Even the highbrows now have established performing names, guaranteed to draw a good crowd. Lectures by Slavoj Zizek - the celebrity Leninist who resembles a cross between a giant bear and Latka from the sitcom Taxi - sell out far faster than any of his philosophy books. And for those who prefer their politics served with more earnestness and less ideology, there is No Logo author Naomi Klein, a warmer, more inclusive speaker whose performances can sound as if she is thinking out loud.
But perhaps the biggest talk event happens next month, when an American organisation called TED holds a four-day conference in Oxford. Up to 60 lecturers will speak for precisely 18 minutes each on subjects ranging from the eastern European mafia to whether solar-powered aeroplanes will ever (ahem) take off. Tickets are going for £2,750 each (although the hard-up get a £1,225 concessionary rate) and only 30 of the 700 are left.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Lecture As Performance
After reading so much about Emily Sands' presentation on her research into gender bias, I was amused to see this item in the Guardian about how lectures attract quite an audience: