Clareity

Fruitful discussions and sharing ideas at Clare College, Cambridge

Clareity Symposium 2017 Programme

The 2017 Clare College Research Symposium will take place on March 16th in the Gillespie Conference Centre, Clare College.
Click here to see the abstracts of all talks or download a pdf of the abstract booklet

Clareity Symposium
March 16, 2017

10.30 Registration opens, Gillespie Centre
11.00 Welcome by the Clareity President, Andrés Bustamante, and opening address by the Senior Tutor, Dr. Jacqueline Tasioulas, Riley Auditorium

Panel 1: 11.10-11:55

Chair: Dr. Maciej Dunajski, Graduate Tutor

11:10 – 11:25 Jake Ladlow (History):
‘Unsettled minds’ in England and Wales, 1800-1841.
11.25 – 11.40 Aneesh Naik (Astronomy):
“If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Reformulate it”: Simulating the Universe with Alternative Gravities
11.40 – 11.55 Ran Huo (Spanish):
The Art of Power and the Power of Art: Sofonisba Anguissola’s ‘Partita a scacchi’ (1555)

 

12.00 – 12:40 Keynote lecture by Dr. John Guy:
Elizabeth – The Forgotten Years

 

12.40 – 13.25 Lunch break

Panel 2: 13.25-14.10

Chair: Dr. Sian Lazar, Graduate Tutor

13.25 – 13.40 Alec Downie (Biological Anthropology):
Phylogenetics and Disease Evolution: Are Our Models Wrong?
13.40 – 13.55 Paola Velasco Herrejon (Development Studies):
Women’s Empowerment and Artisan Cooperatives in Mexico
13.55 – 14.10 Catherine Olver (Literature):
Who is Hogwarts? The Character of the Castle in Fantasy Fiction
14.10 – 14.25 Ana González Hernández (Engineering):
The missing ingredient: bringing materials into the picture of energy use to improve our understanding of resource efficiency

Panel 3: 14.30 – 15.00 (Dilettante Society Feature)

Chair: Henry Holms, President of the Dilettante Society

14.30-15.00 Grace Brown:
“Come and ‘ave a butchers”: The East London Cockney

 

15.00 – 15.20 Tea Break

Panel 4: 15.20 – 16.05

Chair: Magda Sznurkowska, Former Clareity President

15.20 – 15.35 Augusta Vezzani Diebold (Law):
The shareholder primacy in Britain and corporate governance in Brazil: a comparative analysis
15.35 – 15.50 Dafni Glinos (Biology):
From association to function: use of genomics to better understand autoimmune disease variants
15.50 – 16.05 Paweł Borowski (Classics):
Networking in Antiquity—Promotion of Officials in the Roman Empire

 

16.10 – 16:50 Keynote lecture by Dr. Paloma González-Bellido:
Can insects help us understand what you need to know to catch a moving ball?

 

16.50 – 17.10 Tea Break

Panel 5: 17.10 – 17.55

Chair: Dr. Claire Brasted-Pike, CRA Talks Coordinator

17.10 – 17.25 Peter van Hintum (Mathematics):
To infinity and beyond
17.25 – 17.40 NaomiWoo (Music):
Mind the Gap: Failure, Impossibility, and the Piano Etude
17.40 – 17.55 Anne Henow (Development Studies):
Is Competition in Finance a Good Thing?

