Clarendon Chronicle Michaelmas 2018

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Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018


IN THIS ISSUE 2 3 4-5 5 6-7 8-9 10-11

A Note from the Editor A Message from the Presidents Charity Concert: From the Depths Rotary Run: Blenheim Palace 10K Book Review: Invisible Agents Yachting Weekend Trip Clarendon Annual Reception Cover image curtesy of Cosima Gillhammer, and

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Michaelmas term is always a bit of a blur – between the new faces of Freshers’ week and all the festive celebrations, eight weeks are gone before you know it. This also marks the end of my time as editor, and I would like to say what a pleasure it has been to have so much great news from the Clarendon community land in my inbox. With a new council elected, I look forward to reading the 2019 issues of the Chronicle and to what the year will bring. In the present issue, we look back on the events of term: a charity run, concerts and culture, and a weekend of sea-faring. Current scholar Larissa Goli gives us her impressions of one of Oxford University Press’ recent releases, Invisible Agents by Nadine Akkerman, which gives an account of women’s role in sixteenth-century espionage. A highlight in the Clarendon calendar is the annual reception, which this year was held in the stunning foyer of the Weston library – check out some photographs of the evening, taken by the fantastic Cyrus Mower. May you all make it through the English winter unfrozen and undaunted, and wishing you a productive and joyful 2019, Yours, Sasha Rasmussen 2

THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENTS Dear Scholars, As Michaelmas and the year both draw to a close, we have plenty to celebrate in our Clarendon community. We want to take this opportunity to look back at the past year, welcome our newest scholars, and look ahead to the future of the association. As a council, we aimed in 2018 to stimulate social and academic networks among our scholars, and to enrich our experience of the wealth of culture and diversity in Oxford. Over the past year, we have been working with the Clarendon Fund administrators to further improve the handover process for next year’s council, to revise the Clarendon constitution, and to make strides towards extending our alumni outreach. We are confident that future councils will continue to foster the Clarendon ethos in the years to come, and that our community will grow even stronger. We have enjoyed a great variety of events throughout the year, including wine and cheese receptions, pub nights, formal dinners, opera, rock climbing, potluck dinners, and even a yachting weekend in Southampton, to name just a few. We had the pleasure of hearing Sir David Manning deliver the annual Clarendon Lecture, exploring foreign policy challenges within the context of the US midterm elections and the ongoing Brexit negotiations. At the beginning of Michaelmas term, we welcomed our newest Clarendon Scholars to Oxford with a Freshers’ Week full of activities. It has been fantastic to see how active new Scholars have been in our community, with several even running for council positions. On that note, we are delighted to hand over to the 2019 Council, led by Serte Donderwinkel and Alessandro Lodi. We have full confidence that the council will deliver a fantastic outlook for the year ahead, and very much look forward to seeing all of you at many more events! Best wishes, On behalf of the 2018 Clarendon Council, Mark Brooke (President) and Sylvana Hassanieh (Vice-President) Images: Lara Breckon Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018


CLARENDONS AROUND OXFORD CHARITY CONCERT: From the Depths with Oxford Alternative Orchestra On 29 October, a group of Clarendon scholars attended From the Depths, a concert of Russian music performed by Oxford Alternative Orchestra (OAO). On the programme was Shostakovich’s emotionally-fraught First Cello Concerto with soloist Andrew Snell, and Tchaikovsky’s dazzling Fourth Symphony. The orchestra was founded in 2016 by its conductor, Hannah Schneider, and has as its aim to defy expectations around classical music: by playing less-frequently heard repertoire, performing in nontraditional venues such as hospitals and homeless shelters, and donating the proceeds of its concerts to charity. This particular concert was in support of the Oxford Winter Night Shelter, run by a group of central-Oxford Churches, which provide shelter to rough sleepers in the city. Clarendon scholar and photographer-extraordinaire Cosima Gillhammer was there on the night to capture the atmosphere. 'This event was a great way to relax after a few weeks of hard work. It was also quite inspiring, as all the musicians playing in the orchestra were students (even though many of them may be working in different subject areas). I found the concert particularly interesting to hear, as Russian symphonies are seldom played in Oxford! Many thanks to Clarendon for organizing attending this wonderful event!' - Qiujie Shi I became involved with Oxford Alternative Orchestra in September as the orchestral manager and sometimes-bassoonist. It’s such a great ensemble to work with, because not only are the musicians of an extraordinarily high calibre, but they all really care about why they are there – the music they make and the audience they play to. I’m absolutely thrilled about our 2019 plans, so be sure to look out for upcoming events. - Sasha Rasmussen, OAO manager 4

