| 12 Start-ups
| 18 Royal Weddings
| 30 Ancient Shipwrecks
Alison Wolf: How professional women have changed society | 10
Contents Principal’s Message
News and People
Profiles: Aaron Henry Kate Asquith
Generation XX - how professional women have changed society 10 Somerville’s Start-up Spirit
A Celebration of Lady Thatcher’s Legacy at Somerville
Polish Renaissance Wedding Exhibition
Indian Muslim Women’s Education
Alcuin Prizewinners - Travel Report
J. S. Mill
DNA Secrets of Ancient Shipwrecks
Somerville College Woodstock Road OX2 6HD Telephone +44 (0)1865 270600 www.some.ox.ac.uk
Cover image: Venus Table by Harry Haysom Back cover image: Sara Kalim Editorial: Jeevan Vasagar Contact: email@example.com
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Principal’s Message S
omerville is a place of excellence, but not enough people know about us. Not enough people know about the extraordinary research that our Fellows are undertaking. Not enough young people - those who have the confidence to apply - are putting Somerville first. And there are thousands of other young people who don’t even think that Oxford is the place for them That’s what I want to change. We have always been a place to include the excluded. That is our history but in the 21st century we have got to be doing more. I fervently believe that our leading institutions should reflect the country in which we now live, and we don’t yet. There is much debate about fees. For me, the most important thing is for the government to reduce the interest rate which young people have to pay - this is now 6.1% for anyone who started studying after 2012 – and bring back maintenance grants. It cannot be right that poorer students now have more to pay back than wealthy students. We are working on a new strategic plan that combines academic excellence with our mission of including the excluded, and ensures that young people who come to Somerville today go out into the world with strength and resilience. Rightly or wrongly, Oxford is still the place that leaders of many of our professions come from. I want to make sure our young people are out there in leadership positions. We are fortunate to have such fine Tutorial Fellows and I am delighted that we have recently appointed two new Fellows. Faridah Zaman, our History Fellow, who is an expert on South Asia and the history of the British Empire and Samantha Dieckmann, our Music Fellow, who specialises in music in the community. Both are young and energetic and will be great additions to our College. I would like to pay special tribute to the wonderful Joanna Innes, our retiring History Fellow. We will miss her wisdom and the depth of her knowledge. With a background in humanities I am also passionate about increasing public understanding of the sciences. The challenges we face will only be solved by interdisciplinary work and I am proud that Somerville is at the forefront. For example, our Fellow Alex Rogers, who is mapping the oceans, is changing the world - governments all over the world are now acting on plastic in the oceans.
With the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development we continue to deepen the relationship between Somerville and India which goes back nearly 150 years. This will be of growing importance in a post-Brexit world when the relationship with India needs to strengthen. I’m proud of our amazing scholars from India who come here to do their research, and then go back to implement their findings. One of the great privileges of this job is that you get to travel around the world meeting so many of our successful alumni. This year I was lucky enough to meet some of our dynamic young entrepreneurs in New York and San Francisco. It was inspiring. I am now looking into creating a dedicated space where Somerville students can explore startup ideas. You can read more about some of our startup success stories on pages 12-14. Finally, a word on the national debate of the moment. I’m passionately against Brexit which will have a profound effect on universities and colleges including Somerville - yes, research funding is important and the UK is the biggest recipient of EU research funding, but even more important are the people involved. 25% of our research staff in Oxford come from other EU countries as well as 15% of our students. We want to make sure that EU nationals working in the College feel they have a secure future here and that they and their families are equal citizens. Our commitment to “including the excluded” begins at home - but it does not end there.
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News and People... Fellows and staff Dr Faridah Zaman, a historian of South Asia and modern Muslim politics, is joining as Winifred Holtby Fellow and Tutor in History in Michaelmas 2018. Professor Joanna Innes is retiring after 36 illustrious years and her achievements will be celebrated in College on September 23 at an event open to anyone who read History here. Dr Vivek Nanda, an expert in strategic and capital citybuilding and infrastructure projects, has been appointed as Executive Director of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville. The Rt. Hon. Patricia Hewitt, former Health Secretary and until recently chair of the UK India Business Council, has been appointed as chair of the India centre’s advisory board. Dr Radhika Khosla, an environmental scientist whose work focuses on the linkage between energy and climate change in cities, has been appointed as the India centre’s research director. Will Dawes, our director of chapel music, has been made an associate of the Royal Academy of Music. Professor Aditi Lahiri, Professor of Linguistics, has been appointed Vice President (Humanities) of the British Academy. Dr Samantha Dieckmann, whose research focuses on the use of music and other performing arts in developing conciliation, empathy and emotional community, is joining as Fellow in Music in Michaelmas 2018. Professor Alex Rogers, our Fellow and tutor in biological sciences, led a team that confirmed the existence of a new ocean zone during a research mission to Bermuda. The scientists also discovered many new species including dozens of minute crustaceans, more than 40 new algae species, and a black wire coral that stands up to two metres high. The mission was organized by the British ocean exploration charity Nekton. For further details, see: https://nektonmission. org/mission-i/achievements.
Student news A team including Somerville master’s student Gideon Laux has won the €10,000 grand prize in the 2018 Morpheus Cup European Universities & Graduate Schools Championship for their proposal to provide access to solar electricity to millions of people in India who are not reached by the power grid. The team also won the regional finals of the Hult Prize. Mr Laux can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Above: Farah Bhatti
Alumni news Sam Gyimah (1995, PPE) was appointed minister for universities, science, research and innovation in January. Ann Buxton (Boggis-Rolfe 1971) is this year’s Master of the Worshipful Company of Pewterers. Samantha Knights (1990) of Matrix Chambers has been appointed Queen’s Counsel. Farah Bhatti (1984, Physiological Sciences) was elected to the Council of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in April. Dr Nori Graham (Burawoy, 1954, Physiology) was presented with the Lifetime Achievement in Dementia Care Award. Dr Graham was chair of Alzheimer’s Disease International, the worldwide federation of Alzheimer associations from 1996 to 2002.
Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018 Hon Fellow Professor Angela Ruth McLean, FRS Professor of Mathematical Biology, University of Oxford. (Maths 1979) - DBE For services to Mathematical Biology and Scientific Advice for Government. Dr Margaret Henrietta Augusta Casely-Hayford (Law, 1980) - CBE For charitable services in the UK and Abroad. Hon Fellow Professor Carole Hillenbrand (Arabic and Turkish, 1968), OBE Emerita Professor, Islamic History, University of Edinburgh and Professor, University of St Andrews , (DPhil 1968) - CBE For services to the Understanding of Islamic History.
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Somervillians who have died This year Somerville’s Commemoration Service was held in the College Chapel on Saturday 9 June. This important event in the College calendar underlines the enduring relationship between Somerville and its former members. All Somervillians are welcome to attend the service and tea afterwards. The service opens with the traditional words of the College Bidding Prayer, in which we commemorate the College’s founders, governors and major benefactors; it ends with the solemn reading of the names of members of the College and its staff who have died in the last year. If you know of any Somervillians who have died recently but who are not listed here, please contact Liz Cooke at Somerville College, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HD. Email elizabeth.cooke@ some.ox.ac.uk or telephone 01865 270632
(as of 16 May 2018)
Fellows Miriam Griffin
née Dressler (1957, Lit Hum; Fellow 1967-2002, Emeritus Fellow 2002) on 16 May 2018
née Trenaman (1957; Honorary Fellow 1999, Medicine) on 18 September 2017
Denise Marie O’Donnell
(Bursar and Fellow 1975 to 1982) on 25 November 2017
Alumni Jennifer Bell Maureen Ann Birukowska Phyllis Mary Barbara Boardman Marjorie Boulton Nancy Joyce Bower Diana Margaret Brown Hilary Marian Bryson Sarah Barbara Canning Shirley Anne Carnell Joan Patricia Christodoulou Ellen Rhoda Christian ‘Kisty’ Creighton Mary Elizabeth Dainty Annie Kathleen ‘Kay’ Davies Felicity Clare Edwards Judith Claire Gray Sheila Harris Pamela Sarah Haynes Virginia Mary Hope Holt Eucacia Mary ‘Laetitia’ Kikonyogo Margaret Stewart McLaren Kohl Florence ‘Eileen’ Leonard Judith Ann Lovelace Helen Margaret ‘Sue’ Low Frances Mary Gabriele ‘Fanny’ Mallary Annie ‘Pamela’ Mason Mairi Clare McCormick Marian June McKellar Barbara Marion Mitchell Felicity Diane Morrogh Ursula Budynge Mullard Elizabeth ‘Biz or Bess’ Murray Beatrice Musgrave Sheila Constance Leonard Ormerod Eleanor ‘Rosalind’ Page Christian Mary Parham Margaret Jessie Pope-Hathersley Joyce Sayer Pauline Bladon Topham Clare Anne Jeanne Toynbee Anne Marie Treisman Mavis Dorothy Ward Ann Whitaker Jacqueline Isabel Woodfill Margaret Wright
née Grindley (1963, Lit Hum) on 28 May 2017 Aged 71 née Booth (1954, Zoology/Medicine) on 6 June 2017 Aged 81 née Boyce (1943, English) on 7 June 2017 Aged 93 (1941, English) on 30 August 2017 Aged 93 née Thompson (1939, Mod Langs) on 6 November 2017 Aged 95 née Clements (1957, Mathematics) on 20 May 2017 Aged 80 née Colvin (1952, Zoology) on 9 November 2017 Aged 85 (1950, Jurisprudence) on 12 September 2017 Aged 86 née Mair (1954, History) on 8 December 2017 Aged 82 née Edmunds (1951, History) on 30 September 2017 Aged 84 née Barclay (1946, Lit Hum) on 16 June 2017 Aged 91 née Elbeck (1938, Zoology) on 27 March 2018 Aged about 97 (1937, History) on 11 November 2017 Aged 98 née Toussaint (1945, Phys. Sciences) in March 2018 Aged 90 née Campbell (1957, English) on 25 December 2017 Aged 81 (1943, Lit Hum) on 19 January 2018 Aged 92 née Powell (1947, History) on 18 August 2017 Aged 87 née White (1956, History) on 1 January 2018 Aged 79 née Mukasa (1964, Dip Social Anthropology) on 23 November 2018 Aged 77 née Cook (1944, English) on 10 September 2017 Aged 91 née Bellsham (1934, History) on 6 May 2017 Aged 101 (1963, Lit Hum) on 7 November 2017 Aged 72 (1949, PPE) née Carpenter on 26 April 2018 Aged 91 née Neville-Rolfe (1973, History) on 26 October 2017 Aged 62 née Rhodes (1943, Mod Langs) on 7 June 2017 Aged 92 née MacInnes (1943, English) on 14 September 2017 Aged 92 (1946, Mod Langs) on 27 October 2017 Aged 90 née Davies (1941, Lit Hum) on 12 October 2017 Aged 93 née Chugg (1952, English) in about December 2016 Aged 85 née Stibbs (1944, English) on 5 October 2017 Aged 91 née Hickson (1951, Zoology) on 31 March 2017 Aged 83 née Falkenstein (1945, English) on 26 May 2017 Aged 93 née Preece (1945, History) on 8 December 2017 Aged 90 née Pollard (1935, French) on 13 August 2017 Aged 101 née Fitzherbert (1950, History) on 22 April 2017 Aged 84 née Leary (1955, BLitt Student) in 2018 Aged 83 née Buxton (1954, Biochemistry) on 11 August 2017 Aged 93 (1947, Mod Langs) on 4 April 2017 Aged 89 (1967, English) on 19 April 2017 Aged 68 née Taylor (1957, Psychology; Lecturer 1964-5) on 9 February 2018 Aged 82 née Smith (1944, Chemistry) on 2 December 2017 Aged 91 (1946, PPE) on 8 May 2017 Aged 94 née Iselin (1940, English) in about April 2017 Aged 94 (1957, Clinical Medicine) on 8 December 2017 Aged 86
6 Somerville Magazine
“It’s all about contributing to the accumulation of knowledge and understanding” This year, Professor Joanna Innes, Winifred Holtby Fellow and Tutor in History at Somerville will leave her current role. Here, we ask her to reflect on her time at Somerville and the role of historians in the modern world.. How did you come to study History? My parents emigrated to New York when I was 13, so I went to an American High School and studied a wide range of subjects. It has to be said I hadn’t studied much history: it was only taught in the top two years of the school, and I’d only completed one of those. But when I decided to apply to Cambridge I had to choose a subject. I consulted a friend who advised me to apply for English, because I’d read lots of books, but he wasn’t sure I knew enough history. I said, ‘Oh, I’m sure I do,’ and applied for History. I think important decisions in life are often made partly through chance – but probably not just chance; chances have more important consequences if they speak to some disposition that you already have.
