skip to primary navigationskip to content

Latest news

Shelley’s Peterloo poem took inspiration from the radical press, new research reveals

By ta385 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Aug 16, 2019.

This is the conclusion reached by Philip Connell, a senior lecturer in Cambridge’s English Faculty, who has identified new links between the two men and their writing. His findings, first published in the Times Literary Supplement (full study in Review of English Studies, 1 September 2019), shed new light on the meaning of a poem which has become a powerful inspiration for protest movements from the Chartists to the modern Labour Party.
 
Connell says: “Richard Carlile was not only an important eyewitness to the massacre, he also provided one of the most radical responses to appear in the English press, by arguing that the murderous actions of the Manchester authorities justified revolutionary violence. This changes how we read The Mask of Anarchy. It brings Shelley's poem much closer to Peterloo. It also explains why Shelley urged the working people of England to 'Rise like Lions', while arguing so passionately that protest must remain peaceful.” 
 
Until now, it has been assumed that Shelley’s principal source of information about Peterloo was Leigh Hunt’s moderate, middle-class reformist newspaper, the Examiner. But Connell has found compelling evidence to suggest that Shelley also engaged with a far more uncompromising response to the massacre which took place on St Peter’s Field, Manchester, on 16 August 1819.
 
Connell’s research indicates that while Shelley was living in Italy in 1819, he received one or more issues of the radical periodicals, Sherwin’s Weekly Political Register and The Republican, both of which were edited by Richard Carlile in London. The most likely supplier of this material is Shelley’s friend Thomas Love Peacock. On 21 September, Shelley wrote to Peacock: ‘I have received all the papers you sent me, & the Examiners regularly … What an infernal business this of Manchester! What is to be done? Something assuredly.’
 
Connell identifies close links between the Shelley–Hunt circle and Carlile, as well as circumstantial evidence that Peacock was well-placed to lay his hands on Carlile’s controversial publications. The study also suggests that Carlile and Shelley had some contact in the period before and after Peterloo. In the Republican for 24 September, Carlile printed Shelley’s Declaration of Rights, a rare single-sheet fly bill originally produced in Ireland in 1812. This is likely to have happened following some form of communication, probably involving other members of the Hunt circle in England.
 

Connell argues that there are significant echoes of Carlile’s writings in the Mask of Anarchy which are at least as compelling as Shelley’s debts to Hunt’s Examiner. Most striking perhaps is the similarity between Carlile’s vision of the Home Secretary’s mask concealing ruthless bloodlust (‘you […] have thrown off your mask and set the first example of shedding blood’) and Shelley’s sinister personification: ‘I met Murder on the way – / He had a mask like Castlereagh’. Viscount Castlereagh was Leader of the House of Commons at the time and supported his Government’s repressive actions which led to cavalry charging into a crowd demanding parliamentary reform, leaving 18 people dead and 700 injured.
 
“Several instances of shared imagery and language suggest that Shelley drew on Carlile’s prose in his visionary reimagining of the massacre”, says Connell. “Immediately after describing Murder having ‘a mask like Castlereagh’, Shelley wrote that ‘Seven bloodhounds followed him’. This echoes Carlile’s language in articles which I believe Shelley read. Carlile published several descriptions of the Manchester Yeomanry as bloodhounds and Castlereagh and his fellow government ministers as ‘those men who could direct their bloodhounds to attack and destroy a peaceable meeting’.”
 
Another telling similarity, Connell argues, lies in the emphasis that both Carlile and Shelley place on women. The Times newspaper condemned the ‘female Reformers’ present at the start of the meeting on St Peter’s Field as delusional and this account found its way into Hunt’s Examiner. By contrast, Carlile praised these women. In particular, he honoured Mary Fildes, the ensign of the Manchester Reform Society, who appears prominently in his commemorative print, standing on the platform holding a flag (image attached).
 
In a similar vein, Shelley’s Mask gives a central role to an allegorical female figure in arresting the progress of Anarchy. He wrote of ‘a Maniac Maid, / And her name was Hope, she said: But she looked more like Despair’. She later ‘lay down in the street, / Right before the horses’ feet’, only to be saved from ‘Murder, Fraud and Anarchy’ by a quasi-divine intervention.
 
Despite these convergences, Shelley and Carlile took very different positions on the question of violence. Connell says: “Carlile vigorously defended violence as a legitimate response to the massacre yet while Shelley urges the ‘Men of England’ to ‘Rise like Lions’ he also betrays a deep anxiety about the possible consequences of working-class revolution. Shelley’s exposure to Carlile’s outraged militancy helps to explain his insistence on peaceful resistance.”
 
Reference
 
Connell, P., ‘A voice from over the Sea’: Shelley’s Mask of Anarchy, Peterloo, and the English Radical Press.’ The Review of English Studies (1 September 2019); https://doi.org/10.1093/res/hgz029

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s The Mask of Anarchy, the most celebrated literary response to the Peterloo massacre – which has its bicentenary on 16 August – drew on accounts of the tragedy written by the radical journalist and freethinker, Richard Carlile.

This changes how we read The Mask of Anarchy. It brings Shelley's poem much closer to Peterloo
Philip Connell
The Peterloo Massacre by Richard Carlile (1819).

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes
License type: 

Cambridge historian and his family members announced as joint winners of one of the biggest cash prizes in world economics

By cjb250 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 10, 2019.

The inaugural IPPR prize was introduced to reward innovative ideas to reinvigorate the UK economy that force a ‘step change in the quality and quantity of the UK’s economic growth’.

Simon Szreter, Professor of History and Public Policy at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College, Hilary Cooper, economics consultant, who is married to Professor Szreter, and their son Ben Szreter, chief executive of Cambridge United Community Trust, worked together on a detailed plan to enable faster UK growth by investing in generous and universal welfare provision.

Professor Szreter said: “The key proposal, emanating directly from history, is that generous and inclusive universal welfare provision should be reconceptualised as an absolutely crucial economic growth promoter, not as merely a ‘tax burden’ on the productive economy.

“It has been proven to perform this function twice before in our history and its abandonment has twice led to faltering and then disastrous declines in national productivity, as is being currently experienced with the much-vaunted ‘productivity puzzle’.”

The trio shared the first prize with the other joint winner - seven co-workers at the London Economics consultancy who argued that a ‘big push’ towards decentralisation would unlock prosperity around the UK.

Stephanie Flanders, head of Bloombery Economics, chaired the panel of judges as they looked for the best answers to the question, “What would be your radical plan to force a step change in the quality and quantity of the UK’s economic growth?” 

