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Stuart Gillespie | 06 Mar 14 | 0 comments
Margi Blunden, daughter of the First World War poet Edmund Blunden, will be remembering her father and his work at the WW1 Poetry Spring School run by Oxford University's English Faculty on 3-5 April 2014.
Margi will recall life growing up with a father deeply affected by the Great War and shed light on his literary achievements. As our living link to this bygone age, Margi will provide a thrilling insight into the man who wrote the autobiographical Undertones of War (1928), hailed as Blunden's greatest contribution to the literature of war.
The Spring School is open to members of the public, particularly those who are seeking to challenge common misconceptions and gain a deeper critical appreciation of Great War poetry. It will bring together world-leading experts, each giving an introductory lecture on the major poets and poems. Speakers will provide reading lists and follow-up exercises for further study.
Other speakers confirmed include: Adrian Barlow, Meg Crane, Guy Cuthbertson, Gerald Dawe, Simon Featherstone, Philip Lancaster, Stuart Lee, Jean Liddiard, Alisa Miller, Charles Mundye, Jane Potter, Mark Rawlinson and Jon Stallworthy.
Aged 19, Edmund Blunden volunteered to join the army, despite winning a place at The Queen's College, Oxford to read Classics. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and went to France in early 1916 and was eventually demobilised in mid-February 1919. During his service in France and Flanders he spent two years at the front, more than any other well-known war writer. Those two years included some of the most violent and bloody fighting in the war, including the battle of the Somme and the battle of Third Ypres.
His most famous works also include In Concert Party: Busseboom (written 10 years after the war) and The Waggoner (1920). He enjoyed a productive career as an editor, journalist, critic and biographer. Blunden was also instrumental in bringing the works of the war poets Wilfred Owen and Ivor Gurney to publication. Edmund Blunden died at his home on 20 January 1974 aged 77.
The Spring School will be held at the Faculty of English, St Cross Building, University of Oxford on 3-5 April 2014. There are a number of different ticket options, including student, senior, school and single-day rates. See the website for full details.(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 03 Mar 14 | 0 comments
To commemorate the centenary of the First World War, the Oxford English Dictionary is seeking earlier or additional evidence for a host of WWI-related vocabulary, including 'shell shock', 'demob', 'skive' and 'Sam Browne'. In a guest blog post, Kate Wild, senior assistant editor of the OED, explains further...
The Oxford English Dictionary needs you!
Can you help find earlier evidence for the use of some wartime words?
To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War, the OED is updating its coverage of terms relating to or coined during the war.
The First World War had a significant impact on English vocabulary: new words were needed to refer to, for example, new vehicles, weapons, military strategies and trench-related illnesses; words were borrowed or adapted from other languages, especially French and German; and many soldiers’ slang terms were either coined or widely popularized.
For many of these terms, our first quotations are from newspapers and magazines, and we know that there may well be earlier evidence – especially for slang and colloquial terms – in less easily accessible sources such as private letters and diaries.
And just last month, the National Archives released a set of digitized war diaries which might contain valuable evidence of WWI-related vocabulary.
The OED has a long tradition of asking the public to help find evidence of word usage.
Back in the 19th century, the first editor of the OED, James Murray, published lists of words for which he wanted to find earlier or additional evidence, and this type of appeal has continued in recent years, first with the television programme Balderdash & Piffle, and more recently with the OED Appeals website, oed.com/appeals.
Although OED readers and researchers consult a large number of books, newspapers, and online databases, it would be impossible to read or search everything that has ever been written in English.
And given that the purpose of the OED is to show the history of each word in English, the earliest written evidence of a word is very important.
As an example, one of our appeals is for earlier evidence of the term shell shock, for which our earliest quotation is currently the title of a 1915 medical article, ‘A contribution to the study of shell shock.’
This article was written by Charles Samuel Myers, a psychologist who was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps during the First World War.
Some accounts, though, suggest that Myers did not invent the term, but merely popularized it.
Certainly, shell shock sounds like a term that might have been devised by laymen rather than by a medical practitioner, and it is possible that Myers heard it being used by soldiers at the front.
Any earlier evidence of such usage – perhaps from a soldier’s letter or diary – would contribute to our understanding of the term.