Your research on the history of government, society and ideas is world-renowned. How did you come to work in those areas? Chance came into it again. I was in my final year as an undergraduate. I had no idea what to do next, but found myself in a lunch queue in the university library behind a young lecturer (John Brewer), whom I really liked: he was a very curious, openminded person. He specialized in eighteenth-century British history, which wasn’t really taught in Cambridge at that time. He said he’d just applied for a grant to employ a research assistant in a project on eighteenth-century radical politics. If he got the money, did I want the job? I said yes; he got the money. I learned how to do historical research through working for him, and I also ran across some interesting documents about life and protest in a big London debtors’ prison, which led me into a doctorate on the history of prisons before prison reform.
Joanna aged thirteen, with classmates from Scarsdale Junior High School
What do you remember about coming to Somerville? I hardly knew Oxford at all when I came to interview– I think I’d visited once – so I chiefly remember being impressed by the town. I was interviewed by the whole Governing Body, all women, all in gowns, and two (male) representatives of the faculty. I was asked quite easy questions, nice lobs, so I quite enjoyed it! Women’s colleges were often seen as a bit marginal to the University, and their members sometimes felt on the defensive. Debates over whether to become a mixed college were always
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“Some historians collaborate chiefly through reading other people’s work. I like to talk with other historians too, and to do joint projects and coauthor things.”
“One of the things I find Somerville relaxed and confident about is there is no need to follow traditions unless you think they’re good traditions” difficult, and when the Somerville Governing Body decided that it thought the College should become mixed, there was a long and painful battle with the students. But we made the right decision, in my view. Being in a former women’s college that is now a mixed college, and is much more relaxed and confident about its position in the University, gives you the best of both worlds. One of the things I find Somerville relaxed and confident about is there is no need to follow traditions unless you think they’re good traditions. What matters is to find good ways of doing things.
There’s a lot of discussion in universities at the moment about the relationship between teaching and research. How do you see it? I became an academic because I was interested in research: teaching was, as I saw it, the price I had to pay for doing research. But then one day, I found that I was telling someone I enjoyed graduate teaching and not so much undergraduate teaching, when I realized in mid-sentence that this was no longer really true: I’d come to enjoy undergraduate teaching as well. It’s a good intellectual exercise to
have to keep thinking on your feet: about what are good historical questions to ask; how to formulate answers to questions; how to think about the past. Teaching broadens your horizons, reminds you how much you don’t know and don’t understand, and forces you to focus on effective communication. In the last fifteen years, I’ve opened up a second line of research, about the history of democracy in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Europe and the Americas. It’s only been possible for me to do that because of the grounding in European history that I acquired through teaching.
You’ve always worked collaboratively, and you’ve also worked in other countries. What do your networks bring to your research? Academic work is inherently collaborative. It’s all about contributing to the accumulation of knowledge and understanding. Some historians collaborate chiefly through reading other people’s work. I like to talk with other historians too, and to do joint projects and co-author things. Collaboration
steepens learning curves: tutors always say their students do best when they work interactively with each other, outside as well as within tutorials. I’ve taught in Tokyo, Munich and Paris, and have also held visiting research posts in Canberra and Paris. Getting to know other countries and cultures is interesting and fun in itself, I think, and it enlarges your networks and opens up scope for new collaborations. In 1989-90 I experienced collaboration in a different context when I was one of the two Proctors chosen annually by colleges on a rota to represent rank and file academics in the central governance of the University. It was enjoyable and very stimulating and illuminating. Having a role in shaping your working environment is an advantage: otherwise you’re just subject to other people’s decisionmaking, and less free. Oxford tutors like to be free, but don’t always like to pay the administrative price for that!
How has the study of History changed in the UK in the time you’ve been involved with it? Nowadays, students come from schools knowing less but keener on learning, which is fine with me. The undergraduate curriculum similarly doesn’t have the same ambition to be comprehensive, but has become more varied and more stimulating. Forms of assessment have diversified. Oxford’s compulsory undergraduate thesis, for example, has been a great success. For graduate students, and for those teaching them, the biggest change is the advent of the master’s degree. In terms of academic employment, the number of temporary posts has multiplied, making it easier to get stuck at that level, and put in years of effort on relatively low pay without achieving any security. We’ve become far Continued on page 8
8 Somerville Magazine
You’ve worked on the origins of democracy, and on topics including social policy formation. Do you feel comfortable commenting on the current debates around Brexit?
“I think historians should always be ready to get involved in current debate” Speaking in Taipei
more regulated. This has stimulated some good changes, but there’s no doubt that universities have become much more managerial: heads of department may now try to steer academics’ research careers in a way that would have been unthinkable thirty years ago. In Oxford we are relatively cushioned from this; elsewhere this is sometimes transforming the whole experience of being an academic, again not wholly but quite largely for the worse.
What do you see as the main challenges for history as an academic discipline? I think there’s been some decline – not in all fields – in the sense that the study of history involves debate and argument about how to understand things. Instead, there’s a tendency for historians to write very finely wrought studies of topics: history becomes a kind of art form. This is I think partly a result of changes in how people conceive of the discipline – of the so-called ‘cultural turn’ – but also of regulatory pressures to publish, such that publication becomes an end in itself, not something one does as a contribution to an on-going conversation or argument. I notice this among other things as a member of the editorial board of a leading historical journal, Past and Present, on which I’ve sat for thirty years, and for which I review about forty submissions a year.
I think historians should always be ready to get involved in current debate – but should also be clear about what their claim to authority or insight as historians does and doesn’t extent to. My tutorial colleague Natalia Nowakowska was one of a large number of historians who made public arguments about the long historical entanglement between Britain and Europe – to counter the claims of other historians who argued for Britain’s distinctiveness and self-sufficiency. I think that was worth doing, though it’s largely chance whether historians find themselves in a position where they not only have something distinctive to offer but also significant numbers of people want to listen. That said, I haven’t been able to persuade my own mother of the case against Brexit – so humility begins at home!
What are your views on how collaboration with European institutions might work after Brexit? There are issues about the funding of collaborative projects, but my main worry is about freedom of movement. British academic life has become much, much more European since 1992, and that has been hugely beneficial. People will want to keep these relationships alive, but it will become more expensive for Europeans to study in Britain, and we may stop being able to appoint them to short-term teaching and research posts; that will have knock-on effects on network-building. The Home Office’s policy of creating a ‘hostile environment’ certainly makes things worse: I have had direct experience of difficulties that can arise when one tries to bring in academic visitors from outside the EU – and indeed I have EU academic friends who’ve been terribly treated by the Home Office (in one case ending up as front-page news). Everything that adds to the difficulties of moving people around is a source of concern, and risks impoverishing our academic culture.
Tell us about the next stage of your work I plan to continue with both my main established lines of research. I’ll be bringing out a collection of my essays about poverty and the poor laws; one is a book about how new topics came on to the policy making agenda in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries: health, education, working conditions. That one will be told through a focus on one man, a Tory administrator who acted as a broker for lots of people who had projects they wanted to bring to Parliament, including doctors and artisan cotton weavers. The democracy project has completed phases on the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean; we’re currently focusing on Latin America and the Caribbean. And then we plan to move on to work on central and northern Europe. So I won’t lack things to do! I also imagine I’ll continue to do a lot of academic-related travel. I already have academic trips to Korea, China and Taiwan planned for next year, and I expect to spend the early part of 2019 as a visiting scholar in Paris. Retirement probably isn’t the right name for it: it’s more a matter of moving out of employment into pension-supported freelance work.
The cover of Joanna’s forthcoming book, part of her collaborative work on democracy
On Sunday 23 September there will be a History Day in Somerville. For further details see www. some.ox.ac.uk/event/history-day
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Kate Asquith came up to Somerville in 2015 to read English Language and Literature. In 2017, she published her first chapbook of poetry, ‘Homeland’. ‘I hadn’t seriously considered applying to Oxford until my history teacher encouraged me to try,’ Kate says. ‘I chose Somerville specifically because it seemed a friendly and welcoming place, and it wasn’t as intense or as intimidating as some of the other colleges. I admired its strong female tradition and its openness to diversity.’ As to poetry, ‘I’ve been writing in some form for as long as I can remember,’ she says, ‘but my first good poem, ‘Do Not Make Poetry Out of Me,’ was written in sixth form.’ For her degree, Kate has especially enjoyed exploring crosscultural romance in Iberian literature as part of the medieval romance paper. And there are also themes in her academic work that have sparked her poetic interest, ‘things like cannibalism in Victorian literature, for example! Swinburne’s ‘Anactoria’ is full of beautiful language, and although it’s pretty dark the writing is full of this weird kind of love – it’s very sensual and I like exploring those themes in my own work.’ Are there poems in ‘Homeland’ that Kate associates particularly with Somerville? ‘My poems are grounded in places and landscapes,’ she says, ‘so there are more than a few that I
Aaron Henry came up to Somerville in 2015 to read Medicine. Alongside his studies, he also plays Blues rugby. ‘I grew up in a town called Ballymena, in Northern Ireland,’ Aaron says. ‘I didn’t know I wanted to study Medicine until after my GCSEs, when one of my teachers organized some work experience for me in a hospital. It was an incredible experience!’ Support from teachers is a strong theme in the story of Aaron’s journey to Oxford. ‘School went through a bit of a rough period,’ he says, ‘entering formal intervention in 2011, but I always received fantastic support. I needed it, because I took on two additional A-Levels so that I could compete with students at the highest achieving schools, and the support paid off when I managed to place joint top in Northern Ireland.’ It was his experience on a UNIQ summer school that encouraged Aaron to apply to Oxford, and he feels especially lucky to have gained a place at Somerville ‘We have some fantastic tutors in medicine,’ Aaron says. ‘I have to mention especially Dr Kerstin Timm, a JRF at Somerville and my FHS project supervisor (and also much loved tutor of the first years!) and Prof. Damian Tyler, who is a constant figure throughout the first 3 years of medicine at Somerville.’ Aaron was awarded a Duckinfield Scholarship from Somerville for his results in his first two years, and is also President of the medical society within College, the Janet Vaughan society. ‘Many alumni
associate with Somerville. Perhaps a little unfortunately most of these are rather depressing, simply because I write more when I’m going through mental health difficulties, and I have more difficulties in the pressurized Oxford environment. ‘Floorboards’, for example, is definitely wrapped up in my second-year room in Park, which I associate with a lot of isolation and anxiety, but also a great deal of fighting and winning against those negative experiences.’ Other influences on Kate’s work include the poets Anne Carson, Ocean Vuong and Ana Carrizo. She chose to publish ‘Homeland’ as a ‘chapbook’ (a short collection produced and published by the poet personally), where ‘the words are important but also how you present them and the form they take upon the page.’ And the response? ‘Very positive,’ says Kate, whose work has also appeared in the online monthly anthology ‘Her Heart Poetry’. ‘It’s lovely to be part of a community of poets who share and celebrate each other’s work.’ After Finals, Kate plans to do a Master’s degree in digital design, ‘with the aim of working creatively for a company or a collective with strong feminist and queer morals’ ‘I’ll probably keep writing poetry on the side,’ she says, ‘or ideally incorporate it into my career.’ Find out more about Kate’s work @kateeasquith
donate generously to the society,’ he says, ‘which is critical in allowing us to continue to have termly speaker events. The alumni also provide a limitless source of wisdom and advice for the students. It would be great to see more alumni become involved!’ It’s already a busy timetable. How on earth does Aaron fit it in Blues rugby as well? ‘It’s difficult to balance,’ he admits, ‘especially during Michaelmas term, when you could be sacrificing up to 30 hours per week for rugby. But I do enjoy the challenge of trying to juggle the two, and the experiences that come with both.’ In rugby, those experiences have included the chance to learn from professionals and internationals in the squad and to travel to Japan, France, Ireland, the US and Croatia, as well as ‘the highs and lows that come with the build up to the annual Varsity Match at Twickenham.’ This year, Aaron has also made the Oxford and Cambridge Under 23 squad, and all this alongside captaining the Somerville rugby team to a season of 10 wins and only one defeat. So what comes next? ‘I’m really looking forward to starting clinical school in September,’ Aaron says. ‘Beyond that I hope to continue some sort of research alongside my clinical studies. I’m passionate about science and incredibly excited about pursuing a career as an academic clinician. I also hope to have a few more Varsity Match experiences, and then who knows where from there!’
