Discover what links Hull to the 'ascent of man'
26 October 2012
Come and find out how the British secret service
MI5 kept a University lecturer under surveillance – believing he
was a security risk.
University of Hull will host the inaugural Jacob Bronowski lecture
on Monday 29 October. The lecture entitled: ’A skilful speaker and
agitator of the Communist intellectual type: exploring Jacob
Bronowski’s wartime MI5 file’, will be delivered by Professor Lisa
Jardine CBE, who is Jacob Bronowski’s daughter and an eminent
scholar in her own right.
Above: Jacob Bronowski
In her lecture, Prof Jardine will speak about the unsettling
recent revelation that Dr Bronowski was considered a ‘security
risk’ by MI5.
Dr Bronowski is best remembered as the presenter and writer of
the big blockbuster 1973 BBC television documentary series, The
Ascent of Man, and the accompanying book. The series was
commissioned by David Attenborough, the then controller of BBC Two
and following its broadcast, Dr Bronowski became one of the world's
most celebrated intellectuals. Central to his intellectual concerns
was the relation between science and its wider cultural context,
particularly the arts.
During the making of The Ascent of Man, Bronowski was
interviewed by the popular British chat show host Michael
Parkinson. Parkinson later recounted that Bronowski's description
of a visit to Auschwitz - Bronowski had lost many family members
during the Nazi era - was one of Parkinson's most memorable
The annual Jacob Bronowski Lecture will be given by a
distinguished academic or public figure and addresses issues which
were at the heart of Jacob Bronowski's own work. The lecture series
honours the fact that Dr Bronowski’s first academic job was at
University College, Hull.
Dr Stephen Burwood, Head of Humanities at the University of Hull
said “We are very pleased to have Prof Jardine come and give the
first of the Jacob Bronowski Lectures. It is both gratifying and
right that Dr. Bronowski’s contribution to the intellectual
heritage of the University and the City of Hull has been
A commemorative blue heritage plaque is also due to be unveiled
by Prof Jardine at 2.30pm on Monday 29 October at Bronowski’s
former address at 29 Hallgate, Cottingham.
The Lecture will take place on Monday 29 October at Middleton
Hall, Hull Campus, starting at 6pm. Admission is free and all are
Page last updated by Ashley Borrett on
For more information please contact Caroline Woodhouse on 01482
466943 or 07809 585965.
About Dr Jacob Bronowski
In 2010, a campaign was
mounted to recognise the former University of Hull lecturer who has
been described as a humanist, polymath and all-round Renaissance
man. Jacob Bronowski was an academic who lived in Cottingham and
taught mathematics at the University College of Hull between 1934
The Ascent of Man BBC television series was placed 65th on a
list of the 100 Greatest World Television Programmes voted for by
industry professionals and drawn up by the British Film Institute
in 2000.The title alludes to The Descent of Man, the second book on
evolution by Charles Darwin. Over the series' thirteen episodes,
Bronowski travelled around the world in order to trace the
development of human society through its understanding of
The book of the series, The Ascent of Man: A Personal View, is
an almost word-for-word transcript from the television episodes,
diverging from Bronowski's original narration only where the lack
of images might make its meaning unclear.