A more lighthearted example is the colourful phrase Zeppelins in a cloud or Zepps in a cloud (sometimes also Zeppelins/Zepps in a fog/smokescreen and other variants), meaning ‘sausage and mash’.
Our first example at present is from a 1925 dictionary, Soldier & Sailor Words.
Given that this is a dictionary of slang terms used in the First World War, it seems highly likely that earlier evidence can be found.
This appeal has elicited a number of responses, with suggested quotations from as early as 1915 – though it is possible that there might be something even earlier out there.
For all our appeals, we check the suggested quotations to make sure they are accurate and correctly dated.
The earliest valid quotation is then added to the dictionary entry when it is published in its revised form.
The OED Appeals website always acknowledges those who have submitted usable and verifiable evidence.
The full list of WWI-related appeals can be found at oed.com/appeals.
If you think you might be able to help, please have a look and send in your evidence!
The revised WWI-related vocabulary will be published on OED online during the centenary period.(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 14 Feb 14 | 0 comments
Love is in the air for many of us today – but it's always a time for romance at the Ashmolean Museum, which has been featuring a number of Valentine's Day-themed works of art from its collections on its Twitter feed throughout the day.
1. Two merchants compete for the love of the geisha Kasaya Sankatsu
Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1864)
Woodblock triptych print, c. 1849
Here, two merchants compete for the love of the geisha Sankatsu. Sankatsu holds the two halves of a red sake cup in her hands, demonstrating her divided loyalties towards the two men.
2. The Love Letter
Thomas Sully (1783–1872)
Oil on canvas, 1834
One of Sully's most popular compositions, of which he painted numerous replicas. This version was presumably bought by the tenor Joseph Wood and his wife, the soprano Mary Ann Paton, during their American tour in 1836 when Sully painted Mary Ann's portrait, or perhaps when Sully visited England to paint Queen Victoria in 1837.
3. Acme and Septimius
Frederic Lord Leighton (1830–1896)
Oil on canvas, 1868
The subject of this scene of idyllic love is taken from Catullus, Carmine XV. Both the round shape and composition are indebted to Raphael's Madonnas. The background includes the rose, traditionally the symbol of love, and orange trees. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1868, it was praised by critics, who noted with approval Leighton's chaste treatment of the scene.
4. Lovers at dawn, illustrating the musical mode Raga Vibhasa
North Deccan, India
Gouache on paper, c.1675
The musical mode Vibhasa ('radiance') is normally performed at dawn. It is conceived pictorially as a noble couple who have passed the night together. Often, as the lady sleeps, her lover may aim his bow to shoot the crowing cock. But here he holds a flower bow and arrow like the love god Kama, and the peacock is unthreatened. Ragamala painting became a highly popular genre in the Mughal period.
5. Oh delizie d'Amor!
Giovanni Cardini after Antonio Fedi
Etching and stipple, c.1810-20
An element of drama, and plenty of exclamation marks, are all provided by this Italian scene of elopement.
6. Love bringing Alcestis back from the Grave
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones
Watercolour and chalk on paper, 1863
7. Baz Bahadur and Rupmati
Kulu, northern India
Gouache with gold and silver on paper, c.1720
A cultivated prince and gifted singer, the Muslim Sultan Baz Bahadur, Sultan of Malwa, was devoted to the company of musicians and dancing girls. His favourite was Rupmati, a celebrated beauty who became his constant companion. The love of Baz Bahadur and his Hindu mistress became a popular theme of poetry and song in late Mughal India.
All images copyright Ashmolean Museum.(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 07 Feb 14 | 0 comments
A group of Modern Languages students from Oxford University are documenting their time abroad in Brazil via the BBC.
'Para Inglês Ver', or 'For the English to See', is a series of blogs hosted by BBC Brasil that allows the students to share their impressions of the country – from music, arts and culture to race relations and politics – as they travel around during the first few months of 2014.
Lily Green, a Portuguese and Spanish student at St Peter's College, contributed the first blog post.
She told Arts at Oxford: 'The project evolved from a series of meetings. I met Juliana Iootty of the BBC during Brazil Week, a cultural event organised by one my tutors, Dr Claire Williams.
'Juliana suggested that some of the Portuguese students should come and visit Broadcasting House, where we were given a tour and talked about potential projects. We then had a second meeting with Silvia Salek of BBC Brasil, who suggested the blog.