10 Somerville Magazine
How professional women have changed society Inequality among women is rising. Successful women are driving this change, argues Alison Wolf.
nyone reading recent coverage of the gender pay gap might well think that women’s careers are going backwards. One company, or university, or hospital after another revealed that the average pay of its women employees is way below that of men, Women working in Barclays’ investment banking operation are paid on average only half what their male colleagues earn. But this focus on wage gaps in large organisations obscures more important truths. Professional women like me - and like so many Somerville alumnae - have completely transformed the labour market. At the top of the labour market, if you look at the sorts of occupations followed by people who graduate from Oxford, the environment has changed utterly. If you went back in time 50 years, you would be amazed by how different and how male your workplace was. With the exception of female-dominated teaching, professional jobs are now highly integrated by gender. Fifty per cent of professionals in OECD countries are female. At the same time, at the low-paid end, the labour market is extraordinarily gendered. There is a huge group of jobs that are almost entirely female. They involve things like childcare and cleaning, which used to be done in the home, and are now done in the marketplace for pay. Professionals don’t sew and we cook less and less too, buying ready meals made by low-paid workers. This is the new world that I described in my book The XX Factor. Among the educated and prosperous, you could say that 1950s women were the unlucky generation: they still had to do all the home jobs, without servants. The Victorian middle class had servants, but women didn’t work for pay. We do work and we do have servants - we just don’t recognise them as such. Male jobs are hugely gendered too. Governments keep trying to get girls to become bricklayers, but construction is still male, as is long distance lorry driving. And how often have you had an Amazon package delivered by a woman? Technology isn’t changing this part of the workforce . The oldest jobs in the world - working in the fields – are now super-
automated. Factories and coal mines are either automated or have disappeared. But the fact that we have Amazon doesn’t mean babies don’t have to be looked after. Food still has to be cooked by someone and elderly people need to be cared for. I have yet to go to a restaurant where the food is cooked by robots. Human beings are still looking after other human beings. In fact, Scandinavia has the most gendered labour markets in the world, and that’s because they have moved furthest away from a world where women did all these jobs inside the house, unpaid. Which brings us back to the gender pay gap. There is really little evidence of systematic discrimination in the workforce. But what the gap underlines is that there is still a real difference in society in which parent takes on the main childcare role. By and large what we are seeing is the parenthood effect. The gender pay gap is entirely predictable because it reflects deep-rooted child-rearing patterns. Among professionals, who are the people who decide that they don’t want to work for a City law firm any more? Or that going part-time when the children are taking their GCSEs might be a good idea? These people are still overwhelmingly women. If you take the total number of hours that any modern couple spends on work, including housework and bureaucracy – all the stuff that you might happily pay someone else to do - it’s about equal. But on average the women do many more hours of house-based work, and the men more paid hours. . People are different and have different tastes. The only time I ever tried to stay at home I was completely unbearable until I got my next job. But not everyone is like me, We know that there are real preference differences. Some people just like being around the house. They don’t want to earn huge amounts. Most of the labour market is made up of work that you do because you get paid. It is not how you define yourself. The proportion of people who define themselves through their jobs is 10-15%. If you look at inequality among women it has got much higher and it is growing. You could say that’s a good thing. Some of
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at home. There was quite a lot to be said against it too, of course - the 1950s were not a great era for women like me. But we need to be aware that, while changes to society have been great for many women, not everyone has benefited equally. The other huge social change, which laid the foundations for today’s half-female professional classes, was, of course, higher education for women. Somerville was transformative for me as it was for so many others. I came from a perfectly prosperous middle class family, but neither of my parents had the chance to go to university. Somerville, and Oxford, made me a completely different person intellectually, and gave me a completely different life. I had the most amazing teaching. I did PPE, which was absolutely the right degree for me. I worked hard, philosophy made my brain hurt, and I feel a huge debt of gratitude, above all to the people who taught us. They took it so seriously and they treated you not just as a person but as an intellectual equal, even when you obviously weren’t.
“Being a single parent is tough - but a lot better than being trapped in a terrible marriage.” us are actually doing very well – it is we female professionals at the top who are driving this particular change. But rising inequality shows how often changes are a double-edged sword. One of the things that nobody predicted is the collapse of the nuclear family. Is that a plus or minus? It depends on who you ask. It is certainly related to the change in women’s work. What has happened is that the wage earner family has vanished - except at the very top where women stay at home and have five kids. If you went back and looked at society in the past, the traditional pattern from the time of the Industrial Revolution was that you only needed one money wage. You had a family with a wage earner and a wife at home doing all these things that we now outsource, and looking after the children.
For many people that was quite a satisfactory way of life. But it meant there were many unhappy people, especially women, who, if trapped in an unhappy marriage, or with a husband who drank it all away, had no escape. Once it was possible to enter the labour market, there were a lot of people for whom it offered escape. It was possible to be a single mother and more generally you did not have to get married. Being a single parent is tough – single mothers are poor - but a lot better than being trapped in a terrible marriage. But at the same time it is now impossible for families to live even moderately well off a single wage unless one of them is really rich. Both adults feel they have to work. They have no choice. For a lot of people in the bottom half of the distribution there was a lot to be said for the 1950s. Many women liked being
Obviously not everybody can have this kind of education. That doesn’t mean that no-one should. I believe very strongly that Somerville’s pursuit of intellectual excellence through dedicated teaching, is something we should treasure and must try to keep going. I do think the existence of places like Somerville is good for the world. I’ve talked about Somerville, but it applies to Oxford and Cambridge generally. They are amazing places, they produce people who adorn the world and they pass on values and intellectual skills which we cannot take for granted. And that’s why I’m proud to be President of the alumni Association this year and play my part in handing on this extraordinary legacy.
Alison Wolf, (1967, PPE), Honorary Fellow and President of the Somerville Association, is professor of public sector management at King’s College London, a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords, and the author of The XX Factor, published by Profile Books.
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How well does an Oxford education prepare you for the challenges of starting your own business? We hear from two of our pioneers. NICOLA NICE (1995, Human Sciences) became an entrepreneur by chance. When the company that brought her to the US struggled in the global financial crisis, she decided to launch her own business.
“There was a feeling that the people who went before you were strong-minded people who went on to become leaders in their diverse fields,” she says.
Drawing on her background as a brand consultant, Dr Nice explored the idea of a spirit aimed at women.
But this did not translate into support for entrepreneurship. Under new Principal Jan Royall, that is about to change.
The challenge she set herself, in a marketplace mostly aimed at men, was to come up with a female-friendly drink that was aspirational and did not exclude male drinkers. The result is Pomp & Whimsy, gin liqueurs that draw on England’s 19th century heritage of drinking sweetened gin cordials. Dr Nice, who launched her company in 2015, recalls Somerville as being distinctive among Oxford colleges; imbued with a sense of independent thinking.
Baroness Royall is planning to bring entrepreneurs into the College to speak with students, and hopes to provide a dedicated space at Somerville for start-up ideas. When she graduated, careers advice at Oxford was geared towards the City professions or academia, Dr Nice says. “The sense of an alternative career path was that you could do one of these jobs for an alternative organization; you could be an accountant for Greenpeace.”
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Dr Nice studied Human Sciences at Oxford, an interdisciplinary course ranging across biology, culture and society. Her PhD at Imperial explored scientific and ethical arguments around the use of genetic test information by insurance companies. This rigorous but eclectic education was a good preparation for her start-up. Her research background helped her survey the landscape of the drinks industry and ask fundamental questions about how well it met women’s needs. “There are numerous brands of skincare aimed at men, and no debate that men’s needs might be different,” Dr Nice says. “Has anyone asked women what they want from a spirit brand? If we were to design a brand that met your needs, what would it look like?” When women talked about their ideal white spirit, the attractiveness of infusing botanicals into a light spirit base came up frequently. “I would turn around to them and say - that’s gin,” Dr Nice says. Her company is currently going through seed fundraising and looking to raise up to a million dollars. Pomp & Whimsy is now on sale in over 150 bars and liquor stores across Southern California, and is expanding this year into Nevada and New York.
Zumper - Apartment Finder App
“We raised our first million at Harvard. Since then we have raised $40m in capital. It’s unlikely that we would have raised $40m in such a short space of time in England,” he says As well as the challenge of access to capital, Mr Georgiades suspects that Britain has a low tolerance for failure. “If I had done this in England fifteen years ago and failed, I would have been branded a bankrupt CEO and it is hard to move on from that.”
For ANTHEMOS GEORGIADES (2001, Classics), a varied education was also a good preparation for entrepreneurship. The ability to make decisions quickly with imperfect information is a critical characteristic for an entrepreneur, Mr Georgiades argues.
Zumper is now being used by 8m people every month, and its search is nationwide in the US. The transactional side of the platform has gone live in New York and Chicago, and the company is looking at rolling out this part of the business in other markets once the audience has been built up. The company was valued at a little over $100m at its last funding round in late 2016.
“In Classics, you may not know all of the vocabulary or grammatical terms in a translation - you just have to piece it together.”
Both entrepreneurial alums are brimming with advice for encouraging the start-up spirit at Somerville. Dr Nice suggests an “alternative Milk Round”, where undergraduates are nudged towards careers outside the big City corporations.
There were two obvious paths on graduation, heading for the City or going into academia. Mr Georgiades went to Cambridge for a masters in management and then joined Boston Consulting Group. There was little sense that entrepreneurship might be an option, he recalls.
The College can also play a role in forging a network of alumni who have gone into alternative careers, who can then offer help through mentoring or providing access to fundraising, she says.
“There was no-one getting in your head as a teenager saying: ‘hey, you can do this.’ You get flooded by corporate presentations. “I was quite risk-averse. You don’t want to have a flop right out of Oxford. So the BCG route felt like the right option.” After BCG, Mr Georgiades went to Harvard for an MBA. While there, he was pushed into entrepreneurship - including being given money to try out an idea. He had the idea for his business while an undergraduate at Somerville; he queued overnight trying to secure accommodation and became convinced that there must be a less painful way to manage apartment rentals. Zumper, an apartment search and rental platform was born at Harvard.
Mr Georgiades suggests fostering a space for entrepreneurship in College, where students are given free coffee, beanbags and whiteboards. “You could get alums like me to donate to it, to ensure that it’s stocked full of food and coffee,” he suggests. “You need to indicate to people that it’s not a failure if they do this and it doesn’t work out. Most entrepreneurs have failed more than they have succeeded. Successful entrepreneurship is treating your mistakes with optimism.” Dr Nice senses a difference in the current crop of undergraduates compared to her own generation. “When I left, there was a sense that you have to do your time and climb the ladder. “The current generation gets a bad rap for being impatient - but they aren’t hampered by fear. Somerville for me - as an institution - does embody that courageous spirit.” Continued on page 14
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ANTHEMOS : The best decision we made is that stock options are a big part of the package. We pay way over the market for stock options. If this works out, it will be good for our people and their families.
ANTHEMOS: The worst decision is being very distracted by competition. We nearly built a bunch of products that were a distraction from our core mission. The lesson for me is that when you are an early stage company you are competing with yourself and your ability to focus.
