Brasenose College, Oxford - News
On Saturday 4th May was the Brasenose Ball: a garden of fire and ice. The 2011 Ball had to be held offsite due to the refurbishment which was taking place in the college, so it was wonderful to have it back, having the best possible backdrop for a fantastic evening! The Ball committee had worked tirelessly for a year towards this one night, especially in the final week running up to the ball. Saturday was a hectic day of last minute adjustments, but it all came together wonderfully and kicked off with a champagne reception at 6.30pm.
Those who were lucky enough to dine had a preview of the transformation which had taken place in college. Old Quad was the Ice Quad, covered by a white marquee with icicle lights, whilst the Fire Quad had more of a festival feel, with six three metre tall flags. Even the flowers planted in New Quad were fiery colours! Inside the dining hall the tables were set with fishbowls of floating candles and tall glass jars filled with blue lights. The effect was truly fantastic.
Ascension Day, which fell on the 9th May this year, was once again marked at Brasenose College with two age-old traditions.
The Beating of the Bounds ceremony passed through Brasenose during the morning of Ascension Day. The custom, observed in a few parishes across England and Wales has probably been in existence for over a thousand years, and originated in the need for churches to walk round the boundaries of their parish. The boundaries of the parishes of the churches of St. Michael at the Northgate and St. Mary the Virgin (also known as the ‘University Church') pass through Brasenose College and on Ascension Day groups from both parish churches visit and mark the boundary stones located on certain walls of college buildings by marking them with the year in chalk and beating them with willow sticks! Brasenose students join in with this tradition with great gusto.
There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there was Watergate.
Following Nixon's resignation, David Frost, the British talk-show host and ambitious comedian, took it upon himself to wrangle a confession out of the elusive ex-president. It was to be a clash of titans. And the result was something expected by nobody...
Peter Morgan's Frost/Nixon explores this dark affair through a close study of both characters. Staged in the Oxford Union's debating chamber, the iconic venue visited by Nixon himself in 1978, the play is one steeped in tension and intrigue.
The play is directed by Brasenose students Josie Mitchell and James Fennemore (second year English students), and is showing on the Thursday 16th to Sunday 19th May (evening, with extra Matinée performances on Saturday and Sunday). The Brasenose Arts Fund has helped make the performances possible.
Brasenose has been host to a wide variety of concerts and Careers in the Arts events over the past five months. The choir continues full force, singing evensong in Winchester and Gloucester Cathedrals. Brasenose students continue to write, direct, produce and perform in the Oxford drama scene, a notable success being last term's A Theory of Justice: The Musical, in which two of the writers and two performers were Brasenose students.
In early May, the Brasenose Arts Week returned for the nineteenth year running and transformed college into a bustling hive of artistic activity. Two plays were staged within college during the week: Coward's Hayfever staged in the lush expanses of New Quad, and Albee's The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?, set amidst the dark panels and portraits of Lecture Room XI. The week also featured a screening of a silent film with live piano, an art exhibition, a Zumba workshop and an evening of poetry from award winning poet Inua Ellams, and much more! The week offered students the chance to partake in and experience the arts on their very doorstep, and was a particular platform for a huge amount of fresher talent as yet unseen, both plays being directed and performed largely by first-years, to great success.
Maria Fleischer - Arts Rep and Arts Festival Organiser (Second Year - English)
On Sunday 12 May, 40 Brasenose students and staff took to the streets of Oxford for the annual Town and Gown 10km Race for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.
We were blessed with some fantastic sunshine and enjoyed the exhilarating route through the centre of Oxford, past college on the High Street, and University Parks, which is mercifully quite flat.
There were some fantastic individual performances: Alistair Graves (First Year, Engineering) finished 16th overall, with an incredible time of 34:57, and Holly Emms (Second Year, Medicine) came 11th in the Senior Ladies category with a time of 42:23. Biology tutor, Dr Owen Lewis, placed 33st in the Veteran Men (44-49 years) category with 41:28, while in the Veteran Men (60+ year) Professor Peter Somogyi (a Senior Kurti fellow) ranked 23rd and alumni Tony Hill 26th with 53:37. Steven Anderson (Brasenose staff member) also clocked a rapid time of 42 minutes and James Blythe was delighted to be the fastest JCR President.
