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Literature, Life and Lockdown: How the Humanities can help the Species Survive

Lockdown means different things to different people, but one thing it has meant to all of us is more time with ourselves. How can the Humanities help us reflect on our grave new world? What lessons can we learn from the past as we look to a future beyond lockdown? What can culture teach us about quarantine?

Drawing on examples from the history of literature, philosophy, and cinema, scholars from the University of Kent’s Division of Arts and Humanities will discuss the value of thought in the age of confinement. If the UK’s government’s advice is to ‘stay alert’, perhaps the Arts can help teach us what this means.

Date: Monday 1 June 2020

Time: 15:00 (Paris time)

Title: Literature, Life and Lockdown: How the Humanities can help the Species Survive

The discussion will be hosted by Professor Jeremy Carrette, Dean for Europe and Professor of Philosophy, Religion and Culture.


Ben Hutchinson, Professor of European Literature and Academic Director, Paris School of Arts and Culture, University of Kent

Dr Frances Guerin, Senior Lecturer in Film and History of Art and Deputy Director of Graduate Studies (Paris programmes), University of Kent

Dr Lauren Ware, Lecturer in Philosophy, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent

If you missed the event, you can now listen to the recording here.

You may also want to check out some of our past events:

Whatever Happened to Brexit? Europe after COVID-19 (past event recording, 7 May 2020)

Pandemic and Politics: COVID-19, Global Crisis and the Challenge to Humanity (past event recording, 14 May 2020)

Pandemic and Politics: COVID-19, Global Crisis and the Challenge to Humanity

What has COVID-19 revealed about our political world? Has it changed politics and the world order? Why does a pandemic isolate us and bring us together? And does the world really want change after a vaccine?

Date: Thursday 14th May

Time: 3pm (Brussels/Paris time)

Scholars from the University of Kent’s internationally renown Brussels School of International Studies will discuss the complex political world of COVID-19 responses, the effectiveness of politicians, the hidden politics behind the health management and the potential of new political environments.

Professor Adrian Pabst
Professor of Politics @University of Kent

Dr Amanda Klekowski von Koppenfels
Reader in Migration @University of Kent

Dr Albena Azmanova
Reader in Political and Social Thought @University of Kent

Register your place by clicking on this link!

This is the latest in our webinar series on international issues in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous Talk: (Watch it back below)

Title: Whatever Happened to Brexit? Europe After COVID-19

Just a few months ago, Brexit was the dominant issue on the EU’s agenda – things have changed. Does the pandemic threaten the already tight negotiation schedule between the EU and the UK? How does it change the position of both parties? And how about the credibility of the EU, at times when solidarity seems to be questioned?

Next talk:

Literature, Life and Lockdown: How the Humanities can help the Species Survive‘, featuring Professor Ben Hutchinson, Professor of European Literature and Academic Director of Kent’s Paris School of Arts and Culture, Dr Frances Guerin, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of Graduate Studies of Paris programmes at Kent’s School of Arts, and Dr Lauren Ware Lecturer in Philosophy at Kent’s School of European Culture and Languages (1 June 2020).

Statement of intent regarding Autumn 2020

The University of Kent is looking forward to welcoming new and returning students in the autumn of 2020. We will, as now, be open for business when the autumn term begins on 21 September 2020

However, we recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have an impact on how we all live and work. It is likely that we will have to adapt how we deliver our education, and the wider student experience of university life, in response to changes in government requirements.

We realise what an anxious time this is and want to assure you that planning is already underway to prepare the University for the next academic year. If necessary, we will adapt our teaching styles and delivery methods to ensure that the education and experience of students remains of the highest quality possible and occurs in a safe and effective manner – taking into consideration relevant advice and guidelines that are in place at the time. The safety and wellbeing of our students, staff, visitors and surrounding communities will continue to be our highest priority.

We are committed to ensuring that the standards that led to the University being rated as gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework are upheld, whether that teaching is delivered face-to-face, online or in a blended form of the two with appropriate social distancing in place. Our community of teaching, research and professional services staff will ensure that all education continues to be both a stimulating and fulfilling experience for all our students whether they are at Canterbury, Medway, Brussels or Paris.

We know our campuses are an important part of student life and we look forward to welcoming you all on to campus as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, as we transition back to more usual ways of working, we promise you that, as a member of the University, you will be part of a diverse, dynamic and supportive community and receive an education of the highest possible standard.

This is a repurposed version of a blog post and may differ from the original. View the original blog post.

