Literatures, Languages & Cultures

Events archive

A curated selection of past events in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Inaugural Lectures

Inaugural Lectures are free public talks by newly-appointed Professors and Chairs at the University of Edinburgh. 


Date Venue


Professor Michelle Keown (Professor of Pacific and Postcolonial Literature) 26 April 2023 50 George Square ‘A Story of a People On Fire’: exploring the legacies of US nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands through literature and visual culture
Professor David Farrier (Professor of Literature and the Environment, University of Edinburgh) 29 March 2023 Gordon Aikman Lecture Theatre

Nabokov’s Butterfly, Kafka’s Leopards: what nature can teach us about life on a human planet

Professor Davide Messina (Chair of Italian and Comparative Studies, University of Edinburgh) 8 March 2023 50 George Square

Riveder le stelle: Changing Perspectives in Early Modern Visual Culture

Professor Lara Ryazanova-Clarke (Senior Lecturer and Head of Russian at DELC) 25 September 2019 50 George Square

Liquid Russian: A story of amazing transformations of the Russian language, its speakers and their communities outside Russia in the post-Soviet period

Professor Aaron William Moore (Handa Chair of Japanese-Chinese Relations)

16 October 2019

Playfair Library

My World in War and Revolution: A Comparative History of the Modern Diary in the East and West

Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier (Personal Chair in United States and Atlantic Studies) 5 October 2018 Playfair Library

Suffering, Struggle, Survival: 200 Years of African Atlantic Art and Authorship (1818-2018)

Professor Alexis Grohmann (Chair of Contemporary Spanish Literature)  28 May 2018 50 George Square Spanish Literature: The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Professor Laura Bradley (Chair of German and Theatre) 15 February 2018 50 George Square Brecht and the Art of Spectatorship
Professor Rob Dunbar (Chair of Celtic Languages, Literature, History and Antiquities) 18 November 2013 St Cecilia's Hall  Canada, the Gaelic Imagination, and the Future of the Celtic Languages’ / ‘Canada, am Mac-meanmna Gàidhlig, agus na Cànanan Ceilteach san Àm ri Teachd

Browse more inaugural lectures on the University of Edinburgh website 

The Susan Manning Memorial Lecture

Professor Susan Manning was Grierson Professor of English Literature and Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh until her unexpected death in 2013.

This annual lecture commemorates Susan as an internationally renowned academic with wide interests, particularly in Transatlanticism, and as an inspiring influence for an international coterie of scholars in the humanities.

Occasionally, the Lecture has been held as part of a wider event, such as Edinburgh Spy Week in 2019 and Muriel Spark 100 in 2018.

Speaker Date Venue Theme
Professor Anahid Nersessian (University of California) 24 March 2023 50 George Square

House on Fire: On the Unfinished Business of Romanticism

Professor Caroline Levine (Cornell University) 6 May 2022

50 George Square

Plots of Precarity and Sustainable Endings

Professor Laura Marcus (New College, University of Oxford) 21 May 2021 Online (Zoom) 'The Noise of Time': Autobiography and History in the 1930s
Professor Adam Piette (University of Sheffield) 5 April 2019 50 George Square The Revolutionary Double Agent and Cold War Citizenship

Janice Galloway

6 April 2018

50 George Square 'There’s something a bit harsh about you, Fleur’: Muriel Spark and her voices
Professor Caryl Phillips (Yale University) 24 March 2017 50 George Square A Sense of Home

Professor David Bromwich (Yale University)

18 March 2016 50 George Square

‘The Single State of Man’ and Killing Caesar and Duncan

Professor Hermione Lee (University of Oxford) 20 February 2015 50 George Square Character in Biography: “The Most Really Interesting Problem”

W.M. Watt Lecture

Arabic has been taught at the University of Edinburgh for over 260 years, and today our department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies (IMES) is globally recognised as a leading centre in the field.

From his appointment as Lecturer in Arabic in 1947, until his retirement as Professor in 1979, William Montgomery Watt made an outstanding contribution both to Islamic scholarship and to the development of IMES.

The inaugural Watt Lecture was launched in November 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of Watt's Inaugural Lecture as the first Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Scotland.

Speaker Date Venue Theme
Professor Paul Starkey (Durham University) 30 October 2019 David Hume Tower In Search of Identity: Faris al-Shidyaq and the 19th-Century Arabic Revival

Dr Linda Komaroff (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

28 November 2018 50 George Square Dining with the Sultan: Reflections on the Fine Art of Feasting at the Islamic Courts
Professor Nur Masalha 2 November 2017 Playfair Library Powerful Symbols and the British-Zionist Alliance: From Balfour to the Nakba
Professor Maribel Fierro (Spanish National Research Council, Spain) 4 November 2016 Old Medical School Charisma and Anti-Charisma in al-Andalus
  • Professor Carole Hillenbrand (University of Edinburgh)
  • Professor Fred M. Donner (University of Chicago)
  • Dr Richard Holloway FRSE
23 October 2015 Playfair Library
  • Montgomery Watt: The Man and The Scholar
  • The Study of Islam’s Origins since W. Montgomery Watt's Publications
  • Committed Openness: a Glance at William Montgomery Watt’s Religious Life

The Yun Posun Memorial Symposium

The Yun Posun Memorial Symposium was established in March 2013 to foster new partnerships between the UK and Korea, promoting longer-term understanding and the growth of contemporary Korean studies and culture in Scotland.

It is jointly organised by the Yun Posun Institute for Democracy and the University of Edinburgh.

The symposium is named after Yun Posun, who graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1930 and ultimately became the father of the modern democratic movement in Korea.

Dates Venue Theme
2 and 3 November 2021 Online (Zoom; YouTube) A New Agenda for South Korea-UK Cooperation in the COVID19 Era
17 October 2019 Seoul A New Partnership between ROK and UK in the 21st Century
8 and 9 October 2018 Playfair Library, University of Edinburgh Inequality in Global Cities, Seoul in Comparative Perspective

Visit past events in Asian Studies for further information

The Cunninghame Graham Lecture  

The Cunninghame Graham Lecture was established in 1996 in honour of Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham - aka ‘Don Roberto’ (London, 1852-Buenos Aires, 1936) - politician, estanciero, and writer, who travelled extensively in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay and Uruguay and had very strong ties to Argentina.

Delivered annually, it is jointly organised by LLC and the Office of Cultural and Scientific Affairs of the Embassy of Spain with the aim of promoting Spanish language and culture in Scotland.

Occasionally, the Lecture has been held as part of a wider event, such as the Edinburgh Spanish Film Festival in 2019.

Past speakers have included scholars, film makers, politicians, journalists, novelists, and figures bridging the Hispanic world and Scotland, such as the architect Enric Miralles (1955-2000) who designed the Scottish Parliament building.

Speaker Date Venue Theme

Laura Restrepo

10 November 2021 Online (Zoom) Cuando la investigación se vuelve ficción y viceversa
Lucía Asué Mbomío Rubio 26 November 2020 Online (Zoom) Racismos cotidianos: desde lo circunstancial a lo sistémico
David Trueba 10 October 2019 Old College Music, Cinema & Literature
Carlos Zanón 31 October 2017 Appleton Tower Nuevos Horizontes en la Novela Negra del Siglo XXI

Visit past events in Spanish for further information