hoe_slavery_squares2.jpgDid abolition of the transatlantic slave trade damage enslaved women's health?

In 1807, the British parliament voted to abolish the transatlantic slave trade, following a long campaign led by William Wilberforce.

While most plantation owners opposed abolition, a few did not - including Joseph Foster Barham II, who owned Mesopotamia sugar estate in Jamaica.

Appalled by the suffering caused by the slave trade, Foster Barham (as MP for Stockbridge) voted with Wilberforce in the House of Commons for abolition and voluntarily ceased to purchase new African arrivals in 1792, 15 years before legal abolition. Mesopotamia's records are unusually detailed and record the ages, date of arrival, origin (whether African or born on the estate), health status, and work duties of 1,099 enslaved individuals on the estate between 1762 and 1832.  These manuscripts are preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.

On Mesopotamia, withdrawal from the slave trade led to an increase in the number of women sent to work in the cane fields, work considered to be the most arduous and riskiest on a plantation. Survival analysis suggests there was an accompanying  deterioration in their survival chances: estimates suggest the risk of death was about 55% to 75%higher for women arriving on the estate after 1792 than before. To test whether exposure to fieldwork accounts for reduced survival prospects, the actual survival times of slaves (i.e. time to death) was compared with their counterfactual survival times had they never been exposed to fieldwork. The technique employed is intended to avoid problems caused by  the ‘healthy worker survival effect': the tendency for labourers to be withdrawn from a hazardous occupation as their health failed, and reallocated to lighter duties.

Estimates suggest that continuous exposure to fieldwork on a sugar estate, relative to never being exposed, reduced survival times by approximately 30%. Consequently, the dread slaves felt at being sent to the fields appears well placed, especially for women who were less likely to occupy supervisory roles in sugar cultivation and, therefore, enjoyed the least amount of protection.

prof_striker.jpgThe fourth annual John Ackrill Memorial Lecture in Ancient Philosophy took place at Brasenose College on the evening of Thursday 8th March 2012. Professor Gisela Striker, CBE, FBA spoke on 'Two ways of deliberating - Aristotle and the Stoics'.

Professor Striker has recently retired from a joint appointment in Philosophy and Classics at Harvard University. She taught philosophy at Göttingen from 1971-1986, then at Columbia University in the late 1980s, and at Harvard from 1989 until 1997. She taught at the University of Cambridge until 2000, when she returned to teaching at Harvard. She is interested in ancient philosophy, teaching Plato and Aristotle, as well as earlier and later Greek and Roman authors. She has written mostly on topics in Hellenistic philosophy and on Aristotelian logic.

Professor John Lloyd Ackrill, a leading figure in the study of Ancient Greek philosophy, joined Brasenose College in 1953 and became Professor of the History of Philosophy at Oxford in 1966. He published widely on Aristotle and Plato and, for over 40 years, he edited the Clarendon Aristotle Series, which are translations of Aristotelian texts accompanied by philosophical commentaries.  The John Ackrill Memorial Lecture, inaugurated in 2009, is held in honour of the outstanding contribution he made to the study of ancient philosophy.


gremos1.jpgDr Abigail Green, Fellow in History at Brasenose College, has won the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature Choice Award, for her biography, Moses Montefiore:  Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero.

The Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literaturewas established in 2007 by the family of Sami Rohr, with the Jewish Book Council, in honor of his lifelong love of Jewish writing.  In conjunction with this award, the Rohr family has established the Sami Rohr Jewish Literary Institute, a forum devoted to the continuity of Jewish literature, which recognizes the important role of emerging writers in examining the Jewish experience.

In Moses Montefiore:  Jewish Liberator, Imperial Hero, Dr Green re-establishes Montefiore's status as a major historical player. Drawing on source material from eleven countries in nine languages, Green's sweeping biography interweaves the public triumph of Montefiore's foreign missions with the private tragedy of his childless marriage, and brings the diversity of nineteenth century Jewry brilliantly to life - from London to Jerusalem, Rome to St. Petersburg, Morocco to Istanbul. Here, we see the origins of Zionism and the rise of international Jewish consciousness; the grand humanitarian campaigns of the Anglo-Saxon world and the faltering birth of international human rights; the shifting relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims; European penetration of Palestine and the making of the modern Middle East.


