TOPICAL TALKS - WINTER 2019
: "A Childhood in Hiding"
Thursday 19th March, 2020
at 6pm in the Library
Talk: "Putin - a new Cold War?"
Christopher Danziger has taught modern European History for much of his life. He was formerly Head of History at St Edward’s School, and a lecturer at the universities of Durham and Cape Town. For the past 15 years he has been a tutor in the O.U. Department of Continuing Education. His special interests are in Napoleonic France and Romanov Russia, on both of which he has written extensively.
There has recently been much talk of a "new Cold War" and Putin is routinely demonised in the West, but Christopher Danziger argues that had the West treated Russia differently in the days after the fall of Communism, present day relationships might have been collaborative rather than competitive. Has Putin has turned out to be the leader whom the West wished on Russia?
Thursday 2nd April, 2020
at 6pm in the Library
Talk: "Iran - Foe or Friend?"
Rt Hon. JACK STRAW
Jack Straw was MP for Blackburn from 1979 to 2015 and was one of only three Cabinet ministers to serve continuously throughout the Labour Governments of 1997 to 2010. He is perhaps the only individual to have held the three Great Offices of State, namely Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Justice Secretary.
Jack will talk about his recent book: 'The English Job - Understanding Iran, and why it distrusts Britain' , which received wide critical acclaim. Straw has made seven trips to Iran. In October 2015 he, his wife and two friends tried to take a holiday in Iran. It did not work out as planned. The bizarre story of this 'holiday' in which Straw and his party had to be given police protection against other security agencies of the same state will open his talk. It will conclude with some acute analyses of Iran today.
Thursday 21st May, 2020
at 6pm in the Library
Talk: "Brexit and the Constitution"
PAUL CRAIG, FBA, QC(Hon)
Paul Craig is Emeritus Professor of English Law, St John's College, Oxford. He has taught and researched in Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and EU Law since 1976. He was the UK Alternative Member on the Venice Commission for Law and Democracy from 2010 - 2019.
As we know, Brexit has been decided and the UK duly left the EU on 31 January 2020. But Brexit raised a plethora of issues concerning the nature of the UK Constitution and the relationship of the Executive, the Legislature and the Courts. These issues remain salient, and pertinent to the next stage of the exit process, namely the negotiation of the UK's future relationship with the EU. This talk will highlight some of the key topics, and the way in which they reflect deeper issues as to the nature of our constitutional order.
Thursday Talks are part of the Friends' fund-raising activities.
Entry to the Library is free: donations to the work of The Friends are encouraged.
As supporters of the fund-raising work of the Friends, our speakers generously contribute to
our work by donating their services free of charge.
Please arrive promptly to be assured of a seat.
Entry free: donations of £10 at the door will support the continuing work of the Friends.
To add your name to The Friends' mailing list, email your request to
PREVIOUS TOPICAL TALKS, 2015 - 2020
Thursday 13th February 2020
ROBIN WILSON -
An Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University who has received many awards and prizes for the popularization and communication of mathematics and its history.
"Sir Isaac Newton - his life, labours and legacy"
Thursday 23rd January 2020
DAVID ROONEY -
An award-winning museum curator, writer and historian of time, cities, technology and engineering. As well as collaborating on museum exhibitions and displays, he has written books on timekeeping, mathematics and urban planning, and is currently writing a history of clocks and civilization.
"The History of Time"
Thursday 5th December 2019
PETER LANTOS -
Following his arrival in England in 1968, Peter established a highly successful career in London as a neuroscientist, specialising in diseases of the nervous system. A Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Trustee of Alzheimer's Research UK he took up writing on his retirement.
"Parallel Lines" - a childhood journey to Belsen and life thereafter
Thursday 14th November 2019
PROFESSOR SIR ADAM ROBERTS -
holds a number of senior academic posts and his main interests are in the fields of international security, international organizations, and international law He has also worked extensively on the role of civil resistance against dictatorial regimes and foreign rule.
Civil Resistance - from Prague to Hong Kong
Thursday 17th October 2019
REBECCA ABRAMS -
an award-winning author, teacher and literary journalist
'The Jewish Journey' - told through 22 Objects from the Ashmolean Museum
Thursday 16th May,
MARCUS FERRAR - Marcus Ferrar is a former Reuters correspondent and author of books about Germany, Eastern Europe and freedom.
He is Chairman of Friends of Summertown Library.
Dresden: the destruction and renewal of a European jewel
Thursday 4th April,
HENRY MACRORY - Deputy and acting editor of The Sunday Express, political correspondent, and responsible for political communications in Downing Street under the Coalition Government
Ultimate Folly - The Rises and Falls of Whitaker Wright, Britain's most shameless swindler (and builder of the world's strangest folly!)
Thursday, 7th March
ALASTAIR LACK - After 26 years making TV and radio programmes for the BBC, mainly with the World Service, Alastair now works freelance in Oxford in journalism, tutoring and Oxford City guiding
Travels with Auntie - my Life with the BBC World Service
Thursday 14th February
BART VAN ES -Professor of English Literature at Oxford University and author
A Childhood in Hiding
Thursday 13 December 2018,
Sophie Hackford - Oxford based futurist and business builder
"Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’): Our Last Invention?"
Thursday 15 November 2018
Dr Rebecca Bowler, Oxford astronomer
The Universe: the First Billion Years
Thursday 11 October 2018
Deborah Gill, Professor of Gene Medicine, John Radcliffe Hospital
What's new in gene medicine and gene therapy?
Thursday 17 May 2018
Professor Anand Menon
'Brexit - where have we got to, and where are we heading?'
Thursday 12 April 2018
'Economics: not dismal, and probably not a science'
Thursday 15 March 2018
'Britain: a democracy or an oligarchy?'
15 February 2018
Professor Carolyn Steedman
'Poetry for Historians: or, W.H. Auden and History'
23 November 2017
'Building a New Future for Food and Farming'
19 October 2017
Professor Dame Marina Warner
'Sanctuary: Can Stories give Shelter?'
15 June 2017
Professor Margaret MacMillan: 'The Meaning of the First World War'
4 May 2017
Professor Rana Mitter: 'China: Yesterday and Today'
16 March 2017
Sir Adam Roberts: 'In the Age of Brexit and Trump: a new
2 February 2017
Sir Muir Gray: ‘Beyond the NHS: knowing our way to good health’
17 November 2016
Dr Taj Hargey: ‘A House Divided: Rifts in Contemporary Islam’
13 October 2016
Sue Jones: 'Who loves Greece today?’
2 September 2016
Professor Archie Brown: ‘What’s so great about strong leaders?’
9 June 2016
Dr. Sudhir Hazareesingh: ‘Thinking about the World, French-style’
28 April 2016
Professor Eugene Rogan: ‘The Making and Unmaking
of the Modern Middle East’
24 March 2016
Lord Blair (Sir Ian Blair) : ‘The House of Lords:
continuity, abolition or reform?’
3 December 2015
Richard Davy: ‘Putin – What drives him?'