'So it was pretty organic, and Juliana and Silvia were both really encouraging and just as enthusiastic about the project as we were.'
Lily was the first student to arrive in Brazil, and she is convinced being involved with the blog has made her more inquisitive about her surroundings.
She said: 'From living with a host family and talking to them, as well as colleagues and friends, I know that the things I've written about will get a debate going among Brazilian people. They're the kinds of topics that come up on the commute to work, or in the staff room, or round the dining table.
'The writing process has been difficult, as there is so much I want to say, with so many subtleties. Writing about social issues for social media is a world away from our 2000-word essays. But it has been great to step out of the books and into the real world.'
Guilherme Perdigão Murta, Language Instructor in Brazilian Portuguese at Oxford, said: 'It is part of the course requirement that our students spend part of their third year in a Portuguese-speaking country, and the interest in Brazil has grown considerably in the past few years.
'The students sometimes move to Brazil with certain preconceptions about the country, and it is always fascinating to see how their views and understanding of Brazilian culture change.
'It will be an opportunity for Brazilians to see themselves through young foreign eyes, and for the students to share what they learn during their time in the country – in terms of both language and culture.
'The BBC Brasil website is an amazing platform for the work of our future Brazilianists.'
Lily's first post introduces the blog and explores the series' title.
She said: 'The title is so perfect, really. To get a sense of what it really meant, I would ask people I met what the phrase meant to them. Many people hadn't heard it before but for most it was something false, or something put on just for show.
'In my head I find it easiest to understand it as "sweeping things under the carpet" – not just because you don't want to deal with a problem, but because you don't want anyone to see there is a problem at all.
'So in the first post I was trying to get my head round the title but also highlight a few things I had spied under the metaphorical rug of sunny Brazil – the way there are always two sides to the coin in every aspect of the country. For example, luxury new-age shopping centres sit side-by-side with interior country landscapes that remind me of Nepal; breathtaking natural beauty is coupled with really shocking industrial pollution.'
Silvia Salek, acting editor of BBC Brasil – part of the World Service – said: 'When choosing "Para Inglês Ver" as the title of this series we were playing with the idea that Brazilians can present foreigners with a façade that may not necessarily reflect reality, and our bloggers are certainly able to go beyond the façade.
'The Oxford University students taking part in this project are assuming the role of modern travellers who set out to explore Brazil, but instead of explaining it to their fellow countrymen they are talking to a Brazilian audience.
'We hope that this will be a two-way process in which Brazilians can learn from these students' perspectives and perhaps see how they themselves can contribute to a more diverse understanding of their own country.'Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 30 Jan 14 | 0 comments
With the Golden Globes handed out and the Oscars looming, much of the media's attention is focused on the top films of the past 12 months.
Chief among them is Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, which has already scooped the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture amid a slew of other nominations and is the hot favourite to triumph at the Academy Awards in March.
The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Lupita Nyong'o and Benedict Cumberbatch, is an adaptation of an 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup, a free-born African American from New York who was kidnapped by slave traders.
To coincide with the release of 12 Years a Slave, a BBC Culture Show special, presented by Mark Kermode, looked at the history and culture of slavery.
Oxford academic Jay Sexton, Deputy Director of the Rothermere American Institute (RAI), was one of the experts interviewed for the programme.
He said: 'To be a free black in the northern states would be much better than being a slave in the south, but there would be all sorts of limitations – both legal and political.'
Also interviewed was Richard Blackett of Vanderbilt University, Harmsworth Visiting Professor of American History at the RAI.
He said: 'Kidnapping was a major issue in mid 19th-century America. One can't quantify how many people were kidnapped, but a considerable number of free black people were kidnapped and sold into slavery.'
The programme can be viewed on BBC iPlayer here (link available until 12:04am, Saturday 1 February).(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 28 Jan 14 | 0 comments
Leading figures from the arts, science and public policy came together in Oxford last night to discuss the value of the humanities in the 21st century.
Around 450 people packed into the University's Examination Schools to hear the views of, among others, Guardian chief arts writer Charlotte Higgins and Oxford mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy.
The event, which included a keynote speech from Dr Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, kicked off the Humanities and the Public Good series, organised by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).
