Pattern and chaos in the labyrinth

THURSDAY 6 DECEMBER, 18.00–19.30 

Charlotte Higgins (The Guardian)

Like the creature that inhabits it, the labyrinth has two natures. On the one hand it conveys pattern, beauty, and order; on the other, chaos, fear and bewilderment. To contemplate the shape of a labyrinth from above is to stand back and allow the eye to enjoy the intricacy of line and design, to feel a sense of mastery and comprehension. But to be inside the labyrinth is something else: the body, not just the mind, is implicated, and the experience is not cerebral and intellectual but physical. This talk will look at the twin characteristics of the labyrinth – its pattern, its chaos – as reflected in art and literature.

Charlotte Higgins is the chief culture writer of the Guardian. She contributes to the Long Read, culture and comment sections; and writes editorials, book reviews and essays. This New Noise, a book based on her nine-part series of reports on the BBC, was published by Guardian-Faber in 2015.

A classicist by education, she is also the author of four books on aspects of the ancient world. Under Another Sky: Journeys in Roman Britain (Cape, 2013), was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction, the Thwaites Wainwright prize for nature writing, the Dolman travel-writing prize and the Hessell-Tiltman history prize. A new book, Red Thread: On Mazes and Labyrinths, was published by Cape in 2018. In 2010, she won the Classical Association prize for her books and journalism.

She has served as a judge for the Art Fund museums prize, the Contemporary Art Society award, the Grierson documentary awards and the Royal Philharmonic Society awards. She has written for the New Yorker, the New Statesman and Prospect, and written and presented documentaries for BBC Radios 3 and 4.

She is a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, an associate member of the Centre for the Study of Greek and Roman Antiquity at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, a former member of the Roman Society council, and is on the board of the Henry Barber Trust. She has an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University (in the Potteries, where she grew up). She is a keen amateur violinist.

 

Photo by David Levene.


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