Panel 6: 18.00 – 18.45

Chair: Andrés Bustamante, Clareity President

18.00 – 18.15 Diane Drouin (French):
Fragmented Selves: Identity, Modernism, and Surrealism in Interwar Paris
18.15 – 18.30 André Cabrera Serrenho (Engineering):
Electric Cars or Lighter Cars? The Future of the British Fleet
18.30 – 18.45 William Theiss (History):
The Collections and Intellectual Circles of Conrad Peutinger (1465-1547)

 

19.30 Dinner for speakers and chairs
18.45 Closing of the Symposium
18.45 – 19.15 Wine and nibbles in the Garden Room (everybody welcome)

Abstracts

Panel 1: 11.10-11:55

‘Unsettled minds’ in England and Wales, 1800-1841

Jake Ladlow (History)

Histories of madness pertaining to early nineteenth-century England and Wales have traditionally focused upon the role and impact of asylums and institutions. The effect is that the silent majority who suffered mental disturbance, but were never institutionalised, have been denied a voice in their own history. Consequently, the essential requirement of social history to understand and appreciate the experiences of ‘people from below’ remains relatively unfulfilled. This presentation will introduce and explore how analysis of the corpus linguistics found within pauper letters can be used to institute a spectra analysis of the relative (un)settledness of the minds of the dependent poor. Pauper letter writers were not all unsettled, but as we shall see, those who were frequently used the act of writing as a way to write themselves settled, thereby reasserting control over their fluctuating senses of self.

“If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Reformulate it”: Simulating the Universe with Alternative Gravities

Aneesh Naik (Astronomy)

It has been known for nearly a century that our universe is expanding. However, roughly two decades ago, astronomers learnt – to their horror – that this expansion is accelerating! In the subsequent years, cosmologists have explored two broad strands of theories to explain this cosmic acceleration. Firstly, ’Dark Energy’ theories, which postulate a vacuum energy (or something more exotic!) that exerts a repulsive gravitational force, pushing the universe outwards. These theories have become orthodoxy, but suffer some notorious foibles such as the ‘cosmic coincidence’ problem. The second strand of theories are ’Modified Gravity’ theories, which make changes to our existing laws of gravity: Einstein’s General Relativity. With these alterations, gravity works rather differently on the very largest scales, and the need for a mysterious Dark Energy component is obviated. This talk will review the landscape of these Modified Gravity theories within the wider context of modern cosmology, as well as exploring my own research performing computer simulations under alternative gravities.

The Art of Power and the Power of Art: Sofonisba Anguissola’s ‘Partita a scacchi’ (1555)

Ran Huo (Spanish)

My PhD research focuses on women’s education and female intellectuality in the early modern period. At the Clareity Symposium, I would like to present the life and work of the Italian Renaissance painter Sofonisba Anguissola (c.1532-1625). This painting, one of Anguissola’s most famous works, has often been analysed with regard to worldly power structures of gender roles and familial relations. However, no critic has noted the real artistic depth of this work which in fact should be considered the climax of Anguissola’s career and a demonstration of her intellectual abilities. Based on Michel Foucault’s concept of power which rests upon the controlling function of the gaze, I argue that the sequence of gazes in Anguissola’s painting plays a similar role in relation to dynamics of power. In particular, unlike existing criticism, this paper takes a closer look at previously undiscovered details on the chessboard, which will reveal an unprecedented perspective on profound conceptions of art, reality, illusion, and power — notions that anticipate key ideas of the Baroque period — and thereby demonstrate the true power of Anguissola’s art.

Elizabeth – The Forgotten Years

Keynote —Dr. John Guy

Elizabeth was crowned at 25 after a tempestuous childhood as a bastard and an outcast, but it was only when she reached 50 and her advisers no longer sought to force her into marriage that she began to wield the sort of power she regarded as her birthright. John Guy’s sleuthing in the archives enables him to envision the real woman behind the mask: someone powerful yet vulnerable, wilful yet afraid, voicing her own distinctive and surprisingly resonant concerns. At least once she was head over heels in love, but could she act on that passion and still keep her throne? Elizabeth – The Forgotten Years was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Biography Award and was an Economist and Financial Times ‘Book of the Year’.

Panel 2: 13.25-14.10

Phylogenetics and Disease Evolution: Are Our Models Wrong?

