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 Easter Term will take place on the following dates:
7, 14, 21, and 28 May.

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).



7 May: Anne Hewitt (alumna), 'From Working Women to Working Wives to Working Mothers: The Progression of Female Employment in the Mid-Twentieth Century United States

The progression of U.S. female employment in the mid-twentieth century is defined by an unprecedented increase in the labor force participation rate (LFPR) of married mothers. LFPR rose 144% for mothers with children under 18 and 208% for married mothers with children under 6. Yet previous research has not focused on working American moms between 1950 and 1970. In my MPhil research, I set out to fill this gap in the existing literature. Using 1% sample census data from IPUMS-USA, I constructed occupational structures, mapped variation in LFPR, and ran regressions to test explanatory demand and supply-side variables across states. I also took an original “male data approach”, by assessing shifts in male labor force shares as a proxy for changing demand for married mothers’ labor. The occupational structures show the rapid expansion of the services sector, and that demand for married mothers most increased in professional services. The increase in married mothers’ LFPR between 1950 and 1970 ranged from 82% to 251% across states, but interestingly did not exhibit regional trends. The first-difference regression results show that the increase in married mothers’ LFPR across states is first explained by increasing demand for married mothers in services and second by expanding part-time work. The mid-century rise of working married mothers is therefore a story of growing demand, and the transition of the U.S. economy toward services.

My name’s Anne Hewitt, and I matriculated at Newnham College in 2019 to complete my MPhil in Economic & Social History. I was supervised by Dr. Leigh Shaw-Taylor and supported by the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure (CamPop). I am originally from Virginia, U.S.A, and before Newnham, I graduated from LSE with a BSc. in Economic History. While at Newnham, my violin and I joined the Raleigh Society and loved performing in quartets. Since graduating from Cambridge, I have been remote working as a research analyst at Fideres, an economic consultancy in London. I also was elected to the Roll Committee last month to promote young alumni during Newnham’s 150th anniversary.

I am so thrilled to finally return (virtually!) to Newnham to present my finished dissertation: From Working Women to Working Wives to Working Mothers: The Progression of Female Employment in the Mid-Twentieth Century United States. We are an amazing community of women researchers and I hope my paper’s story resonates with our continuing mission to amplify women’s academic, economic, and social contributions.

14 May: Hannah Kahn (MPhil), 'Biblical Exegesis and the Legitimation of Power in Bishop Fisher’s Funeral Sermon for Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby'

Upon the death of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother to King Henry VII, the humanist theologian John Fisher preached a sermon in her honour. In this sermon, he compares her to St Martha of Bethany. This paper assesses Fisher’s exegesis of St Martha and how he uses this to eulogise Beaufort. I argue that Fisher uses exegesis to show that Beaufort’s religious life was exemplary and worthy of emulation. By turning Beaufort’s life into a model for other nobles to follow, Fisher normalises and legitimises the extraordinary power that Beaufort held in her son’s regime.

Hannah Kahn (she/her) is a current student at Newnham College, Cambridge, pursuing an MPhil in Medieval History. Previously, she studied at the University of British Columbia in Western Canada. Her research focuses on late medieval and early modern England, specifically visual and material culture, women, government, and politics. She has previously worked for the Ontario Museum Association. She is from Toronto.

21 May: Nazia Jassim (PhD), 'How do autistic individuals process sensory information? Findings from cognitive neuroscience'

Autism Spectrum Conditions are neurodevelopmental conditions diagnosed on the basis of both social and non-social symptoms; namely, difficulties in communication and relationships, unusually narrow interests, and strongly repetitive, restrictive patterns of behaviour and sensory sensitivities. Until the recent revision of its diagnostic criteria, the dominant view of autism as primarily a “social” condition led to sensory symptoms being largely overlooked.

We are constantly bombarded by sensory stimuli in our environments, a process which goes awry in Autism Spectrum Conditions. While it has been hypothesized that sensory differences may contribute to cognitive strengths such as superior attention to detail, it is also recognized that it may lead to high levels of anxiety due to “sensory overload”.

For her PhD at the Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, Nazia uses a variety of cognitive neuroscience techniques, from behavioural experiments to brain imaging, to investigate how autistic individuals process sensory information. She looks forward to sharing findings from this work.


CANCELLED 28 May: Gabby Austin (MCR), 'British Soft Power in Czechoslovakia, 1964-70'