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UNSW: The Re-Trial of Galileo

October 26, 2009


  • Time: 6.30pm, Sir John Clancy Auditorium

As part of the 2009 International Year of Astronomy, UNSW’s School of History and Philosophy is presenting The Re-Trial of Galileo.
Join a high-profile cast including Julian Burnside, Anna Katzmann, Bob Carr, Dr Paul Collins, Monsignor Tony Doherty, Geraldine Doogue, Professor Maurice Finocchiaro, Julie McCrossin, Alan Saunders, Fred Watson and Robyn Williams in a made-for-television production, retrying one of the greatest thinkers of the Enlightenment.
“This is not a reenactment of the Inquisition hearing; it’s a modern-day trial in which we reopen the case,” said event creator Dr Peter Slezak, from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
The improvisation will be conducted with a judge, jury and counsels for defence and prosecution.
“The original ‘Galileo Affair’ of the 17th century gave rise to an intense debate that continues today among scientists, historians, philosophers and theologians. Central to this has been the question of whether the original condemnation of Galileo was right or wrong.
“The Re-Trial of Galileo aims to both intellectually engage and entertain the public. The issues are much more complex than the usual stereotypes would have us believe – the outcome of the trial is far from being a foregone conclusion,” he said.
The production is based on an annual mock-trial developed by Dr Slezak for students studying a course on the Galileo Affair in the School of History and Philosophy.
Current participants include:
·  Fred Watson, Astronomer-in-Charge of the Anglo-Australian Observatory – Galileo
·  Julian Burnside QC – Counsel for the Defence
·  Bob Carr, former NSW Premier – Grand Duke of Tuscany , Cosimo de Medici II
·  Robyn Williams, ABC Radio National, Science Show – Johannes Kepler
·  Alan Saunders, ABC Radio National, The Philosophers’ Zone – Aristotelian Philosopher
·  Dr Maurice Finocchiaro, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, University of Nevada , USA as himself
·  Paul Collins – Cardinal Robert Bellarmine
·  Charlie Lineweaver – Clavius
·  Julie McCrossin – Judge
·  Monsignor Tony Doherty – Pope Urban VIII
·  Anna Katzmann SC – Counsel for the Prosecution
The free production is now booked out – to be placed on a waiting list please contact r.straker@unsw.edu.au.
The trial is being filmed by ABC TV’s Compass Program for broadcast as an hour-long special in early 2010.


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