Alec Downie (Biological Anthropology)

Phylogenetics is the discipline that models evolution through changes in an organism’s, population’s, or species’s characteristics, genetic or otherwise. It has begun to see wide use in tracking the recent evolution and spread of infectious diseases, like influenza and HIV. However, there are a number of assumptions central to phylogenetic models that may be leading scientists to inaccurately reconstruct the recent history of such important viral diseases. In my talk, I look at both theoretical issues in phylogenetic modeling and their specific applications to Ebola virus. I cover how our models lead us to an inaccurate reconstruction of the disease’s spread in Africa and prevent us from truly understanding its ecology.

Women’s Empowerment and Artisan Cooperatives in Mexico

Paola Velasco Herrejon (Development Studies)

Women’s artisan cooperatives in Mexico began as income-generating alternatives in response tostructural adjustment policies introduced in the 1980s. With government intervention removed, theprice of corn produced in the country soared, leaving indigenous farmers unable to compete withthe subsidized corn imported from the United States. Indigenous women were especially affected bythis neoliberal scheme because their workload was significantly increased due to the cuts to publicexpenditure that accompanied this agenda. Despite this extra burden, they additionally turned toweaving to secure the basic needs of their families. This activity was one of their only means togenerate income, while also allowing them to continue doing housework. They encountered varioushardships when entering the exploitative crafts market and, as a strategy to overcome thesedifficulties, they started to form collective projects that slowly turned into registered cooperatives. Itis argued that these ventures are now moving beyond providing a means of survival for women,towards a transformation of gender relations around consumption: cooperatives are increasingresources at their disposal, which is contributing to the enhancement of their dignity, autonomy, andbargaining power inside and outside of the household.

By bringing together the insights of indigenous women in two artisan cooperatives inChiapas Mexico, this talk will voice their perceptions about their processes of empowerment, ordisempowerment, within these initiatives. The discussion will conclude by highlighting theimportance of acknowledging who is defining empowerment and for whom, since externalempowerment definitions may either limit or encourage women’s emancipatory potential.

Who is Hogwarts? The Character of the Castle in Fantasy Fiction

Catherine Olver (Literature)

There have been many metaphorical readings of Hogwarts which link it to Harry Potter’s personal,psychological development. But is this how we understand the castle when we’re reading? With its moving staircases, vocal portraits, drifting ghosts and unseen house elves, I read the castle as acharacter in its own right. Comparing it to castles from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia and Terry Pratchett’sDiscworld, we can see how Hogwarts develops the fantasy trope of the edifice (when buildingscome alive) and points to contemporary ideas about consciousness.

The missing ingredient: bringing materials into the picture of energy use to improve our understanding of resource efficiency

Ana González Hernández (Engineering)

A clear rationale exists for using resources more efficiently in industry: waste avoidance of scarce resources, improved competitiveness, improved responsiveness to future regulations, and the reduction of CO2 emissions. However, despite its large potential for demand and CO2 emissions reduction, efficiency options remain underutilized in most environmental mitigation portfolios, where supply-side options, such as renewable energy, are still more attractive. Resource efficiency has begun to be part of the policy discussion in Europe, but the specifics about how to quantify it and where to focus policy efforts are still largely uncertain. Appropriately capturing the potential for improvement available from efficiency options in industry can help build the case for integrating resource efficiency actions into resource planning activities and climate mitigation strategies. There are two factors that are important when assessing the potential gains from resource efficiency: the scale of the resource flow and the potential for improvement. Previous analyses focus either on potential gains of energy-converting technologies alone or on the opportunities for material efficiency, while neglecting the complex interactions of energy and materials through production systems. In response, this study tracks the flows of resources in industry, from source to product, and focuses on quantifying resource efficiency by interfacing energy and materials streams. In mapping the scale and complexity of both fuels and material flows across production systems, the technical areas where largest efficiency gains are available can be identified. The outcome is a more rigorous basis for directing future research and policy decisions in resource efficiency.