NICOLA: The high for me would be the level of recognition and success we have achieved. We have won medals in every major spirit competition we have entered. The San Francisco World Spirits competition is like the Cannes of the spirit world and we won gold there and that was straight out of the gate. Six other medals have followed.
NICOLA: Within a year of founding I got sued by one of my partners. That is resolved now. It’s better to go into business with people you respect as business people and become friends later.
Are you a Somervillian entrepreneur? We want to hear from you and feature your stories in future editions of the magazine. Please get in touch with us at: email@example.com
Have you signed up for our Somerville eMentoring site yet? Somerville eMentoring is an exclusive, highly efficient directory and peer-to-peer mentoring network where mentors and mentees can freely connect and alumni can search for members and send private internal messages. It’s very easy to use and is primarily designed to help alumni make the most of the Somerville community long after graduation. www.somerville.aluminate.net ALAN CONNERY (1994, Classics), is a fund manager at Insight Investment.
NICK MACHIN, (2014, PPE), is a trainee investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“Deciding what career path to follow and finding the ‘right’ job can be stressful. In my own case, I was pretty sure I wanted to go into finance but I had no real idea how to differentiate between the City jobs being marketed.
“I reached out to the eMentoring Scheme with the hope of learning more about the asset management sector, and was soon put in touch with a Somerville alumnus who has several decades of experience in the field.
That I ended up in fund management owed a lot to luck, but I still find strange the notion that something so important should be left to chance. It is why the Somerville eMentoring scheme is such a good idea.
Alan gave me an hour of his time to answer questions about the industry over the phone, and commented on an early draft of my CV. This support was invaluable in preparing for interviews, and I was fortunate to secure a graduate job with an asset management firm in Edinburgh.
When Nick contacted me ahead of his interviews, I was delighted to share some of my own views and experiences, as well as a few tips on what fund manager employers typically look for during the interview process. I was thrilled to learn subsequently that Nick’s preparation and effort had been rewarded with an offer.”
Students are used to receiving publications from employers, yet these are too highly-edited to give an impression of the realities of a job; I’m very grateful for the eMentoring Scheme for giving me access to first-hand information to inform my career choice.”
A celebration of
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Lady Thatcher’s legacy at Somerville
The grammar school girl from Grantham has left an enduring imprint at College. Ben Etty reports from a celebration of the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust at the House of Lords in April.
t first glance, the choice of venue for the reception seemed slightly odd. It did not go unnoticed that it was held in the Attlee Room, with the portrait of the postwar Labour Prime Minister gazing down from above on the assembled Tory grandees. Lord Lamont, Lord Howard and Baroness Bottomley were among the former Conservative cabinet ministers who had gathered at the House of Lords for a celebration of Lady Thatcher’s legacy at Somerville. The peers however were swiftly assured by Lord Powell, Margaret Thatcher’s Private Secretary for Foreign Affairs from 1983, that after Winston Churchill, Attlee was the 20th century Prime Minister she most admired. Even if this was met with a few murmurs of surprise from some of her former colleagues, the room choice reflected the fact that Lady Thatcher’s personal achievements have transcended the party political. This was underlined when Principal Jan Royall, a Labour peer herself, pointed out during her address that admiration for Lady Thatcher’s extraordinary rise, as a grammar school girl from Grantham who made it to Oxford and went on to become Britain’s most influential post-war Prime Minister, is possible regardless of one’s politics. While the Principal of Somerville does not share Lady Thatcher’s politics, she can respect her achievements. The legacy of Somerville’s most famous alumna endures at the college in the form of the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust. Established to ensure that the most promising students can benefit from the unique intellectual environment offered by Oxford, regardless of their national, ethnic or social background, there are now eight undergraduate and postgraduate Thatcher Scholars who will leave Somerville debt free. It is a programme unprecedented for an Oxford college, and the generous donations that have funded it have in great part been made possible by the admiration Lady Thatcher’s memory draws from dozens of benefactors.
The 1943 matriculation year with Margaret Thatcher in the top row, centre.
After being refused an honorary doctorate by the university in 1985 – the first oxford educated post war PM to be denied the honour - Lady Thatcher became disillusioned with Oxford. However, as Lord Powell stressed, this never extended to Somerville. Indeed, the College made her an honorary fellow in the same year, and of her time at Somerville she has written that: “It was such a privilege to be there. Without it, I should never have been here.” Throughout her life she also maintained a close relationship with her chemistry tutor, Dorothy Hodgkin, who would come to visit her at Downing Street. Said to be the one woman she truly feared, Lady Thatcher would be extremely nervous in advance of her visits, and was said to perch attentively on the edge of her chair as the Labour-supporting Nobel Prize winner explained to her everything she was doing wrong. While Lady Thatcher’s political legacy has and will be endlessly debated, as she transforms from a political to a historical figure, particularly for younger generations, it is possible to admire her personal achievements in a non-partisan light. Thanks to the generous support and donations of a wide range of individuals from around the world, she also leaves a living legacy in the form of the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust – who would do very well to emulate just a fraction of the success of Lady Thatcher herself. Continued on page 16
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From Maastricht to Brexit:
STRIFE OVER EUROPE P
erhaps fittingly for a celebration of a figure as political as Lady Thatcher, the evening was punctuated by repeated waves of voting members of the Lords leaving to cast their votes on the European Union Withdrawal Bill. Conversation thus inevitably turned to Brexit, and about Lady Thatcher’s attitude to Europe. After being enlisted by the MP Sir Bill Cash in the run up to the referendum as a supporter of the Leave campaign, when he made public a private letter in which she had declared the EU ‘contrary to British interests and damaging to our Parliamentary democracy’, her position has been a subject of some debate. Raising the subject with Lord Howard, who led the Conservatives into the 2005 general election against Tony Blair’s Labour, without hesitation he said she would have voted Leave. This was a view strongly supported by Lord Lamont, Chancellor under John Major from 1990 to 1993, who was clear he had no doubt the words in her letter to Bill Cash were her true thoughts on Europe, both during her tenure as Prime Minister and afterwards. Whether she would have supported Brexit publicly was only a matter of her having the desire to go public. ‘I’ve heard her say we should get out… the argument is whether she would have had the conviction of her beliefs’. Given that ‘so many people were in favour of Brexit’ however, he argues it would have been difficult for her not to have joined them. Others though have argued that she would have definitely voted Remain if suitable offers of reform were made. Lord Powell is one such advocate of this view, arguing in The Sunday Times at the time of the referendum that Lady Thatcher would have ‘gone along’ with David Cameron’s renegotiation.
While she may never have been an enthusiastic Europhile, he maintains that she would have favoured ‘staying in on the conditions… on offer’. ‘Margaret Thatcher’s heart was never in our membership of the EU. But l am convinced her head would continue to favour staying in on the conditions now on offer’ Powell wrote in February 2016. ‘There were certainly times as prime minister when her frustration with Europe boiled over. The one thing I never heard her propose was Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.’ ‘Perhaps she would have persevered for longer before settling than the present prime minister [David Cameron] and raged more mightily. But at the end of the day I am confident she would have settled, and for something very close to what is on offer now.’ For Lord Lamont, the question of Lady Thatcher’s view on Europe is deeply personal. Perhaps best remembered as the Chancellor who oversaw Britain’s crash out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), despite consistently opposing Britain’s membership in the first place, he talked of how Lady Thatcher was personally very supportive of him throughout the aftermath of the ERM crisis. Though considered a disaster at the time, with over fifteen years of continuous economic expansion in the aftermath of what was dubbed ‘Black Wednesday’, as opposed to near continuous recession while in the ERM, Lord Lamont’s view that a floating pound was vital for British competitiveness has perhaps been vindicated by history. Her view of the ERM was, however, according to Lord Lamont, ‘unreal… I don’t know why she decided to join’. While the objective of the ERM was
to stabilise European exchange rates around the Deutschmark to prepare the ground for the introduction of the Euro, he argued that she believed that if necessary the pound would be allowed to crash through the bottom or burst through the top of the exchange rate constraint. This was despite the fact such an event would have defeated the entire point of the project, and was something that other European nations would never have countenanced. Lord Lamont was also crucial in securing Britain an opt-out from joining the single currency during negotiations over the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, which established the European Union from the European Economic Community. Asked whether if Britain had stayed in the ERM and had eventually joined the Euro it would have voted to remain in the EU, he thinks it could have been ‘very different’ for the UK, but is unsure whether we’d still be in. He argues that monetary union was unlikely to have ever worked because ‘I think our [economic] cycle has never been aligned with that of Europe’. Since the end of the Second World War, so he argued, Britain’s booms and recessions have often been synchronised with the United States more than the European continent, not least because of the prominence of London alongside New York as a centre of global finance. As the result of the night’s vote flashed up on the division screens omnipresent in every room on the Parliamentary estate, the night ended in a second defeat for the government in the space of a week. The room was almost split down the middle, with voting peers on both sides of the divide. Regardless of their present political differences however, they had no problem coming together to celebrate the legacy of a Prime Minister that they all admired. It was very fitting for a scholarship programme that supports the most able regardless of their political views, their backgrounds or their identities. Ben Etty (2016), reading History and Economics, is a Michael Bishop Foundation Thatcher Scholar.
Calam Lynch (2013, Classics), played Claudio in Much Ado About Nothing at the Rose Theatre, Kingston. It was his professional stage debut.
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Sodomites, patricides and epicureans NATALIA NOWAKOWSKA
n 18 April 1518, the Italian princess Bona Sforza married Sigismund I, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, in Cracow cathedral. This lavish wedding forged links of politics and kinship between the Jagiellonian dynasty of Central Europe and the top families of Renaissance Italy. It opened up new channels of communication between Poland-Lithuania and the cities of Italy’s far south – a dynamic exchange of people, books and ideas which continued for decades, in a story still unfamiliar to many scholars and students of the sixteenth century. Bona Sforza (1494-1557) was a Milanese-Neapolitan princess, from 1518 queen of Poland and from 1524 duchess of the Adriatic territory of Bari, and thus an Italian ruler in her own right. King Sigismund (1467-1548) was the scion of a large royal house which, at its peak c. 1525, ruled half of Europe, from Prague to Smolensk. Their wedding was attended by dignitaries and scholars from across Christendom, and generated significant literary commemorative works. Their five children – who later ruled in Poland-Lithuania, Sweden and Hungary - presented themselves throughout their lives as Polish-Italian royalty. This spring, visitors to the Bodleian’s Weston Library were able to see the new Renaissance Royal Wedding display. It marks the 500th anniversary of this famous set of 16th-century nuptials, which raise issues of national culture, cosmopolitanism and European identity today just as much as they did half a millennium ago.