By Alice Newton-Fenner
Here's a challenge. At the end of today, write down everything that you ate or drank. Include that crisp was offered from a friend's packet, any oil you cooked with, any seasoning and spices. Everything that you bought and everything you already had in the cupboard - tally it up. How much did you spend? This term during second week 11 BNC students took part in the Live Below The Line Challenge, where we lived off £1 of food a day in order to raise money for UNICEF, Malaria No More, Positive Women and Oxfam. This budget included everything we ate and drank; everything I mentioned above all got factored in.
At the end of the first day it was clear that one of the biggest challenges that we were each facing was the near constant preoccupation with food. Cafes on the high street became that much more noticeable and tempting because we knew that they were forbidden, whereas on any other week the notion of popping in for a coffee wouldn't even cross our minds. Even when we did become distracted by work for a bit the hunger pains and embarrassingly loud stomach growls in the library brought us right back.
The 19th Annual Brasenose Arts Week begins on the 6th May. Billed as the second biggest arts festival in Oxford, this year's Arts Week will feature Noel Coward's play Hayfever, and a production of The Goat, or Who is Sylvia by Edward Albee, a caberet, and open mic night, a Zumba and Swing workshop, poetry, film and documentary viewings, poetry readings, a 90s theme night and much more.
The Week is all organised by Brasenose students, led this year by Maria Fleischer (2nd Year English)
Visit the website for more information, and select about for ticket information. Day tickets are £4/5 and week tickets are a bargain at £9/10.
Dr Sos Eltis, Brasenose English tutor, has written a new book entitled Acts of Desire: Women and Sex on Stage 1800-1930 published by Oxford University Press.
From seduced maidens to adulterous wives, bigamists, courtesans, kept women and streetwalkers, the so-called 'fallen woman' was a ubiquitous and enduring figure on the Victorian and Edwardian stage. Acts of Desire traces the theatrical representation of illicit female sexuality from early nineteenth-century melodramas, through sensation dramas, Ibsenite sex-problem plays and suffrage dramas, to early social realism and the plays of Pinero, Jones, Maugham, and Coward. Acts of Desire reveals and analyses enduring plot lines and tropes that continue to influence contemporary theatre and film. Women's illicit desires became a theatrical focus for anxieties and debates surrounding gender roles, women's rights, sexual morality, class conflict, economics, eugenics, and female employment.
Sos reflects on here on her experiences of researching and writing the book:
"It's been a joy working on Acts of Desire. How could it be anything else when it involved reading about adultery, bigamy, prostitution and seduction across a century and a half? It has involved discovering not just the predictable tales of frail maidens' ruin and repentance, but many hilarious and subversive plays in which resourceful women negotiated the dangers of the metropolis, challenged their seducers, rejected their society's codes of morality, earned their own money and demanded their own freedoms. Searching through archives was hardly arduous when it turned up gems like Dion Boucicault's Formosa; or, the Railroad to Ruin - long forgotten, but once notorious as the first English courtesan play of the nineteenth century - a sensational melodrama in which the theatrical censor was possibly too distracted by the spectacle of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race being rowed across the stage to notice that the scene also included a courtesan winning the hand in marriage of a rich aristocratic admirer. By the time the censor noticed he'd been hoodwinked, the play was attracting huge audiences and it was too late to retract the license despite the moral outrage of conservative critics.
By Dr Joe Organ, Schools and Publications Officer
Schools liaison forms a vital part of Brasenose's central aim to recruit the brightest students, regardless of background. Through visiting schools, hosting college visits, running Open Days and other projects, I aim to give school students the confidence to consider Oxford, and provide them with the support, inspiration and information to put together a strong undergraduate application. Brasenose acts as the ‘first point of contact' for two particular regions of the country: East Berkshire and North Yorkshire. To avoiding duplicating effort across the country, other Colleges similarly build relationships with schools in their ‘link regions.'
