I successfully submitted my first case study last night, and returned by books to the library this morning. I felt like I had done as best as I could have done in that time period, so that's all I can do. It still won't be good it enough, because this is Oxford, but I guess I'm going to have to get used to that, eh? I realized another awesome thing about being here with all these great people in your house:
There are so many people to proof read your stuff and do a great job of it. Seriously, back at Messiah, it's not easy to find a easily accessible person who is experienced enough in high-level writing to proofread for you and give you useful comments besides the usual punctuation and grammar type things. The writing center at Messiah is good for that sort of thing, but in my experience, I've never actually been able to read through a paper in it's entirety with someone there...there just isn't enough time.
So, I have been really loving all these great proof readers! I was able to get mine read by five different people counting my mom.
I should say a bit about the Hampton Court trip. The place is huge, and has been used by at least three kings, the most famous of which is Henry VIII. In fact, there was an actor playing him wandering about, as well as some of his advisors and his wife Katheryn Parr (forget which one of the six that was...I think the last, actually, the one that survived). Probably the most beautiful place there was the chapel, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures in there. The ceiling was ornately carved and painted blue and gold. There was an upstairs balcony just big enough for the King and Queen to kneel at their own personal heavily embroidered altar cushions and each had a little reading pedestal with a big old bible on it. The kitchens were also impressive; in the time of Henry VIII, 800 people worked in them!
I really liked the decoration of the Georgian apartments though, which were the newest parts of the palace. Lots of paintings and beautiful furniture. The gardens were HUGE, with a lot of green, including the world's oldest collection of Yew trees, around 300 years old. They also have the longest grapevine in the world there; it was planted in the 1700's and still produces grapes! there were a lot of big, juicy clusters on it when were there. It was planted by a man named Capability Brown, which I think is just about one of the best names ever.
Another plus about the palace was that they had robes for you to wear, if you wanted, which I did, of course. It was actually very handy, because it was colder that day than I thought it would be, so I had a little extra layer or warmth and medieval style.
Natalie and I forked over the 3.85 pounds to go inside the famous Hampton Court maze. The maze is mentioned in Three Men on a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, so there was no way I was passing that up. I figured it would be a cinch, as Harris in Three Men did, but it was trickier than we thought. It's a relatively small maze and I think it took us a good 20 minutes to find our way out.
Today was kind of sleepy...I think everyone was probably struggling to stay awake during the Simon Schama video. However, I woke up for our lecture by Dr. Richard Lawes, (who is my seminar leader) about Little Gidding (the place that inspired T.S. Eliot's poem) and the Metaphysical poets. I really liked it, and from what he told us about the place, I can see why Little Gidding would have inspired Eliot. It was almost like a family Protestant nunnery or something, only with married couples and their families. They had a small chapel, and they kept watches praying through the night, and had spiritual discussions where they would discuss scripture together, but also literature and other things and how they pertained to faith. That sounds pretty cool to me. I have been gaining some more fondness for the idea of liturgy while here. I'm still not convinced it should be the main focus, but I am very appreciative especially behind the ideas of it. One of the girls here wrote a paper that I proof read about the Common Book of Prayer, and the reasons it was written, and what the author hoped it would do. It was really a way to get the whole church to worship as a community, instead of the priest just doing everything and the people looking on. The Puritans thought it was papist trash, but I don't think I agree with them.
Well, I have to get reading for my next case study, which is on Jane Austen this time! I'm answering the question of whether film adaptations of her book betray her writing or whether it simply speaks to the universality of her writing.
I leave you with a quote from Dr. Lawes which I found funny and rather true: "Just about anyone who is anyone from a literary point of view dies of tuberculosis."