Monday, October 25th, 2010
For the past few days the corridors of learning at Cambridge have been alive with the pitter-patter of little (and not so little) feet. The university has been educating a rather different set of people than the usual crowd of caffeine-fuelled undergraduates. It’s all part of the annual Cambridge Festival of Ideas, which this year runs from 20-31 October. Part outreach program, part opportunity for the academics and students of the university to share their knowledge with a broader audience, the Festival is an attempt to bridge the gap between Town and Gown and open up the university to the general public.
Events range from public lectures on all topics (a brief glance at this year’s program shows these talks include such subjects as linguistic profiling, the history of British coats of arms and Americans at Cambridge, for example), art and museum exhibitions, dance and drama performances and language classes.
The program also includes a number of interesting literary events. My own college opened up its extensive collection of medieval manuscripts and early printed books to the general public. Young-adult author Jacqueline Wilson gave a reading, while fantasy author Mary Hoffman led a workshop on creating secondary worlds in fiction. On Saturday night, several up-and-coming student authors read from their work in the English faculty library. On Monday, translator Nicholas de Lange spoke about his work as a translator of Israeli literature and the state of Israeli writing at present.
The English faculty always spends a day reading the complete works of key figures in the English literary canon. In previous years, these authors have included Milton and Shakespeare. This year, they will be reading Wordsworth’s ‘The Prelude’. Of course, most people don’t have all day to sit around listening to ‘The Prelude’, so potential audience members are encouraged to drop in when they have the time. This event will take place on Tuesday. (more…)