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Hoboken Lecture 2018

On Wednesday 12 December 2018, the Natural History Museum Rotterdam, in partnership with the British Council, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen and Codarts, presented the eighth Hoboken Lecture, by the renowned British writer, traveller, veterinarian, taxidermist, barrister and philosopher Professor Charles Foster

'Being a Beast'

Musical prelude (Haydn's Hoboken Verzeichnis) by students of Codarts - (Rotterdam) University of the Arts.

The venue of the Hoboken Lecture is the auditorium of the Kunsthal, directly opposite the Natural History Museum. We make use of only 200 seats, so sound and view is excellent for all.

About the LectureIn his lecture, Charles Foster looks at the extent to which it is possible for humans to enter the experiential worlds of non-human species, and hence the extent to which it is possible to know anything outside one’s own head. Charles Foster approached this question by an elaborate piece of zoological method-acting – by trying to live as nearly as possible as a badger (under the ground and in the dense woods of mid-Wales, as an urban fox (prowling around the dustbins of the East End of London), as an otter (in the rivers of Exmoor), as a red deer (on the mountains of the Scottish West Highlands and of upland Devon), and as a swift (in the air between Oxford and West Africa). His conclusions are strange, tentative, and aim to inform the age-old question: ‘How best can we thrive as human beings?’

The book that resulted from his experiment (‘Being a Beast ’ [’Leven als een beest’]) is a New York Times Bestseller, won an Ig Nobel Prize, and is the subject of a forthcoming feature film from Sovereign Films.

What is the Hoboken Lecture? Other FAQ


17:30 Refreshments and supper for VIPs, speaker, partners and sponsors

18:00 Museum open: get your vouchers, drink coffee and see the exhibitions

19:00 Auditorium Kunsthal open (opposite to the museum)

19.25 All seats taken

19:30 Welcome: Kees Moeliker, director Natural History Museum Rotterdam 

19:35 Musical prelude: Codarts Adorno String Quartet [Angel Campos Requena
                (1st Violin), Celia Molina Gómez (2nd Violin), Esther Fernández Olalla (viola),
                Patrycja Skowrońska (cello)] plays Joseph Haydn's Hoboken Verzeichnis
                III:35 - String Quartet Op. 20 No. 5 in F minor (Moderato & Menuetto) 

19:50 Introduction of the speaker and his topic by Dr. Bernice Bovenkerk,
                assistant professor, Wageningen University

20.00 Hoboken Lecture: ‘Being a Beast’ by Professor Charles Foster

21:00        Musical intermezzo: 'The Swan' from 'Le Carnaval des Animaux'
                 (Camille Saint-Saëns)

21:10       Q&A moderated by Maarten Keulemans, science editor de Volkskrant

21:25 Closing remarks by the Honourable Peter Wilson CMG,
                British Ambassador to the Netherlands

21.30       Short walk to the museum

        Drinks, reception and book signing in the museum

22:30 Museum closes, end of the programme

Professor Professor Dame Jane Francis was the 7th Hoboken Lecture speaker, in 2017.
Lord Martin Rees was the first Hoboken Lecturer, in 2011.