The University of Oxford Humanities Division and Brasenose College were delighted to welcome stage and film actress Vanessa Redgrave as the Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama.  She  delivered lectures and took part in a symposium in Oxford during early February, as well as dining at Brasenose.

The programme of events focussed on the theme of Theatre and Politics and included lectures on King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra. The symposium held on Friday 10th February also featured actor Ralph Fiennes, Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington and playwright Simon Stephen.

Vanessa Redgrave can currently be seen starring in Ralph Fiennes' directorial debut Coriolanus. During her film career she has starred in films such as A Man For All Seasons, Howards End, A Month By The Lake, Mrs. Dalloway and Atonement. She received an Academy Award in 1978 for her supporting role in Julia. Her scores of major roles on the stage most recently include recreating The Year of Magical Thinking at the National Theatre; Lady Windermere's Fan at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket; The Tempest for the RSC at Shakespeare's Globe; and The Cherry Orchard at the Royal National Theatre. She starred on Broadway in the landmark 2003 production of Long Day's Journey Into Night and more recently in Driving Miss Daisy.

Vanessa has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 1995 and is an active supporter of Amnesty International and Liberty. She was awarded the CBE in 1967.

(image courtesy of Annabel Clark)

talking_heads.jpgCome and enjoy three parts of Alan Bennett's best known and most loved work, 'Talking Heads.' Three monologues will be performed in Brasenose Chapel at 5pm on Friday 10th February, each portraying a troubled and deluded individual let down by society's most respected institutions: the church, the media and social services. Simultaneously touching and irreverent, these monologues epitomise black humour in all its poignancy.

In 'Bed among the Lentils' we see a lonely and disillusioned woman, wife of a vicar, who is struggling to come to terms with her lack of faith in the church and her alcoholism. In 'A Lady of Letters', a pedantic middle-aged citizen unleashes a tide of epistolary invective on her community and must ‘suffer' the consequences. In 'Her Big Chance' a minor actress must take on her most challenging role in her career to date.

All proceeds from the event will be donated to KEEN Oxford, a charity which supports children and young adults with learning difficulties. Brasenose's very own Head Porter, Andy Talbot, will give a short talk on the work of the charity and his involvement with it.

jakesprogress.jpgJake's Progress, a new play, written by Richard O'Brien (4th Year English and Modern Languages) and produced by Amy Lewin (2nd Year English) is being shown from Wednesday 15th February to Saturday 18th February 2012 at the Keble College O'Reilly Theatre.

Jacob Weston wants to make music, but he also wants to make... it. His golden ticket to fame is provided on a silver platter by a major record producer, and his rise is glorious. His face is on a range of ethical soap, his twitter page is followed by the pope, his music is the new big thing. But it comes at a price. Jake must let himself be turned into a brand and be milked for all he's worth. In the process he forgets himself and puts his trust in this surface world of fame. But fame is a fickle lover, the golden ticket is gilded, and Jake must learn to face the music.

german_text.jpgBecky Staw, 4th Year French and German student, has helped Hull Museums by translating two propaganda leaflets, written in Gothic German script by allied forces and distributed by balloon on German soil during the First World War. The leaflets were likely to have been designed to deflate German morale.

The first document (pictured) tells of retreating German troops and is translated as "The German armies, having already been driven back across the Marne, had barely had time to gather reinforcements and establish new positions when British and French units launched an offensive against another part of the front.

