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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Welcome to the

Transforming The Way We Think


The Institute of Advanced Study is a prestigious, ideas-based Institute with global reach. We bring together world-leading researchers from all disciplines to work with Durham colleagues on collaborative projects of major intellectual, scientific, political and practical significance. At least twenty visiting IAS Fellows join us in Durham each year to work with Durham scholars to spark new investigations, set tomorrow's agenda and participate in a varied programme of activities.

Each year, the IAS supports four ambitious interdisciplinary projects tackling major research questions. Leading researchers from around the globe join Durham colleagues in collaborative teams to develop ground-breaking ideas, explore interdisciplinary synergies and develop new programmes of research.

The Institute also serves as a top-level forum, enabling key-decision makers and experts to discuss pressing policy problems in an intellectually stimulating and unrestricted manner. We put on a wide range of public lectures and other events. There are also opportunities for postgraduates and other early career researchers to get involved.

The IAS aims to build research capacity, realise potential, and meet the challenges of a changing world. There are many ways to participate in the life and work of the institute. We warmly welcome your involvement.


IAS Fellows' Seminar - Uterine Dreams

26th October 2020, 12:00 to 13:00, Virtual - via Zoom, Sarah Danays, Independent Sculptor and Photographer

POSTPONED TO 26th OCTOBER - IAS Seminar by Sarah Danays, Independent Sculptor and Photographer

I write and research as an artist wishing to understand those things that inspire and influence my fine art practice, which is profoundly autobiographical.
The full title of the exhibition of sculpture and photography linked to the Fellowship is “Uterine Dreams : I decided for us that you wouldn’t have a child”. This new body of work - an emotional rollercoaster to “gestate” and “deliver” - focuses on three types of emotional distress and the physical locations perceived to house them: trauma in the psyche; grief in the heart; hysteria in the uterus.
Like the vagus nerve that courses through the whole body, connecting on its route the brain, heart and uterus, I wish to pursue and connect up three separate areas of research to re-examine how these essential organs have been understood to absorb emotional disturbances.
I will discuss briefly three cases to illuminate these larger themes. In the first I will reference my own experience of PTSD and its psychoanalytical treatment (trauma to the psyche). In the second the loss of my father and the Greek myth of Aeneas’s journey to the underworld (grief in the heart). For the third, the emotional anguish of miscarriage and William Hunter’s plaster and engraved records of the “lost” pregnancies of his un-named, non-surviving patients (hysteria in the uterus) and Freud’s work to liberate female patients from psychosomatic paralysis.
In undertaking this I hope to better understand the workings of the unconscious mind – primarily in its sleeping and dreaming states - and the method I describe as my “metaphysical surgery”. In the act of making new work and the use of antique broken objects made by anonymous, long-past sculptors, I attempt to address my own emotional disturbances - and sometimes those of my dead collaborators.

The Seminar will take place on Zoom. To register please click here.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.



IAS Contribution to the evaluation of interdisciplinary research in the REF

For a number of years the IAS has been closely involved in the development of methods of evaluating interdisciplinary research, working collaboratively with UK funding bodies/the REF. Its Executive Director, Professor Veronica Strang, is a member of the UKRI Interdisciplinary Advisory Panel, which is guiding this aspect of the REF process, and a regular speaker at the Annual REF Forum and related events. Her report Evaluating Interdisciplinary Research: a practical guide (Strang and McLeish 2015), written in consultation with a range of funding bodies, has been taken up widely, nationally and internationally. With the REF submission date coming up soon, colleagues who are considering interdisciplinary outputs for submission, or who will be involved in evaluating such research for REF sub-panels, may find this publication helpful.