Kent awarded funding to research the social implications of COVID-19

Kent, in partnership with Belong: The Cohesion and Integration Network, has been funded by the Nuffield Foundation to carry out research into how societal cohesion has been affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

Professor Dominic Abrams and Dr Fanny Lalot of Kent’s Centre for the Study of Group Processes will lead the research, alongside Belong to use data that emerges in real time.

The project will build on existing data focussing on societal cohesion during Brexit. Data will be gathered through surveys of representative samples in Kent, Scotland and Wales, and five local authorities, and combined with qualitative data, including insights from community activists. The research will test how cohesion is made better or worse, how and why individuals become involved or disengaged with groups and communities. This evidence will provide insight into how significant medium term pressures are borne within regions, communities and by individuals.

The findings will provide a rich historical record of what is happening to societal cohesion as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, and will support policy to build resilience against future short, medium and long term challenges.

The team have been awarded £234,559 to conduct the intensive research that will take place over the next nine months.

Dominic Abrams, Professor of Social Psychology said: ‘We are delighted to have this opportunity to understand what is happening to people’s sense of connection and belonging, their priorities and feelings during this extraordinary time. We hope that this research will break new scientific ground whilst also contributing valuable evidence for policy.’

Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: ‘During the massive social upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen many people and communities organise for the benefit of others, but some disadvantaged groups remain overlooked. This project will inform policy by investigating the impact of the crisis on social cohesion and the factors which shape people’s attitudes and behaviours.’

Jo Broadwood, Chief Executive of Belong: The Cohesion and Integration Network added: ‘We are really pleased to be working with Dominic, his team and the Nuffield Foundation and are excited about the potential for this project to impact on both practice and policy in the future. We think there is much that we can learn from the huge outbreak of kindness and connection in neighbourhoods across the UK and the findings will have relevance for strengthening social bondsresilience and cohesion as we emerge from the crisis.’

This is a repurposed version of a blog post and may differ from the original. View the original blog post.

Interdisciplinary interventions – new online lecture series to be launched

In continuation of our lecture series, Kent’s European Centres in Paris and Brussels will be holding some online discussions centered around the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Date: Thursday 7th May

Time: 15:00 (Central European Time)

Title: Whatever Happened to Brexit? Europe After Covid-19

Just a few months ago, Brexit was the dominant issue on the EU’s agenda – things have changed. Does the pandemic threaten the already tight negotiation schedule between the EU and the UK? How does it change the position of both parties? And how about the credibility of the EU, at times when solidarity seems to be questioned?

Scholars from the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies will discuss how Covid-19 impacts the Brexit agenda, how it affects policies in both the EU and the UK and the challenges that this poses for the future.

The discussions will be hosted by Professor Jeremy Carrette, Dean for Europe and Professor of Philosophy, Religion and Culture.


  • Professor Richard Whitman, Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent
  • Dr Tom Casier, Reader in International Relations, University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies

Register your place here 

Look out for other Interdisciplinary Intervention webinars

Literature, Life and Lockdown; How the Humanities can help the Species Survive.

Pandemic and Politics: Covid-19, Global Crisis and the Challenge to Humanity.

Applications to scholarship fund open today

Paris Scholarships to the value of £5,000 will be awarded to a limited number of outstanding applicants able to demonstrate a high level of academic achievement, clear intellectual ambition and the potential to make a strong contribution to their chosen MA programme.


To be eligible, candidates:

  • Must have received a conditional or unconditional offer of a place on one of the Kent, Paris programmes for the academic year starting in September 2020, whether split-site (Canterbury and Paris) or Paris only.
  • Must start their course in September 2020
  • Intend to study full-time only
  • Can be UK, EU and overseas fee paying students
  • Will be assessed on academic excellence, and will usually hold by July 2020 a first-class Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, or hold by July 2020 an equivalent non-UK qualification or a Master’s degree at merit or distinction in a relevant subject or equivalent

For students whose programmes are quoted in euros, your scholarship will automatically be converted into that currency.

How to apply

Candidates must send a letter of motivation, not exceeding 500 words, stating why they wish to join their chosen Kent, Paris MA programme and how this fits into their longer term plans.

The letter of motivation should be saved with the following file name: “FirstnameSURNAME_application number_letter of motivation”, for example: CatherineWOOD_123456789_letter of motivation.doc.

The letter should be addressed to the Academic Director of Paris programmes and sent by email to with the subject line: “Scholarship application Firstname SURNAME application number”, for example: Scholarship application Catherine WOOD 123456789.

The opening date for accepting applications is Wednesday 1 April 2020.