Among the audience given a warm welcome by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, were a number of school groups from across the UK.
Dr Lewis, in his speech titled 'In Everyone’s Interests: What it Means to Invest in the Humanities', said: 'Three quarters of a century ago, Virginia Woolf posed the question: if you had just three guineas to share, what would you support? In each age we face ostensibly insurmountable challenges that require choices to be made, resources to be allocated and areas to be ignored.
'The American Academy of Arts and Sciences argued in a recent report that we live in a world characterised by change, and therefore a world dependent on the humanities and social sciences.'
Dr Lewis argued that, like the STEM subjects earlier this century, the humanities need to develop their own narrative – but not one of crisis.
He added: 'We have to consider that the humanities continue to demonstrate the vibrant and dynamic tension between continuity and change. Longstanding disciplines such as literature, history and philosophy remain important to scholarship and discovery. And for nearly a quarter of a century we have also been embracing interdisciplinary scholarship.
'The humanities give us a fuller understanding of our world – past, present and future. The use of one's precious guineas in support of the humanities must start with a clear sense of its narrative, backed up by data. Investment then follows because the case for support is clear. That is why it is in everyone's interests to support the humanities and the public good – doing so advances our shared future.'
Responding to Dr Lewis's speech, Dame Hermione Lee, President of Wolfson College, Oxford, argued that those defending the humanities should not do so in an 'indignant, embattled or sentimental way'. She added: 'Why should we invest in the humanities? Because we're human.'
Charlotte Higgins, herself an Oxford classics graduate, called for the humanities not to be measured by the same criteria as the sciences, while Professor du Sautoy hailed the value of narrative, storytelling and collaboration in his own discipline.
Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute and a late addition to the panel, suggested that humanities scholars need to become better at engaging with policy makers, adding that the humanities have an unfortunate tendency to fight the previous battle rather than the current one.
And in an audience question and answer session chaired by Professor Shearer West, Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford, topics covered included why a sixth former should study a humanities subject at university; the value of longitudinal career studies into humanities graduates; the relationship between humanities study and employment prospects; and funding for the arts and humanities.
Information on the rest of the Humanities and the Public Good series can be found here.
Images: Stuart Bebb (stuartbebb.com)(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 21 Jan 14 | 0 comments
The BBC's new drama series The Musketeers – adapted from Alexandre Dumas' novel Les Trois Mousquetaires – made its debut on Sunday evening. Ahead of the screening, Dr Simon Kemp, Oxford University Fellow and Tutor in French, tackled the curious question of why the musketeers appear to have an aversion to muskets...
"So here it comes. Peter Capaldi – Malcolm Tucker as was, Doctor Who as shortly will be – is twirling his moustache as Cardinal Richelieu in trailers for the much-heralded BBC adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' Les Trois Mousquetaires (1844). It's always good to see British TV take on French literary classics. Let's hope The Musketeers has a little more in common with its source material than the BBC's other recent effort, The Paradise, for which I'd be surprised if the producers were able to put up the subtitle 'based on the novel by Émile Zola' without blushing.
"At any rate, the Dumas adaptation looks exciting, with plenty of cape-swishing, sword-fighting, smouldering looks and death-defying leaps. Plus one element that is markedly more prevalent than in the book itself: gunfire. One of the odder things about Dumas' novel for the modern reader is its singular lack of muskets.
"In the mid-1620s, when the story is set, the Mousquetaires are the household guard of the French king, Louis XIII, an elite force trained for the battlefield as well as for the protection of the monarch and his family in peacetime. They are named for their specialist training in the use of the musket (mousquet), an early firearm originally developed in Spain at the end of the previous century under the name moschetto or 'sparrow-hawk'. Muskets were long-barrelled guns, quite unlike the pistols shown in the trailer, and fired by a 'matchlock' mechanism of holding a match or burning cord to a small hole leading to the powder chamber. By the 1620s they were not quite as cumbersome as the Spanish originals, which needed to have their barrels supported on a forked stick, but they were still pretty unwieldy devices.
"There are lots of weapons in the opening chapters of Les Trois Mousquetaires, where D'Artagnan travels to the barracks and challenges almost everyone he meets along the way to a duel (including all three of the musketeers). Lots of sword-fighting, but no muskets in sight. One of the musketeers has nicknamed his manservant mousequeton, or 'little musket', and that is as near as we get to a gun until page 429 of the Folio edition, when an actual mousqueton makes its first appearance. A mousqueton is not quite a musket, though, and in any case it's not one of the musketeers who is holding it.
