Pudding Seminars 2020-21

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


Pudding Seminars are led by members of the College (undergraduate, graduate, Senior Member), who give a brief 20 minute talk on their current research, followed by informal discussion.

Pudding Seminars in Lent Term will take place on the following dates:
12, 19, 26 February and 5 March

Seminars start promptly at 1.15pm and end by 1.50pm.

In Lent Term 2021 our Pudding Seminars will be taking place online! Details for the link will be given in Newnham News.

If you are interested in giving a pudding seminar, or would like further details about the series, please contact Delphine Mordey (dmm36@cam.ac.uk).



12 February: Isabel Hernández-Gil (JCR) 'Thinking as a Moral Concept: Hannah Arendt and Socratic Dialogue'

Beyond her work on the banality of evil, Hannah Arendt’s moral philosophy has been largely overlooked. This is, in part, because of the complexity of her later philosophical works, but also due to her rejection of traditional ethical theories. This seminar, inspired by my dissertation in Philosophy, studies Arendt’s account of thinking as
Socratic dialogue, and argues that it serves to address the issues raised by her investigation of the Eichmann trial. Thinking serves not only to condition humans against evil: it provides the only moral standard that can survive the radical overturn of conventional morality.

19 February: Gea T. van de Kerkhof (MCR), 'Beautiful bacteria: how the structural organisation of cells can create iridescent colours'

26 February: Ranjini (MCR): 'The aesthetic as a politico-cultural choice: What does Indian classical dance perform?'

Borrowing from the Indian poet AK Ramanujan, who asks in an essay, if there is an Indian way of thinking, this talk asks in much the same way:

Is there an Indian way of dancing? (Does it exist?)
Is there an Indian way of dancing? (Is it singular?)
Is there an Indian way of dancing?(Is there a danger of essentializing?)

What were the aesthetic considerations put forth by both reformists, and later, state cultural organizations to create bureaucratic distinctions marked out through categories of dance such as classical, folk, and tribal?

What do these aesthetic choices which are visible and marked onto the body of the dancer convey about how Indian classical dances positioned itself as the repository of a national Hindu culture on which Indian national identity was constructed?

Are dance forms categorized as folk, tribal or ritual included in the national imaginary the same way as Indian classical dance forms have been?

How could bringing oft-ignored performance practices from the realm of ‘folk’ or ‘tribal’ into mainstream discourse around the performing arts trouble the distinctions of what is counted as a pan-Indian aesthetic, and why is it important at this moment in time?

This talk attempts to address how the aesthetics involved in Indian classical dance are not arbitrary, but are politico-cultural choices, which ‘perform’ ideas beyond the dance itself.

5 March: Daisy Coombs (JCR), 'Foreignness in the works of Charlote Brontë'

The idea of foreignness is central to Charlotte Brontë’s writing, imagination and education — but being foreign in Brontë’s world is no certain thing. This paper explores how Brontë and her characters are made foreign, not only by nationality and language, but also by gender and class. Social alienation hinders their creative potential, and imposed limitations have drastic consequences for the imagined world which Brontë’s protagonists inhabit, where weather, space and the act of travel become themselves reflective of a complicated foreignness.

12 March: Mariam Makramalla (MCR), 'The arts as a medium for advocacy, debate and awareness raising'

In this seminar, my aim is to engage the audience in a collective discussion around my public engagement project that has won the Cambridge University Public Engagement Starter Fund in 2020. The project stems from the findings of my recent PhD. It aims at promoting a whole societal re-think of the value and purpose of schooling in Egypt. The project targets to promote awareness about the core essence of learning, thereby shifting the societal perception of the school mainly acting as a “certification institution”. This target is to be achieved through local collaborative partnerships with schools and cultural centres. In the seminar, I will start by showcasing the overall idea of the project, I then proceed to highlighting the current status quo as well as COVID related challenges. Building on this, the aim is to engage the audience in a collective discussion brainstorming means to create a platform of advocacy and inclusion with the help of the project.