Friday 15 May 2020, 23:59 BST

The Guardian names Paris neighbourhood one of the “coolest” in Europe

The Guardian has named Paris’ Charonne district as one of the top 10 “coolest” in Europe.

In an article focussing on the less touristy neighbourhoods of Europe’s major cities, the British daily highlighted what makes the former working class district of Charonne so special.

Owing its name to the former village of the same name, Charonne was absorbed by neighbouring Paris in 1860 during the great urban renovation orchestrated by Emperor Napoléon III known today as the “Haussmannisation” of Paris. The Guardian wrote that “Circular Place de la Réunion, laid out in 1850, is the heart of this friendly, bohemian quartier populaire, a multicultural area of working families, artists and musicians. The square comes alive on Thursday and Sunday mornings, when it teems with people browsing market stalls set up by butchers, cheese- and fishmongers, and fruit and vegetable sellers.” Though home to a highly-mixed population, Charonne still looks and feels like a village, but, nestled in the heart of Paris’ dynamic 20th arrondissement, it remains a rather atypical one.

See the full article, with the newspaper’s other top destinations, here:

Professor Vybarr Cregan-Reid to take the stage at TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells

The sixth TedxRoyalTunbridgeWells will be held at the Assembly Hall Theatre, where Kent’s Professor Cregan-Reid will be one of 12 thought-provoking speakers presenting to over 1,000 audience members.

With a talk entitled ‘How modern life is written all over your face’, Professor Cregan-Reid will discuss how individuals’ daily actions affect different body parts – from posture, to eyesight, as well as face and skull shape. He will specifically reference how modern life is driving shortsightedness, as well as being responsible for the fact that most humans’ teeth no longer fit in their head (requiring costly and painful dental work). Furthermore, he will explore how these changes have developed within our species over time, some even very recently.

Professor Cregan-Reid said: ‘I was thrilled to be invited to participate in this event and am really looking forward to talking to the TEDx audience about the history of their habits and how they affect their whole body, not just their physical and mental health. These talks are a great way to share ideas and get people to think differently and TED have a tremendous reach – they are the most public of public lectures. TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells will be an inspiring and uplifting event, and the wider speaker programme is full of interesting talks that I am looking forward to watching on the day.’

Vybarr Cregan-Reid is author of Primate Change: How the world we made is remaking us (2018) and Footnotes: How Running Makes Us Human (2016). At the University of Kent’s Paris School, Professor Cregan-Reid teaches on the EN867 The Verbal and The Visual: Dialogues Between Literature, Film and Art module.

At Reid Hall, Paris mayoral candidates discuss the place of the bike in contemporary Paris

With both rounds of Paris’ mayoral elections taking place in March 2020, five candidates including incumbent Anne Hidalgo, visited Reid Hall yesterday to discuss the place of bicycles and cycling in the French capital.

Paris was a world pioneer in developing its successful bike-share system, known as Vélib, in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Representing an important part of the Parisian psyche, each candidate presented his or her plan to make cycling easier and more accessible to Parisians. Forming part of a global trend, Parisians increasingly rely on bicycles to go to work, class, and move freely about the city. To that end, Paris continues to develop bicycle-only lanes across its paved surfaces.

As with all events held at our Paris Centre, University of Kent Paris School of Arts and Culture students had the opportunity to attend the event and ask questions.


The European Qur’an: Islamic scripture in European Culture

On 27 February 2020, in association with Professor Jan Loop, the University of Kent Paris School of Arts and Culture will host a seminar entitled “The Qur’an and the Reformation”. This seminar will be hosted in connection with an on-going research project, EuQu, which looks at at Islamic scripture through the lens of European Culture and Religion.

EuQu is an ambitious six year research project (2019-2025) studying the ways in which the Islamic Holy Book is embedded in the intellectual, religious and cultural history of Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Our research studies how the Qur’an has been translated, interpreted, adapted and used by Christians, European Jews, freethinkers, atheists and European Muslims in order to understand how the Holy Book has influenced both culture and religion in Europe.

EuQu is an ERC Synergy project formed by a consortium led by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC); the University of Naples L’Orientale (UNO); the University of Kent (UoK) and the University of Nantes (UN).

Other members of the consortium are the University of Amsterdam (UvA); Autonomous University of Barcelona; and the Humanities Research Centre of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Additional partners include the New York University Abu Dhabi; the Ruhr-University Bochum; The University of Chieti; Columbia University; the Courtauld Institute of Art; the University of Erfurt; the King’s College London; the University of Notre Dame and the University of Sussex.

The project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The full programme of the conference in Paris can be found here.