On our third day, in preparation for classes, we went to the Bodleian Library, which was a nice 7 or so walk from Magdalen and is one of the most famous libraries in the world (there was also more Harry Potter-related filming here). I didn’t really need to use the libraries for my Shakespeare class, but I did end up coming here one more time; camera use was restricted in most rooms. The one where we got our library cards, which was modeled after Parliament’s interior, was one of the places where pictures were allowed.
This little table is where the officials, who took their roles very, very seriously, signed us up and handed us our cards after we took a spoken oath. There was also a game of attempting to fit into that chair on the far left; there was a little trick to lowering the piece in front of it before it was possible to squeeze in and sit.
Afterwards, we took a tour of another library and found where the research material for our respected classes could be found. This library was at St. Peter’s, the college that sponsored our program but that we were not housed at (apparently, Magdalen is much nicer in terms of rooms and the exterior is as well, so I think we had a good exchange).
Around 5 that day, we had our first official formal dinner. These always were on Monday nights (except for the week following the 4-day excursion; then we had it on Tuesday) and consisted of reception, a lecture, and a sit-down dinner. The lectures were kind of like symposiums: a speaker, usually a professor, would come and talk for about an hour and fifteen minutes on a particular subject. This week’s was on ‘The Macbeths at Home’, a look on Shakespearean works as portrayed in film. The same professor would be a guest lecturer at our first lecture tomorrow morning, and he showed us clips from Kurosawa’s adaptation of Macbeth, a variation of the play with mobsters instead of kings, and an interesting independent movie featuring Christopher Walken as Macduff and the Macbeths as conquerers of a restaurant.
The dinner itself lasted for over an hour and a half and had randomly-selected individuals sitting at the ‘high table’ and the others in one of maybe four long tables farther down the hall (rather Potter-esque again). We started with grace and then sat down to conversations and a five-course menu consisting of bread, an appetizer, dinner, dessert, and coffee/chocolates, which was served to us by staff, along with wines.
I unfortunately never had my camera on me at these times, and so I can’t hope to render the same effect as being present had on me. It was a wonderful experience, though, and gave the feel of olden days where folks enjoyed performances and very social dinners followed afterwards. The opening night of Harry Potter, we had a wonderfully good time with a random professor who asked to join our group conversation at the pub, also a part of Magdalen, which is right next to the dining hall. It may not be as elaborate as the woodwork inside, but it has a lovely view of the water.