"Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker."
J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories
While J.R. Richey was catching wild brown trout Ireland, I was over here in Bath having my first day of classes. Yesterday was a pretty boring day, standard orientation, so I was super excited to dive into my courses.
I am taking two courses here in Bath, one on Jane Austen (who lived here for at time), and one on Anglo-American Fantasy, focusing on Tolkien and Lewis. I came here specifically for the latter course, I felt I couldn't pass it up, but I am pumped to revisit Jane as well. LOVE her!
I started out the morning with my Austen class at 9:30. My tutor (Brit for teacher/prof) seems fantastic, she is about to start a fellowship at Christ Church at Oxford. She has been teaching at Oxford for a while, but she has been coming to ASE in the summer to teach this course for a few years. She is young and bright, and also quite brilliant I think, as she already has her PhD. Very excited to look at Jane with her. We are starting with Northanger Abbey, moving onto
Pride and Prejudice, followed by Emma, and then Persuasion.
Bath features prominently in both Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, and it is so neat to be able to recognize some of the places that she mentions, such as the pumprooms, and Milsom St, which I have walked along every day!
At 2:30 I had Tolkien class, which was great. As some people may know, both Tolkien and Lewis were great men of faith, which is very evident in their writing. It would be, in my opinion, an incomplete reading not to address this when studying their work, but many people gloss over it, especially when studying Middle-Earth. (Lewis's allegory in Narnia is so wonderfully overt that it is hard to ignore.) I was unsure how this was going to be treated in this course, and so was very pleased when my professor decided to tackle this head on by asking us each to share a little bit about our religious background and what we believe. This may not look intense on paper, but in person it was aggressive and bold, but essential.
It was interesting hearing where everyone was coming from, and what they believe. It helped me to understand everyone so better, including my professor, and was also a cool opportunity for me to share my belief in the Gospel and the J-man. I wasn't alone in that either, which was also a wonderful discovery! The discussion left us in a great place where we know where each person is coming from, and can reflect on Tolkien and Lewis's work respectfully, but also honestly, because we had already shared our personal beliefs.
After class I read for a few hours. ( I will be reading for the next million years...aside from the 10 books we are studying in the next 5 weeks, my professors also gave us about 400 more pages of supplementary reading today...dang. The nerd in me has to admit that I love it though... and I already ready 7 out of 10 books.) After that we all headed to a cocktail reception with the whole program, including professors, in one of the art museums in the city, called the Victoria Art Gallery. Drinking wine with our professors was a bit weird at first, but we got used to it! Everyone mingled, and it was so great to get the opportunity to get to know each other on an informal and social level. After a bit, the director of ASE, Jonathan Hope, invited us all out to the pub! Everyone went to the "afterparty" at the Pig and Fiddle, a great local pub in Bath. After oneCrabbies (current fave) and some lovely chats with my professors, I called it a night, and headed home to bed and two brand new pillows...cozy!
Hope all is well across the Irish and Atlantic Seas!
ps. Lots of fun stuff coming up, including a "tour of flirtation" for Jane, and trips to Cornwall, Oxford, and Manchester! eeek :-) pumped.
Oops! Ali and I wore opposite outfits...including our gold shoes!