May 8, 2015, by Michael Jennings
Popular Culture Lecture Series review and final public event
Mathieu Donner, PhD research student, PG Teaching Fellow in the School of English and organiser of the Popular Culture Lecture Series, reflects on the programme.
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Opening a blog post on popular culture with a quote by Goethe might not necessarily seem the most appropriate of ideas – I should have gone with Joss Whedon, shouldn’t I? – but Goethe’s comment on the great results that even the smallest of ideas can have seem to me a perfect point of departure to review what has been an incredibly successful adventure. The idea for the Popular Culture Lecture Series came to me from two simple observations: 1) despite their incredible presence in our day-to-day life, universities, at least in the UK, seem to shy away from engaging with popular culture; and 2) I really really like those aging Marilyn Monroe posters the School of Physics had plastered all over campus to advertise their own Identity Lecture Series. And if they managed to do such a great job advertising a series of lectures on meta-physical and philosophical notions and questions, imagine what could be done with Batman, Katniss or Luke Skywalker?
From our first packed lecture (people were seated on the stairs in an auditorium with a 120-people capacity) on Star Wars and/in Translation to our final lecture, this week, on Star Wars (again?) and/as Medieval Dystopia, through Doctor Who and Vegan Ethics, Ancient Greece in Comics and Film and the Mechanics of Blockbuster Promotion, the Popular Culture Lecture Series has attempted to cover, over only ten lectures, a little bit of everything that constitutes what we’ve come to label as popular culture. Its success (an average attendance of fifty to sixty, usually happy, people per lecture) came to me as a surprise and hopefully carries with it hope for a potential come back for the 2015/16 University session.
But, and though I just called this week’s lecture final, the Series is not entirely over yet. Next week, on Tuesday 12 May, the Popular Culture Lecture Series is incredibly proud to welcome the immensely talented science fiction award-winning author Adam Roberts for a free and open-to-all conversation evening which will take place at the Nottingham Writers Studio in Nottingham. Dr Caroline Edwards, from Birkbeck, University of London, has gracefully accepted to host the evening and will be discussing Adam’s own position within today’s literary landscape, but also the place and role of contemporary science fiction in society and Adam’s position as both a critically-acclaimed author and a scholar at Royal Holloway, University of London.
You may not be familiar with Adam’s work if you’re not a die-hard science fiction aficionado, but suffice to say that his first novel, Salt, published in 2000 was shortlisted for the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award, and that, since, Adam has published fifteen novels, among which his 2012 novel Jack Glass won him the British Science Fiction Award for best novel. And if this is not yet enough to convince you to join us, his 2009 fantastic novel Yellow Blue Tibia, in which post-war Soviet history crosses with alien invasion conspiracy theory, got Kim Stanley Robinson to take the pen and claim it should have won the Man Booker Prize instead of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
Adam’s work often presents intelligent and ambitious hard science fiction (expect spaceships and interstellar travels) in a witty and sometime laugh-out-loud funny manner. If you would like to know more about Adam’s work, visit his website, and/or join us for a free evening of interesting and fun conversation on popular culture, science fiction and much more.
As mentioned, the event is free and open to all. It will begin at 6:30pm with drinks and nibbles. The conversation itself will start at 7pm and will be followed by an open Q&A in which you’ll have the opportunity to ask all the questions you’re dying to ask.
Because the Nottingham Writers Studio has a limited capacity, we invite you to book your ticket now to make sure you do not miss out on what will, I am certain, be a memorable, fun and interesting evening. You can also follow @UoNStudentLife, who will be live tweeting the lecture on the day.
Image credit: Victo Ngai
Take a look below for Storify collections of previous popular culture lectures from the Series.