Public Lectures


Nelson Mandela and My Long Walk to Freedom: the making of a text

The Political Origins of Global Justice

How Jesus Celebrated Passover: Renaissance Scholars and the Jewish Origins of Christianity

Reflections on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

Why the Scientific Revolution Wasn't a Scientific Revolution

The rhetoric of Bach's St Matthew Passion: Text and performance

Sensuality and the subterranean: Jean-Jacques Lequeu's Maison gothique (1777-1814) during the late Enlightenment

The Political Origins of Global Justice

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Professor Samuel Moyn
Tuesday 22 July 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law School Foyer
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


This lecture examines why philosophers in our time consider our social contract a potentially global affair – in a sharp break with the theory of the social contract before. The lecture contends that the invention of the idea and field of "global justice" occurred in reaction to a postcolonial revolt of the global south at the height of its power in history, in the middle of the 1970s, before the world debt crisis and global economic governance of the 1980s.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas and the Laureate Research Program in International History.

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Professor Samuel Moyn has taught history at Columbia University since 2001. His most recent book is Human Rights and the Uses of History. He is now at work on the relationship between human rights and global economic transformations.


Nelson Mandela and My Long Walk to Freedom: the making of a text

 My Long Walk to Freedom

Professor Barbara Caine
Monday 28 July 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law School Lounge
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


Nelson Mandela's best selling autobiography, My Long Walk to Freedom, is a compelling story of struggle, pain and ultimately triumph. But it is also a complex text that was long in the making. As Mandela makes clear, it was a collaborative work from the start, suggested to him and carefully critiqued by friends and fellow prisoners on Robben Island, copied, hidden and smuggled out of prison by others and completed once he was free with the aid of Richard Stengel, later to become managing editor of Time magazine - and probably the most talented ghost writer of all time! Recently Mandela's original 1970s manuscript has been made accessible, showing just how indebted the final work is to Stengel, not just in softening some of his political views, but also in humanisng him. This lecture will explore the making of My Long Walk to Freedom and raise questions both about how it fits in to a longer history of autobiography and about different ways in which one can read it.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

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caine


Barbara Caine AM is Professor of History and Head if the School of Philosphical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. She has written extensively on biography and History in relation to Britain and South Africa. her most recent work is Biography and History (Palgrave, 2010) and she is currently writing a bistory of autobiography.


How Jesus Celebrated Passover: Renaissance Scholars and the Jewish Origins of Christianity

Última Cena Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, Italian. 1494-1498, Last supper, Tempera and oil on plaster, 181 × 346 in.

Professor Anthony Grafton
Wednesday 13 August 2014
6-7:30 pm

The Great Hall
Quadrangle
The University of Sydney


In the 14th and 15th centuries, patrons and painters multiplied images of the Last Supper across Europe: images that represented Jesus’s last meal as a Christian event. In the same period, however, Christian scholars also began to wonder what it meant that Jesus had celebrated the Jewish Passover with his disciples. Some tried to recreate the rituals in which the Savior would have taken part. As Christians learned more about Passover and applied their new knowledge to the Last Supper, their vision of that founding event in Christianity shifted in radical ways. This lecture uses multiple forms of evidence to explore that shift - and the wider ways in which early modern scholars and artists recast the story of Christian origins.

Poster (PDF)

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

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Grafton


Professor Antony Grafton is the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University. His special interests lie in the cultural history of Renaissance Europe, the history of books and readers, the history of scholarship and education in the West from Antiquity to the 19th century, and the history of science from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Professor Grafton is the author of ten books and the co-author, editor, co-editor, or translator of nine others. Two collections of essays, Defenders of the Text (1991) and Bring Out Your Dead (2001), cover most of the topics and themes that appeal to him. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1989), the Los Angeles Times Book Prize (1993), the Balzan Prize for History of Humanities (2002), and the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award (2003), and is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the British Academy. In 2011 he served as President of the American Historical Association.

