Pudding Seminars

Pudding Seminars take place on a Friday and are an excellent opportunity to unite two of life’s great things: new research, and pudding!

Pudding Seminars are led by members of the College (undergraduates, postgraduates, Senior Members and staff), who give a brief 20 minute talk on their current research, followed by informal discussion.

Seminars start promptly at 1.15pm and end by 1.50pm. Tea, coffee and cake are available from 1pm.

If you are interested in giving a pudding seminar, or would like further details about the series please contact Delphine Mordey (dmm36@cam.ac.uk), Eloise Hamilton, or Laura Caponetto. In 2023-24, seminars will take place in either the Lucia Windsor Room or Sidgwick Hall.

CANCELLED 26 April: Manon Harvey (JCR), ‘Practice of love’ as resistance to neoliberalism and climate crisis'

3 May: Amelia Platt (JCR), '‘Quite human really:’ The detective and the ‘crisis of authority’ in 1930s detective fiction'

This seminar explores the representation of the figure of the detective in 1930s ‘Golden Age’ crime fiction, focusing on Dorothy L. Sayers’s Busman’s Honeymoon (1937), as well as Ngaio Marsh’s Artists in Crime (1938) and Death in a White Tie (1938). Literary criticism has often tended to see the genre of crime fiction as upholding the status quo. A crime is committed, and the detective solves it, restoring society to its previous state of normality. This seminar will aim to show that in the texts being discussed, the detective’s authority is upheld. However, it is an authority that has been thoroughly interrogated by the texts, and thus likely compromised in the minds of readers. The detectives featured in these texts (Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn and Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey) both experience a ‘crisis of authority’ relating to their detecting, compromising the justice they administer. These ‘crises of authority’ manifest themselves in different ways and reveal the influence of contemporary social issues, including growing opposition to capital punishment, the legacy of WWI and changing gender relations. This seminar will also hope to explore the ‘crisis of authority’ happening at the level of genre, with the texts pushing back against genre boundaries and reader expectations.

Amelia is a third-year English student at Newnham, and an avid reader of crime fiction.

10 May: Laura Dennis (Curator), 'Ruby Lustre: Ceramics by William De Morgan at Newnham College'

17 May: Mahera Sarkar (MCR), 'Reframing safety metrics: enhancing public trust in autonomous vehicles'

Public engagement is a broad term that encompasses the various ways in which members of the general public can be brought together to engage with issues that are of public importance. In the context of technological innovation, it describes the involvement of diverse groups of people in discussions about potential applications of new and emerging technologies, their governance, regulation, and the wider issues that could arise from the way that they are developed and adopted. Policymakers are increasingly recognising this principle as an important mechanism to ensure transparency and accountability in regulation as well as a method of addressing public mistrust in science. Despite this, innovators’ genuine interest in understanding what the public might accept frequently slips into a normative project of seeking to build acceptance, thereby reinforcing technocratic bias. Notable literature on this topic includes Stirling’s article ‘Towards Innovation Democracy? Participation, Responsibility and Precaution in Innovation Governance’, which argues that the most powerful market actors often fail to fully prioritise the wider public good. Additionally, Stilgoe and Cohen’s piece ‘Rejecting Acceptance: Learning from Public Dialogue on Self-Driving Vehicles’, has been particularly inspirational for this paper as it highlights the tendency for institutions to problematise the public rather than reflect on the technology itself. Since their work is mainly concerned with drawing attention to this issue, this paper expands on this topic by proposing mechanisms for meaningful public engagement in the innovation process. It uses AVs as a case study to scrutinise the limitations of existing initiatives and guidelines before suggesting ways to refine these procedures to ensure public interests and opinions are prioritised. As AVs may be viewed as disruptive technologies – they promise to significantly uproot established infrastructure – ensuring their governance is responsive to public values is crucial. By creating a framework to achieve this, it is this paper’s ambition that its recommendations could be used as a starting point for the regulation of similarly radical technologies in the future.

24 May: Jerome Viard (Staff), on his Penguin Adventures in Antarctica

Jerome Viard is a gardener here at Newnham, who has just come back from a very exciting trip to Antarctica. He spent the austral summer living and working on a tiny Antarctic island named Goudier Island, the site of the very first British Antarctic Base: Port Lockroy Base A. This is not only the southernmost public post office in the world but also home to a 600-breeding pair strong Gentoo penguin colony. During his time in Antarctica, Jerome worked for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, a charity that aims to preserve historic buildings and artefacts in Antarctica for future generations. In his seminar, Jerome will share his experience of living with four other people on a very remote island with no running water; he will talk about the history of Port Lockroy; and he will explain his work as the Wildlife Monitor on the island. Every year since 1996, a survey is conducted at Port Lockroy to assess the long-term breeding success of the resident Gentoo penguins; this season, as the Wildlife Monitor, it was Jerome’s job to collect that data. He will talk about his experience living and working amongst the penguins but also talk about all the other wild animals that were part of his daily life.

Newnham College has been very supportive in facilitating Jerome’s extraordinary polar experience and he is very much looking forward to sharing his story with colleagues, fellows and students.

Come along this Friday 24th of May for a relaxed Pudding Seminar about Antarctica, history, penguins and remote living!