Social Feed


Image: Homerton College: University of Cambridge

Main menu

Homerton Research Seminars

You are here

Homerton Fellows' and Graduates' Research Seminars showcase the latest research by members of the College community. These events normally take place on Tuesday at 1800, so that people may continue on to formal hall if they so wish. Usually the speaker(s) will present for thirty minutes, and thereafter the audience will ask questions. 

We welcome contributions from all disciplines studied at Homerton. In the past we have heard presentations on everything from contemporary adolescent literature to self-replication and the origin of life, and everything in between.

Graduate student contributions are particularly welcomed. 

All are most welcome to attend the Seminars, whether Fellows, students, alumni, staff or visitors. If you require further information, or have any questions, please contact Dr Hayley J. Hooper.

You can also follow our twitter account @HomResearch for the most up to date information.

You can also download our Termcard for Research (updated termly).

Refreshments will be provided.


Tuesday 2 May 2017, 1800hrs, Paston Brown Room

Joost Haarsma: "How the mind maintains a grip on reality, and how it loses it."

The field of cognitive neuroscience has long struggled to come up with a unifying model of the workings of our mind. However, within the last decade, theorists have started viewing the brain as a prediction-making machine. Within this framework, the brain is thought to make predictions within every level of the cortical hierarchy of what the input will be. When there is a discrepancy between what the brain expected and what actually entered the hierarchy, a prediction error will occur, which is then signalled up to the hierarchy to update the prediction. By engaging this updating process, the brain actually starts to represent the world.

In order to do this adaptively, the relative importance of the prediction and the input has to strike a balance between how informative information is, and how certain your predictions are. When this balance is off, both perception and belief (depending on the level in the hierarchy) can start drifting away from reality, thereby becoming hallucinatory and delusional.

This talk explores how this view of the mind can explain both healthy cognition and psychotic symptoms by using examples from psychology and neuroscience.

Joost Haarsma is currently a PhD student at the Department of Psychiatry and Homerton College, Cambridge. His PhD research is being funded by the Wellcome Trust NeuroScience in Psychiatry Network.

Tuesday 16 May 2017, 1800hrs, Paston Brown Room

Dr Paolo Heywood & Maja Spanu: Nazism, Fascism, and collective vs. individual responsibility and victimhood: defining a problem and a problem of definition

Since at least the end of the Second World War, notions of collective guilt vs. individual responsibility as well as of collective victimhood vs. individual innocence have been the subjects of persistent debate. Can collectives (organisations, nations, races) be considered guilty/innocent? Are there degrees of responsibility and innocence or is everyone in a group equally innocent/responsible? How is that to be measured? The Nuremberg Trials and the case of Nazi Germany illustrated some of the difficulties involved in considering these questions, revealing interlocking tensions between notions of individual responsibility, collective guilt, innocence, and protection. In the less well-known case of Italian fascism the situation was further complicated by the fact that Italy was cast, variously, as both an aggressor in the initial stages of the war, and an occupied state in its latter years. Debates over how and whether to punish fascists in the aftermath of the war centred around this question, as well as the related issue of what exactly constituted fascism: A ‘parenthesis’ in Italian history, or symptomatic of more serious and structural problems? The way these questions were answered in part determined the way the histories of Fascism and Nazism have been constructed and still bear considerable relevance today.

The purpose of this talk is twofold. First, it will engage in exploratory reflections on the implications of the tensions between the collective and the individual, both in terms of responsibility and victimhood. Second, it will seek to open up a dialogue across disciplines. These questions are of continued relevance to anthropology, the study of international relations, and the social sciences more broadly, as definitional questions concerning the status of Fascism and Nazism pass from the pages of history books to mainstream political discourse in the wake of the rise of a new right-wing populism.     

Dr Maja Spanu is a Junior Research Fellow in International Relations at Homerton College, Cambridge

Dr Paolo Heywood is a Junior Research Fellow in Anthropology at Homerton College, Cambridge 

Report Webpage Issues:

(Only required if you wish for a reply to the report)

Information provided by you in this form will be processed for the sole purpose of remedying the issue found in relation to the website. Once complete your personal information will be deleted. If you provide an email address and request us to update you on the issue, we will contact you once to inform you when the issue is resolved.