It is tradition in most Universities that when a member of staff is awarded a Personal Chair, then they give an inaugural lecture on their specialist research interest. Sometimes, it is quite low key - sometimes it is exactly the opposite, as was the case last night! Professor Vanessa Toumlin is Director of the National Fairground Archive (NFA) here at the University of Sheffield, and gave an entertaining talk on the relationship between the world of live entertainment culture and early film produced in the 1900s. As well as showing some wonderful early film - including one of the most bizarre films I've ever seen of a dancing pig - she was assisted on stage by a number of modern variety acts. There was a female sword swallower, Miss Behave, a female magician assisted by a very balletic grasshopper, and the Danger Boys - a pair of street enertainers who juggled sharp knives whilst riding giant unicycles on the stage. With their lovely assistant Stuart!
An excellent evening, combining academic scholarship with pure entertainment!