Following the financial crisis, the UK economy experienced the slowest recovery in the post-war era. In common with other advanced economies, the UK has had sluggish economic growth over the past decade. In the period since the crash, the UK growth rate has averaged 1.1 per cent compared to the long-run world average of 3.5 per cent: even if the growth rate doubled, it would still be nearly 40 per cent behind the world average. 

The judges praised Szreter, Cooper and Szreter’s ‘radical’ historical, economic and community led policy solutions to the economic challenges faced by the UK.

They said: “The authors draw on a historical analysis of the economy, looking at previous periods of British economic history to identify the enabling conditions for our most successful episodes of economic growth. Prescriptions include a new, equitable social contract alongside an intergenerational contract, incentivised and funded through tax changes, to re-establish the ethical principles on which the economic success of the Golden Age was built. 

“They each brought their different perspectives to bear on their core idea, that economic growth has been historically highest when collective welfare security is greatest – and their radical plan to incentivise altruistic economic behaviour today.” 

The proposals had to ensure fair and sustainable outcomes, including protecting the environment and reducing inequalities. The judges wanted creative thinking on whether the downward trend in the rate of UK economic growth could be reversed, whether it was realistic, desirable and achievable for the UK economy to grow at 3 or 4 per cent in the 2020s. 

The family said: "We’re really pleased that, in a world where economics seems to have increasingly veered towards models and mathematical abstractions, this prize has recognised the value of a different approach. Ours looks at history and how it can be applied to today’s practical challenges and brings the insights of political economy to propose a solution to the problems we face, especially the inequalities that threaten our productivity, our well-being and our democracy.”  

Two further prizes of £25,000 were also awarded. One went to the best under-25 entry, which was won by a Masters degree student who proposed a new way to use the fruits of the digital economy to reduce working time. The other went to the overall runner-up entry, which was authored by two investment professionals who argued for a rebalancing of the UK economy to reverse low investment and productivity. 

All four prizes will be awarded at an event in London today, where each winning entrant or team will present their ideas and discuss them further with judges. Each paper is published in full by IPPR today.

A ‘radical’ plan by three members of the same family to boost UK growth has been named as one of the first winners of the £100,000 Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Economics Prize, one of the world’s largest prizes in the discipline.

The key proposal, emanating directly from history, is that generous and inclusive universal welfare provision should be reconceptualised as an absolutely crucial economic growth promoter, not as merely a ‘tax burden’ on the productive economy
Simon Szreter
Left to right: Hilary Cooper, Simon Szreter, Ben Szreter

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

What makes a good excuse? A Cambridge philosopher may have the answer

By ehs33 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jul 01, 2019.

We’ve all done it, offered an excuse for our poor behaviour or rude reactions to others in the heat of the moment, after a long commute or a tough day with the kids. Excuses are commonplace, an attempt to explain and justify behaviours we aren’t proud of, to escape the consequences of our acts and make our undesirable behaviour more socially acceptable.

The things we appeal to when making excuses are myriad: tiredness, stress, a looming work deadline, a wailing infant, poverty, a migraine, ignorance. But what do these various excuses have in common that allows us to recognize them all as plausible? Do they differ from the excuses used in criminal law, like duress or coercion? And what does having an excuse get us – does it really exonerate us?

A researcher from Cambridge University has suggested that the answers lie in what they all tell us about our underlying motivation. When excuses are permissible, it’s because they show that while we acted wrongly, our underlying moral intentions were adequate.

Intentions are plans for action. To say that your intention was morally adequate is to say that your plan for action was morally sound. So when you make an excuse, you plead that your plan for action was morally fine – it’s just that something went awry in putting it into practice. Perhaps you tripped, and that’s why you spilled the shopping you were helping to carry. Or you were stressed or exhausted, which meant you couldn’t execute your well-intentioned plan.

This research presents for the first time a unified account of excuses - the Good Intention Account - that argues our everyday excuses work in much the same way as those offered in a courtroom. When lawyers appeal to duress or provocation in defense of their client, they are claiming that the client may have broken the law but had a morally adequate intention: she was just prevented from acting on it because fear or anger led her to lose self-control.

Until now little light has been shed on what unifies the diverse bunch of everyday reasons we offer when making excuses. Dr Paulina Sliwa’s study from the Faculty of Philosophy, suggests a morally adequate intention is the crucial ingredient.

Recent work in psychology suggests that intentions have a distinctive motivational profile, with philosophers and psychologists both arguing that they are key to understanding how we make choices. Dr Sliwa argues that intentions are the key to making sense of our everyday morality.

Dr Sliwa goes on to explain that appealing to excuses has its limits. “Successful excuses can mitigate our blame but they don’t get us off the hook completely. Saying we were tired or stressed doesn’t absolve us from moral responsibility completely, though they do change others’ perceptions of what we owe to make up for it and how the offended party should feel about our wrongdoing.”

This means that when we make excuses we are trying to haggle, to negotiate whether we deserve anger and resentment, or punishment and how much we need to apologise or compensate. This is why it can be so annoying if someone makes spurious excuses – and also probably why we continue to make excuses in the first place.

Dr Sliwa said, “A successful excuse needs to make plausible that your intention really was morally adequate – but something beyond your control prevented you from translating it into action. That’s why considerations like the following often work: I am sorry for forgetting the appointment – I had a terrible migraine / I haven't slept for the last three nights / I was preoccupied with worries about my mother's health; or I'm sorry I broke your vase – I stumbled over the rug. They all indicate an adequate underlying moral motivation that was thwarted by external circumstances.

“Things that will never work are appeals to weakness of will ‘I just couldn't resist’ or ‘it was too tempting’ don't work. Nor do appeals to things that are obviously immoral.

“The same is true of legal excuses: not every appeal to duress, coercion or provocation will be successful – it will depend on the details of the case.

“Philosophy can give us a better understanding of our mundane, everyday moral phenomena. There are a lot more puzzles to think about in relation with excuses: what's the difference between explaining someone's bad behavior and excusing it?”

The study is published in the ethics journal Philosophy and Public Affairs.

A free version is available at: http://paulinasliwa.weebly.com/uploads/1/9/0/4/19046427/final_submission.pdf

 

Dr Paulina Sliwa argues that intentions are the key to making sense of our everyday morality.

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Sowing seeds for timber skyscrapers can rewind the carbon footprint of the concrete industry

By ehs33 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Jun 28, 2019.

Recent innovations in engineered timber have laid the foundations for the world’s first wooden skyscrapers to appear within a decade, a feat that is not only achievable—according to the Centre for Natural Material Innovation—but one they hope will beckon in an era of sustainable wooden cities, helping reverse historic emissions from the construction industry.

The research team based at the Faculty of Architecture, is interdisciplinary, composed of architects, biochemists, chemists, mathematicians and engineers, who specialise in plant-based material, including cross-laminated timber, arguably the first major structural innovation since the advent of reinforced concrete, 150 years ago.

