Category: Academic

Back from Oxford


Briefly: it was brillant. A small but fine symposium in New Colleg Oxford. Just what I needed. We stayed in one of the rooms there, which is quite an experience in it’s own right. My wife and I lived for some days in a completely fenced environment of exceptional beauty and quality. Food was served in the ‘Great Hall’, a 14th century dining room slightly reminiscent of Harry Potters’s Hogwards. Which is no coincidence at all as some scènes of the films where captured in a similar place not a mile away from there in Christ Church. By the way, the scene where Draco Malfoy is transfigured into a white ferret by Alastor Moody at the foot of a large oak tree in the middle of a churchyard, was actually filmed in New College. So, A highly romantic place I reckon, and I surly understand better now why one can focus well on exams there. It’s a little bit artificial, of course, as all evil is kept at a safe distance, but so charming, so charming…

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My paper presentation was planned at the end of the first quite intense day around 5 o’ clock in the afternoon. I have to admit, it was quite a success. I know it might seem a bit immodest to say so about your own accomplishments, but it just is the truth. I think that the academic habit to actually read paper presentations from paper seldom delivers what I experience as ‘an interesting speech’. It may well be that the slight disregard for the way a slideshow interacts with the spoken word is a cultural thing proper to the academic milieu and as such relatively irrelevant to them. But I personally think it remains ever so important to capture the attention of whatever public you happen to be speaking for. Isn’t that more or less the great secret magical contract about presentation work? OK, we’ll remain quite and sit still for a while, pretending we listen to what you say. But you’d better be damn right entertaining, then! Something like that. If you want to challenge them anyway, of course.

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My own paper presentation cost me about two months of intense preparation. To boil down a complex story to the fit into a 20 min. speech, proved quite demanding (thanks to the excellent coaching of my mate Olivier Vandeloo, by the way). I guess the slideshow evolved over about a 30 different versions and required many more rehearsals, stopwatch in hand. I must confess, that I only started to feel comfortable about it just an hour or so before delivering it. One can argue that this is way to serious, but I still don’t think it was. I just didn’t want to lose it in front of such a fine audience in such a lovely place as New College in Oxford.

I hereby want to express my gratitude towards the organisation and all the work they invested in making this a success. And especially I wish to thank to Mrs. Jennifer Torp for the warm welcome and all the care.

For who it may concern, I hereby can give access to the audio recording my wife made during my speech: DOWNLOAD.

The presentation itself cannot be dropped online, alas, for it contains some rather graphic material of archival sources from at least half a dozen of institutions. It would be madness to even try to clear the copyrights just for this blog. Perhaps for an article in the future? Or a broadcast? Who knows ?

To be continued for sure…