"The siege of La Rochelle in the later part of the story seems a more propitious setting for firearms, and indeed, as soon as he arrives at the camp, D'Artagnan spies what appears to be a musket pointing at him from an ambush and flees, suffering only a hole to the hat. Examining the bullet-hole, he discovers 'la balle n'était pas une balle de mousquet, c'était une balle d'arquebuse' ('the bullet was not from a musket, it was an arquebuse bullet', arquebuse being an earlier type of firearm). We are now 586 pages into the story, and starting to wonder if Dumas is playing a game with us.
"The suspicion is heightened when the musketeers take a jaunt into no man's land for some secret scheming away from the camp: 'Il me semble que pour une pareille expedition, nous aurions dû au moins emporter nos mousquets,' frets Porthos on page 639 ('It seems to me that we ought to at least have taken our muskets along on an expedition like this'). 'Vous êtes un niais, ami Porthos; pourquoi nous charger d'un fardeau inutile?' scoffs Athos in return ('You're a fool, Porthos, my friend. Why would we weight ourselves down with useless burdens?').
"The key to the mystery of the missing muskets is in these lines. Their absence from the novel up to this point is simply for the historical reason that the heavy and dangerous weapons were appropriate for the battlefield, not for the duties and skirmishes of peace-time Paris. Even when his heroes are mobilized, Dumas remains reluctant to give his musketeers their muskets. Remember that, writing in the 1840s, Dumas is closer in time to us today than he is to the period he's writing about, and his gaze back to the 17th century is often more drawn to romance than historical accuracy (as the cheerfully pedantic footnotes in my edition point out on every other page).
"For Dumas, the charm of his chosen period lies in the skill and daring of the accomplished swordsman, and his breathless narrative can wring far more excitement from a well-matched duel of blades than it could from a military gun battle. Heroism in Dumas is to be found in noble combat, staring your opponent in the eye as you match his deadly blade with your own, not in the clumsy long-range slaughter of unknowns. Musketeers his heroes must be, in order that they might belong to the royal guard and thus play a role in the dark conspiracies hatched around the King, the Queen and her English lover by Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the throne. But the muskets themselves are surplus to requirements.
"Dumas does relent a little on his musket-phobia by the end of the novel. On page 645, the musketless musketeers fire at their enemies using weapons grabbed from corpses. And finally, on page 705, when Richelieu catches the four friends conspiring on the beach, we are at last granted a glimpse of the soldiers' own guns: '[Athos] montra du doigt au cardinal les quatre mousquets en faisceau près du tambour sur lequel étaient les cartes et les dès' ('He pointed out to the cardinal the four muskets stacked next to the drum on which lay the cards and dice').
"As far as I can make out, this is the only point at which we see the musketeers with their muskets in the whole story, and it seems a fitting way to present them to the reader: lying idle while the musketeers are occupied with other, more important amusements."
This post originally appeared on the outreach blog of the French sub-faculty at Oxford University.(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 10 Jan 14 | 0 comments
Dr Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, is among this term's Humanitas Visiting Professors at Oxford University.
Dr Williams will be giving two lectures in his capacity as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Interfaith Studies, as well as taking part in an 'in-conversation' event with Jon Snow.
Acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher, Dr Williams has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a wide range of related fields of professional study, including philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, after becoming archbishop, turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.
Dr Williams's programme begins on 24 January with his first lecture ('Faith, Force and Authority: does religious belief change our understanding of how power works in society?') followed by the in-conversation event. He will then give his second lecture ('Faith and Human Flourishing: religious belief and ideals of maturity') on 29 January.
Also visiting Oxford this term is General Michael Hayden, as Humanitas Visiting Professor in Intelligence Studies.
General Hayden is the former director of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). As director of the CIA, General Hayden was responsible for overseeing the collection of information concerning the plans, intentions and capabilities of America's adversaries; producing timely analysis for decision makers; and conducting covert operations to thwart terrorists and other enemies of the United States.
