Tonight I’m enjoying some peace and quiet in a park near the Oxford Canal. I have been wanting to come back here since we passed it in English class. The Oxford Canal stretches alongside a cute playground and park area. This evening I needed a moment to sit alone for a while after a busy weekend and start to the week. However, it has taken me a while to feel comfortable enough to venture into the suburban parts of Oxford alone.
Finding my way to the grocery store and shops downtown has been simple, but the neighborhoods and rural areas of Oxford are more difficult to navigate. Oxford has a funny way of morphing, rather quickly, from city areas to fields. That, perhaps, is part of the reason Lewis Carroll, or Charles Dodson, was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland in Oxford. The quaint, historic city streets strangely lead to the countryside. Exploring Oxford the past two weeks, especially Port Meadow, it is easy to imagine how one could be inspired to create a place such as Wonderland.
My courses have been extremely valuable to take in a setting like Oxford. Everything we do in both literature and history somehow connects back to Oxford or England, allowing us to engage with our surroundings at a deeper level. In history, for instance, we discussed the importance of the relationship between the Prime Minister and the U.S. President, with regards to Anglo-American relations. Being able to use our knowledge of the past to better understand current events has been fascinating. In fact, I have enjoyed finding connections between my literature course and current events as well.
Throughout our discussion of Jane Austen, Lewis Carroll, and Shakespeare, we have visited places that inspired or affected their work. I found a connection between the Bodleian Library and the EU Referendum. The Bodleian’s Librarian, Richard Ovenden released a statement explaining that since the Bodleian’s creation, international collaboration was valued and critical, but also that no matter the vote, the collaboration would occur. This was exciting for me as a history major because it was an example of how an institution’s past affected its decisions in the present.
My time in Oxford has reminded me of why history is so important and why I have chosen to focus on it in my studies. Additionally, if you’re wondering why I titled this post “The Golden Hour”, it’s because I was writing this post at dusk in a field. I realized while writing that although I was in a different country on a different continent, the golden hour, or dusk, possesses the same magic no matter where you are.