North Yorkshire, the largest county in England, presents a particularly exciting challenge. It is also the link region for Brasenose's ‘sister College', Gonville and Caius where my Cambridge equivalent, Jenny O'Hare, is based. The idea of a "North Yorkshire Road Show", run on a shoestring budget, developed after Jenny and I began visiting schools together. The inaugural tour took place in March 2013 and proved highly effective in reaching out to North Yorkshire schools. The week-long trip enabled us to visit up to four schools a day. We were joined by Oxbridge students who helped us reach out to Sixth Formers and younger groups.
The weather in mid-March was, you might remember, atrocious. During the week we battled through torrential rain, heavy snow falls, blizzard conditions, ice, high winds, floods and road-closures. My new assistant (the Sat Nav) took us to down winding single track country lanes with snowed-capped hills all around, but thanks to the wonders of technology we managed to stick to our itinerary. If anything though the conditions enhanced Yorkshire's romantic appeal, and the trip proved exhilarating, exhausting and enormously enjoyable. We hope that our efforts, and those of the student ambassadors, did much to break down any preconceptions of Oxbridge the North Yorkshire students may have harboured, and gave them the information, inspiration, and confidence to apply.
Brasenose College's collection of oil paintings can now be found online via Your Paintings, a joint initiative between the BBC, the Public Catalogue Foundation and participating collections. The website, will eventually show the entire UK national collection of oil paintings and as well as Oxford Colleges also features Oxford institutions such as the Bodleian and the Ashmolean.
This fantastic resource draws together Brasenose's collection of oil paintings, which are to be found in different locations throughout the College. Many of the paintings hang in the Dining Hall (a painting of which is pictured here). Included in the online gallery is the Childe of Hale oil painting, which hangs in the Chapel and was a gift from Colonel Ireland-Blackburne of Hale Hall, Cheshire in 1924. The majority of the paintings are portraits of prominent members of College, from the founders William Smyth and Richard Sutton to William Golding. However, also featured are the College's more modern paintings, including Professor Maria Chevska's multi-disciplinary Diptychs (Wove), from 1990.
Other artists in the collection include Gilbert Jackson, Derek Hill, John Jackson and William Orpen, who painted the First Earl Haig, Field Marshal and Charles Buller Heberden (Principal 1889-1920). Orpen was a notable portrait painter and official war artist during World War I. More of his work can be viewed via the website, which also allows you to search and view works by individual artists. Brasenose Alumni, including Lord Scarman, Sir Arthur Evans and Frank Aydelotte can also be found as subjects of paintings.
The website is a useful catalogue of oil paintings, which will undoubtedly prove useful to many academics and researchers. Of course, the College picture collection is not limited to oils and further information about prints, watercolours and more can be found in the paper catalogue, which is stored in the archives.
Read more about Brasenose's History and Archives
The world is facing an energy challenge with fossil fuel resources being consumed at an accelerated pace. The efficient use of these fuels and renewable energies will be a critical part of man-kinds strategy to address this global challenge. In many fossil fuel power generating facilities only about ~1/3rd of fuel energy is utilised by the end users as electrical energy, the reminder of the energy is dumped to the environment as heat along with waste products such as CO2.
have led focussed on the challenge of energy reduction in data centres. A
schematic of a data centre facility from an engineer's perspective is
illustrated in the figure below. These facilities consist of cabinets, that
house servers, where computations required for many industries are undertaken,
e.g. the internet, banks, online transactions, research studies and so on. Each
one of these cabinets, which are the size of a domestic fridge, dissipates up
to 50kW of power, which is almost as much as a typical car engine. Large facilities
can contain hundreds of these cabinets and hence produce vast quantities of
wasted thermal energy. However a major constraint is that all electronic
components must be cooled to maintain stable operation and avoid failures and
hence there is a need for large scale air conditioning systems that include
components such as pumps, fans, chillers and cooling towers. A report by the
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US showed that server driven power
usage amounted to 1.2% (5000 MW) and 0.8% (14000 MW) of the total US and world
energy consumption, with a corresponding cost of $2.7B and $7.2B for the US and
Brasenose's Ashmole Society visits the Ashmolean MuseumOn 28th February, the Ashmole Society - Brasenose's history society - topped off a term of history events by visiting the Ashmolean Museum for an exclusive session in one of the Museum's study rooms. Once inside, we were able to handle a variety of mediaeval and Anglo-Saxon objects from the Museum's vast behind-the-scenes collection. These ranged from Anglo-Saxon girdle-hangers to ornate mediaeval altar frontispieces. Throughout, we were told about the objects and their backgrounds by Teaching Curator Jim Harris. Jim led a highly informative and interactive session, and the whole group had a really good time. The Museum is keen to get more university members involved in the Museum, and it is a great resource for almost any period of study.