Principal Investigator Dr Michael Ramage, said “Until cross-laminated timber, there was simply no building material to challenge steel or reinforced concrete. To construct cities and indeed skyscrapers, we just had to accept the good and the bad of existing materials.

“Concrete is about five times heavier than timber, which means more expense for foundations and transport; it’s resource-intensive, and contributes to tremendous carbon dioxide emissions. After water, concrete is the most consumed material by humanity. But now we have an alternative, and it’s plant-based.”

The team envisage trees supplanting concrete as the predominant building material for cities, with buildings sown like seeds and cities harvested as crops, a way of simultaneously addressing climate change and global housing shortages.

Dr Ramage explained: “In England alone, we need to build 340,000 new homes each year over the next 12 years to accommodate our population. Concrete is unsustainable. Timber, however, is the only building material we can grow, and that actually reduces carbon dioxide. Every tonne of timber expunges 1.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Doing the calculations, if all new English homes were constructed from timber, we could capture and offset the carbon footprints of around 850,000 people for 10 years.

“The sustainable forests of Europe take just 7 seconds to grow the volume of timber required for a 3 bedroom apartment, and 4 hours to grow a 300 metre supertall skyscraper. Canada’s sustainable forests alone yield enough timber to house a billion people in perpetuity, with forested trees replenishing faster than their eventual occupants.”

Various teams around the world are hoping to produce the tallest wooden skyscraper, however the team from Cambridge is confident they’ll be the first, having done holistic work on three proposals for timber skyscrapers in London, Chicago, and the Hague, all of which are set to be showcased to the public at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition 2019, freely open to the public from July 1–7.

The team’s exhibit—Timber towers of tomorrow—will embody their vision, the stand itself modelled after a typical apartment nested within their proposed Oakwood Timber Tower at the Barbican Tower, where visitors can experience life in a treehouse while talking with the team, viewing architectural models of timber towers, learning about the fire performance properties of engineered timber, and hearing about the genetic, cellular, and macroscale innovations which have led to ply in the sky designs becoming a reality.

Beyond tackling climate change and promoting sustainability, the team are eager to outline the branching benefits society stands to gain by embracing timber architecture: the psychological well-being that comes from being surrounded by wood as compared with concrete, as well as the return to an ancient building material, that’s intimate as it is natural.

The Centre for Natural Material Innovation exhibited their proposals for timber skyscrapers at the Royal Society’s Summer Science Exhibition.

River Beech Tower Chicago

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Music inspired by a survivor of the Nazis wins international recognition

By ehs33 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on May 24, 2019.

BBC Radio 3 have selected a new orchestral composition by the Music Faculty’s Reader in Composition, Richard Causton to represent the UK at the annual International Rostrum of Composers to be broadcast across 27 countries worldwide. The Rostrum is run in association with UNESCO and the International Music Council.

The piece - Ik zeg: NU  - was based on a story of survival. Three quarters of the World War II Jewish population of the Netherlands were killed by the Nazis. One of some 16,000 Dutch Jews to survive the war was a relative of Richard Causton, Salomon Van Son (now 98 years old), who survived Nazi persecution hidden in a hay barn for almost three years. The farmer who hid him was interrogated by the Germans repeatedly but never revealed where he was. This work is based on Salomon Van Son’s memoir about his experience.
 
Richard explained, “The title, Ik zeg: NU (‘I say: Now’) comes from Sal van Son’s ten-year-old great nephew, who remarked philosophically, ‘I say now now, and a moment later it is already history’.  
 
“This child-like observation of how time passes seemed a brilliant description for music and how we experience it; but beyond that, it also describes life itself. We can never hang on to the moment, it is always slipping through our fingers. So my piece is about the passage of time and a homage to my 98-year-old relative, whose book traces the history of his Jewish family through four centuries, including his own years in hiding from the Nazis in occupied Holland during the Second World War.”
 
Richard constructed a new set of specially-tuned tubular bells especially for use in the piece, and together with the sounds of detuned vibraphones, a prepared piano and accordion, their haunting, resonant sound evokes the complex and elusive nature of passing time. The piece was commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was first performed at the Barbican Hall, London, in January to huge critical acclaim.
 
“Richard Causton's new work for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Ik zeg: NU, holds two timeframes in play simultaneously, and brilliantly.” (The Guardian)
 
“Now-ness and then-ness move in parallel in this spacious, beautifully constructed work.” (The Times)
 
“It was a fabulously ear-tickling display of compositional skill, which every now and then took on a poetic resonance.” (The Daily Telegraph) 

Image: Richard Causton pencil score of Ik zeg: NU

A new orchestral composition - Ik zeg: NU by Richard Causton - has been chosen by BBC Radio 3 for worldwide broadcast.

BBCSO Credit Sim Canetty-Clark

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

Beggarstaffs: William Nicholson & James Pryde

By ehs33 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on May 10, 2019.

Shorthand Story: 
dpsOW40NbG
Shorthand Story Head: 
Beggarstaffs: William Nicholson & James Pryde
Shorthand Story Body: 

Beggarstaffs:
William Nicholson & James Pryde

New exhibition puts the University's collections of two leading figures in
Modern British Art into context for the first time.

The Beggarstaff Brothers, Drury Lane Cinderella theatre poster, 1895 © Desmond Banks / Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, Drury Lane Cinderella theatre poster, 1895 © Desmond Banks / Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

"Astonishingly the Beggarstaff's ground-breaking poster designs and their subsequent individual work as painters have never before been gathered together in a single exhibition until now."

Stephen Calloway, Historian and Exhibition Curator

Sir William Nicholson by Augustus Edwin John © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Sir William Nicholson by Augustus Edwin John © The Fitzwilliam Museum

The 1890s was the first great age of the pictorial poster. Two leading figures in the development of Modern British art, William Nicholson (1872-1949) and his brother-in-law James Pryde (1866-1941), were at the beginning of their careers, struggling to sell pictures, and saw opportunities to exploit the newly burgeoning market for posters.

They established an avant-garde artistic partnership, and called themselves ‘the Brothers Beggarstaff’. Their startlingly innovative style entirely revolutionised poster design.

Now, several of the largest and finest Beggarstaff posters, rolled- up and unseen for decades, are on loan to the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum from the V&A. Alongside other important works from Her Majesty The Queen and other private lenders, they now put the University’s significant individual collections of Pryde and Nicholson's work into context for the first time.

Stephen Calloway, who curated the exhibition, said, "I had long wanted to stage an exhibition that placed Nicholson and Pryde's partnership as the 'Brothers Beggarstaff' in the context of their subsequent, equally influential individual careers as painters.