The Bodleian exhibition, which I curated with Katarzyna Kosior, is part of a European Research Council (ERC) funded project in Oxford, Jagiellonians: Dynasty, Memory and Identity in Central Europe. The display contains rare objects from Oxford collections which demonstrate the surprisingly close contacts between Poland and Italy in the Renaissance period – Queen Bona’s own prayerbook, a masterpiece of Central European manuscript illumination prominently decorated with her Italian heraldic arms; a medal of the Polish queen made at the court of Ferrara (lent by the Ashmolean); or a 1570s’ book of poems by Polish and Italian authors praising their shared dynasty, published in Naples. In April, I gave a public lecture at the Bodleian entitled ‘The Polish-Italian Royal Wedding of 1518: Dynasty, Memory & Language’, which was followed by a reception attended by His Excellency Arkady Rzegocki, Poland’s ambassador to the UK, and Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian. A 2-day international conference on ‘Renaissance Royal Weddings’ has also taken place in connection with the display and anniversary, with speakers from the USA, Turkey and across Europe exploring where the Bona-Sigismund wedding sits within wider patterns of French, Habsburg, Medici, Jagiellonian or Ottoman royal nuptials of the period. The exhibition has also been viewed by Prof. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC, during a special trip to Oxford to see the EU-funded research in progress at this university. The display was first pencilled into the Bodleian’s exhibition calendar over two years ago, but its themes are
perhaps even more timely now– as Professor Bourguignon’s visit shows. ‘Cosmopolitanism’ and ‘internationalism’, once seemingly innocuous buzz-words in historical research, have now become contested and ‘hot’ terms in political debate. Bona Sforza’s arrival in Poland looks like 16th-century cosmopolitanism on a grand scale: a foreign bride bringing a small army of Italian servants to Cracow, with Italian fashions, music, cuisine, scholarship, medical expertise, and even Italian nightshirts for King Sigsimund. Bona and Sigismund’s court, from 1518, sported a rich fusion of Central European and Italian traditions, styles and personnel. A king and queen steeped in super-elite European styles and ideas, along with much of their internationally mobile staff, might even fit the description of ‘citizens of nowhere’, if it were not for the fact that nobody was more ‘national’ in the 16th century than the king himself, who metaphysically embodied the kingdom. As the Bodleian exhibition seeks to show, the 1518 wedding did not just Continued on page 20
20 Somerville Magazine render the Polish court more cosmopolitan, but made the Crown’s politics more internationalist as well. In defending his wife’s claims to lands in southern Italy, King Sigismund orientated his diplomacy further west, forcing Poland to acquire deep expertise in west European affairs and even to create its first permanent resident ambassador – Johannes Dantiscus. The Polish Crown and Bona, from 1524, actually ruled two territories in southern Italy (Bari and Rossano) from the Polish-Lithuanian court, giving this monarchy a Mediterranean appendix. Citizens of the Adriatic port of Bari, in the 1530s, heard Masses said for their rulers, the Polish royal family, and watched Polish administrators collect their taxes. The 1518 wedding shows how deeply entangled even geographically distant European states were in one another’s affairs, finances, and administration. And, just as today, the cosmopolitanism and internationalism which Bona Sforza bought to Cracow was viewed with deep suspicion in some quarters. The Polish cleric Stanislaw Górski, watching as fellow Poles were passed over for ecclesiastical promotions in favour of new Italian arrivals, blasted the queen for bringing with her ‘sodomites, patricides, epicureans and simoniacs [corrupt clerics]…’ Bona herself, from 1518 onwards, was the subject of sexually explicit satires and epigrams by Polish courtiers. As speakers at the ‘Renaissance Royal Weddings’ conference showed, there was a strong tradition of Central European hostility to Italian queens – like her aunt, Queen Beatrice of Hungary, or (later) her daughter Queen Isabella of Hungary – Bona was painted by contemporaries as sexually voracious, financially rapacious and politically without scruple, an (Italian) whore, tyrant and poisoner. Such language survived in the 17th century in the form of international scandal chronicles – such as The Amours of Bonne Sforze, published in London in 1684 – or in 19thcentury Polish nationalist scholarship, which painted Bona as a foreign meddler, betraying Polish national interests. The evidence in our display, and from Queen Bona and King Sigismund’s lives, shows that the stories of Naples, Poland or Lithuania in the Renaissance cannot be understood with reference to local, domestic (or ‘national’) events alone – dynasties, networks and geopolitics tangled these realms up with one another like spaghetti. The backlash to their story, in the 16th century and beyond, reveals the constant see-sawing in European history between centrifugal and centripedal cultural forces, the tensions between the local and supra-national. But today the 1518 Polish-Italian wedding also opens up new ways of writing the history of Renaissance Europe, as a tangled, connected, contested story, which pays equal heed to ‘West’ and ‘East’, setting these on an equal footing. Dr. Natalia Nowakowska, Somerville History Fellow, is Principal Investigator of the ERC ‘Jagiellonians’ Project at Oxford. Her most recent book is ‘King Sigismund of Poland and Martin Luther: The Reformation before Confessionalization’, published by Oxford University Press (2018).
Transforming Muslim women’s education in India SHAHANA MUNAZIR
Education and economic independence have liberated many Muslim women in contemporary India from the shackles of religious conservatism and familial bondage.
ince the 1990s Muslim communities have tried to keep pace with the rapidly changing realities of contemporary India. Many parents now see it as important to send their daughters to mainstream public and private schools. However, many such opportunities are limited only to the wealthy and privileged class of Muslims. For socially and economically marginalized Muslims, education is still shrouded in financial constraints and religious orthodoxy. Growing up in the confines of an ordinary Muslim household in a small town in Patna, the state capital of Bihar, I never thought I would get out of my traditional home, let alone the town itself in the pursuit of higher education. Like any other middle class household, my family and my formative years saw an upbringing marked by just sufficient resources, modest aspirations governed by religious exigencies, and a desire to conform to deeply rooted social morality.
Somerville Magazine 21 I was drawn to this area of research for two reasons, the first being the much talked about (but barely improved) condition of Muslim women’s education in India. As per the 2011 census, 48.1 per cent of Muslim women are illiterate while only 2.07 per cent are graduates. Secondly, in most academic discussions centred around Muslim women’s empowerment in India, there is a perceived binary between “Islam and modernity”, “Islam and women’s rights”, etc. indicating that Muslim girls have an inalienable attachment to their religion at the cost of adopting progressive steps towards education. However, more than any form of a belief system, it is the lack of opportunities that has placed Muslim girls amidst the most vulnerable sections of the Indian population. My research, therefore, was focused on exploring the entangled spaces of Muslim girls’ education where religion and modernity coexisted. The Islamic space of hybrid Islamic schools was interesting to me as it blurred this hierarchical distinction between Islam and modernity. These institutions offered girls an opportunity for higher learning without being coerced to abandon their rooted religious and cultural self.
It’s not uncommon for girls raised in the Indian society to face uphill challenges ranging from unsupportive communities to rigid gender roles in getting an education and dreaming of a better life. I too faced similar impediments when I decided to study at Oxford because I was stepping into an unknown territory and challenging suffocating gender stereotypes. I was fortunate enough to attend one of India’s best colleges, St. Stephens where I graduated in History. My initial schooling years encouraged me to have big dreams and I went on to study at Somerville where I specialized in Social Anthropology, studying on a graduate scholarship. This education made me aware of my personal privilege. An education of this quality is still a rarity for middle-class Muslim women in India. The debate on Muslim women’s educational status in India following the Sacchar Committee Report (2006) has highlighted the lack of resources, pervasive insecurities, discriminatory attitudes in schools, and the declining faith in the public schooling system in India that have together left lower class Muslim women excluded from the mainstream. Stemming from my own personal experience, my research in the Anthropology Department at Oxford focused on young Muslim girls who studied in hybrid Islamic schools in Patna. These schools lay at the intersection of old-style madrasas and modern secular schools teaching both religious and modern curricula to a socio-economically marginalized population.
Hybrid Islamic schools in lower class Muslim society is a recent phenomenon of contemporary India. These schools are different from the old style madrasas in that they follow the standard curriculum prepared by the Indian government and allow students to appear for the public examination conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education. Alongside this, the schools also offer training in Islamic subjects, such as memorising the Hadith, learning Arabic literature, and valueoriented adab (discipline) literature. Thus, such institutions lie at the intersection of modern and religious curriculum and seem to offer new educational opportunities for many marginalized adolescent Muslim girls. My research has noted that the rise of such hybrid Islamic schools in Bihar is reflective of the distinct growth of educational aspirations in girls who come from poorer and also from more religiously conservative families as compared to elite Muslims. In Bihar alone, there is around 50 State recognized girls’ madrasas and most of them teach both religious and non-religious curricula. The entry of girls into such schools that offer a mix of secular and religious instruction is itself a step towards mainstreaming education and education policy in India must account for such efforts. My ethnography inside the Islamic school revealed instances of budding aspirations in young girls. Many of them had plans for higher education to pursue vocational careers, and for many, the school offered the sole chance of social interactions with friends and teachers. On several occasions, my young informants, both students, and wardens said that my educational journey is inspirational. Most of them said that they liked the fact that I could speak fluent English, and some of them even stated that they are proud of the fact that I have made it to the University of Oxford from a small town like Patna and wished they had such opportunities in their lives too. Shahana Munazir completed an MSc in Contemporary India in 2014, supported by a fully-funded Indira Gandhi graduate scholarship from the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, at Somerville.
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The Alcuin Fund was established by former Principal Catherine Hughes to help tutors and students in History with self-development and travel, especially where this will equip them to make a social or public contribution in a subsequent career. Here, we find out about where the fund took students in 2017. Will Andrews (History and Modern Languages, 2015) “Breslau ist Deutsch” is a slogan I was not expecting to find in Poland. It can, nevertheless, be found scratched onto one of the posts that line the Prussian-constructed colonnade that peaks just above Wrocław’s skyline. After abandonment during the communist era, and failed redevelopment after 1990, this monument to past Prussian glory is perhaps symptomatic of how Polish public memory chooses to ignore or completely disregard a German history of the western part of the country. Abandoned nineteenth-century buildings are admittedly rare in Poland. Despite painstaking reconstruction of many city centres after the devastation of the Second World War, urban planners looked to city plans from before Poland’s partition in the 18th century in an effort to erase all visual-symbolic memory of
“There is just as little reference to the Polish history of forced migration as there is to the German one”
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a Prussian history. In cities not so painstakingly rebuilt – like Szczecin, a mere stone’s throw away from the German border or Elbłag, 40km from Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave – the visceral exclusion of a German history from public-visual memory is even more marked. The House of the 13 Muses in Szczecin, for example, is a Prussian neoclassical art gallery built in the 1890s, so named for the 13 muses that donned its façade; as late as the 1980s the Polish government decided to remove the neoclassical figures and replace them with appropriate socialist realist, Polish, artists. It’s subsequently unsurprising that I saw only one museum that explicitly dealt with the topic of German forced migration, with why there are no longer Germans in these cities – in the tiny town of Elbłag, with no tourists to be seen. The museum itself is actually mobile, and, in part funded by Poland, Russia and Lithuania, moves to Kalinigrad and Klaipeda at other points in the year. It consists of multiple exhibits in which Germans expelled from these three cities in their childhood are able to retell what is was like living there prior to the war. Yet there is just as little reference to the Polish history of forced migration as there is to the German one in the country’s museums. After all, a large percentage of those Poles who came to live in the West Polish cities that German populations were forced to leave were themselves expelled in turn from what is now Belarus and Ukraine. But whilst there reigns palpable hesitation to discuss the possibility that Germans too were victims of the violence and destruction of WWII throughout Poland – and for perfectly understandable reasons – the same can arguably no longer be said for Germany. It was Willy Brandt who gave up German claims on former East Prussia, implying that in the immediate post-war FRG there was far more discussion of German victimhood than historians often presume; literary figures like Walter Kempowski in the 1970s/80s, Grass and Sebald in the 90s and early 00s, and since then a plethora of other authors, have all chosen to write about German victimhood and sell well; finally, we have AfD (‘Alternative for Germany’) politicians claim in public that German memory culture as it is today – one that supposedly focuses on Germans as perpetrators rather than as victims – shames the nation. It’s clear that while Poland is frightened of the implications of its visual past, a Germany that actively seeks to rebuild Prussian buildings (see the Stadtschloss in Berlin) has, arguably quite problematically, found new strength in it. To this, I have to add one final image. It’s a defaced poster found in the main hall of Freiburg University, where I am studying whilst on my year abroad. It shows Switzerland, Austria, Germany – only this Germany has been extended to include East Prussia, roughly following the borders of 1918. Freiburg is a progressive
city – it has had a Green Party mayor since the Green Party has existed; the students are far more left-wing than I had expected from a pretty south German town – but even here German irredentism appears to have been quite starkly emboldened by the electoral success of far-right parties and the increasing dominance of the post-Wende German state on the European stage. Polish memorial culture definitely has a lot to learn from what can be found in Germany; but Germans in the public sphere need to make sure they don’t erase their own history, either.
Alex Crichton-Miller (History and Modern Languages, 2015) In Trinity Term 2017, I made a successful application to be an English teacher at a Summer School for two weeks in the Northern Italian town of Iseo. Though I study French and History, I had also been learning Italian for 12 months or so and considered this a fantastic opportunity to improve my spoken Italian.
