2019 Open Days recordings

Watch our 2019 Open Days recordings

We recorded more than 20 of the sessions from our 2019 Open Days so you can watch them anywhere, anytime.

Some of the recordings lack video, due to technical problems we had during the event – for these we have provided the audio and the speakers' slides.

Please click on the title of the talks to open the presentations.

Paul Roberts
Last Supper in Pompeii

For the Romans, getting together to eat and drink, in a pub or at a banquet  was a central part of life. The Last Supper in Pompeii exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum (25th July 2019 – 12 January 2020) celebrates the Roman love affair with food and drink.  Dr Paul Roberts, Keeper of Antiquities at the Ashmolean Museum, will lead you on a fascinating (and appetite-whetting!) journey, from wheat fields and vineyards to markets and temples, and from tables to toilets and finally the tomb. 

Kate Watson
Maids Molls and Mistresses

This lecture looked at the portrayal of women in Georgian England through the eyes of caricature. One of the most popular arts of the period, the 'social media' of its day even, caricature offers a unique insight into the rich and dynamic nature of Georgian society, above all for women, as we shall see.

Jonathan Healey
The Bawdy Courts of Shakespeare's England

In Tudor and Stuart times, immoral behaviour could earn you an appearance in front of one of the church courts. These institutions, which actually survive to this day, had responsibility for nothing less than the souls of the English people. They settled disputed marriages and cases of defamation, and they punished people for a multitude of sins. Their records give us a fascinating view of the life of ordinary women and men as they lived, loved, and yelled at each other. This lecture takes a look.

Kate Tiller
Village life: Contrasting communities and histories

Village communities differ, and so do the ways that English social and local historians describe and interpret them. This talk introduces some of these contrasts, past and present, with a particular focus on Oxfordshire villages. 

Farhang Jahanpour
The Role of Religion in Politics

Throughout the course of history, religion has played a major role in defining both the personal and collective lives of human beings. After the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Age of Enlightenment it was assumed that the power of religion had declined and that societies would move towards secularism and separation of religion from politics. However, in recent decades that trend has been reversed and we have seen a resurgence of religious involvement in politics, not only in Islamic countries where the influence of religion seems to be predominant, but also in Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. The lecture will explore these developments and whether it is possible to separate religion from politics

Farhang Jahanpour
Iran-US relations: From Close Friends to Enemies

Iran was one of the first countries in the Middle East to establish relations with the United States. However, those relations have gone through different phases, starting with Friendship, followed by the United States acting like a puppet master after the 1953 CIA-led coup, to the two countries adopting a hostile stance towards each other after the victory of the 1979 Iranian revolution. With the signing of the nuclear agreement under the Obama administration, Iran-U.S. relations entered a new phase of constructive dialogue. However, the Trump administration has withdrawn the United States from the nuclear agreement, re-imposed sanctions and has openly advocated regime change in Iran. The lecture will study the ups and downs of Iran-U.S. relations during the past few decades.

Robin Gibbons
Doors to the Sacred: The Art of Christian Orthodox Icons

Art has always been used by religions and Christianity has been very successful in adapting to different cultures and civilisations. One of its traditions, dating almost to its beginnings, is that of Eastern Christian Iconography. This is a particularly rich and symbolic spiritual art form. This presentation will give a short introduction to the world and meaning of the Icon still venerated and used today!  

David Griffiths
Archaeology: what is the point?

In this lecture, Dr David Griffiths (who clearly does think there is a point to Archaeology!) will explore the subject’s meaning and relevance to the contemporary world. Taking head-on the familiar but wrong idea that it is dusty, obscure and (to most people) irrelevant, he will examine the role of Archaeologists in the modern post-industrial economy, in culture and society, in schools and higher education, and in understanding and saving the world’s threatened heritage. In so doing, he hopes to inspire more people to study Archaeology and join the good fight!

Ben Grant
The Art of Brevity in Literature

How is brevity used in literature, and what are the distinctive features of short-form writing? In this session, Ben Grant, one of our English Literature lecturers, will mull over these questions by looking at some notable examples of literary brevity.

Janet Dickinson
William Cecil and the Elizabethan World

Ahead of the 500th anniversary of his birth in 2020, this talk will focus on the extraordinary figure of William Cecil, first Lord Burghley, who dominated the court of Elizabeth I from the start of her reign until his death in 1598. The scope of Cecil's activities at the court and well beyond, to the fens of Lincolnshire and the establishment of a dynasty of his own will be discussed along with his longer term significance in history and in the context of our own times.