Before becoming director of the CIA, General Hayden served as the country's first Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and was the highest-ranking intelligence officer in the armed forces. He currently serves as a principal at the Chertoff Group, a security and risk management advisory firm, and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University.
General Hayden will be lecturing on 10 and 12 February with talks titled 'My Government, My Security and Me' and 'Terrorism and Islam's Civil War: Whither the Threat?' respectively.
Further details can be found here. All events are free and open to all, although registration on the website is recommended.
Humanitas is a series of Visiting Professorships at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge intended to bring leading practitioners and scholars to both universities to address major themes in the arts, social sciences and humanities.
Created by Lord Weidenfeld, the programme is managed and funded by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue with the support of a series of generous benefactors and administered by the Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).(Full story)
Stuart Gillespie | 19 Nov 13 | 0 comments
It can be traced back to an Australian web forum in 2002; its usage has increased 17,000% since this time last year; and it has been popularised by celebrities including Beyonce, Rihanna, Cheryl Cole and Justin Bieber.
The Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2013 is: selfie
- selfie noun, informal (also selfy; plural selfies)
a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website
It may strike some as nothing more than vanity, but the practice of taking selfies has skyrocketed over the past 12 months – particularly among young people with smartphones and social media accounts.
The word has been gaining momentum throughout the English-speaking world in 2013 [scroll down for infographic] and has evolved from a social media buzzword to mainstream shorthand for a self-portrait photograph. Its linguistic productivity is already evident in the creation of numerous related spin-off terms including those showcasing particular parts of the body (such as 'helfie' – a picture of one's hair) or a particular activity (such as 'welfie' – a workout selfie).
Judy Pearsall, editorial director for Oxford Dictionaries, said: 'Using the Oxford Dictionaries language research programme, which collects around 150 million words of current English in use each month, we can see a phenomenal upward trend in the use of selfie in 2013, and this helped to cement its selection as Word of the Year.
'Social media sites helped to popularize the term, with the hashtag #selfie appearing on the photo-sharing website Flickr as early as 2004, but usage wasn’t widespread until around 2012, when selfie was being used commonly in mainstream media sources.'
Research shows the word was in use by 2002, when it was employed by a poster on an Australian online forum:
ABC Online (forum posting), 13 Sepember 2002
'Um, drunk at a mates 21st, I tripped ofer [sic] and landed lip first (with front teeth coming a very close second) on a set of steps. I had a hole about 1cm long right through my bottom lip. And sorry about the focus, it was a selfie.'
Ms Pearsall added: 'In early examples, the word was often spelled with a -y, but the -ie form is more common today and has become the accepted spelling. The use of the diminutive -ie suffix is notable, as it helps to turn an essentially narcissistic enterprise into something rather more endearing. Australian English has something of a penchant for -ie words – barbie for barbecue, firie for firefighter, tinnie for a can of beer – so this helps to support the evidence for selfie having originated in Australia.'
Selfie was added to OxfordDictionaries.com in August and is currently being considered for future inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary.
Also on the shortlist for Word of the Year 2013 but missing out on the accolade were:
bedroom tax, noun, informal: (in the UK) a reduction in the amount of housing benefit paid to a claimant if the property they are renting is judged to have more bedrooms than is necessary for the number of the people in the household, according to criteria set down by the government.
binge-watch, verb: to watch multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming.
bitcoin, noun: a digital currency in which transactions can be performed without the need for a central bank. Also, a unit of bitcoin.
olinguito, noun: a small furry mammal found in mountain forests in Colombia and Ecuador, the smallest member of the raccoon family.
schmeat, noun, informal: a form of meat produced synthetically from biological tissue.
showrooming, noun: the practice of visiting a shop or shops in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price.
twerk, verb: dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.
'Selfie' image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Stuart Gillespie | 07 Nov 13 | 0 comments
As the first choreographer to be appointed as an artist in residence at Oxford University, Rosie Kay has brought a new perspective to the academic life of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography.
Since taking up her post in January, Rosie – an experienced performer whose choreography credits include the hit film Sunshine on Leith – has been hard at work on a host of research projects, workshops and original productions in collaboration with University anthropologists and other artists.
Rosie, whose year-long residency is funded by the Leverhulme Trust, first came to the attention of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography when she spoke at the Dance and Academia conference in Oxford in 2011.
