It rained miserably today. But what did we care? We were indoors pursuing research. On Fridays of induction week Humanities students present the results of their findings in small group research projects.
English Literature and English Literature and Creative Writing students work with the theme of ‘Literary Cheltenham: Writing the Town’ to explore Cheltenham’s cultural meanings, history and continuities. Starting with a walk around town (see Wednesday’s diary) freshmen visit places of literary and cultural significance. Best of all, they begin to ‘read’ Cheltenham through their senses as well as their intellects.
We listened to some fine project presentations. One group presented on the novelist Frances (Fanny) Burney; another group demonstrated how Cheltenham draws on international art and multiple forms to create a kind of colony. This point had never occurred to me before, but in fact the Montpelier fountain and the caryatids do constitute a kind of art theft, or perhaps appropriation or bricolage. Other groups spoke about music and poetry, architecture and painting; why poets, writers and artists take the spa waters and whether it did them any good (Handel, Dr Johnson, Tennyson). One group used black and white graphics to suggest Cheltenham’s shadow side – another potentially rich way of reading.
With presentations like this, we don’t need photos. But I still would like some. If our freshers send me any of the photos they took on their Magical Mystery Tour, I’ll add them to the Flickr gallery.
Our last appointment was with some of the directors and organisers of the Cheltenham Festival of Literature. The Festival begins in a fortnight’s time and we’re going to be involved on a massive scale. Staff are holding workshops; the School sponsors the Laurie Lee Memorial Lecture and other events; and students will be working as volunteers, attendants and assistants. The Festival has generously given us over a thousand free tickets, too. Watch this space for all you need to know about the Festival.
That concludes a really successful and enjoyable Induction week. Now for a weekend spent relaxing before classes start on Monday morning. Our thanks go to all our students.