosystems. The nature of these organisms and their relationship to animals is contentious. Following new finds of fossils in the Ediacaran strata of Charnwood Forest, Dr Wilby will reveal up to date knowledge of these organisms.

Phil Wilby led the team who re-excavated a famous fossil site near Chippenham which was first discovered during railway construction in the 1840s and is the source of important Jurassic fish and cephalopods. He also has extensive field experience, particularly in Wales, focusing on the architecture of turbidite systems and the distribution of Quaternary deposits.

Joint lecture with the Geology Section

21st January 2019

Challenging Times

Professor Andrew J Pollard FMedSci
Professor of Paediatric Infection and Immunity. University of Oxford

Typhoid causes a serious and potentially fatal disease in parts of the world where the population has access only to poor water quality and inadequate sanitation. The Salmonella bacteria that cause it carry genes which make it resistant to antibiotics and recent spread of resistant bacterial clones has made the disease almost untreatable in recent outbreaks. Typhoid essentially disappeared from Europe and North America as positive pressure mains-water supplies and water purification were introduced. Engineering works are the solution to typhoid infection but investment in this important public health intervention in the poorest regions of the world is slow and construction will take years. To improve health today, new vaccines hold promise to control the disease and stem the rise in antibiotic-resistant infection.

Photograph taken after the lecture: (Left-to-right) Immediate Past President Sir Kent Woods; President Prof. Nigel Wood; the speaker Prof. Andrew J.Pollard and Dr. Angela O’Sullivan, Chair of the British Science Association Leicester Branch, who gave the vote of thanks.

Click here for the link to the transactions.

Sponsored by the British Science Association

4th February 2019

Leicester Mercury Media Lecture

What future do we want for the BBC? With Fake News, and manipulated opinions how can it help the national conversation? How can we listen to each other better?

Professor Jean Seaton
Professor of Media History, University of Westminster, Director of the Orwell Foundation and BBC Historian

President Prof Nigel Wood, Prof Jean Seaton and George Oliver, Editor of the Leicester Mercury who gave the vote of thanks

Democracy depends on a sensible and informed electorate. The BBC since 1923 has been a great British institution dedicated to educating, informing and entertaining us. Yet now there is a great technological revolution overturning all of our institutions, how we do everything and even how we compose our sense of self. The social media and the internet have immense capacity to bring us together. But they can also isolate us in silos of opinion where we only talk and relate to people just like us. Meanwhile the mighty algorithms of Facebook and Google assiduously give us more of what they know (almost better than we do) what we like and think. So what should the BBC do and what should we do about the BBC as one of the great world traders in information, balance, and impartiality? But also of fun and silliness and beauty. What future do we want for our BBC?

Sponsored by Leicester Mercury

18th February 2019

The Chemical Cosmos

Dr June McCombie
School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham

President Prof Nigel Wood with the speaker Dr June McCombie

Over recent years astronomers have realised that chemistry plays a crucial role in controlling the evolutionary cycle where stars are formed from vast clouds of gas and dust, then age and then die either simply by cooling down or in the spectacular brilliance of an exploding star. With the help of chemists, they have created a new scientific discipline, astrochemistry, which seeks to understand the important role that chemistry has to play in our cosmos.

So, let us take a look at how astrochemists explore a chemically controlled cosmos using the tools of a chemist and an astronomer and the personal journey of one astrochemist into this field of work.

Sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry

4th March 2019

Saving Bumblebees

Professor Dave Goulson FRES
School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex

Joint lecture with The Natural History Section

Bumblebees are amongst the most important of wild pollinators; many wildflowers would not set seed without them, and they are the main pollinators of crops such as tomatoes, blueberries and raspberries. Sadly, many bumblebees are in decline and this is symptomatic of the broader environmental damage threatening the future wellbeing of mankind.

Dave Goulson Professor at  Sussex University was brought up in rural Shropshire, where he developed an early obsession with wildlife. He gained his degree in biology from Oxford University, followed by a doctorate on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. He has published more than 260 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of bumblebees and other insects, and three books including the Sunday Times bestseller, A Sting in the Tale, which is now translated into fifteen languages.

Professor Goulson founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, a charity which has grown to 12,000 members. He was the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Social Innovator of the Year in 2010, was given the Zoological Society of London’s Marsh Award for Conservation Biology in 2013, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013, and given the British Ecological Society Public Engagement Award in 2014. In 2015 he was named number 8 in BBC Wildlife Magazine’s list of the top 50 most influential people in conservation.

Click here for a link to the transactions.

11th March 2019

The Peach Lecture

Experiencing Design

Mr Sebastian Conran
Product and Brand Development Consultant

The Peach Lecture which is held in association with the University of Leicester will be given by Mr Sebastian Conran.  His lecture will focus not only on design being a rigorous and discerning activity concerned with ‘Engineering Experiences’ to create a ‘Perception of Value’; but also Conran’s personal career during four decades of change from UK being an analogue manufacturing hub to culture being driven by digital technology.

Son of Terence and Shirley Conran, Sebastian studied design engineering at the Central School of Art and Design and later worked with the punk band The Clash designing clothes, posters, record sleeves, promotional material and stage sets.   A product and brand development consultant, he is Managing Director of Sebastian Conran Associates which in the past has designed for the department store John Lewis and other well known organisations.   He produces papers on design and has taught at the Royal College of Art.  Mr Conran is also a trustee of the Design Museum and a member of the UK Design Council.

The Peach Lecture is the Lit and Phil’s major biennial event and is organised jointly with the University of Leicester where it is held. It is financed from the Harry Hardy Peach Memorial Fund and the lectures have mostly been on some aspect of design. Harry Peach was a founder member and a driving force of the Design And Industries Association, created in 1915. Its aim was “to instil a new spirit of design into British industry”.

Click here for a link to the transactions.

Lecture held in association with the University of Leicester 

5.30 pm, Ken Edwards Building University of Leicester

18th March 2019

Oscar Wilde and the Evolution of Modern Comedy

Dr Nick Freeman
Reader in late Victorian Literature, Loughborough University

Dr Freeman, Reader in late Victorian literature, is an authority on the decadent culture of the 1890s, and the author of two books, Conceiving the City: London, Literature, and Art 1870-1914 (2007) and 1895: Drama, Disaster and Disgrace in Late-Victorian Britain (2011). He has particular interests in Oscar Wilde and the poet and critic, Arthur Symons, whose 1905 story collection, Spiritual Adventures, he has recently edited.  He has also written on a wide range of 1890s’ literature. This includes the decadent poetry of Ernest Dowson and the gothic fiction of E.F. Benson, Arthur Machen, and Robert Hichens

Nick’s interest in the Gothic and the Weird is longstanding. He was co-curator, with Dr Dan Watt, of the highly successful Loughborough Weekend of Weird in November 2016, which brought together writers, performers, artists, publishers and film-makers from across the country.

Dr Freeman taught at the University of Bristol, the Open University, and the University of the West of England before going to Loughborough in 2006. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and has examined doctoral theses throughout the UK, as well as work from Canada and Brazil.

Click here for a link to the transactions.

Lecture sponsored by Loughborough University

26th April 2019

Annual General Meeting

Following the Society’s Annual General Meeting, young musicians from the University of Leicester directed by Dr Paul Jenkins gave a delightful concert with a modern day interpretation of The Marriage of Figaro and a medley of pieces from opera and the shows.

Following the Society’s Annual General Meeting, young musicians from the University of Leicester directed by Dr Paul Jenkins gave a delightful concert with a modern day interpretation of The Marriage of Figaro and a medley of pieces from opera and the shows.

Click here for the President’s Annual Report in the Transactions.