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7 July - English & History Cambridge Conference


Year 12 students extracted even more value than they expected from their Cambridge University conference this month.

Not only did they get to see, hear and question some of the University's leading minds - but many of their lecturers offered to help with further study, university applications and EPQs.

The two day conference was attended by 16 students passionate about English and History. 

Staying at Murray Edwards College, they were offered a broad range of fascinating lectures. One session - "Boys, blood and body parts" from Dr Hester Lees-Jeffries of St Catharine's College - linked Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Titus Adronicus. The audience was encouraged to look closely at the text to understand the staging of violence.

Another lecture focussed on the theory of "Whig History" with its rose-tinted view of economic progress. Renaissance artefacts were examined to explore the rise of commercialism and capitalism in Shakespeare's era. 

An exploration of turning points in Hamlet prompted deep thought about decision making, mindfulness and revenge. And Dr Leo Mellor introduced the Visual Culture Paper, available to third year Cambridge students. The paintings of Ceri Richards were compared and contrasted with the poetry of Dylan Thomas.

The visual brilliance of Cambridge was a theme of the conference with a visit to the Gothic painting collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum and - without having to move from Murray Edwards - the unmatched collection of modern and contemporary art by women artists, held and curated by the college itself.

Dr Mellor, Director of Studies at Murray Edwards, was so impressed with the articulate and smart approach of our students that he plans to visit Olave's in September to build on the links between our school and the University. 

Liz Goodman

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