Ashmole has had a great term, having hosted Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke and Second World War historian Antony Beevor. Next term we will be welcoming more eminent historians to Brasenose and putting on more great events. Everyone is welcome - you don't have to do History to join in!
James Johnson, President (2012-2013)
Read more about History at Brasenose
In June 2013, Brasenose is hosting a one-day conference, entitled Through the Magnifying Glass. Small Finds and the Big Gap in the Byzantine Settlement History of Miletus and Ephesuswhich. The day will look at the "Big Gap" or so-called Dark Age that separates Late Antiquity and the middle Byzantine period.
The Big Gap forms one of the most pressing problems of Byzantine archaeology and historiography. C. Morrisson (ed.), Trade and Markets in Byzantium (Washington, D.C. 2012) has recently argued that such a gap should not have existed, whilst Marek Jankowiak (Wolfson College, Oxford) claimed the opposite in a well-received lecture to the Late Antique and Byzantine Seminar in Michaelmas Term 2012. A more conclusive contribution to this debate is currently being sought at Miletus. The conference will aim to present, collate and interpret different strands of evidence from four separate monuments in the city, where late antique and Byzantine strata have recently been excavated. Additional clarification is attempted by comparison with Ephesus, where the Byzantine stratigraphy is currently also under investigation.
Brasenose second year Law students, Christopher Seymour and James Burt, have sensationally triumphed in the Grand Final of the University of Oxford & Maitland Chambers Undergraduate (Inter-Collegiate) Mooting Competition (known as "Cuppers"). The tournament began with 24 college teams, competing over preliminary rounds, and culminating in Brasenose's victory against St John's College in the final held in late February.
The Brasenose were matched with University College in the first round, Trinity College in second round, Harris Manchester in the Quarter Finals, St Peter's College in the Semi-Final, before meeting St John's in the final. Other members of the Brasenose team, featuring in the earlier rounds, were Sulman Iqbal (third year Law student) and Michelle Kang (second year Law student). Subjects for the moots including Criminal Law and Contract and Tort, then the case in the Grand Final concerned accessorial liability in criminal law. The final was judged by Lord Macdonald QC, Mr Mark Cunningham QC and Mr John Dagnall.
James Burt commented: "It's been a great experience for us to take part in the competition. Brasenose has a proud history in the cuppers and mooting in general so it is nice to win. Taking to the stand is always a nerve-wracking experience - even more so in the final - so to do well feels like such an achievement. It's been exciting and we look forward to taking part in future moots."
A Theory of Justice: The Musical opened last month at the Keble O'Reilly theatre, written by Brasenose's own Tommy Peto and Eylon Aslan-Levy. It was, as Eylon himself admitted, either going to be a roaring success, or a massive flop. But flop it certainly did not.
Battling off his arch-nemesis, Robert Nozick, who has also been sucked into a time vortex, the Harvard professor John Rawls travels through time, pursuing his student, and love interest (tut tut), Fairness, through history. On the way, he encounters a myriad of political philosophers, who (little do they know it) inspire his magnum opus, A Theory of Justice.
Plato, looking suitably Zeus-like, and his ventriloquist dummy Socrates, were followed on stage by a rap battle between Locke and Hobbes, kitted out in Elizabethan doublets-cum-60s Rockers' leather jackets. Rousseau stole Fairness' heart with his dashing French ways, whilst John Stuart Mill (first year PPEist Henry Zeffman) and his barber shop quartet desperately attempted to make everyone happy. Mary Wollstonecraft (first year English student Florence Brady) was a most defiant feminist, and Marx (Tommy Peto) bumbled around hilariously in his tattered suit covered in what looked like chalk dust. But it was Kant, reincarnated as Rawls' fairy godmother, resplendent in drag, who stole the show.