From Albert to Montdidier to the point, further south, where the Western Front turns eastwards, German units commanded by General von Hutier and General von Marwitz have been pushed back several miles. At the centre of the offensive they have had to retreat over sixteen miles in the space of three days. These withdrawing German troops were subject to constant attacks by units of cavalry and tanks and in many cases retreat turned into rout. German losses amounted to 24,000 prisoners, 400 artillery pieces as well as a large part of the ground which had been captured in the March Offensive.

chris_boddy.jpgBrasenose Physics DPhil student, Chris Boddy, has written an app, called LHSee, which allows any user of Android phones, tablet computers or other devices to interact with the experiments conducted at the CERN Large Hadron Collider (LHC) housed at the Franco-Swiss border. The LHC is set to help answer some of the fundamental questions in Physics, and Chris's app helps interested members of the public to relate to the project in ways not possible before. Using funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Chris spent two months designing and writing the app to have as many features as possible including the streaming of collision events live as they happen at CERN direct to phones using a fully 3-D collision event display. There is also a crash course in particle physics experiments and an animated game that shows the user how to spot a Higgs boson using the detectors.

Since the 7th October the app has over 40,000 downloads, with an average user rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on the Android marketplace, along with "App of the Day/Week" awards from many review websites and more mainstream coverage from the Guardian, the Times, the Daily Mail and Forbes magazine. Chris plans to add some new features as an update for the coming weeks and together with Dr Alan Barr of the Particle Physics department, they have already applied for another grant to make a cross-platform version that will also work all major phone handsets (including iPhones) next year.

robertailey.jpgBy Roberta Iley (Biological Sciences 3rd Year)

During summer 2011, I spent three months travelling and living abroad in South East Asia and Australia, learning as much about myself as I did about the ecosystems I went to study.

For the first month and a half of my travels I was living in a hut on a small remote island belonging to Sulawesi, Indonesia.  I was collecting data for my dissertation in Biological Sciences out on the coral reefs, something that involved snorkelling every day over some of the most beautiful reefs in the world - it's a tough degree!  My project was to look at coral rubble, i.e. fragments of coral rubble that accumulate from human and natural disturbances, and which are often washed up into patches.  Inside the crevices and on the large surface areas of these fragments settle a plethora of organisms and I spent hours bent over petri dishes in the lab squinting at beautiful, but tiny, crabs, worms and shrimp.  Perhaps the size of the organisms justifies the fact that they have been so poorly studied, but these coral rubble patches are an increasingly important habitat in the wake of such large human impacts on coral reefs and the potential of increasing intensities of storms with climate change.

I was working alongside a number of fantastic PhD students for this project and it was easy to regain a strict work ethic when you did not have the standard distractions of TV and readily available internet.  This was really my first taste of living a much more ‘primitive' life without the home comforts that I am all too used to. There was no running water on the island with obvious implications for the bathroom arrangements and when the generator shut down at night, the place was plunged into a darkness that I had never really experienced before.  This meant that we went to bed much earlier after the (stunning, holiday brochure-worthy) sunsets and correspondingly rose at the crack of dawn - a time not often seen in the life of an undergraduate student!

dave_popplewell.jpgDr David Popplewell, Brasenose fellow in Psychology, has been given an Oxford Teaching Award by the Medical Sciences Division, as a public acknowledgement of his excellence in teaching and learning.

Dr Popplewell will be given his ‘Excellent Teacher' award at a ceremony on 10 of November in the Divinity School. He is being recognised for the exceptional contribution he has made to the delivery of teaching of statistics in Experimental Psychology. Dr Popplewell has been a supernumerary fellow at Brasenose since 1997, and is currently the Department Coordinator of Psychology for undergraduate admissions. His primary research interest is in the application of Information Technology in Neuroscience and Psychology.

Recent Brasenose winners of the Medical Sciences Division Teaching Excellence Awards include Professor Anton van der Merwe (Kurti Senior Fellow) and Dr Richard Boyd (Fellow in Medicine).

jing_ouyang.jpgFreshers were heartily welcomed to Brasenose College last week, when just over two hundred undergraduates and graduates joined the Brasenose community. As well as meeting their tutors and other members of College, undergraduates were treated to a whole host of activities designed to help them settle in to College life. Events included an exclusive performance by Oxford A Capella group Out of the Blue and leading improvised comedy troupe the Oxford Imps, a Casino Night, a pool tournament, a walk through Port Meadow, a ghost tour, a treasure trail around the city, a barbeque at the Brasenose Boat House, a visit to the Phoenix Cinema, a tour of the historic pubs of Oxford, a sports day and trips to local nightclubs.