“It was nice to see something in evidence that I had studied only a few weeks before with Professor Innes” At the school I taught for two hours a day, in the morning, and even after lesson planning for the next day this left me a good deal of free time. As well as enabling me to fly to and from Iseo, the grant from the Hughes-Alcuin fund enabled me to profit culturally, through visiting a number of the cities in the surrounding area. During my two-week stay, I was able to visit Brescia, Bergamo, Verona and Milan, all for the first time. It was a great pleasure to be able to visit such important centres of art and literature, most notably the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan and the arena of Verona. Though my time in the Lombardy-Veneto region did not have a specifically historical emphasis, it was interesting to note how widely celebrated the cinque giornate of Milan in 1848-9 were, with every town I came across possessing some form of commemoration, be it plaque, statue or town square, to the uprising against the Austrians in 1848-9. It was nice to see something in evidence that I had studied only a few weeks before with Professor Innes. Also of note was the fact that every single town I visited felt the need to have its own museum in homage to the Risorgimento. Overall it was a successful trip: it turned out that northern Italians speak very little English (a blessing, given my year abroad is currently being spent in entirely Anglophone Paris) and so I was forced to improvise, adapt and overcome the language barrier. Had it not been for this grant I would not have had the possibility of undertaking this trip, nor would I have benefited from the rich culture to be found in the Italian towns in Lombardy-Veneto. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Continued on page 24
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Ryan O’Reilly (History, 2015) The grant from the Alcuin Fund, along with other sources of funding given to me by Somerville, allowed me to travel to Japan for a month. I went from Tokyo, all along Honshu to Odawara, Hakone, Osaka, Nara, Kyoto, Hiroshima, across to Kyushu, as well as a brief visit Kanazawa – north of Tokyo.
“The trip was extremely useful in developing the idea for my thesis” The trip was extremely useful in developing the idea for my thesis. Initially, I was torn between two strands of thought – either studying Missionary Schools in Japan and the influence of western ideas of femininity in Japan, or perceptions and depictions of deviant femininity in Post-war Japan. I visited Toyo Eiwa whilst in Tokyo, an élite all-girls school set up by Canadian Missionaries in 1884, and was given access to their archives and library. There, I enjoyed delving into the history of religious schooling in Japan, and received small personal lectures from the archivists themselves (largely in Japanese), as well as being able to question them about the particulars of the documents they hold. I also realised that I was more interested in the aspects of the construction of gender, than I was in the religious aspects of the history I was looking at (the second of my initial thesis ideas), but I wouldn’t have known exactly what I wanted to study in greater depth without the time at Toyo Eiwa. I put my grant primarily put towards a Japanese Rail shinkansen pass that allowed unlimited rail travel all over Japan for the duration of my trip. Without it I would probably have been on the roadside, thumb stretched out, stomach empty, but my soul free. Luckily my soul was able to roam free, just in the comforting efficiency of the Japanese rail system and the N700-8000 series Sakura line seats, accompanied by onigiri (riceballs) purchased from the local supermarket. I met many wonderful people, old friends and new, and was able to practice my Japanese daily -lest I get the wrong directions to the nearest Izakaya (think pub) - and learnt a lot about Japan itself in the process.
From climbing Mount Misen, to soaking in Beppu’s natural mountain hot springs, visiting countless temples, castles, and museums, and loitering in Akihabara’s flashing arcades, I did (and ate) many unforgettable things. I only applied for the grant only on a whim with very little forward planning, but was met with overwhelming support that I still feel undeserving of. Looking back, I’m extremely glad that I applied and I would hate to think that others might miss out on similar adventures by simply not asking. Truly it was the best trip of my life.
Mo Iman (History, 2016) With the money I was granted from the Alcuin Fund, I was able to afford to go to Paris and undertake a series of walking tours. I focussed each of my walking tours on a different century of history, ranging from the fifteenth century up to the present day. After taking these tours in the morning, I would return to places of interest such as the Louvre and spend more time inside. I stayed in the 15th arrondissement, within sight of the Eiffel tower and the riverside, so in the evenings I would walk along the riverbank.
“I would say Paris is certainly a city every historian should visit”
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I would say Paris is certainly a city every historian should visit, many times if possible. The culture and history of the city is exceptionally concentrated and within such a small city, a historian shouldn’t lack something to appreciate whilst they are there. I spent all but one of my days in Paris. On that day, I went to Versailles to visit the palace. The sheer scale and excess was astonishing, the gardens themselves were amazing but the main palace and smaller homes on the estate were certainly interesting as well. This project has made me more appreciative of the past and in many ways, has made history feel more alive. Reading about the past sometimes fails to make the connections to the people we study come alive. Visiting Paris has reminded me that we are still connected to the past and proof of that is all around us. I am very thankful for this opportunity which has enhanced my enjoyment of studying History.
Bea Cartwright (MSt History of Art and Visual Culture, 2016) My grant from the Alcuin Fund enabled me to travel to Paris. I had two goals for the trip: to visit artworks in public collections and to take a language course. I visited the Petit Palais to see works by Fernand Pelez, a late nineteenth-century realist painter. This was an exciting opportunity for me, given I had written one of my option papers on the artist for my Master’s degree. Seeing these works allowed me to analyse materiality and paint manipulation at first hand. I also took the time to visit larger collections at the “I was able to put my Louvre and Musée d’Orsay. At thoughts into practice” Musée de l’Orangerie I was able to see Chaim Soutine’s still life paintings. I had written about the phenomenology of viewing in relation to these canvases for my thesis, so I was able to put my thoughts into practice during the museum visit. In addition to visiting museums and galleries I took a language course for four hours every morning. I had been studying French at the language school in Oxford during the year, and the course I took in Paris also meant that I could put what I had learnt into practice when I left the class. The daily class consisted of two hours of grammar and two hours of speaking practice. I feel that my confidence with the language improved hugely, and I plan to continue with my studies here in Oxford this year. I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity this grant gave me. The chance to visit museums and institutions in France coupled with the opportunity to gain experience with the French language – will, I know, prove invaluable for my future DPhil studies.
“It was interesting to take part in this research from the point of view of an EU member state rather than with a postreferendum British perspective”
Elizabeth McGowan (History and Modern Languages, 2016) In September I worked as a volunteer research assistant at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs. I was able to stay with a Finnish family in a region called Espoo, just outside Helsinki, taking around 30 minutes to commute into the centre of Helsinki. My work placement was fascinating. I was given the task of helping the European Union Research Project by collecting articles and sources about differentiated integration in the EU. It was interesting to take part in this research from the point of view of an EU member state rather than with a postreferendum British perspective. Where Britain focuses on Brexit and Trump, Finland is understandably more concerned with neighbouring Russia and the EU. A number of those doing research at the Institute were not Finnish, or were but had spent a lot of time in other countries. Their perspectives on different politics and histories were fascinating to compare. The trip also helped me recover some memories from the time I lived in Finland as a child. I saw the importance of the natural world to Finnish culture when I travelled to an old farmhouse next to the forest and helped forage and harvest the wild berries and mushrooms that were used for our dinner that evening – an insight into the history of the people of Finland who developed from a background of agriculture and foragers. The culture of sailing and fishing is also very prominent and I was taken to see a sailing race on the Baltic sea. One of the most rewarding aspects of this trip was that I was able to stay with the Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade. He showed me the Ministry and I was also given a tour of Parliament. He discussed politics and history with me and explained a lot about the Finnish Parliamentary system. My studies of German came up and that proved incredibly interesting as we discussed the difference in attitudes to history in our respective countries. Here in Britain the main ‘antagonist’ of history in common opinion is Germany, whereas in Finland, it is Russia. Overall the experience was invaluable and I feel it has been beneficial to my studies, to my idea of future career options and to my personal cultural and political understanding as well as to my independence and confidence.
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John Stuart Mill’s margin scribbles reveal the philosopher’s “unauthorized autobiography”
In 1905, Somerville College received a bequest that immediately established its library as one of Oxford’s leading conservators of the just-completed nineteenth century. Christ Church holds the Carroll collection, and Keble College the books, correspondence, and personal papers of John Keble, but Somerville curates the personal library of John Stuart Mill, Victorian Britain’s leading philosophical and political theorist, and perhaps the dominant figure in Victorian intellectual life from the 1860s through the 1880s. At first, the historical importance of this collection was less significant to the College than its practical and pedagogical benefits. At roughly 2000 volumes, the library from Mill’s house in Blackheath immediately increased the size of the college library by nearly a third and offered Somerville’s female students, then barred from taking degrees at the University and using the Bodleian Library, access to significant works in Classics, history, philosophy, literature, law, political economy, and liberal theory. By the 1960s, circumstances had changed. The University of Toronto Press began its landmark edition of The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill (33 volumes, 1963-1991), with many of the individual volumes in the Toronto edition include references to annotations made and textual variations noted within the “SC,” the Somerville Collection of Mill’s publications. In 1969, recognizing the unique scholarly importance of the Mill library, the College formally reassembled Mill’s remaining
books into a Special Collection with its own dedicated space and began the lengthy process of physical conservation. As a small number of subsequent scholars discovered, the marks and annotations in the Mill library extend far beyond copyediting corrections. Articles from Edward Alexander (English Language Notes 1969), William Peterson and Fred Stanley (Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 1972), and, most recently, Frank Prochaska (History Today 2013), have shown that the handwritten marginalia found throughout the collection has the ability to enrich, expand, and revise our understanding of John Stuart Mill’s readerly judgment, writerly influences, and intellectual networks. In support of its mission to sustain the University of Oxford’s research and teaching mandates, as well as to promote the College’s historic special collections, Somerville issued a public call, in the November 2014 issue of Somerville Magazine, “to
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John Stuart Mill c1870
Burgersdijk’s Institutionum Logicarum
Institutionum Logicarum, page 143
foster research into the annotations and to preserve the collection.” The result was a transatlantic collaboration with the University of Alabama to digitize and render fully searchable all of the marginalia in the Mill library. That project is now well underway at millmarginalia. org, which both archives and renders fully searchable all of the handwritten marks and annotations recorded thus far.
Thucydides, Hume, and Gibbon; select Platonic dialogues in the original language; “light” literature by Defoe, Cervantes, Edgeworth, and others; and mathematical treatises on arithmetic. At seven he graduated to an intensive course of Latin, led by Caesar and Cicero, along with geometry, and by ten he was learning all that was then known of chemistry. Newton, physics, and mechanics followed, with the complete works of canonical figures in English literature—Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Cowper, Spenser, Scott, Dryden— serving as humanistic accompaniment. By age twelve, he began an intensive study of logic, then dominated by Aristotle and such neo-Aristotelians as Phillipe Du Trieu and Franco Burgersdijk.
a letter written to Sir Samuel Bentham on 30 July 1819, in which the then thirteen-year-old Mill enumerated his childhood reading; unfortunately, the MS. for this letter, surely already suspect due to the possibility of youthful boasting, has since been lost.
