It was early February during my Intro to Poetry class when I first saw a poster with a picture of the Radcliffe Camera advertising the Shakespeare in Oxford program. When I applied for the program, and even during the first week in Oxford, I was expecting the following weeks to be mostly Shakespeare.
You can imagine my surprise at being here, barely two weeks in, and already finished reading all four Shakespeare plays and devoting the majority of my time to my tutorial.
I can easily say that the Oxford tutorial is the most rigorous academic environment that I’ve ever experienced in my life. To give you an idea, I’ll meet with my tutor only three times over the month I’m here, but over those three visits, I will have written upwards of 10,000 words and spent copious hours in the Bodleian Library.
I’ve only had one meeting with my tutor so far, and I am pleased to report that it went better than expected. After days of nonstop writing, I was able to sit down with my tutor, who is the Director of the Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing. As he read my story back to me, he commented on what he found funny and profound, and what he found awkward and weak. It was both exciting and terrifying to work one-on-one with such an esteemed and accredited member of the Oxford faculty, though I will say that I am relieved that a 70 counts as an A here.
During my tutorial, my tutor commented on the apparent optimism of my main character. He shared with me an anecdote of when he picked potatoes as a child, and how there was always a moment when he first got the field in the morning and would think, I want all the potatoes on earth. Perhaps not the wisdom I was expecting from my tutor, but wisdom nonetheless.
The Shakespeare course makes for a nice change of pace from the tutorial. I’ve loved being able to discuss the plays and performances with my fellow CSU students, and I can honestly say that the experiential element of the course has caused me to see Shakespeare in a new light. We’ve separated Shakespeare from the high-brow, academic context that he is so often studied in and have instead looked at his work as entertainment. Standing face to face with the Globe stage during Hamlet proved to me that the power of Shakespeare’s work simply cannot be conveyed through reading alone. While we may be done reading Shakespeare for our course, we are in no way finished discussing, studying, or experiencing the implications of his work.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that I spend all my time in the library, (only most of it). Outside of academics, Oxford is an incredible city to explore. Just yesterday, after finishing my work at the Rad Cam, I went across the street to the Weston Library where I perused through the new Tolkien exhibit. It was incredible to see the life and works of the man who crafted one of the most extensive fictional worlds, right here in Oxford.
I am incredibly grateful to Oxford for having me, to CSU and Dr. Gollapudi for providing this opportunity, and to my fellow Rams for making this trip unforgettable.