Summer Schools in the making: ready for 2015

Written by Sarah Ormrod Wednesday, 03 December 2014 17:13

CU 2015 brochure cover 144px

The University of Cambridge 2015 International Summer Schools brochure has arrived, and is a very handsome affair. The cover image, Low Sun, Cambridge by artist Bruce Yardley, positively glows with warmth: very cheering on a chilly winter’s day. Those who have been to Cambridge should recognise the view, looking towards King’s College Chapel from Trinity Street, just near the Porters’ Lodge at Gonville and Caius (one of the Colleges where Summer School participants can choose to live) and Michaelhouse (now a church and café, but the name harks back to a much earlier foundation, the subject of an interesting article by writer Susanna Gregory). Bruce Yardley’s painting has been a wonderful image for us this year, fitting the different format we need for the posters and flyers produced in July and September, for the website, and for the poster. The colours harmonise with our Interdisciplinary Terms I, II and III banding. All a great success, but the brochure cover image is just one of many hundreds of jigsaw puzzle pieces we have needed to put in their correct positions before the launch of the programmes, ready to receive applications.

The process of preparation is ongoing: we are beginning to piece together the plenary series, to fit intriguing themes such as: Truth and fiction (Shakespeare Summer School), Justice and law (Medieval Studies Summer School) or Heroes and villains (History Summer School). I was fortunate to be able to attend a lecture by Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill at Madingley last Wednesday evening: an immensely enjoyable talk, and I am delighted that he will be contributing to the Ancient and Classical Worlds Summer School plenary series: Parallel lives.

Another task in hand is an update to our website – not just the addition of new information for the 2015 International Summer Schools programme, but also to make it much more user-friendly. Bear with us as we work on this in the immediate future, and as a longer-term project (including our Online Resource Centre for accepted students, which will open in the New Year).

(There’s another project in the Spring to revise the whole Institute’s website, and participants in the 2014 programme will receive an email asking if they would be willing to help by completing a short survey about the site. If any of you looking at the Institute’s site for the first time would also like to participate, here’s a link to the survey, so that you can add your comments. We’d like responses to this by 10 December, please. Thanks for your responses to this.)

If you are new to our programmes, we hope the web gives you everything you need to know in order to apply for a Summer School place. If you are reading this and have been to our programmes before, the chances are that some of you will also shortly receive a printed brochure. Whilst we are mindful of environmental issues and have reduced our print run, we continue to print a limited number of these, knowing that many people still enjoy making their course choices from a booklet. It’s also easy to share with family and friends, and has been the reason - we are told - why a number of intending participants have been joined by family members, who read it and decide they want to come the Summer Schools, too! (You can request a copy of the printed brochure here.)

As I write, we enter the closing phase of 2014. It has been a momentous year in many ways: a year of remembrance, with many references to the outbreak of World War I in 1914. (I’m sorry I did not get to the Tower of London in time to see the poppies.) A former colleague and frequent contributor to the Summer Schools, Adrian Barlow, has written eloquently on War poetry in his blog. The anniversaries of that war continue, and we have a course on Poetry, politics and pain: poets of the First World War in Term I of the Literature Summer School, as well as a course on The Great War and literature in Term I of the Interdisciplinary Summer School.

As we look forward to 2015, we will be marking another round of anniversaries: Magna Carta (1215), Agincourt (1415), the Battle of Waterloo (1815), 70 years since the end of World War II (1945), 150 years since the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), and 60 years since the publication of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, to list but a few. We’ll have plenary lectures on Magna Carta, on Agincourt, on Waterloo, and courses on Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake and J R R Tolkien as well as J R R Tolkien and modern fantasy.

Mindful of topical issues, we have courses on the Science Summer School on Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases and Geoengineering the climate.

Four joint Programme Directors, who are also teaching courses, will each head up one week of the Science Summer School: Dr Lisa Jardine-Wright, Dr Corinne Duhig, Dr Hugh Hunt and Dr James Grime. Whilst she has played a crucial role by arranging the courses for the 2015 Literature Summer School, Dr Jenny Bavidge will be on sabbatical during July, so Dr John Lennard will act as Programme Director for Term I, and Dr Fred Parker for Term II. Jenny will be back with us for 2016.

Back at this year’s courses, we are always intrigued to see which courses fill first. Will it be one of the new subject areas? Perhaps writing for stage and radio, or television and film in the Creative Writing Summer School; or Romanesque Europe in the Medieval Summer School? With a range of subjects covering everything from Evolution evidence, fossils and the Assyrian Empire, though to macroeconomics, data science and the modern graphic novel, we’re hoping there is something for everyone.

Sarah J Ormrod, 3 December 2014


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