Students Shine at Catz Exchange Conference

Last month the college hosted the seventh annual Catz Exchange, an interdisciplinary conference organised by and for members of the Catz community and chaired by the Senior Tutor, and Fellow in History, Professor Marc Mulholland.

The conference consisted of three sessions, entitled ‘Surviving’, ‘Escaping’ and ‘Feeling’, in which Catz students gave six-minute presentations on a wide range of topics, tailored to a general audience. Talks were varied and interesting, ranging from writing a soundtrack to the news and the significance of homosexuality in the animal kingdom, to computer reinforcement learning and the historic exclusion of women from the art history canon.

The winning paper came from Benjamin Clingman (2016, History), who spoke on ‘Painting an American Empire? “Civilisation” and the “Savage” in the Landscapes of Thomas Cole.’ Benjamin told us: ‘I was honoured to be named best speaker for my paper, exploring the American painter Thomas Cole’s ideas about ‘civilisation’, the ‘savage’, and the decline of the ‘American Empire’ in the mid-nineteenth century; offering in his landscapes a refreshing pessimism and in age otherwise defined by virulent and aggressive American nationalism. The Catz Exchange conference offers a wonderful opportunity for genuine, interdisciplinary academic discussion; epitomising the spirit of inquisitive inclusivity that defines the Catz community.’

Conference attendees were also treated to a keynote session by one of our Fellows in English, Professor Bart van Es, where he presented a talk about his award-winning book The Cut Out Girl (Costa Book of the Year) that was both intellectually stimulating and deeply moving.