Here we are at the end of the term in Oxford, and I regret that I haven’t sent our news for more than a month! So let me offer a belated season’s greetings with some news from a more-than-ordinarily-chilly Oxford. We have finished up courses and embarked on our various holiday plans: travel, reading toward tutorials and theses in the Spring, and just relaxing after a very busy term.
I realize I haven’t said much yet about the range of subjects folks are studying here. So I want to pay tribute to everyone’s hard work this term with just a list of some of the tutorials that they’ve undertaken over the last few months - the list isn’t exhaustive, though it might exhaust you just reading it: “Christian Mysticism,” “Druidism and Paganism,” “History and Practice of Observational Astronomy,” “Early Writing Systems,” “Chinese Literature,” “Feminism,” Proust,” “Philosophy of Mind,” “French Lyric Poetry,” “Psychology of Religion” and “Classical Guitar” to name, literally, a few. Next term promises just as rich a harvest of ideas, with “Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit,” “Government and Politics of the U.S.,” and “History of Consciousness through Material Studies” a few of the courses we have planned.
Meanwhile a number of us have been making the most of their time in Oxford getting out of tutors’ rooms and the Library in extracurriculars (like Lance Dyke in the 2008-2009 program*). Bob Carpenter has been up at around 5 every morning through the term to train with the Hertford College crew. We look forward to cheering him and his boat on when they compete in the “Torpids” races on the Thames just south of town in February. And Ari Robbins’ been studying with the Cafe Reason Butoh Dance Theater in nearby Headington; he’s planning a tutorial on Butoh next term to dovetail with the topic of his thesis. And, of course, Adrian has been getting to know the geese in Port Meadow!
Finally, before I sign off, I will leave you with some visuals. The first two shots below were taken in the Chapel of New College. New College has been giving us rooms (as they did our last time through) so we occasionally have had classes in the “Rew Nooner Spoom.” (The room was named for William Spooner, Warden of New College from 1903 to 1924 and eponym of the “spoonerism,” the transposition of letters in phrases to sometimes hilarious effect: Spooner is reported to have bellowed "Three cheers for our queer old Dean!" to a Hall full of undergraduates on the occasion of one of Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s birthdays. How’s that for some amusing Oxfordiana?)
We went to the Chapel following the end of our last class last week. We had been reading Henry Adams’ Mont Saint Michel and Chartres and we thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at some of the very fine Gothic architecture Oxford has been graced with (though it post-dates the Cathedral at Chartres by a few centuries).
Click on this last image below and you’ll get a clip of a little gathering we had in rooms lent us a former Shimerian-in-Oxford, Kim Gumino, who is in the process of setting herself up here. As you’ll see, we had tutors and students in for what in Oxford is known as "end of term drinks,” though I assure you all the fun was perfectly good and clean. I offer the video clip as evidence of this. It’s of Howard Ruan, who studied Classical Guitar this term. You’ll hardly believe me that he’s studied it seriously only since he’s been in Oxford; he is primarily a bassist. He and his tutor, Rikky Rooksby offered bravely to perform some duets for our end of term party. (Some of you may have had the chance to learn from Dr. Rooksby as well - he has a widely popular line of instruction books on guitar and composition.) So, I leave you with a bit of their gracious playing and wish you all a similarly beautiful holiday.
* (See http://shimerinoxford.blogspot.com/2009/02/fencing-part-deux.html on Lance's career as a fencer for Oxford University.)