"Cambridge University’s important collections of their work, populated with key loans, now bring their entwined narrative together for the first time and have enabled me to tell their story."

The Beggarstaffs' posters were created using entirely novel techniques involving collaging cut-paper shapes or stencilling flat colour onto huge sheets of ordinary brown wrapping paper. Their striking simplicity, relying on outline and silhouette to suggest forms, demonstrated the young artists’ idea that a poster must be effective, even when merely glimpsed from a moving horse-bus.

The Beggarstaff Brothers, A Trip to Chinatown musical poster, 1895 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, A Trip to Chinatown musical poster, 1895 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, ‘Kassama’ Corn Flour, 1894 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, ‘Kassama’ Corn Flour, 1894 © Desmond Banks / © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, celebrated Don Quixote poster for Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre production, 1895 © Desmond Banks / Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

The Beggarstaff Brothers, celebrated Don Quixote poster for Henry Irving’s Lyceum Theatre production, 1895 © Desmond Banks / Image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Their posters were to prove too avant-garde for the advertisers of the day, and Pryde and Nicholson gradually resumed their individual careers as painters.

Nicholson, always the more ambitious, realised that in an era when popular imagery was increasingly prized, design and print-making skills offered another route to success. He turned his hand to wood engraving and had found his new métier. Lucrative deals with the publisher William Heinemann swiftly followed and over several years they created a sequence of popular print volumes including An Alphabet, An Almanac of Sports and London Types.

Sir William Nicholson, An Alphabet, A was an Artist © Desmond Banks / © Fitzwilliam Museum

Sir William Nicholson, An Alphabet, A was an Artist © Desmond Banks / © Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam’s group of later oils by Nicholson further unfold the intriguing narrative of his progression from print maker to one of the greatest of Modern British painters, whose skill lay in capturing the precise play of light on different surfaces in brushstrokes of consummate skill. Many examples from the Fitzwilliam's permanent collection are exhibited in the show.

"Some art-lovers will already think they know a bit about one half of the Beggarstaffs - Sir William Nicholson - as painter of gleaming silver and lushly, luxurious roses, who became a pillar of the artistic establishment, sought out as a portraitist, awarded a knighthood, and quite as grand as he appears in the Fitz’s portrait of him by Augustus John."
Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Pryde, on the other hand, like the 17th-century creators of architectural fantasy landscapes, worked essentially from the imagination, inventing dark ‘sinister corners’ and 'death beds' that appear as stage-sets conjured from childhood memories of Edinburgh's Old Town and Mary Queen of Scot's bedchamber at Holyrood Palace. Pryde's productivity would never equal Nicholson’s and gradually he stopped painting altogether as his life became more chaotic.

Watch BBC Fake or Fortune visit the Fitzwilliam Museum below to look at some of the University's permanent collection of Nicholson's work.

Sir William Nicholson, Begonias, © The Fitzwilliam Museum. The painting can be viewed in Gallery 1.

Sir William Nicholson, Begonias, © The Fitzwilliam Museum. The painting can be viewed in Gallery 1.

Flamingoes, 1891, is one of the most interesting of Nicholson’s very early works in the permanent collection of the Fitzwilliam. Young painters in the 1890s were keen to experiment with unconventional subjects and unusual viewpoints. Nicholson made this quirky study of exotic birds in the Jardin d’Acclimatation during his first visit to Paris. However, the detail of the wire-mesh cage and the shadow of the artist’s own head coming into the picture - a favourite conceit of Nicholson’s - were added years later, perhaps following a French trip made with his last companion Marguerite Steen in the autumn of 1937.

Sir William Nicholson, Flamingos, 1891   © Desmond Banks / Image  © The Fitzwilliam Museum  

Sir William Nicholson, Flamingos, 1891   © Desmond Banks / Image  © The Fitzwilliam Museum  

The picture, long retained by the artist himself, was later among several works given to the Fitzwilliam Museum by Nicholson’s friend, the art dealer Lillian Browse in 2006.

The Girl with a Tattered Glove is one of the Fitzwilliam Museum’s most popular pictures. It depicts Marie Laquelle, who worked at the Pheasantry, a famous old house in Chelsea, converted into artists’ studios. She first met Nicholson when he leased a space there in 1909, and shortly afterwards she became his housekeeper and mistress for ten years. Nicholson captures both dignity and pathos in Marie’s pose and expression, underscored by the subtly calibrated details of shabby clothes that characterise her status as a young woman just clinging to respectability.

Jane Munro, Keeper of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, Fitzwilliam Museum describes Sir William Nicholson's, The girl with a tattered glove, 1909 © Desmond Banks / © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Jane Munro, Keeper of Paintings, Drawings and Prints, Fitzwilliam Museum describes Sir William Nicholson's, The girl with a tattered glove, 1909 © Desmond Banks / © The Fitzwilliam Museum

"Why did Nicholson have such a thing about gloves; whether worn by a worn-out young women or carried reverently in the mouth of a greyhound?"
Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum

Sir William Nicholson, The Greyhound with the Glove © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Sir William Nicholson, The Greyhound with the Glove © The Fitzwilliam Museum

"It is only through the research for exhibitions such as this, that relatively unknown content is brought together and presented into narrative. The Fitzwilliam only very recently acquired James Pryde's masterpiece The Death Bed, and it was that purchase that provoked the idea for a show devoted to this family partnership, to a passionate dialogue and - perhaps - to a kind of parting of the ways." 

Luke Syson, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum



Beggarstaffs is at the University's Fitzwilliam Museum until 4 August. Admission is free.

James Pryde, The Death Bed, 1913 © Desmond Banks / Image © The Fitzwilliam Museum

James Pryde, The Death Bed, 1913 © Desmond Banks / Image © The Fitzwilliam Museum

Summary: 

New exhibition puts the University's collections of two leading figures in Modern British Art into context for the first time. 

Image: 
People (our academics and staff): 
Subject (including Spotlight on ... where applicable): 

Cambridge University Library stages first public play in its 600-year history

By sjr81 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on May 01, 2019.

Shorthand Story: 
3ttLOIJvnS
Shorthand Story Head: 
Cambridge University Library stages first public play in its 600-year history
Shorthand Story Body: 

Cambridge University Library stages first public play in its 600-year history

Performance marked the launch of digital edition of Arthur Schnitzler's works and archive

Cambridge University Library (UL) hosted its first ever public performance on April 25 when The Great Wurstel, a one-act burlesque comedy using human marionettes by the Modernist writer Arthur Schnitzler (pictured), was performed in the Rare Books Reading Room.

