Dr. Nicholas Campion

Dr Nicholas Campion, Associate Professor, Director
of the Sophia Centre

Welcome to the Autumn issue of the Sophia Centre News.

September saw one of the highlights of the Cultural Astronomy year, the annual conference of the European Society for Astronomy in Culture (SEAC) in Santiago de Compostella. This year the conference was held jointly with the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture and the conferences on the Inspiration of Astronomical Phenomena. There were some excellent papers, very good socialising and a good turnout from Sophia Centre students and graduates. Dr Fabio Silva, one of our Sophia Centre teaching staff was elected Secretary of SEAC.

We would like to advertise an event coming up soon in Oxford. The St Cross Centre for the History and Philosophy of Physics will be a one-day conference on Astronomy Across the Medieval World on Saturday 18th November with a dinner in Hall afterwards. The following Saturday, 25th November, is the Sophia Centre Postgraduate Conference in London.

I would also like to report two major publications by Sophia Centre staff, by Dorian Greenbaum (with Alexander Jones) and Fabio Silva. We will be covering both in more depth later.

Lastly the recent blog 'Sunlight and Shade in the First Cities - A Sensory Archaeology of Early Iraq' by Mary Shepperson of University College London, presents a new angle on our relationship with the Sun.

Dr Nicholas Campion

Associate Professor in Cosmology and Culture
Director, Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture,
Programme Director, MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology
Principal Lecturer Faculty of Humanities and the Performing Arts

Upcoming Events

25 November 2017

Join us in London for the Third Sophia Centre London Post-Graduate Conference from 10 am to 6.30 pm at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David London campus. This event is open to all. Enjoy a celebratory day of MA graduate research lectures followed by a Key Concept Lecture presented by Dr Nicholas Campion: The Self in Medieval and Modern Astrology.

The registration fee includes lunch and a closing reception to celebrate the 8th birthday of our in-house academic publisher Sophia Centre Press. *Students and graduates of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David are eligible for a discounted rate.

You can attend this event in London or attend online via WebEx.

14 December 2017

Alumni Association Wine & Cheese Lecture 6.30 - 8 pm for alumni and students only presented by Morag Feeney-Beaton MA 'The Spindle of Necessity and the Colour White'. This is a free lecture: students and alumni must register in advance to receive the WebEx link.

Featured Book

Featured Book

Reviewed by Dr Nicholas Campion

Anthony Aveni, In the Shadow of the Moon: The Science, Magic and Mystery of Solar Eclipses, (Yale and London: Yale University Press: 2017)

Anthony Aveni is a distinguished member of both the Departments of Physics and Astronomy, and Sociology and Anthropology at Colgate University, a combination which reflects his eclectic interests and ability to place our fascination with the sky in wider contexts. His latest book focuses on eclipses from about as broad a perspective as manageable in a work aimed at a general market, but still with appeal to specialists.

Read on >>

Summer School 2017

Nicole Montag-Keller Reminisces About This Year's Summer School

Summer School 2017
Photo Credit: Dr Jenn Zahrt

As Bernadette Brady said, it takes at least three days to make bread so perhaps it also takes three and a half days to boost knowledge, enjoy networking and broaden our experience through field work in order to craft the perfect metaphorical loaf of bread that emerges during summer school.

For those who arrived on Monday, as is the usual tradition, Frances Clynes had reserved a table at All Bar One and many of us had a chance to get to know each other then. Even thought my flight was delayed, I still managed to meet some who stayed till 10 pm. The 'mise en place' for the 'bread baking experience' was done by 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. That is when the group began to put together all the ingredients: joining, listening, contributing.

Read on >>

Conference 2017

The Sophia Centre Fifteenth Annual Conference

The Talking Sky: Myths and Meaning in the Celestial Spheres

By Anna Estaroth

This conference took place at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on the 1st and 2nd July 2017 and was chaired by Bernadette Brady, Nicholas Campion and Frances Clynes. This year's theme was that different cultures provide stories and derive meaning from the sky. Because myths are so ingrained within cultural attitudes to the sky, stars and planets, speakers were invited to explore the theory and nature of myth as related to the sky.

Read on >>

History of Astrology 
					Winning Essay

I was asked to write a short article for the Sophia Centre newsletter, talking a bit about my thoughts and experience writing my essay for the History of Astrology module. In July I learned I'd won the Chrissy Philp MA Cultural Astronomy and Astrology History of Astrology prize. So here is a brief overview of my paper and some insights into my choice of topic.

This essay was titled, 'The Astrological Reforms of Marsilio Ficino and Johannes Kepler.' Though a Catholic priest, Ficino (1433 - 1499), was fascinated with ideas in the works of Plato and the Neo-Platonists. His translation of the works of such authors into Latin was of pivotal importance in the development of Renaissance thought.

