Monday, August 8, 2011

0038: University of Oxford, England

A few years ago I was lucky enough to take a course at the University of Oxford (through my graduate program at Pepperdine University). Pepperdine has a beautiful campus, oceanfront in Malibu, California - hard to beat - but Oxford was beautiful in a different way, a historical way, and an architectural way. Teaching existed at Oxford in some form since 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167, when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Just being there was inspiring; those walls made you believe anything was possible. These are some of my pictures...

Spring Blossoms at Christ Church
So, aside from the obvious - educating brilliant people - Christ Church, Oxford University’s grandest college, took me to the heart of Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. The college played a big part in the creation of Alice’s adventures. Lewis Carroll became good friends with the children of the dean at the time, Henry Liddell, whose fourth daughter was called Alice. They visited him in his rooms with their nanny and he also took them out on boat trips, where he would tell them stories. 

Carroll used the children’s familiar surroundings as the setting for these stories. The Great Hall, where he ate his meals, holds many Wonderland secrets. Lewis Carroll didn’t often reveal the source of his inspirations, but it is likely that the real “rabbit hole” is the door that the dean would have used to get to the senior common room.

Lewis Carroll used many of the strange characters that Alice and her sisters knew at Christ Church as a basis for characters in the story. Henry Liddell himself could have been the white rabbit, as he was always running late too. (More.)

The Great Hall at Christ Church 
Ummm, my college cafeteria looked nothing like this!!! This was the inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall. Yes, Hogwarts' Great Hall is very real, and even better you can visit it - and possibly even eat there if you can get accepted to Christ Church College. If you’re not accepted you can still wander through and enjoy the majesty of the place that the film captures and only exaggerates slightly with the floating candles. The filming wasn’t actually done in the Great Hall at Christ Church, the hall was copied and rebuilt as a set, but it looks (as you would expect from the Harry Potter art direction team) identical.
Keble College (est. 1870)
Keble College remains distinctive for its once-controversial neo-gothic red-brick buildings designed by William Butterfield. The buildings are also notable for breaking from Oxbridge tradition by arranging rooms along corridors rather than around staircases. I just thought it was gorgeous...

The River Cherwell
I went punting on this river, or rather I rode in a punt... Punting you ask??? punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.

My entire time there was wonderful. The professors were obviously brilliant and even the pub talk was cool because it went from current trends to intellectual debates in a second - it was a cool and humbling experience - this reassured the only thing I've always known, that there is so much I don't know, so much I haven't seen and so much I want to do!! 

1 comment:

  1. Though I have never been to Oxford, I have this affinity for traditional English education. Tough but sound. I find strange comfort gazing in to the dimly lit stone-walled rooms. It's a real privilege to study there. One I would like to experience one day.