It was hard not to realise that the musical was happening: a fierce marketing campaign which dominated Facebook and Twitter (whether you liked it or not) caught not only most of Oxford's attention, but also the BBC's (watch this spot... maybe). Arriving at the theatre, it was refreshing not to recognise most of the crowd; for once, it wasn't only the English students and the thesps who'd ventured to the performance. The team had captured a specific market: philosophy students of all years jumped at the opportunity for some ‘revision'. And it certainly worked; the show sold out completely, and racked up more stars from the student newspapers than a small constellation. Now we just have to wait for ‘A Brief History of Time: The Opera'...
By Amy Lewin - 3rd Year English Student
By Patrick Kennedy - Biology Student and Secretary, Oxford EntSoc
Wander round Brasenose's New Quad on a quiet term-time evening, and you might notice some strange sights. You might, for instance, glance an enthralled group of students huddling around a cage of hissing cockroaches, hear a charismatic rabbi extolling biblical beekeepers, or overhear a circus-performing zoologist midway through an impassioned eulogy to the flea. You will be confused. You may even be mildly disconcerted. Is this Oxford being eccentric, or is there something mysterious going on?
Oxford had an Entomology Society in 1856. Fifteen decades later, it didn't. The intellectual needs of the university's insect-lovers went unfulfilled. Recently, however, a small contingent of Brasenose biologists has resurrected the society, attracting audiences across subjects, ages, disciplines, and even universities. Beginning with an enthusiastic lecture by BBC explorer George McGavin, EntSoc has leapt from strength to strength, exploring everything from the art of Japanese beetle-collecting and the evolution of animal societies to the globalisation of ants and the machinations of unscrupulous caterpillars.
Despite nearly being ejected from Fresher's Fair for harbouring live specimens, this newly-restored EntSoc is on a mission to convince the world (or, at least, the University) of the wonder of insects. Their events are, of course, definitely open to newcomers. The uninitiated in the art of beetle-gazing may be tempted by the offer of free biscuits (how many Oxford societies boast an appointed Biscuit Officer?). We've also just launched a new insect-admiring blog, courtesy of recent Brasenose graduate Chris Jeffs. So, if you've been bitten by the bug bug, or simply want to face your (irrational) fear of daddy long legs, keep up-to-date with events at www.entomologysociety.wordpress.com.
Ale Verses 2013
On Tuesday, 12th February, Shrove Tuesday, the College once again observed the tradition of performing Ale Verses. Dating to the days when college members would gather round the braziers in Hall to keep warm, it now takes the form of a three course dinner - with pancakes - and then the (optional!) drinking of a special ale while standing on the benches in hall and singing satirical songs about College set to popular tunes, ranging this year from LMFAO's I'm Sexy and I Know it to the New English Hymnal's 'Down Ampney' by way of Les Miserables and Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
This year the Dean, Dr Christopher Timpson, presided over proceedings, and did so with great aplomb: students noted his ability to sustain the singing during some of the more difficult parts of Brasenosian Rhapsody particularly impressive. The College's three Organ Scholars, John Forster, William Round and Henry Zeffman accompanied the singing on the Clavinova wonderfully, and the topics of this year's Verses covered, among many others, the Dean and Junior Deans' activities, the JCR President and room ballot, and the College's imminent appearance on University Challenge. Undergraduates, Graduates and Tutors passed a wonderful evening and this gloriously bizarre College tradition continued for another year.
James Blythe - JCR President
In 2011 Rebecca Heaysman came on an English Study Day at Brasenose College, for state school students interested in studying English at University. She then applied successfully to the college to read English, and began her studies in October 2012. She writes on her reflections of the day below.
