Event Archive

Select this category for information about events after they have taken place, such as videos of lectures, reports on the event or a transcript of the lecture.

RHS Prothero Lecture – Professor Tim Blanning ‘Richard Wagner and the German Empire’. View lecture.

RHS Lecture, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL, 2 July 2014

The (partial) unification of Germany as ‘The German Empire’ in 1871 was the great political event of Wagner’s life (1813-83). In August 1876 the new German Emperor William 1 went to Bayreuth to attend the first complete performance of The Ring of the Nibelung in the Festival Theatre Wagner had built for the purpose. The relationship between these two events, however, was much more problematic than the chronology suggests. In this illustrated lecture, Tim Blanning will argue that Wagner’s attitude to the new German state was highly critical, despite an initial burst of enthusiasm for Prussia during the war of 1870-1. He will pay particular attention to the influence of Friedrich Schiller and Constantin Franz, concluding with an examination of the much-misinterpreted final scene of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.



Dr Julia Lovell ‘The Uses of Foreigners in Communist China’. Read more.

RHS Lecture, Friday 9 May 2014, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL


Julia Lovell is senior lecturer in modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of three books on modern China, most recently The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (2011), which won the 2012 Jan Michalski Prize. Her several translations of modern Chinese fiction include Han Shaogong’s A Dictionary of Maqiao (winner of 2011 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature), Zhu Wen’s I Love Dollars, Zhang Ailing’s Lust, Caution and Lu Xun’s The Real Story o Ah-Q, and Other Tales of China. She is currently working on a global history of Maoism, and on a new, abridged translation of Journey to the West.



Professor Peter Mandler ‘Educating the Nation 1: Schools’. View lecture.

Presidential Address, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL, 22 November 2013.

This is the first in a series of lectures that consider the impact of mass education (at secondary and university levels) on postwar Britain. Their emphasis is on the ‘democratic political theory’ of education – what do voters and their elected representatives want from an educational system in conditions of universal suffrage? The first lecture focuses on the instability of the allegedly ‘meritocratic’ system established by the Butler Act in 1944, which brought universal secondary education to Britain for the first time. It assesses how a democracy (in which everyone is politically equal) co-exists with a meritocracy (which is designed to accept and nurture inequality).

RHS Peter Mandler Lecture I


RHS symposium ‘Intimacy, Power and Authority in European perspectives’. Read more.

RHS symposium, Bath Spa University, Friday October 18 2013

The symposium approached the concept of intimacy and closeness from a range of neglected perspectives, addressing several fundamental themes in European history. Current strands in the history of emotions dwell on singular feelings, their production, and the influence of pathological and medical discourse on their expression. Few historians have sought meaning in the theoretical advances of Lauren Berlant and Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose work has profound implications for the way in which social and political relations are understood. The symposium approaches intimacy variously through sessions that explore the following themes: political cultures, (official, popular and subaltern); legal norms; ethnic and religious difference; and desire.  The relation between interior and public modes of intimacy are explored, through consideration of the ‘advent of intimacy as a public mode of identification and self-development’ (Berlant). A second key theme is the concept of ‘intimate publics’ in pre-modern and modern Europe. In a similar vein, the seminal work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has offered new perspectives on the way in which intimacy operates in tandem with looking, sexuality and bodily contact.

Invited contributors presented on: gendered intimacy and personal authority in nineteenth-century England; the subversion of political intimacies in early modern intelligence networks; and the influence of medieval ecclesiasts on the policing of intimacy in local communities; the politics of sympathy; intimacy and power in early medieval Europe.


Professor Ann Hughes ‘Preachers and hearers in revolutionary London’. View lecture

RHS Lecture, Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, UCL, 27 September 2013

Ann Hughes has been Professor of Early Modern History at Keele University since 1995. She served as Head of the School of History and Classics, 2000 -2003, and currently acts as Director of Research in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. She won the Alexander Prize of the Royal Historical Society in 1980 and her major publications include Politics, Society and Civil War in Warwickshire 1620-1660 (1987), The Causes of the English Civil War ( 2nd edition, 1998), Gangraena and the Struggle for the English Revolution (2004), Gender and the English Revolution (2011). She has edited (with Richard Cust) Conflict in Early Stuart England (1989), and (with Tom Corns and David Loewenstein) The Complete Works of Gerrard Winstanley (2009). She is now working principally on a reassessment of the impact of parliamentarian preaching during the English.

RHS Ann Hughes Lecture


Professor Chris Wickham ‘The feudal revolution and the origins of Italian city communes’. View lecture.

Prothero Lecture, Cruciform Lecture Theatre I, UCL, 10 July 2013

The ‘feudal revolution’ debate in the 1990s focussed on the years around 1000 and on France, and was an argument about whether or not that rough date marked a major change in political structures, with more privatised local powers focussed on castles and an effectively total breakdown of the ‘state’. It ended in something of a stand-off, with more extreme versions of both sides largely set aside, but no real consensus. Italy was not a major part of this debate; but the crisis years of the late eleventh century produced a similar breakdown of traditional political structures in the centre-north of Italy around 1100, and the emergence of local powers in much the same way as in parts of France. The most dominant of these local powers were, however, not private lordships, but cities. The question is what difference this makes to our understanding of how a version of the ‘feudal revolution’ might work in Italy; and also whether this ought to make us rethink how we interpret the emergence of the bodies which ran these autonomous cities, the city communes.

RHS – Chris Wickham Lecture