She said: 'Professor Stanley Ulijaszek, director of the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, approached me afterwards, and we started a long conversation about potential ways my work and the Unit's work could combine in some way to further their research with a "body-focused" approach.
'It grew quite organically, and over a period of about a year we settled on a few areas of research. Then the department applied to the Leverhulme Trust for me to become an artist in residence – the first choreographer in the history of Oxford to be an artist in residence.'
Rosie added: 'The thing that really drew us together was the question of conveying ideas about embodiment and deepening research methodologies that can draw on dance's rich experience and help illuminate areas that are often misunderstood or misinterpreted.
'I also like to think that until I worked in the department I had invented my own version of amateur fieldwork – doing long, intense, embedded participation research projects in preparation for creating artistic works, and using an array of interviews and research methods to understand more about the subject matter of my work. Now I understand this is termed "participant observation" in anthropology, but my work has always had quite a serious research aspect to it prior to creation.'
It was Rosie's development of this choreographic fieldwork that made her affiliation with the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity both natural and intuitive. Among her previous work is the touring production 5 Soldiers, for which she carried out extensive participatory research with The 4th Battalion, The Rifles. She formed her own dance company in 2004 and has since won numerous awards for her work.
When she began her residency at Oxford, Rosie's goals were threefold: to see her research projects through to fruition alongside medical anthropologist Dr Karin Eli; to explore her own methodology as a dance practitioner; and to develop personally, making the most of her time at the University.
Rosie said: 'My first goal was to gain a wider understanding of the new area I was working in – anthropology. I collected books, read up in libraries, and attended as many lectures as I could to build as wide a picture as possible about the way anthropologists approach subjects and how they present their findings. Anthropology is so rich and diverse, and cultural anthropology is closely linked to the world of arts, so there were a lot of areas to explore and some assumptions to unpack.
'Artistically, I was really keen to see if dance can be used as an instrument for the study of embodiment and embodied conditions within the realm of anthropology. This is really about working out exactly what my methodology is. My second artistic goal was to find new terms of exploration – I love to be inspired and Oxford is rich with inspiring people and access to incredible materials, as well as great knowledge and understanding. I was keen to find new material to explore and feed into my own work and the work with my dance company.
'The third area of my goals was personal – it was such a new experience coming to Oxford and I’ve been determined to make the most of it.'
Highlights of Rosie's residency so far include being involved in the delivery of a participatory seminar at this year's Dance and Academia conference, and holding a series of seminars titled 'Dance in Anthropology? Anthropology in Dance?' which explored the relationship between the two disciplines in a practical, physical way.
In April, Rosie was asked by a group of material anthropology students to choreograph a piece for the Twilight Takeover event at the Pitt Rivers Museum. She has also developed the dance work Sluts of Possession in collaboration with Brazilian choreographer/performer Guilherme Miotto and video artist Louis Price (see trailer above). For this, Rosie was granted access to the Pitt Rivers film and music archive. The work premiered in Edinburgh in August and is due to go on tour next year.
Rosie said: 'I hope that my residency has been of benefit both to the School and the University. I think there is something refreshing for an academic department when an artist enters their world. We have different perspectives – we can ask questions with our own knowledge, background and training, but perhaps without some of the inhibitions. An artist is continually interested and probing, trying to find the deep issues underlying a subject or object of interest and trying to find commonalities with which to communicate to an audience. This helps to translate complex ideas into works that can speak to many people. In a small way, I think a short work such as Sluts of Possession might make a lot of people think through what anthropology is, what it does, and how historic archive on culture can still have relevance to an individual today.
'For me, there is no doubt that my spell at Oxford has sharpened my mind – the rigour, the questioning and the speed of thought is wonderful, and I have weirdly felt very much at home. It's given me a lot of confidence in articulating myself in the arts world and applying a vigour to my teaching and choreographic practice that has benefited from the ethnographer's gaze upon my work practices. I feel stronger now about what I do know, and very excited about what I don't. That sense of unlimited inspiration has really refreshed my work, and my company has benefited. My relationship with the School and the University will continue past the end of the Leverhulme position, so I can honestly say that it has been mutually beneficial.'
Sluts of Possession images and video courtesy of Louis Price. Rosie Kay headshot copyright Petrov Ahner.(Full story)