Academic reflections


in Daily updates, Oxford

The rigidity of the once-a-day entry system is not ideal. At the same time, people seem to like the consistency. My solution for the moment will be to release daily flagship entities, complete with the photo of the day, and supplementary entries on other topics. As always, it is up to those reading to decide what they want to do with this information.

Today was fairly productive, in terms of schoolwork. I embedded myself first in the Cornmarket Starbucks, reading, then the High Street Starbucks and finally in the upper reading room of the Radcliffe Camera. While it’s not a style of architecture for which I generally have a great love, the Palladian styling of that rotunda is really quite lovely. It doesn’t have the dolled-up, overdecorated feel that many domed, semi-Romanesque buildings have. Instead, there is something of the simple elegance that I so appreciate in gothic buildings. I particularly like some of the stone sculpture right below the lip of the dome. Right across from the Codrington Library, it’s a part of Oxford where I should spend more time. I am shamefully ineffective at reading in my room and the fluorescence of the DPIR at night is reminiscent of Staples.

I am anxiously awaiting the time when we will have more freedom to study what we are actually fascinated with. While all this history is important, I am anxious to arrive in the contemporary world. History, like gardening, is something that the young take up by necessity, the old with passion cultivated through patience.

The time when we get to direct our own studies will be the point at which I decide whether this whole graduate school this has ‘caught:’ whether it’s something I can commit myself to for another six to eight years, in order to complete a PhD. While I don’t feel like it would be either wise or possible to complete all of that at a stretch, it would be good to have some real certainty about it as a course of action. That’s one of the big motivations for doing the M.Phil: it will let me test the waters of academia before spending a few years working in government, for an NGO, or in some other non-academic role.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 19, 2005 at 6:53 pm

Just plowing through university, from a BA staight through to a doctorate, really isn’t a very good idea. It seems like the only actual jobs you’ve had have been junky entry-level service positions. Having a bit of experience in the real working world may cause you to think again about all those hours spent library hopping. On the other hand, it might reaffirm the fact that you really love it. In either case, you will be the richer for it.

Keep up the blog.

Milan November 19, 2005 at 7:22 pm

I just saw that one of my counterparts in the Politics M.Phil was writing related reflections at almost exactly the same time.

On an unrelated note, it was only by taking it off my desk and carrying it around a bit that I’ve been reminded of just how fond I am of my iBook. While a whole mess of people in the program have an increasingly dented collection of pricey Powerbooks, this little plastic device has been proving very well suited to Oxford academic work.

Rory November 24, 2005 at 1:06 am

Just wandered into your blog – and must say I agree with you on the libraries (particularly the lighting in SSL). One place I’ve never felt at home is the Old Bod. Except for the Duke Humfrey’s, I find the whole Old Bod horribly dreary. And, on the iBook front, you are right: it is indeed much more suited to Oxford than the powerbooks.

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