Jing Ouyang,  a 3rd Year Medic who led the organisation of fresher's week, commented "Fresher's week was a resounding success and the fresher's committee did a brilliant job organising it. The freshers responded really well to all the events and we had big turnouts, especially for Out of the Blue and the treasure trail. The highlight of the week was definitely Out of the Blue, who had only recently featured on prime time TV, demonstrating a good balance of both day time and night time activities. Freshers were amazed by how we were able to attract such big names for our fresher's week, but this just goes to show how much effort the college and the JCR puts into the programme. "



Professor Nicholas Purcell has joined Brasenose College as the new Camden Professor of Ancient History.  The Camden Professorship was first established in 1622 by English antiquarian and historian William Camden (1551-1623), who came to Oxford in 1566. The chair has been attached to Brasenose College since the 19th century, and has recently been held by Sir Fergus Millar (1984-2002) and the current Principal of Brasenose College, Professor Alan Bowman (2002-2010).

Professor Purcell has held posts at All Souls College and St John's College, and has written widely on Mediterranean History and the ancient city of Rome. On beginning his professorship, he commented "I was an undergraduate at Worcester College, when Martin Frederiksen was ancient history tutor there. He encouraged an interest in Rome and Italy which has always been at the core of my work, and introduced me to Peter Brunt, then Camden Professor, by sending me to him for tutorials at Brasenose on fifth-century BC Greek History. He was apt to sink very low in his chair, cigarette in mouth, and say unexpectedly in his most sepulchral tones 'so you disagree with Brunt, then'. It is quite a challenge to come back to BNC 35 years later as successor to Syme, Brunt, Millar and Bowman, but I am looking forward to it very much, and to doing my bit to help out with Classics in a College which has always been very loyal indeed to the subject. We take a very good number of graduates in Ancient History, partly because of the Camden Chair, and it will be good to get to know them in a College context as well as in the faculty."


jonathan_newell.jpgBrasenose is pleased to announce the appointment of Jonathan Newell as the College's first Director of Music.  The post is designed to build on the work Nick Prozzillo has done as Graduate Director of Music, giving the college the benefit of an experienced musician supervising not only the choir and chapel music, but also our concerts (professional and amateur) and our wider musical life.

Jonathan is a vastly experienced organist and choral trainer.  A graduate of Durham University, where he was the Organ Scholar of University College, he holds diplomas in organ playing and choir training from the Royal College of Organists, London and Trinity College, London. He also holds an M.A. in Choral Education from the University of Surrey.  As well as experience in the UK, Jonathan has worked abroad - in Norway, running the music in five churches; in Cairo, he was Director of Music at the British International School; in Vienna, he even founded a chamber choir which performed at the Sturm-Graz F.C. Christmas party.  Since 2009, he has been the Chief Examiner for the International Baccalaureate Diploma in music. 

sept_open_day_helpers.jpgThe final Open Day of 2011 was held at Brasenose College in  mid-September. Hundreds of prospective applicants, teachers and parents visited Brasenose, greeted by a small army of enthusiastic student helpers. Impromptu tours ran all day for prospective applicants, many of whom had already decided to apply to Oxford, but were pondering college choice. Tutors were also on hand to meet with the visitors.

Brasenose's Schools Officer, Dr Joe Organ, commented: "Every Open Day we run I'm always amazed at the enthusiasm and inquisitiveness of our visitors. It is fantastic to see so many of them taking an interest in the College. Yet again I was very proud of our student helpers, who worked very hard all day to show people round, and give them an insight into College and University life"



maris_kopcke.jpgCongratulations to Dr Maris Köpcke Tinturé, Brasenose lecturer in Law (and Worcester College fellow in Law), who has won the European Award for Legal Theory. This award is assigned, once every two or three years, to the author of the best doctoral thesis submitted anywhere in Europe, in the area of legal theory and philosophy of law. The competition is judged by a jury with members representing the various sub-disciplines within legal theory and philosophy of law, from several different countries. Dr Köpcke's doctoral thesis (Oxford, 2009) studies the moral function of legal validity. It argues that the mechanism of legal validity enables a diverse population to coordinate action around shared standards and that, for this reason, it is morally necessary that legal validity does not (primarily) turn on moral considerations. As part of the award, Dr Köpcke's doctoral thesis will be published by Hart Publishing Ltd of Oxford and she will be appointed as a lecturer at the European Academy of Legal Theory, in charge of a seminar for a period of three academic years.