Read on >>

History of Astrology 
					Winning Essay

Graduation 2017

Sunshine and Ceremony in Lampeter

By Kathryn Greethurst

In September 2016, when personal problems prevented me from completing my MA, I initially decided not go to graduation because I was so upset about not completing. Then, when Nick Campion confirmed that I would be awarded a Post-graduate Diploma, I changed my mind.

I took my family with me. Although our accommodation in a Lampeter hall of residence was basic, we were given a hearty cooked breakfast to start our day. Here, we bumped into Akindynos Kaniamos and Anna Estaroth and her niece. When we collected our robes, we found Frances Clynes and her partner and then we were joined by Nick. We later met up with Rosemarie Scannell and her mum...

Read on >>

Alumni News

Alumni News and Events

Dr Darrelyn Gunzburg

Chair, Steering Committee, Alumni Association

Many thanks to Chris Mitchell for his fund-raising short course on 'Medieval Astrology' Thursday 23, 30 March and 6 April 2017. Chris's lively and engaging style made medieval astrology come alive for the participants and raised £600 for the Alumni Association.

Faye Cossar presented a free lecture on her MA Dissertation topic on Friday 19 May 2017. Faye was one of the earliest students to participate in the MA in the days when it was based at Bath Spa University and graduated in 2004. Her topic was entitled 'Using Qualitative Narrative Research to compare Organisational Development Models in Companies'. Thank you, Faye.

My thanks to those who present these lectures, and to all of you who attend.

Read on to learn more about our upcoming December Wine and Cheese lecture presented by Morag Feeney-Beaton MA and a new 'Where Are They Now' featuring Sue Farebrother MA.

A big thank you to Jarlath Fenton who graduated with his MA in 2015 and who kindly donated books for sale at the MA Summer School in Bath this year. Jarlath's books raised a grand total of £66 for the Alumni Association.

Morag Feeney-Beaton

Upcoming Wine & Cheese Alumni Lecture:

Morag Feeney-Beaton MA

The Spindle of Necessity and the Colour White

Short listed for the 2017 MA Dissertation Prize

Thursday, 14 December 2017

The talk will extract and discuss an aspect from my dissertation which centres around the drop spindle, placing particular focus on the spindle in motion, introducing possible cosmological connotations and unpacking the notion of the Spindle of Necessity. Spinning Goddesses are often depicted holding a drop spindle. By making reference to images and texts of mythological women engaged in spinning, the presentation will seek to draw analogies with the Weisse Frauen, the White Women found in European folklore and storytelling. The symbolic attributes of the colour white will be discussed under the prism of classical ballet, where the dancer herself, when performing in a tutu, is arguably a physical embodiment of the Spindle of Necessity.

Morag Feeney-Beaton

Morag Feeney-Beaton, Summer School 2017. Photo credit: Eva Young

This event is free for students and alumni but you must register here to receive the WebEx link.

Morag Feeney-Beaton graduated with distinction from the Masters programme in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology through the Sophia Centre at the University of Wales Trinity St.David. Her research focuses upon textiles, more specifically upon the cosmology within the creation of textiles, and is particularly directed to what she calls 'the anthropology of the everyday', about how ritual and symbolic elements are manifested within daily life. Her background is costume and theatre, and she is in charge of the Fabric Stockroom at the Royal Opera House in London.

Review: Chris Mitchell's Short Course on Medieval Astrology

By Alison Chester-Lambert, MA Graduate 2015

Chris Mitchell on Medieval Astrology

Do you remember sitting wide-eyed and hopeless in your first astrology lecture? And then the dizzying, exciting, frustrating gallop into astrology's magnetic arms as the explanation for all your pain unfolded? Years later, as a community psychological astrologer scraping a living out of a Facebook blog, I can't imagine recreating those enthralling nights when I couldn't put Rudhyar or Liz Greene down as midnight turned into dawn? Can astrology ever be that exciting again?

Apparently the answer is yes. Chris Mitchell delivered a high octane, whistle-stop blast of something quite wonderful - mind grabbing astrology!

Read on >>

Alumni Association Wine and Cheese Lecture by Faye Blake-Cossar MA

By Paula van Kersbergen, MA graduate 2015

Faye Blake-Cossar

On Friday 19 May 2017, the Alumni Association organized a lecture by a MA graduate, Faye Blake-Cossar. Faye was one of the first MA graduates in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology and graduated from Bath Spa University College in 2004. Faye is originally from New-Zealand but has lived and worked as an astrologer / business consultant in Amsterdam for over 30 years. Her presentation was on her MA dissertation entitled: Using Qualitative Narrative Research to Compare Organisational Development Models in Companies.

Read on >>

Sue Farebrother

Where are they now?

Sue Farebrother

Interview by Kathleen White

Sue Farebrother, MA, D.F.Astrol. S., graduated from the Cultural Astronomy and Astrology MA programme in 2007.

Sue talked to Kate White about the impact of the MA on her life and work. Read on >>

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