The sell-out performance marked the launch of a major new digital edition of works by Schnitzler – who inspired Freud and Kubrick among many others. The edition, hosted by the UL and resulting from a collaboration of UK scholars with German colleagues (from the Universities of Wuppertal and Trier) is being made freely available online to scholars, historians and the public at large.

Saved from destruction by the Nazis and transported under diplomatic seal to Cambridge University Library in the 1930s, the rescue of Schnitzler’s archive is as dramatic as any fiction he committed to paper.

Now, more than 80 years after they were spirited out of Austria under the noses of Nazis intent on burning and destroying Jewish cultural works, the country’s most famous playwright has been recognised by becoming the first writer to ever have his work staged at Cambridge University Library’s iconic Giles Gilbert Scott building.

He is perhaps best known outside of Austria as the author of his 1926 novella Traumnovelle (Dream Story), which was adapted by the legendary Stanley Kubrick in Eyes Wide Shut. While The Great Wurstel is less well-known, it certainly deserves more attention.

This is believed to be the first time the play has been staged in English.

The producer and co-director of the Library performance was Dr Annja Neumann, a Research Associate of the Schnitzler Digital Edition Project at the Department of German and Dutch, and lead editor for the puppet-play cycle Marionetten of which The Great Wurstel is part.

Neumann’s vision to stage Schnitzler’s dramatic experiment in close proximity to the original papers was enthusiastically supported by an interdisciplinary team of students and professionals, particularly translator and co-director Ada Günther, co-director Ritika Biswas and a dynamic team of student producers and actors, in collaboration with the UL.

"Schnitzler’s human puppet play The Great Wurstel explores what it means to be human in a world which is controlled by machines and mechanistic behaviour. Bringing the physicality of Schnitzler’s comedy to the UL, with its 600-year history, not only gave us the unique opportunity to unlock the ways in which we unconsciously play-act in institutions but also enabled us to explore the roots of human comedy and questions which remain highly topical in a digital age when we are engaging with the ‘humanness’ of machines.

"Schnitzler's human puppets deeply unsettle the boundaries between real life and the theatrical world as well as human and machine. And it was exhilarating to experience how the constant boundary crossings in the reading room increasingly unsettled the audience over the course of the performance.”


Dr Annja Neumann

Professor Andrew Webber, Professor of Modern German and Comparative Culture in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Principal Investigator of the Edition Project, said: “Staging The Great Wurstel at the UL is a fantastic example of the potential of combining archival research with public engagement and making the material of scholarship available in an accessible and lively way. Playing a cameo role in the drama (a puppet Death who unveils himself as a Wurstel figure, a kind of Mr Punch) was certainly a learning experience for me as researcher!”

“The archive at Cambridge University Library is a treasure of modernist literary culture and the launch of the Digital Critical Edition means that the notes and drafts for many of Schnitzler’s key works are made available to everyone for the very first time. Our project exploits the potential of these archives through the advanced possibilities of the digital.”

Professor Andrew Webber speaking at the launch of the Digital Edition at Cambridge University Library on April 25, 2019.

Professor Andrew Webber speaking at the launch of the Digital Edition at Cambridge University Library

"It speaks directly to the work of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Project where colleagues across the University’s Faculties are experimenting with technology to advance scholarship in Cambridge and around the world.”

Despite the adaptations of his work by Kubrick, Tom Stoppard (Dalliance and Undiscovered Country) and David Hare (The Blue Room), the literary achievements of Schnitzler remain relatively under-celebrated outside Austria and Germany.

 “Schnitzler is a really important writer who is not read as much as he should be in the English-speaking world, in comparison to writers of the same period like Kafka or Stefan Zweig, for example,” added Professor Webber. “It’s hard to say why not – he did really important, innovative work and was able to weave together experimental and more traditional modes of writing in a way that was distinctive and of real cultural historical significance.”

Dr Neumann added: “The play we staged is seen as one of the most radical of his dramatic experiments, where he reviewed his own work and parodied it, but also examined the general status of theatre in the early 1900s. The archival research I have been doing has enabled me to put a spotlight on the genesis of his play in a way that has crucially informed the UK premiere of this work in close proximity to the archive.”

Puppets from Paul Brann’s performance of Schnitzler’s Gallant Cassian (Marionetten cycle). Courtesy of the Munich Stadtmuseum.

Puppets from Paul Brann’s performance of Schnitzler’s Gallant Cassian (Marionetten cycle). Courtesy of the Munich Stadtmuseum.

The production of the play was also an experiment with cultural space, transforming the quiet and studious Rare Books Reading Room into the site of physical spectacle that is the Prater, the rumbustious Viennese amusement park ca. 1900. Much of the cultural and textual critical research that is associated with the edition is also focused on questions of space and time in Schnitzler’s work.

Schnitzler has particular status as a critical chronicler of a space (the city of Vienna) in its relation to a particular time – the first decades of the twentieth century, when the city saw a remarkable efflorescence of cultural and intellectual activity. An upcoming special number of the journal, Austrian Studies, with the title Placing Schnitzler, co-edited by Professor Webber and Co-I, Dr Judith Beniston (UCL), explores these questions in the light of the editorial work being undertaken in the UK, Germany and Austria.

The question of cultural space has opened up fascinating avenues of research, often prompted in unanticipated ways by archival finds. One such was the discovery of a version of the orgiastic masked ball scenario in Traumnovelle in manuscript drafts for the earlier drama, Das weite Land, the basis for Stoppard’s Undiscovered Country. Professor Webber has undertaken a new reading of this play, and in particular its relationship to Jewish identity, based upon a drawing found in another part of the manuscript.

Drs Beniston and Neumann have also explored new perspectives on the entanglement of medical ethics with institutional and national politics and the anti-Semitism of early twentieth-century Austria in the play, Professor Bernhardi, with a particular focus on the questions of mise-en-scène (the arrangement of props and scenery on the stage and in film).

Cultural space also provides the focus of an additional, interactive resource developed as part of the UK project by filmmaker Dr Frederick Baker (Cambridge/Vienna).

The Schnitzler:Story:Spheres, which will soon be accessible through the UL’s digital portal for the Schnitzler edition, uses 360-degree photographic technology to explore the associations of spaces that had particular importance for Schnitzler’s life and works.

University Librarian Dr Jessica Gardner speaking at the launch of the Digital Edition.

University Librarian Dr Jessica Gardner speaking at the launch of the Digital Edition.

The panoramic views of such locations of spectacle and performance as the anatomy theatre (Schnitzler trained and initially practised as a doctor), Vienna’s Imperial Burgtheater (where several of Schnitzler’s dramas were premiered) and the puppet-theatre at the Prater (the scene for The Great Wurstel) become spaces of discovery.

