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#86 ‘Vanished Kingdoms’ Lecture at LSE

November 25, 2011
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Because a) it's a lovely cover, and b) a photo of a middle-aged man speaking into a microphone will just depress everybody.

Okay, so we’ve done avant-garde cupcakes and fabulous shoes; let’s ratchet up the glitz meter even further with a lecture at LSE!

Oh.

The London School of Economics and Political Science is a good example of how strangely decentralised London’s universities are. With international students allowed to roam free over one of the world’s booziest cities, and campuses distributed over all manner of buildings scattered over the capital, it’s no wonder student life here is a world away from the cloistered, close-knit experience of provincial university life. London’s universities are defined by London, not the other way around.

Nevertheless, the universities still function as gravity wells of discussion and enlightenment, and far more elements are open to the public than you might initially think. This LSE lecture was a case in point – we managed to rush from work to make it to the free event, but if we’d been much later we might have missed out. Norman Davies, producer of voluminous volumes of history on Europe and the British Isles, sounded forth on his new book Vanished Kingdoms. The witty, laconic Davies led us through stories of the countries large and small which were once as influential as Britain, France or Germany, but are now all but forgotten. Countries with names like Savoy, Byzantium, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Republic of Rusyn (which only lasted a day!) lend the account a melancholy, story-book feel; we’ll have to pick the book up sometime. The most striking thing about the lecture was Davies prophesying that the UK would be next on the list of vanished kingdoms, when Scotland withdraws from the union in the next several years. Hmm.

Thanks to the magic of academia, you can even give it the lecture a listen here:

http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/videoAndAudio/channels/publicLecturesAndEvents/player.aspx?id=1242

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