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Research

Inaugural Lecture Series 2014/15

The public Inaugural Lecture Series (ILS) delivers lectures given by recently appointed or promoted Chairs, and proposed by their faculties.

The lectures vary in content areas with speakers from the entire range of subjects across the University, showcasing the world-leading research taking place here in Durham. The series is a great opportunity for the Chairs to extend the reach of their research to the wider community as the lectures will be open to staff, students and members of the public. Anyone wishing to attend should reserve a place via the online system (links can be found next to individual events listed below).

Lectures are hosted by one of the University’s 16 colleges and each lecture is followed by an informal drinks reception.

Inaugural Lectures from previous series have been filmed and are available to view here.
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Monday 23 February 2015, 6pm, University College, Durham Castle

Professor John O’Brien - 'Their Montaigne, Our Montaigne: The Essais in the Light of their Early Modern Readers'

Using largely unrecorded or little known copies of Montaigne’s Essais with contemporary annotations from the years 1595-1700, this inaugural lecture contends that early modern readers of Montaigne can help us re-focus our interpretations of key concepts in his work. The lecture will concentrate on three such areas: self, subject and thinking. In contrast to modern interpretations of Montaigne, which take him as the creator of an introspective self, his first readers favour the idea of an active self, connected to the world and dealing with the challenges that arise in respect of ideas of the subject and thinking. By attending to the evidence provided by such historical readers of the Essais, we avoid the pitfalls of presentism while nonetheless understanding Montaigne in the light of our own changed perspective.

Prof O’Brien is Director of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies at Durham. He took his B.A. and M.A. at Cambridge and his D.Phil. at Oxford. He taught at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, and then at the Universities of Liverpool and London, before moving to the University of Durham in 2013. He has been Visiting Professor at the Université Paris-VII and at the Centre d’Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance (University of Tours), British Academy Exchange Fellow at the Newberry Library, Chicago, and Visiting Scholar at the Universities of Oxford and Michigan. The epicentre of his research is the French essayist, Michel de Montaigne (1533-92), on whom he has published extensively. Professor O’Brien is also strongly committed to public engagement and impact, and is currently pursuing a project with the National Trust dealing with Anglo-French intellectual networks as evidenced in specific National Trust libraries.

A drinks reception will follow the lecture. Book to attend this lecture

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Past Inaugural Lectures

All of the lectures in the series have been filmed, so if you were unable to attend, or would like to watch other lectures in the series, simply click here and select the Inaugural Lecture you wish to see.

What's On Guide

For details of events happening in and around the University, from theatre and music to sport and exhibitions check out the What's On Guide.