By clicking on embedded hotspots, users can explore the spaces in question for Schnitzler’s writing and its cultural context through text, image and film material, including links to pages from the archive and to the rich new resources of the digital edition.

Summary: 

Performance marked the launch of digital edition of Arthur Schnitzler's works and archive.

Image: 
People (our academics and staff): 
Subject (including Spotlight on ... where applicable): 
Section: 
News type: 

A new educational initiative – Roots – makes music a priority

By ehs33 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 25, 2019.

Cambridgeshire secondary school pupils had the chance to put into practice their new singing talents – from music from the Middle Ages through to the present day – at a public concert in Trinity College Chapel on March 19.

For the past 5 months, the students from North Cambridge Academy and Sir Harry Smith Community College have been training alongside professional musicians thanks to an innovative music programme that seeks to close a gap in school education.

The three-year project focuses on helping students develop both vocal and instrumental skills through regular workshops with professional musicians from Cambridge University’s Associate Ensemble VOCES8 and The Brook Street Band. Using the ‘VOCES8 method’, teachers and students are encouraged to learn through participation, using vocal and rhythmic exercises that develop their music skills and confidence.

“Amidst the current environment of low funding for education, many local schools in Cambridgeshire struggle to make basic provision for music,” explains Dr Sam Barrett, one of the organisers of the programme, called Roots. “Music can help children develop skills and confidence that can underpin many other aspects of their educational journey. Roots aims to redress the balance by providing a new model for future music education within primary and secondary schools in the region.”

 

One teacher remarked: “One of the Year 8 [aged 12-13] boys struggles with dyslexia and his academic work. He is not confident – due no doubt to this learning difficulty - and finds it hard to make friends. This project is making a real difference for him. Not only has he stood up with his group to lead, he has introduced his group and as the day went on, began to comfortably lead some warm-ups.” A Year 8 boy added: “I feel more confident after the choir leadership project, I would now put myself out there for more and more things.”

Roots involves the regional music education hub, Cambridgeshire Music; two charities, Cambridge Early Music and the VCM Foundation; and is supported by both Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge University. Researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Music, for instance, have been working with teachers to help develop lesson plans informed by their latest insights. 

A parallel instrumental strand is being developed by Anglia Ruskin University to establish a tangible legacy by founding a period instrument ensemble specifically for under 18s. Specialist coaching will be provided through workshops, access to historic instruments and the Brook Street Band’s innovative online resource Handel Digital, culminating in performance opportunities.

The concert at Trinity College represents the completion of the first phase of the project. Responses from the schools involved have been overwhelmingly positive both from teachers and pupils alike. As one teacher said: “Another pupil in year 8 has behavioural difficulties – often out of lessons and unable to manage in a regular classroom. She loves music. This project has given her an incentive to better manage her behaviour so that she can participate. She has been able to attend the training sessions and now, having helped lead warm-ups for the children she has something to feel very proud of.”

Funding for the first year of the ROOTS project has been provided by the Helen Hamlyn Trust and the SoundMe project sponsored by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area). Individuals or societies interested in supporting years 2 and 3 of the project are invited to contact Dr Sam Barrett for further information.

 


 


 

Cambridge researchers and musicians are helping to support schools in Cambridgeshire to deliver high quality and sustainable music provision over the next three years.

Amidst the current environment of low funding for education, many local schools in Cambridgeshire struggle to make basic provision for music
Dr Sam Barrett
ROOTS concert at Trinity College Cambridge

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes

How to tend an economic bonfire

By lw355 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Mar 01, 2019.

Shorthand Story: 
Xr0f4nv19E
Shorthand Story Head: 
How to tend an economic bonfire
Shorthand Story Body: 

How to tend an
economic bonfire


Business, enterprise and employment are flourishing in Greater Cambridge. But housing and infrastructure are struggling to match the jobs boom, and gaps in social equality keep widening.

University academics are connecting their insights, data and algorithms to find solutions to the area’s “growing pains”.

By Louise Walsh

“Economic growth is like a bonfire,” says Matthew Bullock. “You can get a bonfire going and expand it as long as you keep feeding the centre. But you can’t pick a bonfire up and move it somewhere else.”

Bullock is talking about the economy of Greater Cambridge, where a staggering level of growth has outpaced the rest of the UK over the past decade. As one of the founders of the business and academic organisation Cambridge Ahead, Bullock has been helping to shape a vision for Cambridge and the people who live and work in the area.

“Growth here comes up through the floorboards,” says Bullock, who was one of the original financiers of the ‘Cambridge Phenomenon’ – the development and growth in high-tech businesses in and around the city since the late 1970s – and is now Master of St Edmund’s College.

“The city has the highest number of patent applications per hundred thousand people compared with any other city in the UK. Innovation, networks, start-ups, collaboration, entrepreneurs – all of these create an energy here that’s resulted in discoveries that transform lives around the world, and a wave of expansion in jobs and business clusters locally.”
Matthew Bullock

Today, around 60,000 people work in 4,700 knowledge-intensive companies in Greater Cambridge, particularly in computers and software, life sciences, high-tech manufacturing and AI. These companies contribute around a third of global turnover of all companies based in the area. Global companies such as Amazon, Apple, ARM and AstraZeneca have chosen Cambridge to relocate or expand their offices.

But success often comes at a price. The agglomerative benefits that have brought new and innovative businesses towards the economic heat of this ‘bonfire’ have also brought soaring house prices, social inequality and congested roads.

Cambridge city’s average house price in 1997 was 4.5 times a median salary; today it is 16 times. And in 2018, the think tank Centre for Cities reported that Cambridge was the least equal city in the UK.

“House prices and rents are becoming unaffordable, pricing people away from the city and into car-dependency,” says Bullock. If employment continues to grow at the rate of the past five years, in-commuters would rise by 82%, which would mean 160,000 commuters coming into Cambridge by 2031. “Our roads couldn’t handle this.”

Bullock is also part of the leadership team behind the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER), which for the past year has been examining the region’s economy, infrastructure, society – and its future. The team recently reported its findings to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority – the body responsible for local strategic transport and infrastructure planning.

“If nothing is done, ” says the CPIER report, “the damage to society from the continuing drift away of less well-paid workers may become irreparable, the ageing of the city will affect its dynamism, and the cost to people’s mental health of commuting-induced stress and housing insecurity will soar.”

“Cambridge is at a decisive moment in its history where it must choose whether it wants to once again reshape itself for growth, or let itself stagnate and potentially wither.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority

The forecasters

University academics have been connecting their insights, data and algorithms to find solutions to the area’s “growing pains”.

In particular, Dr Ying Jin, from the Department of Architecture, has led the building of a computer model that helps foresee the effects of future planning options for Greater Cambridge.