Panel 3: 14.30 – 15.00 (Dilettante Society Feature)

“Come and ‘ave a butchers”: The East London Cockney

Grace Brown (Dilettante Society)

Cockney culture, which often intersected with other working class cultures that settled in East London, is rich and generally misrepresented and misunderstood. As an East Londoner from a Cockney family, I want to lift the shroud on the people, their language, and their moral system. I will answer questions such as: Why is the sport of boxing so integral to East London? Why is the East End nearly completely gutted of its cockney residents? Why did things change so much between Atlee and Thatcher? Really— what on earth is a cockney?

Panel 4: 15.20 – 16.05

The shareholder primacy in Britain and corporate governance in Brazil: a comparative analysis

Augusta Vezzani Diebold (Law)

Different legal systems usually adopt a different approach to corporate governance. Thus, whilst Anglo-American nations tend to adopt a shareholder-centric approach, meaning that the interest of the company is the interest of its members, other jurisdictions, such as the Continental European, adopt a social or labour-oriented system. In 2001, Hansmann and Kraakman alleged that, due to the success achieved by companies in the United States and United Kingdom, all jurisdictions would converge and adopt the shareholder primacy theory. What they failed to consider, however, was the role played by the State and the political systems of different countries, which can influence (and even determine) the corporate governance system [ROE, 2003]. Thus, considering both Hansmann’s and Roe’s theories, and considering that they did not analyse the reality of developing nations, we seek to examine the Brazilian corporate governance system, comparing it to the Anglo-American. Our aim is to examine which path is Brazilian Corporate Law following, tracing the basic aspects of the different approaches and emphasizing the role played by politics. In order to achieve our results,we will review Brazilian, American and British literature on the subject and will analyse Brazil’s mainstatutes (the Companies Act and the Civil Code), the regulations made by the São Paulo StockExchange (BM&F Bovespa), and case law.

From association to function: use of genomics to better understand autoimmune disease variants

Dafni Glinos (Biology)

While a large proportion of human DNA sequence is identical between individual people, we all carry differences, referred to as genetic variants. The vast majority of genetic variants is harmless, but some are linked to diseases. Currently there are more than 300 variants that are associated to common diseases that affect the immune system, such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease. The biological mechanisms by which genetic differences can predispose an individual to the development of immune diseases are largely unknown. In fact, many variants localise in DNA sequences, which do not code for proteins, indicating that they may have a regulatory function. This function would only be apparent in specific cell types, since every cell in the human body carries the same DNA, but maintains a defined function. From meta-analysis of publicly available data, we have identified T regulatory cells (Tregs) as a good candidate cell to understand the role of immune associated variants in the development of disease. Tregs have the important role of down-regulating the immune response and maintaining immune balance. This is a rare cell type, representing less than 0.001% cells in the blood, and requires sensitive genomic and immunological assays. In this talk I will present how we go from a pint of human blood to the measurement of gene expression and genome activity in Tregs, and what statistical methodology we apply to help us identify the impact of genetic variants in the predisposition of individuals to immune diseases.

Networking in Antiquity—Promotion of Officials in the Roman Empire

Paweł Borowski (Classics)

In my research, I examine the rationality of official appointments in the Early Roman Empire. In sodoing, I apply the contemporary theory of rationalities, originally designed by a medievalist Davidd’Avray, to analyse letters of recommendation written by members of the Roman governing elite.These texts allow us to identify some core values and convictions shared by the Roman elite and tostudy how they influenced officials’ promotions. This approach enables us to go beyondcontemporary prosopographical studies that compare individuals’ careers and overemphasiseformalisation of promotions. My study concentrates instead on the elite discourse and the logicbehind appointments of officials.

The results suggest that a set of convictions of Republican origin shaped the standards according to which officials were assessed and promoted throughout the first and second centuries CE. The key to success was to prove to peers and to the emperor your potential in serving Rome and contributing to its glory. Prospective officials had to demonstrate their moral virtues and buildup their reputations on loyalty, diligence, literary culture, wealth and ancestry. Furthermore, contraryto some scholars, I argue that despite its preferential nature, patronage—a crucial factor inappointments—had rational foundations as well.