What has begun to emerge from the margins, flyleaves, and endpapers of the Mill Collection is something akin to the unauthorized autobiography of John Stuart Mill, written by himself in candid moments of reading. This more unguarded commentary on Mill’s life both complements and productively complicates the account prepared for his formal intellectual and professional Autobiography, an early draft of which was extant as early as January 1853, and the final draft of which was published with Mill’s expressed consent in October 1873, six months after his death. Among the more famous biographical experiences recorded in Mill’s published story of his life is his own remarkable childhood education. At age three, Mill began reading Greek, including Aesop and Xenophon. Ages three to seven saw Mill consuming Greek, Latin, and English histories by Herodotus,
Crucially, the evidence for this almost incredible program of home schooling is entirely circumstantial. Certainly something remarkable must have happened to the boy John Stuart, but the formidable intellect of the adult J. S. Mill provides only indirect testimony about the ways in which “The Child is father of the Man.” Also second-hand is the retrospective reconstruction provided over thirty years later in the Autobiography, which, like most intentional reconstructions of the past, conceals and reveals in equal measure. Somewhat closer to the moment was
Recently found, however, on the top shelf of section A in Somerville’s Mill Collection, is the author’s personal copy of Burgersdijk’s Institutionum Logicarum. Even more revealing than the book’s mere presence in Mill’s library is the fact that this small volume contains more individual examples of marginalia than any other yet mapped, photographed, and transcribed for the digitization project. In all, 351 pages contain at least one mark or annotation, with 1568 examples of marginalia in all, including a handful of rather juvenile-looking additions: Pictured above, page 143 features an interlinear and apparently idle triangle, page 170 a fan-like flare at the end of a chapter break, and page 357 a series of closely made vertical lines marking the conclusion of the book’s first half. Initially inscrutable but ultimately more exciting are the volume’s 575 handwritten marginal numbers. Two comments recorded in Mill’s published Continued on page 28
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Autobiography begin to shed light on their function. First, while recalling the “peculiar care” with which he was made to study Aristotle’s Rhetoric at age ten or eleven, Mill remarks that his father required him to “throw the matter of it into synoptic tables.” When, at age twelve, he had progressed to Aristotle’s Organon and other, unnamed “Latin treatises on the scholastic logic,” Mill remembers that he was expected to provide his father, “each day . . . in our walks, a minute account of what I had read . . . answering his numerous and searching questions” and hoping to avoid “incurring his displeasure by my inability to solve difficult problems for which he did not see that I had not the necessary previous knowledge.” Placed side by side, the marginal numbers found on pages 16, 22, and 43 strongly suggest that Mill had recalled his earlier lesson by constructing marginal synoptic tables throughout Burgersdijk’s book, thereby equipping himself with a kind of running index to enable him to keep up during those afternoon walks with his father. This was, without question, an enormous amount of work, enough to excuse the expressions of, perhaps, rebellious (because lacking utility) relief at completing a sentence, a chapter, and the book’s first half, all discernible in the youthful marks from pages 143, 170, and 357. The combination of studiousness and adolescence found within Institutionum Logicarum also represents the first material proof of the young John Stuart’s education. And this handwritten evidence speaks eloquently of how the talented and anxious boy sought to cope with “the chilling sensation of being under the critical eye” of James Mill, remembered by his son as “one of the most impatient of men.” That Burgersdijk is not mentioned by name in the Autobiography, despite his book serving as the occasion for such worried labor, suggests the suppressions required for even posthumous publication. That a series of interconnected handwritten numbers could reveal this much about a formerly inaccessible part of Mill’s life asserts the potential for discovery, both personal and intellectual, within the margins of Somerville’s John Stuart Mill Collection. Stay tuned to millmarginalia.org for further developments. Albert D. Pionke is a specialist in Victorian literature and culture at the University of Alabama who is leading the work of digitizing the Mill marginalia.
History In 2017, Honorary Fellow Joyce Reynolds (1937, Lit. Hum.) became the first woman to win the British Academy’s Kenyon Medal in recognition of her contribution to the study of Roman epigraphy. An impressive achievement at any point, but especially in one’s 99th year. Joyce’s work gives us what Mary Beard calls ‘an extraordinary glimpse’ of the workings of the Roman Empire.
orn in 1918 in London, Joyce came up to Somerville from St Paul’s Girls’ School. She still remembers her interview with Miss Hartley: not the questions themselves but her own repeated thought of ‘That’s odd. What’s she asking that for?’ with the same questions appearing again in tutorials later. Joyce particularly relished the teaching she received from Isabel Henderson who asked ‘questions that really got at you’. Of the subjects she studied, it was History that really gripped her, and during her last summer vacation she took a trip to Italy with two fellow students. So began a lifetime of looking at the Roman world in situ. As for so many who were at Somerville around this time, the war stepped in and led to work of a rather different kind. After her finals in 1941, Joyce was whisked straight into the Board of Trade. Her role was to report on the supply of consumer goods to shops throughout the country, especially in recently bombed areas. She quickly found herself becoming well-informed on exactly how long it took to make and supply cups versus mugs, and kettles versus saucepans. Mugs were faster to make, but not popular, she recalls, while saucepans were easier to produce than kettles and could at least be used to make both soup and tea. One might think such knowledge would have little to offer a classicist once the war was over, but Joyce found herself increasingly interested in the production and consumption of consumer goods in the Roman world, as well as in the way that world had run its own ‘civil service’.
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Winning a research scholarship to the British School at Rome, Joyce’s interest in Roman inscriptions began when she visited the Tripolitanian sites being excavated by British archaeologists such as Kathleen Kenyon and the British School’s then Head, John Ward-Perkins. Roman inscriptions, which can range from the informative (giving the dates of a consulship, say) to the dedicatory (to the gods, for example, when a public building was erected) and, most commonly, the funerary texts of quite ordinary people, gave Joyce the way into Roman life that she had been seeking. She quickly became a leading expert on the inscriptions themselves, and also on the workshops that produced them, as well as on the types of stone favoured in particular areas or by particular status groups. At Rome, Joyce met Jocelyn Toynbee, then on sabbatical from Newnham College, Cambridge. When Toynbee took a chair and her post as Director of Studies in Classics at Newnham fell vacant, she suggested that Joyce should apply. Joyce (who had already held a lectureship at Newcastle upon Tyne) was successful and six years later, in 1957, she was appointed to a Lectureship in Classics in Cambridge University. Joyce remained Director of Studies at Newnham until 1979 and was a University Lecturer in Classics until 1983. In 1982, she was made a Fellow of the British Academy, and in 1983 she became Reader in Epigraphy at Cambridge. Was Joyce conscious of the gender imbalance in Cambridge? She says that she was aware of it in terms of numbers, and, occasionally, in the sense that men could and would dominate a conversation. The all-female Fellowship at Newnham made a difference and Joyce continues to see a place for all-female colleges. But despite her many years at Newnham and her fondness for it, ‘my heart is in Somerville,’ she says, and she has always enjoyed coming back. She particularly remembers seeing Margaret Thatcher at the College’s 1979 centenary celebrations. ‘I didn’t agree with her politics,’ she says, ‘but I did think she had a brain’. Long vacations were spent hunting for inscriptions, mainly in Cyrenaica but later in Turkey, at Aphrodisias. Oxford Professor Bert Smith is now director of excavations there and some of his work on the site appears in a recent volume he edited jointly with Somerville’s current Fellow and Tutor in Ancient History, Beate Dignas. For Dignas, ‘it is an honour to be Tutor in Ancient History at the college from which Joyce graduated and which counts her among its Honorary Fellows’. She recalls Joyce’s ‘legendary’ eye for spotting and deciphering inscriptions – ‘Many students have been left scratching their heads when confronted with a smooth marble theatre seat on which Joyce has read letters’ – and notes that Joyce has also been a pioneer in the publication of inscribed texts online (with the essential help of her former student Professor Charlotte Roueché). ‘Working on inscriptions from Asia Minor as a graduate student 25 years ago went hand-in-hand with admiring Joyce Reynolds, and my admiration for her has grown steadily since,’ Dignas says. Aphrodisias is a rich source of inscriptions, with a beautiful and very stable marble which could be cut finely to produce inscriptions that have remained clearly readable. The study of epigraphy on the ground (literally) is a very physical thing and
“I didn’t agree with Thatcher’s politics but I did think she had a brain.” Joyce concedes (if a little reluctantly) that the climbing and burrowing needed to find and read inscriptions in person is now beyond her (although Beate Dignas recalls that even in her late eighties, Joyce remained ‘utterly intrepid’ when travelling). And then there is the political turmoil that has seen the destruction of ancient sites in the middle east in recent years. ‘Goodness knows what has happened to them now,’ Joyce says, reflecting on the fate of some of the places she worked at. But work must go on, and one of Joyce’s current projects is a brief account of texts on items of pottery for a multi-volume work on the the House of the Menander at Pompeii. Joyce now finds herself in the curious position of becoming a subject of research. This year, she features in Century Girls, the new book by Tessa Dunlop (author of The Bletchley Girls). Does it lead her to reflect on how far women have come since the year of her birth, the year when the first women in the UK gained the vote? “I remember my mother bursting into tears the first time she went to vote in 1929,” Joyce says, and she also remembers her mother’s disappointment at having to give up work as a schoolteacher (she had been allowed to work after her marriage, but only until the war ended). The past is one thing. The future, especially for Classics, is quite another. Joyce says she has been glad to see the appearance of new ab initio Classics courses so that those who haven’t been able to study Latin or Greek at school can take up the study of the ancient world at university. She remembers from her own time as a supervisor that many of the undergraduates came from ‘the grander schools’: ‘We had to work quite hard to get students from more ordinary schools’. She is gratified now to see the interest in Classics that’s been sparked in schoolchildren by television programmes, not least those of her own student at Newnham, one Mary Beard. Beard, who now lives opposite Joyce and was the architect of Newnham’s recent ‘JoyceFest’, celebrating Reynolds’ achievements, remembers the firmly sceptical approach that was drummed into her in Joyce’s supervisions: ‘Do you really know that, Miss Beard? Is that the only way you can interpret the evidence?’ It is what Oxford and Cambridge do best across the generations: shaping knowledge and shaping minds.
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Diving for DNA:
adventures in underwater archaeology
Even at 43 metres below the surface the bright Mediterranean sunlight filters down through the clear water off the south coast of Cyprus, allowing me to hunt for the one amphora I am raising to the surface amongst a pile of hundreds of nearly identical storage jars.
menacing eel regards me with suspicion, and slithers further into one of the ancient amphorae he has made his home. I am thankful when I confirm this is not the amphora I am raising. I find the artefact I am looking for - a wine amphora, in a shape produced on the Greek island of Chios in the Classical and Hellenistic periods from about 2500 to 2000 years ago. After multiple decompression stops over a slow ascent, we reach the surface. On the deck of the research boat, we peer inside the amphora and see, not evidence for wine, but thousands of olive stones. Almost six years later, I am still researching that enigmatic amphora. While my past research focused on the olives themselves, and what analysis of their stable isotopes might tell us about their origins, I am now searching for an even more elusive indication of past vessel contents: ancient DNA.
There is tremendous potential for DNA studies to resolve long-standing questions in both terrestrial and underwater archaeology. For maritime studies of the ancient Mediterranean, finding a way to accurately characterise the contents of amphorae recovered from ancient shipwreck sites would provide invaluable insight into cargo compositions and trade dynamics. Despite the importance of understanding what goods and provisions were conveyed on ancient shipwrecks, the contents of Classical and Hellenistic ceramic transport containers are largely inferred from vessel shape and origin. Employing this normative approach to amphora interpretation, which assumes that the style and geographic origin of a ceramic vessel determines function and contents, allows underwater archaeologists to attempt a preliminary characterisation of ancient shipwreck cargoes by surveying and identifying the predominant type of transport container present on the wreck. Once recovered and examined, however, transport amphorae do not always contain the expected commodity, thus casting doubt on our ability to assume we know the cargoes present on ancient shipwreck by ceramic vessel type alone.
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As in the case of the Mazotos shipwreck amphora filled with thousands of olives - that was previously assumed to be a wine container - unexpected contents frequently make their way into the amphorae found aboard ancient ships. While wine, olive oil, and fish sauce pervade our assumptions about past vessel contents, a far larger variety of objects have been recovered from these durable vessels.
However, these studies have not adequately addressed the source of the DNA recovered, and whether it derives from taxa present in the underwater deposition environment or the artefact itself. No testing of the seawater in which these artefacts were found, or of the biologically rich seafloor sediment from which they were recovered, was undertaken in the studies mentioned above.
Aboard the 3,300-year-old Uluburun shipwreck found off the coast of Turkey ceramic transport containers held resin, whole olives, pomegranates, and even glass beads. What was thought to be wine amphora from the Greek island of Samos recovered from the Tektaš Burnu wreck from the Classical period was found to contain butchered beef bones, while the slightly later Kyrenia shipwreck had vessels of the same type which contained whole almonds.
The marine environment is dynamic, and full of life. From large cetaceans to microscopic organisms, there is the potential for DNA from an uncountable number of species to be present in the seawater.