The model uses data on buildings, green spaces, housing, jobs, businesses, shops, services, schools, means of transport, congestion on roads, crowding on trains, rents, wages, prices and perceptions of wellbeing.

So rich is the data that no one person could hold it in their brain all at once, which is why Jin has built a computer model to thread all of the information together. The model, ‘LUISA’, provides ‘a lens’ to look at future working, living and travelling in and around Greater Cambridge.

With funding from CPIER and Cambridge Ahead, Jin and colleagues have been using LUISA to model alternative trajectories for the region covered by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, which includes cities, market towns and Fenland villages with growing connections to Greater Cambridge. The outcomes of the scenarios have become a crucial component of CPIER’s recommendations to the Combined Authority.

“LUISA is like a virtual digital lab for people to explore the long-term consequences of decisions made now.”
Ying Jin

“How many houses need building? How will their location in relation to jobs affect transport and congestion? What will this mean for rents, living costs, the economic health of the companies and the wellbeing of its inhabitants?”

This isn’t the first time that this type of modelling has been used in Cambridge – Jin’s colleagues Professors Peter Carolin and Marcial Echenique pioneered the format with a programme called Cambridge Futures in 1997.

“Peter and Marcial showed that the planning of jobs and housing should be linked to transport, and vice versa. Too often, land is allocated to housing without enough thought about where people work and how they will get there,” says Jin.  “Cambridge Futures was groundbreaking – it contributed to a new culture of joined-up, collaborative planning in the Greater Cambridge area.”

Bullock agrees: “Cambridge Futures led to key proposed developments – such as the West Cambridge site, Eddington and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. This sent a very big signal that Cambridge was open for growth.

“The planners made a courageous attempt to be thoroughly up with the game. Even so, the growth that the Cambridge Futures programme predicted was said by some at the time to be ‘obscene’ in its estimation of the numbers of houses that would be needed. In fact, time has shown that we needed more.”

The data makers

What makes LUISA unique is its ability to treat developments in jobs, housing and transport as parts of one integral system – and the fact that it’s been tested on over three decades of data and knowledge on business and consumer behaviour.

“Policymakers, business leaders, community activists and academic researchers all aspire to coordinated interventions on jobs, housing and transport,” says Jin. “But they are frustrated because data from national sources is often lagging behind reality and in many cases the statistical samples are too thin to tell a reliable story for a local area.

“ The more detailed modelling by LUISA shows a whole picture of how jobs, housing demand and travel connect together, and this helps local communities make sense of what interventions will work well.”
Ying Jin

LUISA leverages data and knowledge from experts across the University, the local planning and transport data from district and county councils, and advice from local experts on housing, transport, commercial space, digital connectivity and green space.

For instance, Dr Andy Cosh, from the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge Judge Business School, is responsible for the Cambridge Cluster map. This resource is the most accurate reflection of the region’s businesses – those that are being born, arriving, merging, thriving, leaving, dying. The diligent process by which he and his team build and maintain the dataset gives some idea of why LUISA is so powerful.

First, Cosh’s team sets an algorithm to trawl annually through the audited records of almost 50k ‘live’ companies across 14 local authority districts (25k of which are in the Cambridge area) and a further 20k that have died. A business can have a single employee and would still be counted. Then begins the ‘clean-up’ – categorising companies into sectors, holding ‘eyeballing sessions’ with business groups to verify the data, checking the accuracy of their location, and then rechecking their files of ‘awkward cases’.

“We’re interested in the energy of the region. The dynamism. For me, failure is a sign of this – if you have birth and death it shows you have a dynamic economy,” says Cosh.

“The granularity of our process means we can pick up trends that other data sources haven’t been able to. We’ve found for instance that the employment growth rates are much stronger than indicated by official figures. The economy in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire continues to roar away.”

This isn’t just interesting from a local point of view, says Bullock: “After spending a year with CPIER ‘getting under the skin’ of the region, and considering its role in the future of the UK, our conclusion is that its success is a project of national importance.”

Alternative futures for harnessing growth

But how possible is it to forecast the future given the uncertainties the UK faces around politics, the economy, technology, migration, climate change, and so on? LUISA tackles the challenge of future volatilities by separating out what is hard to predict from what is highly predictable, and by examining a wide range of possible scenarios, says Jin.

“The hard to predict includes political votes, large individual investments and breakthroughs of critical technologies such as autonomous driving,” says Jin.

“On the other hand, business and consumer choices under a given scenario of jobs, house building and transport are highly predictable by a good computer model.”

“When jobs, house building and transport stay in balance, business productivity and residents’ wellbeing rise; when this balance is lost, businesses balk at the rising costs and residents lose out.”
Ying Jin

To start with, the team used LUISA to examine a ‘business as usual’ approach, in which the region develops according to current housing and infrastructure plans. The model showed that even a modest rise in jobs – far lower than what Cosh’s team is witnessing – would result in considerable rent and wage pressures in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire, with roads seriously unable to cope with the in-commuting.

“Growth will be choked off,” says Jin. “As high wages and prices are fed back to business location choice, businesses will modify their plans and move away, most likely overseas to other knowledge-intensive clusters.”

A recent survey of the largest businesses by the Centre for Business Research confirmed that companies would be more likely to move overseas rather than to other parts of the UK, resulting in a loss of jobs and output for the UK.

“It might not happen cataclysmically, it could just slide away, starting as early as 2021,” adds Jin. “By 2031, we could see the level of employment and economic growth start to go into reverse.”

Crucially, LUISA can also be used to understand what should be done to achieve the full potential of the Cambridge region. For CPIER, LUISA tested four distinct scenarios that might help the city region adapt to a higher level of job growth in its ‘bonfire economy’ to reap economic, social and environmental benefits.

A ‘densification’ scenario creates new employment sites and housing without expanding the city’s boundaries – in other words building taller, denser or both. ‘Fringe growth’ creates new urban areas around the edges. In a ‘dispersal’ scenario, growth happens elsewhere – in market towns or newly created towns away from Greater Cambridge. And in a ‘transport corridor’ scenario, jobs and housing are developed along ‘rapid-transit’ services that radiate outwards from Cambridge.

Of course, each of the scenarios has pluses and minuses. Densification posed a risk of increased congestion; expansion at the urban fringes generated high financial returns but at an environmental cost to Green Belt land and a rise in car use; dispersal helped the spread of jobs but only if a large number of companies were willing to move to areas distant from Cambridge, which was unlikely.

Transport corridors came closest to supporting a ‘win–win’ intervention of continued success in high-growth regions while unlocking the potential of low-growth regions through better transport connections, but it would require a very large new investment in infrastructure.