The ultimate ambition of this work is to prompt us to re-evaluate our own assumptions about the practice and rationality of recruitment and promotion in contemporary networks of power, such as governments and international corporations.

Can insects help us understand what you need to know to catch a moving ball?

Keynote—Dr. Paloma González-Bellido

In our society, the ability to quickly intercept a moving target is highly rewarded. In addition to driving the sports industry, being able to correctly convert motion cues into appropriate motor commands underlies every day activities that we often take for granted. It is therefore useful to know how information processing through our nervous system results in such performance. It is also important to understand whether we have evolved a unique system, or if other species whose survival depends on their ability to catch a moving object have convergent specializations. Could much smaller species, with tiny brains, have evolved similar or even more efficient solutions? In this talk I will review recent findings from my laboratory on the interception abilities of different predatory insects, and discuss whether they have of relevance to our understanding of the evolution of nervous systems and how humans catch moving targets.

Panel 5: 17.10 – 17.55

To infinity and beyond

Peter van Hintum (Mathematics)

1, 2, 3, 4, …

The first step towards abstract thought in any child’s development is counting the numbers. We begin with the numbers up to 10 and as we grow up this might expand to a 100 or maybe even a 1000. What if we never stop? It’s evident that we can find infinitely many numbers (or is it?), but can we go even bigger? Towards the end of the 19th century, George Cantor showed that the answer is yes, in fact the simplest such bigger infinity is found in the continuum of the real numbers. He baptised these different infinities ‘cardinals’. The appropriate measure for the size of these cardinals are bijections, i.e. 1-to-1 correspondences between sets. We can construct many different instances of ever-growing cardinals. Fortunately, Bernstein and Schröder provided us with a method of ordering most of these large cardinals by showing that a cardinal x can never be simultaneously larger and smaller than another cardinal y. There are however restrictions to how large cardinalities can get. These restrictions come from our very basic conceptions of mathematics. Besides the natural question of how big infinity can get, one might also ask how small infinity can get. The question if there is a cardinal between the countability of the natural numbers and the continuum of the real numbers, is in fact an open question, called the continuum hypothesis and was included in Hilbert’s problems, a list from 1900 of the 23 most urgent mathematical questions.

Mind the Gap: Failure, Impossibility, and the Piano Etude

Naomi Woo (Music)

Of his collection of Etudes Australes (1974), John Cage famously claimed:

 

“These are intentionally as difficult as I can make them, because I think we’re now surrounded by very serious problems in the society, and we think that the situation is hopeless and that it’s just impossible to do something that will make everything turn out properly. So I think that this music, which is almost impossible, gives an instance of the practicality of the impossible.”

Cage’s reflection is geared towards the audience, and the intended utopian effect that these works might have on their listeners. Nonetheless, this effect itself is inherently dependent on the performer. After all, possibility is a constraint that relies on the contingencies of a particular performer’s body. This project explores how the “impossible” manifests from the perspective of the pianist in Cage’s Etude Australe VIII. Is the piece impossible, and if so, how? While the impossibility might easily be passed of as a nonsensical paradox (by performing an impossible piece, it becomes possible), I suggest. following Eldritch Priest’s ‘aesthetics of failure,’ that there is an aesthetic of the impossible that exists outside of these paradoxical loops. I will examine some of the specific challenges that Cage poses for the performer. In particular, I will focus on disjunctures 8 between score and gesture, the coordination (and lack thereof) between the hands, and on the role of indeterminacy and the kinds of impossibility that each of these challenges suggest.

Is Competition in Finance a Good Thing?