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'It was a real treat to be able to visit the Town Hall, one of Oxford's hidden gems which students rarely get the chance to enjoy. The Shostakovich cello concerto was moving and at times virtuosic, especially from the soloist who is obviously going to go on to do great things. Overall, a really slick production, especially given it was entirely student performed and led. Hopefully this becomes a regular fixture on the Clarendon event calendar!' - Frazer MacDiarmid

ROTARY RUN: 10K at Blenheim Palace Blenheim Palace entrenched itself behind a fog bank, its opulence opaqued, its bulk dwarfed in importance by the grass blades driving dew into my socks. Cold toes demand my full attention. Thankfully, the other six Clarendons in the herd for the registration queue are more mindful of the pastoral scene through which we promenade, because they have managed to capture pictures of the sheep and of the oaks. One lap of the grounds later, the race course spits us out back at the starting line, breathless and crimson. By then, the palace has recovered from its brief fit of modesty and poses its facade for endless tourist selfies. We, satisfied runners, meanwhile, retreat from the grounds with drooping forms, our muscle reserves burned up like the fog. - Gwen Antell, winner of the women's 10K category, pictured below with her medal.

Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018


BOOK REVIEW: Invisible Agents by Nadine Akkerman Nadine Akkerman Invisible Agents : Women and Espionage in Seventeenth Century Britain 2018, Oxford University Press (264 pp.) In our current world, where both persistent gender inequalities and concerns over digital security and confidential transactions trigger considerable anxiety and calls for action, Nadine Akkerman’s latest publication – Invisible Agents: Women and Espionage in Seventeenth Century Britain (2018), Oxford University Press – is informative, illuminating, and a pleasure to read. Akkerman, who is Reader in Early Modern English Literature at Leiden University, and currently a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, focuses here on the work of the “she-intelligencers” from the English Civil War, through the Interregnum period and into the early Restoration (1640-1660). This whole premise of this book was prompted by the discovery of how Alexandrine of Rye-Varax, Countess of Taxis, established the first ‘Black Chamber’ in Europe, when she was entrusted with the office of Postmaster following the death of her husband. All correspondence which passed through her hands was intercepted, read, and copied. Far beyond the description of Black Chambers, we read of the organization and administration of the very first espionage and counter-espionage offices, operated by both the Royalists’ and the Parliamentarians’ during the Civil War. In the hierarchy of espionage, mere spies collected information; intelligencers made it intelligible; spy-masters then coordinated the interpretation of the material gathered. Through the study of several historical figures, some known already to historians for their involvement in such shady activities, some whom she rehabilitates especially, Akkerman goes on to show how women capitalised on what seventeenth-century British society imposed upon them, and how indeed their social status placed them in an ideal position for the job of spy. On the one hand, their social circles - whether in the privacy or semi-privacy of their homes, or in the case of Lady Mary Knatchbull, of her convent in Ghent! – were largely invisible to authorities. On the other, Akkerman points out how what she describes as “the belief in [women’s] fundamental moral probity” put most women above suspicion in contemporary mentalities. Finally, since men recoiled from the idea of submitting members of the ‘fairer sex’ to brutal forms of punishment, women also bore the distinctive advantage that they were less likely to be tortured or executed for their involvement. Technological developments of the time (for example, cryptology or cryptoanalysis) and the ingenuity of the trade tricks such as letter-locking make this book an entertaining read. The impressive extent of Akkerman’s archival research, consulting manuscripts held by the British Library, the Bodleian Library, and the National Library of Scotland. 6

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The chapters abound with fascinating anecdotes, such as an alleged musical cipher between Charles II and Jane Lane, Lady Fischer, one of the women who helped the King escape to France after the Battle of Worcester. Whether the likes of you and I would be able to read the letters formed by the stems of the notes when folding of the music sheet form is another question. And perhaps, unlike me, once you have read the book you will be able to decipher the coded dedication at its beginning. One can only admire how the author tackles the topic of women and their active participation in early modern espionage: it is always a challenge to find women’s records and documents preserved in the archives, and Akkerman has made a valiant effort to make these stories more visible throughout her book. It is a fascinating, scholarly, yet never dry, piece of work. As a whole, the depth of engagement Akkerman shows with the women she studies and to whom she has restored a voice, and her clear and articulate style make Invisible Agents a book that is both immediately captivating and intellectually engaging – even for the likes of me, someone engaged with neither historical methodology nor in gender studies on a daily basis. Perhaps the greatest strength of this book, and the point on which it might be most highly recommended, is its honest analysis of the social context in which these women emerged, and of our own preconceptions about the period. This book takes us far beyond the glamour of the deceptive femme fatale moulded by popular opinion – indeed, it completely shatters this myth. One thinks especially of the romanticised accounts of Lady Carlisle, who inspired the deceptive character of Milday de Winter in Alexandre Dumas’ Three Muskateers. When referring to Aphra Behn – whom we know well for her pioneering as one of the first female dramaturgs and poets in England, but less well for her intelligence activities in Bruges on behalf of the court of Charles II – Akkerman speaks of how women had to “mimic[k] the authority that only the voice of a man held”. As such, by connecting us with the lives of single women in the past, be they abandoned by their husbands, widowed, or (more rarely) unmarried (Susan Hyde provides one such example), Akkerman pays a fantastic tribute to women whose wit and independence shaped England’s history from the shadows. - Larissa Goli, DPhil in Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018