Olives, almonds, pomegranates, butchered beef, and glass beads, we now begin to see a more complex cargo composition aboard ancient ships than previously expected. These new findings could fundamentally change our understanding of the ancient world – beef consumption was seen as being strictly related to religious sacrifice, while whole almonds, olives and the sundry items recently found in amphorae suggest that ancient export economies are far more complex than previously imagined. With further evidence of unexpected amphorae contents, we move further and further away from the narrow view that only wine and olive oil were traded on these ships. But when an amphora appears empty on the seafloor, devoid of its past contents through decay or consumption by marine organisms, is there a way to tell what it contained? Is DNA the answer? Great optimism for the recovery of ancient DNA from maritime sites has spurred a series of studies that claim to have successfully extracted ancient DNA from a variety of artefacts recovered from underwater archaeological sites. Plant remains, human skeletons, and shipwreck amphorae recovered from submerged sites have been subjected to DNA extractions, amplifications, and analysis.
“When an amphora appears empty on the seafloor, is there a way to tell what it contained?”
Without understanding the wide variety of taxa present on maritime archaeological sites it is not possible to establish whether or not conducting DNA analysis on artefacts recovered from underwater sites will yield accurate or useful results. My research seeks to eliminate this ambiguity by establishing what DNA is present in ceramic artefacts recovered from ancient shipwrecks, in the water column, and in the seafloor sediment that covers and surrounds them. What started as desire to understand unexpected vessel contents in the form of the olive stones found in a wine amphora on the Mazotos shipwreck, has now expanded into a project that examines six shipwrecks from four Mediterranean countries, challenges our interpretation of amphora, and encompasses dozens of collaborators, from both UK and international universities. Not only could DNA evidence from ancient shipwreck sites inform our understanding of trade, agriculture, social transformation and connectivity in
the ancient world, it can also enhance our understanding of the state of the marine environment today. All species DNA, recovered from this collection of sites that spans Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia and Malta is sequenced and analysed; both ancient and modern. Through the power of Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics, the rich and diverse DNA landscape (or should we say ‘seascape’) found on these sites will be explored. This will provide information on what organisms, both microscopic, and those visible to the naked eye, inhabit the artificial reefs that ancient shipwreck become. From bacteria, to that menacing eel on the Mazotos shipwreck, there is great potential to increase our understanding of the diverse ecosystems these unique sites can foster. Somerville is a perfect environment for my academic development. With renowned academics in both scientific fields like DNA research and marine biology, as well as archaeology and classics, even a complex project such as this can be supported and assisted by brilliant minds from diverse fields. Set at the confluence of underwater archaeology and cutting edge ancient DNA research, my research requires support from academics working in both STEM subjects and the humanities. Thankfully Somerville has both. With their long history of supporting women in science, this college has offered support and opportunities throughout my DPhil degree I could not have imagined. Now, nearly at the conclusion of my degree at Somerville, exploring what ancient and modern DNA from shipwreck sites can tell us about the use of amphorae, trade and shipping patterns in the ancient world, site formation dynamics, and the diversity of fauna that inhabit these fascinating sites, has my curiosity piqued now more than ever.
Lisa Briggs is an underwater archaeologist and DPhil student in archaeological science at Somerville College.
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Gongs, tin trumpets and a great many herrings The activist and publisher Margaret Haig Thomas, jailed for setting fire to a pillar box, was one of the architects of modern feminism, says Jane Robinson.
n the library corridor in College, just outside the Old Somervillians’ Room, hangs a photograph of a pleasantlooking woman probably in her sixties, with a benevolent smile. She’s wearing an old-fashioned black dress with a pearly brooch and is holding a monocle on a chain around her neck. Someone’s grandmother, perhaps, or a kindly maiden aunt? Not quite. Margaret Haig Thomas (1883-1958), later Viscountess Rhondda, was one of the most influential women of the early twentieth century. A feminist, activist and publisher, her independent and free-thinking career embodied all that Somerville stands for, and it is fitting that we remember her this of all years, 100 years after (some) women won the right to vote in Parliament. Margaret’s early education was sketchy; until the age of 13 she lived at home in London and Wales with wealthy parents and a series of French and German governesses. After short spells at Notting Hill High School and St Leonard’s School in Scotland she ‘came out’ unenthusiastically as a débutante, as was expected of girls of her class, only applying to Somerville when after three seasons she failed to land a suitable husband. She arrived in 1904 but was not considered a natural academic; as her later life proved, Margaret was more a ‘doer’ than a ‘thinker’. Although she admired Principal Emily Maitland, 21 year-old Margaret was uncomfortable at Somerville. It reminded her too much of school, and lacked the lively glamour of her previous life. The College Register records somewhat tersely that at the end of Hilary Term 1905 she ‘left to live at home.’ In 1908 Margaret married Humphrey Mackworth, a country landowner in Wales. Three weeks after the wedding, inspired by her suffragette cousin Florence Haig, she took part in her first militant demonstration in support of women’s suffrage – a cause to which in one guise or another she dedicated the rest of her life. She enjoyed the excitement of action at the cutting edge of politics, and was not afraid of opposition, of which there was plenty at most public meetings for ‘the Vote’. Antisuffragists were always terribly enthusiastic. ‘They arrived in large quantities,’ she remembered, ‘and they brought with them gongs, tin trumpets and other musical instruments, herrings (a great many herrings) and tomatoes.’ Margaret was not easily
Margaret Haig Thomas, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, c. 1915
put off her stride, however. ‘A herring is a floppy thing, there is nothing much to it unless thrown very hard; and a ripe tomato, though messy and damaging to clothes, does not hurt at all.’ In 1913 Margaret was arrested and given a prison sentence for setting fire to the contents of a pillar box. Like hundreds of other suffragettes, she went on hunger strike in protest, but was released after five days when to her fury, someone paid her fine. Though she doesn’t explicitly say so, the implication from her memoirs is that her husband was responsible. The marriage ended in divorce in 1923. The feminism born of her passion for women’s suffrage went on to inform Margaret’s future as a businesswoman, a politician at the head of the ‘Six Point Group’ for women’s equality, a Parliamentary lobbyist and the founding editor of feminist weekly Time and Tide. As long as she felt there was a purpose to working hard – something she lacked at Somerville – she was tirelessly energetic. As a member of Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political Union she wrote articles for the press and for campaign magazines, and proved
Somerville Magazine 33 herself a compelling journalist. Her social awareness shone through everything she did, together with an irresistible impulse to make the world a better, fairer place for the so-called weaker sex. In 1918 Margaret – now Viscountess Rhondda - succeeded her father at the head of his numerous business interests in the coal and newspaper industries. She was not content to be a non-executive director, preferring a hands-on role where she could work constructively. Nothing she ever did smacked of tokenism. She believed in campaigning by example, and only acknowledged the value of political ideology if it was accompanied by action. Before her father’s death she occupied a salaried position as his ‘right-hand man’, attending Board meetings and accompanying or representing him abroad. On returning from one such business trip to America in 1915, Margaret had an experience that was to change her outlook on life completely. She was aboard the Lusitania when the ship was torpedoed off southern Ireland and sank within twenty minutes with the loss of 1198 passengers and crew. Margaret and her father were rescued after several hours in the water. She claimed never to be afraid of anything again after that, and felt ready to face any challenge life had still to offer. Most of all, she learned the art of making the most of every opportunity. In 1920 Viscountess Rhondda was appointed one of Britain’s first women magistrates, along with 6 other Somervillians including Margery Fry, Emily Penrose and Eleanor Rathbone. She was also the Chairman of the Equal Political
Rights Committee and of the National Women Citizens’ Association; a founding member of the Open Door Council (agitating for women’s eligibility for highgrade career posts) and of the Women’s Industrial League, which campaigned to close the gender pay gap. From 1921 onwards she was occupied with lobbying for the right to sit in the House of Lords as a Peeress in her own right. The Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, passed in 1919, stated that no-one should be barred from any public office because of their sex. The Representation of the People Acts in 1918 and 1928 eventually gave all women over 21 the right to vote. Margaret was active in both campaigns. Yet it wasn’t until 1958 – the year of her death – that she was finally granted her rightful place in the Upper House. Despite her prodigious output and widereaching influence as a campaigner for equality on so many fronts, Time and Tide was Viscountess Rhondda’s proudest achievement. It was radical, had real literary merit, was politically innovative and boosted the career of many a wellknown woman writer. She commissioned work from several Somervillian alumnae including Rose Macaulay, Dorothy L. Sayers, Vera Brittain and Margaret’s closest friend, Winifred Holtby. Links with her old College grew when Margaret became Treasurer of an endowment fund for women’s education in Oxford set up in 1921. She supported Somerville in later life, proudly donating copies of her books and acknowledging its unconventional spirit of inclusiveness and commitment to natural justice. She
was never an Oxbridge snob, however; in her Will she left a bequest to ‘young women graduates of any University in the United Kingdom’ to study journalism and so perpetuate two of the most important tenets of her own activism: free speech and economic self-sufficiency. Viscountess Rhondda was a formidable opponent but a staunch ally. A fitting tribute is found in Winifred Holtby’s affectionate dedication to her in ‘Truth is Not Sober’ (1934): ‘For Viscountess Rhondda,’ it reads. ‘To the leader, with homage; to the editor, with gratitude; to the friend, with love.’ She deserves our celebration, not just as a Somervillian – albeit briefly – but as one of the architects of modern feminism. Jane Robinson (English, 1978) is the author of Hearts and Minds, which tells the story of the suffragists’ march on London in 1913. On Saturday 20 October Jane will be the guest speaker at our 2018 Literary Luncheon. See www. some.ox.ac.uk/event/literarylunch-featuring-jane-robinson On 9 October for one night only at the Oxford Playhouse there will be a performance of ‘Rhondda Rips It Up’, a new operetta from the Welsh National Opera, sponsored by Somerville. Join us for the performance and a champagne reception, booking now. See www.some.ox.ac.uk/event/ rhondda-rips-it-up
‘A college of devoted suffragists’ This year, Somerville is celebrating the centenary of the first votes for women with a special series of events, from lectures and discussions to newly commissioned musical theatre. Our publication ‘Somerville and Women’s Suffrage’, which accompanies this magazine, marks the special place of Somerville in the history of the struggle for women’s freedom, franchise and equality. Find out about pioneers of the movement, dissenting voices and how a College clock was kidnapped for the cause.
See the full programme of events at www.some.ox.ac.uk/about-somerville/history/somerville-and-suffrage-events
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Somerville Magazine 35
Juliette Perry (2015, PPE), who started rowing with our Boat Club two years ago as a novice, was selected to row in the Boat Race this year. Picture credit: John Cairns
Future Events June 25 28
Alumni enjoying a tour of the Vitra Design Campus during a weekend reunion in Switzerland.
London Group announcement
City Group: The Fine Art of Investing. London Group: Luke Harding - How Trump Walked Into Putin’s Net.
Are you a Somervillian living in or around London, or someone who regularly visits the capital?
September 12-13 1968 50th Reunion. 15 Alumni lunch. 16 Lunch and Symposium for Year Representatives. 23 History Day.
October 9 20 29
Rhondda Rips it Up, Oxford Playhouse, performed by Welsh National Opera. Literary Lunch with Jane Robinson. London Group: Dr Frank Prochaska on The Feminisation of the Monarchy at the Oxford & Cambridge Club.
November 11 24 29
Somerville and the End of the War – a centenary commemoration day with Anne Logan and Mark Bostridge. Shirley Williams will unveil a plaque. Memorial Service for Miriam Griffin in the College Chapel. Alumni Carol Concert in the College Chapel.
We are planning an event in Manchester at The People’s History Museum, to be hosted by the Principal, Jan Royall. Details will be confirmed as soon as possible.
Every year the Somerville London Group organises half a dozen or so evening events in central London, usually at the Oxford & Cambridge Club. So far this year we have had talks by Hilary Spurling, Peter Bazalgette and Claudia Sturt (head of prison security) and before Christmas we gave a party to welcome the new Principal. All events include plenty of time for socialising, so they are fun as well as interesting. They are not restricted to people living in central London. If you would like to receive email notice about future events, please just let us know on the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Details of future events can be found on the Somerville website: www.some.ox.ac.uk
Somerville College Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HD E: email@example.com T: +44 (0) 1865 270600 www.some.ox.ac.uk/alumni
Somerville is a registered charity. Charity Registration number: 1139440