When my teacher first told me about the English Study Day at Brasenose College I wasn't sure at all whether Oxford would be the right place for me; I had been to a few other open days but didn't think I would be good enough to apply and knew very little about the course. However, I decided that it would be worth having a look, and so joined a couple of other potential applicants from my sixth form on the trip. From the moment we arrived at Brasenose and were offered piles of biscuits and friendly smiles, we were all made to feel extremely welcome. An introductory talk by Dr Sos Eltis outlined the structure of the day and worked to set us at ease about any nervousness we might have been feeling about the tutorials, which were the first activity.
Everyone had been sent the poems ‘Weighing In' by Seamus Heaney and ‘Easter 1916' by Yeats, as well as Yeats' acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for poetry, in advance and had been asked to do a little prep work in order for us to get the full experience of a real Oxford tutorial. I had no idea what such a session would entail, and was pleasantly surprised by the informal but hugely stimulating nature of this style of teaching, with three of us sat on sofas in a tutor's office teasing out the main themes of the poems and discussing what we found interesting within them. I had never experienced anything like this before and relished the chance to discuss my favourite subject passionately with others who were similarly enthused. It was also hugely beneficial to be able to explore some of my ideas with an expert in their field; I feel that even in this short time I learnt a great deal about poetry that I had not even considered before, which helped me a lot with my studies once I returned home.
Reflections on the Chemistry 4th Year
by Andrew Phillips
As a chemistry student in my final year, instead of attending lectures and tutorials, I work full-time in a research group in the Chemistry Research Laboratory (CRL).
For many people the "Part II" year is the best aspect of the course. It is a unique opportunity to carry out your own original research within an active research group. There are a wide variety of groups to work for with vastly different research interests, ranging from theoretical and computational chemistry to bioinorganic and organic synthesis. Some people even choose to collaborate with completely different departments such as plant sciences or even history.
Personally I am working under the supervision of Dr Ed Anderson, carrying out research in organic chemistry. For my project, I am working toward the synthesis of a biologically active natural product found in the Schisandra genus of Chinese medicinal plants (see image). One of which can be growing in the Oxford University Botanical Gardens. These molecules have been shown to give good levels of anti-HIV activity. Although several other groups have worked on similar molecules, no one has yet produced a ‘total' synthesis of my key target. It's exciting to potentially be part of and help the first group to successfully reach the target molecule.
A typical day in the lab usually consists of planning experiments, learning new techniques and analysing the compounds I've made. Working with graduate level equipment and facilities is big step up from the undergraduate teachings labs! It might seem daunting to start working independently on your own project but the whole research group are very supportive and a DPhil or Post-Doc, usually working on a related project, mentors each Part II student. You are really made to feel like a valuable member of the research group and are included in all group activities such as giving presentations and literature reviews in group meetings. I also regularly join my fellow group members at the pub for a drink (or two!) on Friday evenings after work.
The Ashmole Society is Brasenose's very own history society. We host a range of speaker and panel events, with famous and established historians speaking and debating on a range of topics. From twelfth century coins to questioning the worth of the First World War, from the fall of Berlin to the modern Conservative Party, the Ashmole Society can cater for all historical interests. We also run more informal social events throughout the year including drinks receptions and dinners.
On Friday 25th January, Ashmole marked Holocaust Memorial weekend by hosting Holocaust survivor Eva Clarke (pictured). In the reflective space of the Brasenose Ante-Chapel, Eva delivered her testimony. As Mauthausen concentration camp was liberated by the American army in 1945, Eva and her mother were the only survivors from their immediate family, 15 of which were killed at Auschwitz. Eva talked to over 120 attendees about her mother's experiences in Terezin ghetto, Auschwitz-Birkenau, her own birth in Mauthausen, and the impact of the Holocaust on her family and the spirit of survival. Her talk was absorbing and compelling, and she also took a number of interesting questions from the floor. Afterwards, there was a drinks reception at which Brasenose students were able to meet Eva personally. The local MP, Andrew Smith, also attended, along with members of the public as well as tutors and students from across the university. It was a highly successful evening for the Ashmole Society, Brasenose College, and the study of history.
And it doesn't end there - later this term the Society will be hosting esteemed Second World War historian Antony Beevor, historian-turned-MP Chris Skidmore, and will be running a behind-the-scenes tour of the Ashmolean Museum.