“The most likely outcome of planning for growth is that it will involve ‘mix-and-match’ scenarios,” says Jin. “The purpose of the four scenarios is to map out the strengths and weaknesses of each. This would help the local authorities and communities to design their own mix-and-match scenarios in a democratic process.”

 Following the CPIER report, the results from LUISA are now feeding into the district councilsʼ new land use plans and the Combined Authorityʼs local transport plans, says Jin.

“This is where a virtual lab can make an effective contribution. It’s worth the effort because rebalancing jobs, housing and transport is rarely a zero-sum game.”

Local industrial strategy

Bullock and members of CPIER see this as a crucial time for decision-makers.

Bullock is optimistic: “People understand what the issues are now. There’s an easing in the tension about growth in Cambridge and a better understanding of the different economies across the region that the Combined Authority can now shape. In many ways the region is a microcosm of the UK in terms of the challenges faced.”

Professor Pete Tyler, from the Department of Land Economy and who also contributed data to LUISA, agrees: “One of the biggest issues the UK faces is upgrading its infrastructure to improve connectivity. We are seeing the importance of that here, where infrastructure can be a constraining factor to economic growth.”

Tyler has been part of a multi-university project called City Evolutions led by Professor Ron Martin in the Department of Geography. The project, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, produced an in-depth economic analysis of UK cities to see how they have adapted over time.

“If you look at growth in productivity, we observe quite significant differences between cities in how they adjust to economic change,” says Tyler. “Places like Cambridge are among the fastest-growing cities that are suffering the growing pains of a lack of good-quality infrastructure and enough affordable housing to tackle the issue of social inclusivity.

“It’s impossible to tell a story about city adjustment without thinking about what will happen to the resource base. Local areas have little fiscal capacity and rely on discretionary finance from central government to put in more infrastructure.”

The government has tasked local authorities to deliver local industrial strategies, and this is where Tyler and Bullock believe the ongoing work of CPIER and University researchers can help.

“It’s clear that no single blueprint for future development will work for all areas,” says Bullock. “Formulating a local industrial strategy requires regions to show they have a comprehensive vision for how they can use their resources.

LUISA has helped us to know our strengths, our weaknesses and how our distinct economies grow. Used well, the evidence can support developments to improve the quality of life right across this region. And the techniques we have developed here are readily applicable in other regions too.”
Matthew Bullock

What does the future hold for Cambridge? Ying Jin talks about how we are able to model the city’s development, and Matthew Bullock and Gemma Burgess discuss why these predictions matter for balancing economic success and social equality. A podcast from the Cambridge Science Festival playlist.

LUISA uses data and knowledge from several experts across the University:
·       business (Dr Andy Cosh, Centre for Business Research at the Cambridge Judge Business School)
·       housing (Dr Nicky Morrison and Dr Gemma Burgess, Land Economy)
·       commercial properties (Dr Nick Mansley and Professor Colin Lizieri, Land Economy)
·       economic development (Professor Pete Tyler, Land Economy)
·       infrastructure and transport (Professors Robert Mair and John Miles, Engineering),
·       road traffic speeds (Professor Ian Leslie and Dr Ian Lewis, Computer Science and Technology)
·       quality of life perceptions (Professor Peter Landshoff, Centre for Mathematical Sciences)

Words: Louise Walsh
Design: Fred Lewsey and Louise Walsh
Film: Lloyd Mann
Graphic: Lines represent number of commuters travelling from ‘Middle Layer Super output Areas’ in the Greater South East to Cambridge Local Authority District (source: 2011 Census ©Crown copyright and database rights 2019); mapping: Steven Denman, Dept of Architecture
Photo of cranes in Cambridge:
Amy Taylor

Read more about Cambridge University research in the East of England in a special issue of Research Horizons magazine

Hidden tags: 
Summary: 

Business, enterprise and employment are flourishing in Greater Cambridge, but housing and infrastructure are struggling to match the jobs boom, and gaps in social equality keep widening. University academics are connecting their insights, data and algorithms to find solutions to the area’s “growing pains”.

Image: 
People (our academics and staff): 
Section: 
News type: 

AI: Life in the age of intelligent machines

By lw355 from University of Cambridge - School of Arts and Humanities. Published on Feb 22, 2019.

We are said to be standing on the brink of a fourth industrial revolution – one that will see new forms of artificial intelligence (AI) underpinning almost every aspect of our lives. The new technologies will help us to tackle some of the greatest challenges that face our world.

In fact AI is already very much part of our daily lives, says Dr Mateja Jamnik, one of the experts who appear in the film. “Clever algorithms are being executed in clever ways all around us... and we are only a decade away from a future where we are able to converse across multiple languages, where doctors will be able to diagnose better, where drivers will be able to drive more safely.”

Ideas around AI “are being dreamt up by thousands of people all over the world – imaginative young people who see a problem and think about how they can solve it using AI… whether it’s recommending a song you’ll like or curing us of cancer,” says Professor Stephen Cave.

Much of the excitement relates to being able to leverage the power of Big Data, says Professor Zoubin Ghahramani. Without AI, how else could we make sense of the vastly complex interconnected systems we now have at our fingertips?

But what do we think about AI and the future it promises? Our perceptions are shaped by our cultural prehistory, stretching right back to Homer, says Dr Sarah Dillon. How we feel about the dawning of a new technology is linked to centuries-old thinking about robotics, automatons and intelligence beyond our own.

And what happens when we come to rely on the tools we are empowering to do these amazing things? Professor Lord Martin Rees reflects on the transition to a future of AI-aided jobs: what will this look like? How will we ensure that the wealth created by AI will benefit wider society and avoid worsening inequality?

Our researchers are asking fundamental questions about the ethics, trust and humanity of AI system design. “It can’t simply be enough for the leading scientists as brilliant as they are to be pushing ahead as quickly as possible,” says Dr Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh. “We also need there to be ongoing conversations and collaborations with the people who are thinking about the ethical impacts of the technology.

“The idea that AI can help us understand ourselves and the universe at a much deeper level is about as far reaching a goal for AI as could be.”

Inset image: read more about our AI research in the University's research magazine; download a pdf; view on Issuu.

In a new film, leading Cambridge University researchers discuss the far-reaching advances offered by artificial intelligence – and consider the consequences of developing systems that think far beyond human abilities.

The idea that AI can help us understand ourselves and the universe at a much deeper level is about as far reaching a goal for AI as could be
Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh

Creative Commons License
The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Images, including our videos, are Copyright ©University of Cambridge and licensors/contributors as identified.  All rights reserved. We make our image and video content available in a number of ways – as here, on our main website under its Terms and conditions, and on a range of channels including social media that permit your use and sharing of our content under their respective Terms.

Yes