On a recent trip to Oxford, I took in the Bodleian Library’s current exhibition, ‘Babel: Adventures in Translation‘, mostly because I expected there would some nice multi-lingual manuscripts. I was definitely not disappointed about that – the display started off with some lovely texts like this codex from Mexico, written in Nahuatl and Spanish (left) and this Bible which includes multiple different versions in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (right):
It’s the time of year when applications for Junior Research Fellowships – research-only positions based in an Oxford or Cambridge college, intended for people who are just finishing or have recently finished a PhD – are starting to get going, and as a current JRF (at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge), I’ve been getting various requests for advice on the application process, and I thought it might be helpful to post a bit of advice here – the process can be pretty opaque, especially for those who aren’t currently at Oxford or Cambridge and so don’t necessarily have supervisors or colleagues with direct experience of assessing JRF applications. Also, since no-one likes writing job applications, I’m including a picture of a dog to help improve the situation slightly (as you can see, she doesn’t like job applications either).
This weekend I went to visit an exhibition in the Bodleian Library in Oxford called ‘Designing English: Graphics on the Medieval Page‘ (on until April 22 2018, and free to visit) – a display of medieval manuscripts, but with the focus not on the content but the way that their writers and illustrators went about creating them. The layout of the text itself and any accompanying images, the use of different coloured inks in different parts of the text, the addition of marginalia, and even the physical format of the book or manuscript were all shown to be just as important to the writer – and the reader – as the actual words themselves.
Illustrations aided understanding (as in herbals, for instance, whose pictures were vital in showing which plants were being described, or in the chess manual which included diagrams of chess boards); key words or passages could be highlighted by the use of colour or through the spacing of the text to draw the reader’s attention (particularly important for texts intended to be read out loud, such as sermons); physical form could relate to function, e.g. in making a book small enough to fit in a pocket to carry around, or to ideology, as shown by the books of royal genealogies, designed to fold out into a single long sheet so as to present one unbroken line of inheritance. Continue reading “Designing English and Linear B”
The British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans (1851-1941) is best known for his excavation and reconstruction of the Bronze Age palace of Knossos, on Crete (which I’ve posted about before), but also spent a considerable amount of his life in Oxford, where he was Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum (which now houses his archive as well as a considerable collection of finds from Knossos).
Evans built a large house, called ‘Youlbury‘, on Boars Hill (just to the south-west of Oxford), which, sadly, no longer exists (much of the former grounds is now a Scout Camp). One place that can still be visited in the area, though, is the Jarn Mound Wild Garden, created as a public garden by Evans (along with the Oxford Preservation Trust), and I thought I’d share a few pictures of a recent visit there. Continue reading “Arthur Evans’ Gardens”
Occasionally during the holidays I like to masquerade as a student of The Other Place by working in the Sackler Library.
A trip to the toilets during my most recent visit there provided evidence that members of The Other Classics Faculty have the same urge to create classics-themed graffiti as the inhabitants of G21…