Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bernard Williams: Ethics from a human point of view.

Prof Paul Russell, professor of Philosophy at Lund University and the University of British Columbia.

 

Thinking Stoically about Emotions.

Dr John Sellars, Lecturer in Philosophy at Royal Holloway.

Surely, when we think of Emotions, we imagine the most intensive ones. And rightly so, Seneca claimed that emotions were “temporary madness”. Surely, when we think “stoic”, we imagine someone unfeeling, perhaps even unwell. This is how Dr Sellars started his presentation, not necessary wanting to provoke any reactions but wanting to share his learning from Stoics. In particular, the fact that emotions are a product of judgement. What he explained to us is that “pathe”is more accurate word for affection and passion, therefore not naturally controlled “emotions”. Dr Sellars suggested stoical solutions to how to manage our emotions. The audience was captivated and this was expressed in variety of questions: is there an end product for stoicism such it is eg. in buddhism? How long does it take to train yourself to be “virtuous” person? Can becoming rational reduce empathy? One might ask if we get our answers. To some extend whatever, one has taken from this lecture, it might bring some element of satisfaction, change of intentions or simply broaden our minds. It was an excellent lecture!

Dr. Katya Rogatchevskaia: Propaganda and life in Russia.

Dr. Katya Rogatchevskaia from the British Library made a fantastic presentation on the dangers and intentions of the propaganda in general and using specific examples from Russia, ranging from the first time used it by the last Romanovs in 1900s to the current leaders of the Russian Federation. Various issues were raised by her critical approach, which was illustrating potential power of propaganda used by any regime or system to pass a message to targeted and receptive audience. She focused on Noam Chomsky’s “The 5 Filters of the Mass Media Machine” to explore factors behind the Propaganda; its authority, message (which is difficult to disagree with), and intentions, particularly with the usage of selected aesthetics.

Can something stop being a propaganda? What influences these changes in “unloading” the objects, buildings, piece of art from the intention to indoctrinate? How much do we need to know to understand the context of the time to read the message and to be bothered by it?

We are very grateful to Katya for the thought-provoking lecture, where we need to reassess our own critical and therefore independent thinking, which we apply or not to assess the credibility and intent of the messages and news selected and presented  in current media.

Teresa Kwiecinska

Dr Clarinda Calma, Poland Yesterday and Today: The Heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its implications today’

It is difficult in the space of 1 hour to present hugely rich and complicated history of a country currently standing nearly 40 mln citizens. Dr Calma, from Polish Embassy has used several interesting maps to effectively show the ever-changing borders of Poland. Today almost mono-ethnic and predominantly Catholic, Poland was once a multi-cultural polity, inhabited by Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Jews, Tatars, Armenians and Germans. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as it was called from the 16th to the late 18th century, was one of the earliest confederate countries in early modern Europe. As Dr Calma pointed out, for a long time, it also boasted a tolerant policy towards different ethnicities and faiths. It was fascinating for students to see many cultural and political links between Poland and Britain. Dr Calma talked with passion. Her presentation was followed by long discussion with some of our international boarders.

Dr Liz Gloyn: Meeting Medusa. Why does the Ancient Monster survive in the Modern World?

 

Dr Liz Gloyn visited us on 22nd January to speak about how the ancient Greek monster Medusa is portrayed in modern society, and why the monster still exists in the 20th century. Dr Gloyn showed how medusa is presented in modern films, and in video games and discussed the character of medusa in The Clash of the Titans films of 2010 and 1981 and the Percy Jackson series, the wrath of the titans 2012 the Hercules 2014 movie. Dr Gloyn focused on what Depictions of Medusa Say about the Way Society Views. How much of the approach to gender equality or stereotyping is influenced by the different eras in film particularly, could be seen through comparison of one film but made in two different times. Dr Gloyn also focus on the differences in how the monster is portrayed and the effects this had on the audience. Medusa’s beauty—and, in particular, her femininity—remains as dangerous as her original monstrosity. The majority of hybrids (half-human, half-animal monsters like sirens or Gorgons) in ancient Greece were female. “In a male-centered society, the feminization of monsters served to demonize women,” she said. Medusa was always the most popular hybrid, and remains the most identifiable even today.

Teresa Kwiecinska

Dr Nadine Rossol, Everyday Life under Nazis.

Once again Williams Project did not fail to impress when on Thursday 17th of January; Dr Nadine Rossol came in to speak to Chigwellians about everyday life in Nazi Germany. Dr Rossol spoke with passion and enthusiasm and provided a view on life in Nazi Germany differing from one which is learned within the classroom. Dr Rossol began her talk by speaking about her grandparents; two people who had lived through Nazi Germany, and one could certainly feel the connections Dr Rossol had with the topic she was speaking on. Dr Rossol talked about the involvement of ordinary people within the Nazi regime and used a photo of her grandfather to demonstrate how far down Nazism had penetrated into Germany. Dr Rossol spoke on a seeming ordinary photo of her grandfather on a football pitch, yet one could notice the young German players doing the Nazi salute. Dr Rossol explained that this was not a sign of Nazi appreciation as such, but more of an obligation that had to be fulfilled by these Germans simply because if not done these players would not have been allowed on the pitch. When learning about Nazi Germany, one must be wary of pinning the blame on the entire German population for what happened in World War 2 because as Dr Rossol explained there was indeed opposition to the Nazi regime, but also measures in place, such as the Gestapo, to keep Nazi opposition in the public at bay resulting in less open public opposition to the Nazi atrocities. Dr Rossol finished by referring to the Ringleblum archives; a collection of entries by people who desperately tried to reserve information about life in Germany pre-Nazi for future generations to learn about.

by Zain Raja

Michael Pruss: writing movies

Old Chigwellian Michael Pruss, Senior Vice President of Production for Scott Free Productions, hosted a special Williams Project meeting on the Friday before he gave the prizes at the school’s Speech Day. He spoke engagingly and in depth about his personal journey to Hollywood from Chigwell, and then illuminatingly and with passion and humour about the structure of a standard movie plot, even detailing at which minute certain plot-turns are best placed. The audience were spellbound, and asked excellent questions.

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