Anne Henow (Development Studies)

Most Economists would say that competition in finance is a good thing. I argue the opposite – too much competition in the financial sector can drive banks towards a crisis. We will look at the theory of financial intermediation and at the case of Germany, which experienced two major financial crises (1931 and 2007). The presentation is particularly relevant to students interested in economics, politics and history.

Panel 6: 18.00 – 18.45

Fragmented Selves: Identity, Modernism, and Surrealism in Interwar Paris

Diane Drouin (French)

In the 1920s and 1930s, the French capital was at the centre of bohemian life. Artists from aroundthe world gathered in the Parisian salons: painters and photographers, novelists and poets lived andworked together – André Breton, Man Ray, James Joyce, Djuna Barnes, Ezra Pound, ErnestHemingway or Gertrude Stein, to name a few. This presentation will address the way British andAmerican modernisms interacted with French surrealism to help fashion fragmented identities inliterature and the visual arts. I will argue that a new representation of the artist’s self took shape inthat particular interwar context, through the technique of collage, mirror patterns, and numerouspoetic innovations.

As a case study, I will explore the work of Mina Loy, a London-born artist who spent her lifebetween Europe and the United States. She began her career as a painter in the 1910s, beforeturning to poetry and novel-writing and becoming a major figure of the Parisian cultural scene. Herpoems have been extensively studied over the last two decades, and often reclaimed by Americanscholars – my interest is in her lesser known autobiographical texts, most of which bring the readerback to her European youth. Relying on both texts and paintings, I will discuss the representation ofthe self caught between modernism, surrealism, futurism and cubism in her work.

Electric Cars or Lighter Cars? The Future of the British Fleet

André Cabrera Serrenho (Engineering)

Road transport alone accounts for 24% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions produced in the UK. Current policies aimed at mitigating climate change address this problem by setting targets for future direct emissions of new car sales, fostering a fast transition to electric cars. However, these targets do not consider the GHG emissions produced upstream: when electricity is generated or when materials used in car manufacturing are produced. For this reason, current policies fail to consider the potential benefits of alternative options, such as vehicle weight reduction and changes in the patterns of car use. In this analysis, the potential benefits of limiting the average weight of new cars are compared with the benefits of using electric cars in terms of global GHG emissions savings produced during the use of a car, electricity generation, and material production. This analysis anticipates the emissions savings for the future car fleet in Great Britain until 2050 for various alternative futures, using a dynamic material flow analysis and testing the impacts of changes in pattern of car use. The results suggest that fostering a reduction of the average weight of cars could produce greater cumulative emissions savings by 2050 than those obtained by incentivising a fast transition to electric cars, unless there is an extreme decarbonisation of the electricity grid. Small changes in the patterns of car use that increase car occupancy rates may also contribute to substantial emissions savings.

The Collections and Intellectual Circles of Conrad Peutinger (1465-1547)

William Theiss (History)

Conrad Peutinger (1465-1547) was the leading patrician in the German city of Augsburg during a time when Augsburg had a larger population than London or Paris, when some of its citizens were wealthier than anybody in Europe, and when the high period of the Renaissance had not yet resulted in the conflicts of the Reformation. After finishing his legal studies in Padua and Rome he became the trusted adviser and close friend of Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. He married into the family that financed the first German expedition to the East Indies. But he was also a bookworm and a pedant. He owned the largest library north of the Alps, and he ordered the excavation of Roman antiquities – Augsburg had been an important military base – only to keep the most valuable finds in his own spacious home. He was regarded by other scholars as the omniscient spirit of Augsburg’s society of humanists. Still, all his voracious research and extensive correspondence with other humanists notwithstanding, he published only a slim volume of historical writing in his lifetime. My research reconstructs aspects of Peutinger’s intellectual life by presenting and interpreting unknown manuscripts by Peutinger from Germany and Austria, including an important late letter and, especially, the hundreds of pages of “collectiones” – gatherings of citations about a single topic, woven together by thin strands of argument and exposition – that he made on every topic from melancholy and vertigo to the Eucharist and the history of the Church