open_day2011.jpgThe first undergraduate Open Days of 2011 were held at Brasenose College in early July. Once again, the event proved to be very successful, with hundreds of prospective applicants, teachers and parents visiting Brasenose. All prospective applicants were offered tours of the College, with 40 current students from nearly every subject on hand for questions about undergraduate life. Subject tutors were also available at various times to discuss with prospective applicants courses, admissions procedures, teaching methods and other topics.

As every undergraduate college, as well as departments and faculties run events during the Open Days, for two days in July Oxford was awash with sixth form students finding out about life at the University. In part due to its location right at the heart of the collegiate city, and in part due to its open door ‘no bookings required' policy, Brasenose was heaving with prospective applicants throughout the Open Days.  

morgan.jpgA recent edition of BBC Radio 4's Something Understood is hosted by Brasenose Classics Fellow, Dr Llewelyn Morgan. In the programme, Dr Morgan considers how the diamond, a beautiful yet tarnished jewel, is capable of provoking complex responses within us all, and examines how this precious stone can bring out the best and worst in us. The programme features reading from Christina Rosetti, Marco Polo and William Pitt Root, and music from Joan Baez, Bela Bartok and Joni Mitchell. There is also an interview with bookseller Farrukh Hussain.

Something Understood - Diamonds and Coal was broadcast on Sunday 26th June 2011. It can be listened to on BBC iPlayer until the evening of Sunday 3rd July:


bowman_alan.jpgBrasenose College is pleased to announce that Professor Alan Bowman will become Principal of the College from 1st October 2011, when the current Principal Professor Roger Cashmore retires.

Professor Bowman was formerly the Camden Professor of Ancient History and has been Acting Principal of Brasenose in 2010-11, while Professor Cashmore has been on research leave.

Professor Bowman was born in Manchester in 1944, and educated at Manchester Grammar School (1955-62) and the Queen's College, Oxford where he read Greats (1962-6). He earned his Doctorate at the University of Toronto (1966-9), was Assistant Professor of Classics at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey (1970-2), Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Manchester (1972-7), Official Student of Christ Church and University Lecturer in Ancient History, University of Oxford (1977-2002) before becoming Camden Professor of Ancient History and Fellow of Brasenose College (2002-10). His research interests have included Roman Egypt and Vindolanda. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1994.

Richard Haydon
Vice Principal
Brasenose College

bnc_students_in_the_grove.jpgAscension Day, which fell on the 2nd June this year, is marked at Brasenose College with two long-standing traditions. Firstly, the Beating of the Bounds ceremony passed through Brasenose during the morning of Ascension Day. 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 parishes visit and mark the boundary stones located on certain walls of the college by marking them with the year in chalk and beating them with willow sticks. The brief ceremony was led by our Chaplain, the Reverend Graeme Richardson, and was well-attended by students, staff and visitors.

bnc_old_boys1.jpgOn May 15th a BNC Old Boys football team returned to the Brasenose sports ground to play a current students XI. Led by Gareth Cadwallader (1977, PPE), the Old Boys team certainly looked the part, sporting specially embroidered football shirts, in Brasenose colours, provided by Lawrence Lever (1977, Law) and Gary Jackson (1978, Maths).

Buoyed by the news that the current students XI were in some disarray due to the well-timed Brasenose College Ball the previous evening, the BNC Old Boys started strongly, scoring two goals through Martin Fiennes (1980, Geography) and Danny Paffett (1977, Chemistry). With some stout defending by the Old Boys and squandered goal mouth chances by the students, the first half closed with a respectable 2-2 score line.

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