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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 Public Lecture - World Literature: Some Old and New Ideas

4th November 2020, 17:15 to 18:15, Virtual - via Zoom, Dr Sowon Park, University of California Santa Barbara

Public Lecture by Dr Sowon Park, University of California Santa Barbara

The advent of a global literary market has brought in its wake the flourishing industry of 'world literature'. Separately, in the academic domain, ‘world literature’ emerged as a transnational project, whose most prominent thinkers are generally on the political left. Uses of the term may vary but the aim is invariably that of fostering cultural diversity beyond national boundaries.

But is that really its effect?

In this talk, Dr Sowon Park asks whether world literature is actually more culturally diverse than national literature. She sketches the variety of ways in which world literature has taken shape this century and raises the neglected issue of script as a key factor that is preventing the existence of a more diverse world literary canon. She argues that for world literature to achieve its stated aim, there has to be a radical revision of old ideas about language, nation and translation. She will compare examples from the globalized world of English with practices in the cultural space created by hanzi (ie ‘Chinese’) in medieval East Asia, and then introduce a new way of acquiring multicultural literacy by engaging with recent developments in the neuroscience of reading. She hopes that by framing cultural literacy not only as metaphor but also as cognitive technology, the talk will open up new convivial ways of reading the literatures of the world.

This Lecture is free and open to all.


Details about Dr Sowon Park.

The Lecture 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.