Professor Grafton’s current project is a large-scale study of the science of chronology in 16th- and 17th-century Europe: how scholars attempted to assign dates to past events, reconstruct ancient calendars, and reconcile the Bible with competing accounts of the past. He hopes to reconstruct the complex and dramatic process by which the biblical regime of historical time collapsed, concentrating on the first half of the 17th century.


Reflections on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations

 Adam Smith

Professor Tony Aspromourgos
Monday 18 August 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law School Lounge
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


This lecture will provide an overview of the man and the scope and content of his famous book, followed by five reflections on the significance and meaning of Smith’s thought in relation to: his originality; the character of social science; Smith’s economic theory today; the question of inequality; and policy in relation to theory.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

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tony aspromourgos


Tony Aspromourgos is Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He has published The Science of Wealth: Adam Smith and the Framing of Political Economy (2009). Professor Aspromourgos is also Co-editor of History of Economics Review and Secretary of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought.


Why the Scientific Revolution Wasn't a Scientific Revolution

Content pic Rosa Democritus

Salvator Rosa, Italian. 1650-1651, Democritus in Meditation, Oil on canvas, 135.43 × 84.25 in.

Professor Daniel Garber
Monday 25 August 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law LT 101
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


When Thomas Kuhn was writing the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, it was common to refer to the period in the history of science roughly from Copernicus to Newton as the Scientific Revolution. One might reasonably assume that his book might give us a theoretical structure to understand the transformations in our understanding nature that happened in the period. I will argue that the political analogy behind the idea of a scientific revolution is singularly inappropriate to describe what happened in this crucial period in the history of science and Western culture. Instead of one paradigm, that is scientific orthodoxy replacing another, I claim, what really happened in the period was the eclipse of the idea that we need a single scientific orthodoxy. The so-called Scientific Revolution of the early-modern period, I claim, was the opening up of an intellectual world of new ideas in competition.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas and Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science.

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Garber


Daniel Garber is Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University. He is also affiliated with the Program in History of Science and the Department of Politics. He is the author of Descartes’ Metaphysical Physics, Leibniz: Body, Substance, Monad, and with Michael Ayers, the editor of The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, among other books and articles, and is the co-editor of the Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.


The rhetoric of Bach’s St Matthew Passion: Text and performance

Bach’s St Matthew Passion

Dr Alan Maddox
Monday 15 September 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law School Lounge
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


Music has always had an ambivalent place in intellectual history. Can music really convey ideas, or is it just a pleasantly emotive context for words, which convey real meaning? What kinds of knowledge can be embodied in music, and how do its meanings change over time? In this talk I will explore some of these issues through one of the key texts of western art music, J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion, exploring how it was understood in Bach’s time, and when transposed to the very different context of colonial Sydney.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

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Alan Maddox


Dr Alan Maddox is Senior Lecturer in Musicology at Sydney Conservatorium of Music. His research focuses on rhetoric in early modern Italian vocal music, and on Australian colonial music. He is an Associate Investigator with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, musicologist to the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, and in a previous life worked as a singer with Opera Australia.


Sensuality and the subterranean: Jean-Jacques Lequeu’s Maison gothique (1777-1814) during the late Enlightenment

Maison gothique (1777-1814)

Jean Jacques Lequeu. 1777-1814. Section perpendicular to an underground gothic house, Pen, wash, watercolor, 22.3 x 14 in.

Dr Jennifer Ferng
Monday 13 October 2014
6-7:30 pm

Law School Foyer
Sydney Law School
The University of Sydney


As one of the French utopian designers of the late Enlightenment, Lequeu is regarded by many architectural historians as having an enigmatic inventory of unbuilt work. He envisioned Grecian-Egyptian temples, Masonic grottoes, and neoclassical tombs and civic monuments. Enhanced by his training as a draughtsman, his studies of human anatomy verged on the edge of explicit prurience. This lecture surveys some of his fanciful imagery in relation to the intellectual discourses surrounding the subterranean, focusing on how myth and occult knowledge came to define his ideas of architecture and the body.

Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.

Ferng


Dr Jennifer Ferng is Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sydney. She received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and serves as co-editor of Architectural Theory Review. Her research examines eighteenth-century European architecture and art in the context of the geological sciences.