Patrick Doorly
Old Master Prints ca 1500

The process of printing images from woodblocks and engraved copper plates had been invented by 1400 and 1440 respectively. The practice spread from Germany to Italy and the Netherlands, so that by the early 1500s Albrecht Dürer and Lucas van Leyden had become internationally famous through their prints. It was with engravings that the new pictorial style of High Renaissance Rome conquered Europe.

Diana Matthews
From Rome to the Romanesque

The glories of Roman engineering skills can still be seen across Europe, and the dream of their achievements lived on long after their Empire fell. It would be several centuries, however, before a new pan European style began to emerge which would result in the glorious abbeys and castles of the Romanesque.

Carl Heneghan
Public understanding of evidence and medicine 

Carl Heneghan will explain why systemic reviews  are essential to informing everyday healthcare decisions. The session  will provide basic techniques in finding, interpreting and applying the results of systematic reviews to real world healthcare scenarios. By the end of the session you should be able to apply these techniques to make more informed treatment choices for your health and wellbeing.  Professor Heneghan is Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and a practising GP. 

Toby Martin
What is archaeology?

From artefacts to architecture, and from the study of ancient DNA to radiocarbon dating, archaeology embraces a huge range of subjects, united by one interest: the shared past of humankind. Come along to this talk for a whistle-stop tour of what archaeology is all about, and learn about the courses we offer.

David Grylls
Divided by a Common Language? British English and American English

Bernard Shaw said Britain and America were two countries “divided by a common language”.  It’s a good line, but is it true? Through an amusing but informative survey of spelling, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation, this talk will assess the truth of Shaw’s statement. Let’s see if Brits and Americans understand each other!

Vasos Pavlika
Introduction to Statistics 

Statistical understanding and misunderstanding is a huge issue in our data-driven age. This introductory session helps you make sense of how statistics work and what they mean.

Vasos Pavlika
The Calculus Wars: Newton vs. Leibniz

Was it Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz or Isaac Newton who invented calculus? Whose notation is better? Scholars disagree on both fronts. This talk outlines the nature of the battle.

Stefania Nini
Learn Italian!

Planning a trip to Italy? This session offers a fun and interactive introduction to the Italian language and culture. Learn greetings, introductions and how to share personal details. Experience the sounds and musicality of this beautiful language.

Steve Kershaw
The Phaistos Disk: Mystery, Forgery, and (Pseudo)archaeology

Dr. Steve Kershaw, the author and tutor of the Department's Minoans and Mycenaeans Online Course, explores the enigmatic Phaistos Disk. Where and how was it found? How old is it? Where did it come from? How was it made? What might it mean? Or is it a forgery?

Tara Stubbs & Ben Grant
What's the Point of Literature?

What is there to gain from reading and studying literature? This interactive session gives participants the chance to consider (and challenge) the purpose of literature with two of our English Literature lecturers. 

Kate Watson
The First War on Terror?

Britain and the War against Revolutionary France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity: the famous slogan of the French Revolution’s liberal and progressive leaders. But within three years those leaders would be gone, and the streets of Paris stained with blood, as a new regime emerged, both radical and popular. With the new regime came new ideas – and challenging new images: ragged sans-culottes, caps of liberty, and above all, bloody guillotines. How did such a change occur? And how did that affect their neighbours, above all Britain, seemingly awash with ‘ragged sans-culottes’ all of its own? This lecture will address those fascinating questions...

Keith Hasted
Architectural Development in the English Medieval Cathedral

From the great Anglo-Norman building programme, whose surviving architecture can be seen in Ely and Winchester, through the Early Gothic of Canterbury, the Early English of Salisbury, the Decorated Style of Exeter and on to the Perpendicular of York, this is a story of continuous stylistic and technical progress.

Sepi Chakaveh
Applications in Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Nowadays Artificial intelligence (AI) is used as a broad term to describe the applications in AI. This is itself a subset of computational cognitive science which enables the machines to mimic humans. This session gives a brief introduction to computing cognitive science concepts and concludes with some recent examples developed by the tutor.

Ben Jones
Celebrating the Flora of Japan

An archipelago of more than 6,800 islands, ranging from boreal to sub-tropical forests and high mountain ranges forming the backbone of its mainland, Japan has an exceptional plant species diversity.  Ben Jones is Curator of University of Oxford Botanic Garden & Arboretum and will also explain the collaborative research and conservation work being undertaken with Japanese organisations.