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Sheffield Annual Arts and Humanities Prokhorov Lectures

We host several lectures by world-leading academics and public intellectuals each year.

The Sheffield Arts and Humanities Prokhorov Lectures are open to academics, students, and the general public and are supplemented by lectures by Sheffield staff as well as a range of student-centred activities – such as exhibitions, workshops, and panel debates – facilitated by the Students' Union and the student societies in our arts and humanities departments. The main themes for our upcoming lectures are capitalist markets and their ethics; thinking about the future; and the politics of faith in a multicultural context.

2019 lectures

Upcoming lectures

Race, class, and imperialism – Akala

  • AkalaFriday 18 October 2019 | 6pm for 6.30pm start
  • University of Sheffield, Diamond LT-1

About the talk

Akala takes a historical look at the development of racism and race science in the context of class development and European Imperialism.

About our speaker

Akala is a BAFTA and MOBO award-winning hip-hop artist, writer and social entrepreneur, as well as the co-founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company.

His five albums include DoubleThink (2010) and Knowledge Is Power (2015); among his best-known rap songs is "Comedy Tragedy History".

Akala is the author of the Sunday Times bestseller Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire (2018) and in 2019 presented a BBC Four television documentary on Homer's Odyssey. Akala has gained a reputation as one of the most dynamic and articulate talents in the UK.

Entry is free. Places are limited so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The Friends of Harry Perkins – Chris Mullin (with Off the Shelf)

  • Wednesday 23 October 2019, 7pm
  • Cadman Room, Millennium Gallery
Chri Mullin MP

About the talk

Chris Mullin will talk about his recent novel The Friends of Harry Perkins. The sequel to his bestselling A Very British Coup, this new novel is set in a future post-Brexit Britain whose standing in the world has diminished and where far-right influence has grown. Both a gripping political thriller and a chilling prognostication of where we may be headed, this is essential reading for our troubled times.

This lecture is organised by Off the Shelf in partnership with the Prokhorov Centre.

About our speaker

Chris Mullin was a Labour MP from 1987 until 2010, serving as a minister in three departments. Before being elected Member of Parliament, he was a journalist, working among other things for Granada Television. His television programmes, as well as his 1986 book Error of Judgment, were central to the release, in 1991, of the Birmingham Six, who had been wrongly convicted of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings. In the 1990 TV film Who Bombed Birmingham?, Mullin was played by John Hurt. Chris Mullin is the author of the novels A Very British Coup, which was made into an award-winning TV series, and its sequel, The Friends of Harry Perkins. His other books include three highly acclaimed volumes of political diaries.

Book tickets (Off the Shelf)

Men, women, and the twenty-first century: friends, lovers, or enemies? - Nina Power

  • Nina Power credit and copyright Guy SmallmanThursday 21 November 2019
  • Time and venue to follow

About the talk

This talk will take stock of the current relations between the sexes in the wake of multiple waves of feminism, after #metoo and the attacks on masculinity and ask – where now? Is it possible to imagine the relations between the sexes as something other than a zero-sum game in which one side's gain is the other side's loss?

This talk will argue that recognising mutual resentment is the first step to a much more interesting life in which the relation between men and women is not one of enmity but rather something much more playful. Drawing on classical conceptions of virility as well as contemporary debates about violence, sex, and love, this talk will propose a playful detente between men and women in the twenty-first century, the better to see and appreciate each other as we move forward.

About our speaker

Nina Power is a feminist philosopher best known for her international bestseller One-Dimensional Woman (2009). An expert on German and French philosophy, she has published on thinkers such as Ludwig Feuerbach and Alain Badiou, but also on film, art, and the relation between feminism and politics. She has written for The Guardian, Radical Philosophy, Wire, and Film Quarterly and also appeared in the ARTE television documentary Marx Reloaded, alongside John Gray, Peter Sloterdijk, and Slavoj Žižek. Her other books include Das kollektive politische Subjekt (2015) and a translation of Alain Badiou’s On Beckett (2003, with Alberto Toscano). Nina Power teaches philosophy at Roehampton University.

More lectures

View upcoming lectures in 2020.

Browse all Prokhorov Lectures

2020 lectures

Christianity and morality: the story of an uneasy relationship – Giles Fraser

  • Tuesday 4 February 2020 | 7 for 7.30pm
  • Sheffield Cathedral
Giles Fraser

About the talk

This talk will focus on those theological voices that do not think religion has much to do with ethics, holding instead that it is more about salvation, for example. Thus, The Pilgrim’s Progress has “Morality” as one of the temptations that can distract the protagonist, Christian, from his path, and forgiveness also has a complex relationship with morality, often seeming amoral or even anti-moral. Kierkegaard is another figure who contrasts the theological with the ethical, juxtaposing Abraham’s faith with conventional moral thinking. It is this uneasy relationship between the two that the talk will explore.

This lecture is part of the God and the Good: Thinking Religion and Ethics lecture series.

About our speaker

Giles Fraser is an English Anglican priest, journalist, and broadcaster. His PhD was on Nietzsche and he was a Lecturer in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford. He is currently the priest-in-charge at St Mary’s, Newington, near the Elephant and Castle, south London. He used to write a column for The Guardian, as well as appearing frequently on BBC Radio 4. He is a regular contributor on Thought for the Day and a panellist on The Moral Maze as well as an Assistant Editor of UnHerd. Giles Fraser was formerly a visiting professor at the London School of Economics, Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, and director of the St Paul’s Institute. As Canon Chancellor, Fraser was a residentiary canon with special responsibility for contemporary ethics and engagement with the City of London as a financial centre.

The lost art of scripture: Rescuing the sacred texts – Karen Armstrong

  • Tuesday 26 May 2020 | 7 for 7.30pm
  • Sheffield Cathedral
Karen Armstrong

About the talk

In our increasingly secular world, holy texts are at best seen as irrelevant, and at worst as an excuse to incite violence, hatred, and division. So what value, if any, can scripture hold for us today? And if our world no longer seems compatible with scripture, is it perhaps because its original purpose has become lost? Armstrong argues that only by rediscovering an open engagement with their holy texts will the world’s religions be able to curtail arrogance, intolerance, and violence. If scripture is used to engage with the world in more meaningful and compassionate ways, we will find that it still has much to teach us.

This lecture is part of the God and the Good: Thinking Religion and Ethics lecture series.

About our speaker

Karen Armstrong is one of the world’s leading commentators on religious affairs. She spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, but left her teaching order in 1969 to read English at St Anne’s College, Oxford. In 1982, she became a full-time writer and broadcaster. She is a best-selling author of over 16 books. A passionate campaigner for religious liberty, Armstrong has addressed members of the United States Congress and participated in the World Economic Forum. In 2013, she received the British Academy’s inaugural Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for improving transcultural understanding.

God and the Good lecture series

God and the Good: Thinking Religion and Ethics

A series of lectures by prominent public intellectuals, organised by Robert Stern in the Department of Philosophy.

Sheffield CathedralAre believers better people than atheists? Or does religion breed intolerance and violence? Are our moral concepts inextricably tied up with religious ideas? Do different religious traditions have fundamentally different ethical commitments? This series of talks, intended for a general audience, will consider such questions.

While most ethical traditions have a religious background, the increasing secularisation of modern society has put the connection between ethics and religion in question. Our talks will explore the history of this connection, as well as the questions: can religion illuminate ethical issues, and: can ethical issues illuminate religion?

For more details, see upcoming lectures.

You can also catch up on past lectures.