2016: Variations on Biography

Over four weeks between 26 January and 22 February 2016, OCLW hosted its prestigious annual series of Weinrebe Lectures on the subject of ‘Variations on Biography’.

You can listen to podcasts of the lectures by clicking through the links (If there is no link, then the decision was made to not record or podcast the lecture, either because of sound quality or because of permissions).

Tuesday 26 January (Week 2), 5.30-7pm, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College:
Julian Barnes: ‘Some of my best friends are biographers’ 

Julian Barnes has written numerous novels, short stories, and essays. He has also translated a book by French author Alphonse Daudet and a collection of German cartoons by Volker Kriegel. He  has received several awards and honours for his writing, including the 2011 Man Booker Prizefor The Sense of an Ending. Three additional novels were shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize (Flaubert’s Parrot 1984, England, England 1998, and Arthur & George 2005). Barnes’s other awards include the Somerset Maugham Award (Metroland 1981), Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (FP 1985); Prix Médicis (FP 1986); E. M. Forster Award (American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, 1986); Gutenberg Prize (1987); Grinzane Cavour Prize (Italy, 1988); and the Prix Femina (Talking It Over 1992). Barnes was made a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1988, Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995 and Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2004. In 1993 he was awarded the Shakespeare Prize by the FVS Foundation and in 2004 won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. In 2011 he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature. Awarded biennially, the prize honours a lifetime’s achievement in literature for a writer in the English language who is a citizen of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.

Tuesday 2 February (Week 3), 5.30-7pm, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College:
Marcus du Sautoy: ‘The life of primes: the biography of a mathematical idea’

Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the Oxford University, a chair he holds jointly at the Department of Continuing Education and the Mathematical Institute. He is also a Professor of Mathematics and a Fellow of New College. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2016. In 2001 he won the prestigious Berwick Prize of the London Mathematical Society awarded every two years to reward the best mathematical research made by a mathematician under 40. In 2004 Esquire Magazine chose him as one of the 100 most influential people under 40 in Britain and in 2008 he was included in the prestigious directory Who’s Who. In 2009 he was awarded the Royal Society’s Faraday Prize, the UK’s premier award for excellence in communicating science. He received an OBE for services to science in the 2010 New Year’s Honours List. He also received the Joint Policy for Mathematics Board Communications Award for 2010 and the London Mathematical Society Zeeman Medal for 2014 for promotion of mathematics to the public.

Tuesday 16 February (Week 5), 5:30-7pm, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College:
Adam Phillips: ‘Against Biography’

Adam Phillips, formerly Principle Child Psychotherapist at Charing Cross Hospital, London, is a practising psychoanalyst and a visiting professor in the English department at the University of York. He is the author of numerous works of psychoanalysis and literary criticism, including most recently Unforbidden Pleasures, and Missing Out. He is General Editor of the Penguin Modern Classics Freud translations, and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

Monday 22 February (Week 6), 5.30-7pm, Leonard Wolfson Auditorium, Wolfson College:
Alexandra Harris: ‘Tempered Lives: Weathers, Seasons, and Biography’

Alexandra Harris is a professor of English at the University of Liverpool and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; she was among the first BBC New Generation Thinkers. Romantic Moderns (2010), her book about English art and tradition in the 1930s, won the Guardian First Book Award and a Somerset Maugham Award. Weatherland (2015), a cultural history of England told through its weather, was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize. Recent radio work includes a series of walks with Virginia Woolf.