Saturday, January 31, 2009


So because school work takes up so much of my time, I figured I would take a short break from telling you about Scotland and give you an idea of where a good deal of my time goes. My major tutorial meets once a week (Thursdays) for an hour (8 total meetings); my minor tutorial meets once every other week (usually a Monday) for an hour (4 total meetings). My major tutorial is Feminist Lit and my minor is Oscar Wilde. Both are very fascinating and more complex than I imagined. My tutors are very insightful if not a little excentric. :) 

Here is a snippet of my syllabus from my major tutorial (I didn't include the whole suggested reading list because it would make this post entirely too long). Basically, you read each week and write a paper that you will present and discuss in your next tutorial. (Right now I am in week 3).

Also, if you are interested in seeing what event are going on at the Oxford Union you can go to:
And if you click on "term card" (top, center) then you get a list of events. We're planning on going to many of the debates, some speakers, and probably some stuff like the pancake party. :) 

General Outline of Course:

“I have the feelings of a woman but I have only the language of men.” (Far From the Madding Crowd) A study of women through the ages to show how they were trapped by the patriarchy and how they struggled to express themselves. The course will balance “accepted” great works against the less familiar.

Week One:

Virginia Woolf: A Room of One’s Own, 

Virginia Woolf: Three Guineas, 

Virginia Woolf: Orlando

Quentin Bell: Virginia Woolf

James King: Virginia Woolf

Does Virginia Woolf’s position as feminist icon reflect the complexity of her views?

Week Two:

Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway

                             To The Lighthouse

(Reading as above)

How does Virginia Woolf rewrite the novel to reflect the movement of a woman’s mind?

Week Three:

Fanny Burney: Evelina

Evelina was an enormously popular novel. Why is its modern readership so tiny?

Week Four:

Jane Austen:    Emma

How deeply does Jane Austen examine the causes of Emma’s dissatisfaction? Are we satisfied that they are resolved by the conclusion of the novel?

Week Five:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Aurora Leigh

Are we convinced of the correctness of Aurora’s choices? Are we supposed to be?

Week Six:

Rewriting Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre

Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea

Why is it so important to reclaim Jane Eyre for the woman’s movement?

Week Seven:

Angela Carter:            The Magic Toyshop, Nights at the Circus

Does Carter’s style of writing suggest there is another world available for women if they are brave enough to access it?

Week Eight:

Clare Morrall:  Astonishing Splashes of Colour

How does the writer manipulate our opinion of the central character?


Sunday, January 18, 2009

There Can Only Be One . . . part II

Our next stop was Inverness, which is Gaelic-ish. Ibenhir (?) or some form of “inver” means river, and “Ness” or “Niss” is the name of that river. So, now let’s put two and two together, Inverness means river Ness because it is located on the Ness river which connects to Loch Ness (not far down the road). The further north we went by train, the more the language changed. First, the train stations just showed the name of the town, then the town name in English with Gaelic under, and finally furthest north, the Gaelic name was sometimes first or maybe the only name listed. I also think that trying to pronounce Gaelic is an experience no one should go without. Try this town name: Drumnadrochit. Not bad, you did pretty good, but that’s actually the English translation (gottcha). The Gaelic name for this town is “Druim na Droichaid,” and I hope you have as hard of a time pronouncing that as I did. Drumnadrochit was the town nearest Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle ruins. To see Loch Ness you can pay a hefty sum to take a cruise and tour castle ruins, or you take the Robyn-Brett-Madison tour. Being cheap college students (and having myself learned thrifty ways from my family members), we did not actually visit the castle or take a cruise on the loch. Rather, we took the bus to the castle, stood in the parking lot, and peered over the wire fence at it. It was marvelous. After sitting on Brett’s shoulder’s in order to snap some pictures sans fencing, we decided we’d had our fill (no Nessie), and started the walk back to town.

One of my favorite parts of my trip was this little country highway. There were lochs in the distance, farmers’ fields, and hills. It was all green, but frosted over. And there were sheep, a lot of sheep. There are more sheep than people in Scotland (no lie). Robyn, doing only what would be considered natural, tried to communicate with the sheep (and a few very fat birds). Brett I think was a little embarrassed by how bad we were at bleating and baaing, but I think we got our point across to the sheep.

Inverness is also home to some fantastic Scottish pubs. We were lucky to happen upon one our first night called Finlay’s, and it seemed to be a local hang out. This is why I enjoy pubs in Scotland: they seem to be for all ages (of course excluding those below 18), they are casual, and they play live folk music. Old men and old women danced along to the banjo/guitar/accordion band (we couldn’t understand the man singing, but it was great); three generations socialized together. The other pub we went to the following night, Hootananny’s, was super busy. By the time we left there was not room to stand up and walk. Again, it was an all ages affair (we talked a very nice old Scottish man), and this time there were bagpipes (!!). It was a bagpipe rock type band—very enjoyable and good for people watching.

That about wraps up Inverness unless you have questions, etc., and don't worry, for all you die-hard Highlander fans I will get back to the movie reference in my next post! As far as pictures go, I am having a little difficulty with that so I am looking for a solution.

Also, I know it’s been a while since my last post. This is because while I am fairly settled into my Oxford surroundings, tutorials started and I realized that I was not academically settled in to a routine. So this first bit of work has come upon me (and everyone else here) very fast and in insanely large quantities. I am going to try to finish with Scotland in a few more posts and get on to life here in Oxford, but bear with me and my large reading list!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

“There Can Be Only One . . .”

I’m not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing if you recognize this quote, seeing as it comes from one of the cheesiest (and I mean a whole new level of cheesiness) 80’s action films ever made. Of course I am talking about Highlander. I mention this movie for a few reasons: 1) we went to the Highlands and so of course had to watch it and quote it continually and 2) it actually tied into my Scotland experience as the main character is “Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod” (this will make sense in a later post).

Our trip began in Oxford where all went smoothly—we had a horribly jet-lagged afternoon to see the city center, buy cell phones, and realize that the British do not believe in public trashcans. A few things to know, but also things that aren’t really riveting: we traveled by train through Scotland (mostly in the afternoons arriving to our destinations in the evening), trains are good for viewing the scenery, Brett and Robyn traveled with me (we all get along, it made the trip enjoyable), Joy and her brother joined us for various legs of the trip. Now for the fun stuff. Hogmanay was the giant New Year’s Eve celebration, and it was indeed giant. After trekking to and from our apartment (rented for 2 nights) we enjoyed freezing our behinds off as we stood in a little circle on a crowded street from about 10:30-12:30. All of this didn’t seem so bad after enjoying some amazing fireworks and singing “Auld Lang Syne” and “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” with thousands of people.

We spent the next day at Edinburgh Castle (magnificent), went to an American pizza place for dinner, and checked out the pub scene before retiring to the apartment. The castle is definitely one of Edinburgh’s most defining and breathtaking sites. In the middle of this city—between old and new—is a huge outcropping of rock. On this giant mountain/cliff structure sits the castle. At the base of the castle is the Royal Mile, and on the other side of the castle is a steep drop to a valley (which is where Waverly train station is and maybe some gardens). We took to calling this valley between Princes Street (New town) and the Royal Mile/Castle (Old town) “the big ditch.” Classy, right?

p.s. So as not to create an entirely-too-long post, I am leaving out a lot and will add it in later posts, and I will post town by town . . . but please ask questions if there is something I skip that you want details on!

Until next time, enjoy some pictures--they are at the absolute bottom of the page!