YACHTING WEEKEND Clarendon Scholars Set Sail Over a blustery weekend in October, seven Clarendon Scholars embraced the gale force winds on the southern coast of England for a weekend aboard Ellisa, a 41foot (12.7m) sailing yacht. Skipper and organizer, Ryan Schenck, Clarendon’s 2018 Social Secretary, and his first mate Maximillian Strobl led the Clarendon Scholars to sea. Most of the novice crew had never sailed before, but all shared a common, adventurous spirit. This spirit was needed given the forecasted winds: a warm, southerly force 8 (nautical wind scale for 62-74km/h winds). The skipper and first mate watched the forecast carefully leading up to the weekend to ensure all would be safe. On Friday night the crew boarded Ellisa before sharing a meal ashore. This gave everyone a chance to become familiar with one another and have a short safety briefing on the expected conditions. Once everyone was well-fed and eager to be underway, we retired to our vessel and home for the next two nights. We awoke Saturday morning to near gale force winds in Southampton, and to coffee and pastries. The crew donned warm clothing layers and their oilskins (waterproof outer layer) before heading above deck. After additional safety briefings and a short introduction to the vessel we slipped our mooring lines and headed to the protected waters of the Solent. Despite the very heavy winds, it was consistent and not gusting, which can be more dangerous. However, it proved necessary to reduce our sail area by reefing our main sail for a safe and comfortable ride. We headed East towards Osborne Bay to take in the sights on the Isle of Wight before heading back west and into Hamble for our second evening. Over the course of our day we ate well, listened to a lot of music, and the crew learned a great deal about sailing.


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On Saturday evening we made a meal on board, and opted for a curry, to warm up after a long day. After dinner and showering, we made our way through the meandering streets of Hamble to enjoy some refreshing beverages in a quant pub in this historic, coastal city. After some time in the pub, learning a new method for curing hiccups, and a full day of intense sailing, the tired crew craved the warm and comforting embrace of their bunks. We retired to our seabound villa for a lengthy slumber in anticipation of another day of sailing. Over the course of the night the winds increased slightly, but by now we were seasoned sailors ready for the challenge! Taking our time to indulge in a hearty breakfast, we slipped our berth mid-morning and made way for the historic city of Cowes to enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafÊs. Upon returning to our vessel the rock climbers among us were interested in heading up the mast to experience the thrill (or nausea) of the bosun’s chair. Despite the rocking and rolling of the boat, the crew carefully assisted our climbers one by one to the top of the mast via the spare halyards (ropes that raise the sails). Once back down on deck, we set a course for Southampton to head back to Oxford. The weekend was a smashing success, we all had an amazing adventure and made some lifelong friendships. As diverse as the Clarendon student body at large, our group was represented by six different countries. The trip was a wonderful and unique way to experience a very different part of England and get some much-needed respite from our studies. In coordination with future Clarendon social secretaries, we hope to offer this trip again in the coming year. - Ryan Schenk, 2018 Social secretary

Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018




THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association

The annual Clarendon reception took place the evening of 13 November in the foyer of the Weston Library. Surrounded by some of the greatest treasures of the Bodleian, about 250 scholars mixed and mingled against the backdrop of a medieval tapestry, or browsing the Sappho to Suffrage: Women Who Dared exhibition. Council Vice President Sylvana Hassanieh addressed those gathered, reflecting on the year that was and on the special character of the Clarendon community. Great thanks are also due to photographer Cyrus Mower (https:// for capturing these fantastic snaps of the evening!

Volume 7 Issue 3 | Michaelmas Term 2018



Clarendon Scholars’ Association 2018 THE CLARENDON CHRONICLE | Newsletter of the Clarendon Scholars’ Association