The reader's almanac; 3
It's time for the readers all men act with one by our originally broadcast over station WNYC in New York and distributed by national educational radio. The readers Allman act is America's oldest consecutive book program. Here now is Mr. Bauer. Most of you listeners know that this program originates at New York University. Hence you may understand my response to the knowledge that a new book about Oxford University beautifully illustrated by many photographs had been published recently and by Randall and company. My interest is even more quickened and roused by the fact that its author Felix Markham was visiting this city and that I might have him as a guest before he goes back to Oxford to resume his work as a tutor in modern history at Harvard College Oxford is of course one of the great universities of the world as well as one of the oldest having been established in the 12th century. The signs of its medieval origin are still marked but it is made the most effectual transition to the 20th century especially in defining in accommodating itself to
new ideas of the university's relationship to society. Professor Markham has written in the text of this book a fascinating account in brief of the Hundred Years of Oxford History. I want to take full advantage of his presence on this side of the Atlantic to have him talk even briefly with me about Oxbridge responsiveness to the demands of our time. At one point he speaks of Oxford as an ancient but resilient organism a phrase so good and just that I'd like to adopt it as our theme in this interview. But a word or two more about Fessor Markham. He is the author of two books in his special field which I take to be the history of France a study of South Cmon and a recent volume on Napoleon. He received his university training at Baliol College Oxford and since 1981 he has been fellow and tutor in Harford college. No it was in Markham
How did it come about that you wrote this essay on Oxford it's a bit off your strict line and I might even ask what was the occasion for this particular book since there has been plenty of making of both books about Oxford. I will. The origin of this is rather comic in a way because it originated at a cocktail party given by by none to publish it. And we were sort of discussing various ideas as allies said. It was about time there was a new sort of short real history of Oxford because so many of the books about Oxford are tend to be rather whimsical and give a rather whimsical impression of Oxford and that had to be the real ones for about 40 years and he said well it's a funny thing you should say that because we're planning to do one. And before you do the cocktail party I've been signed up to write it
and here is where you are you persuade him. Now he persuaded me well I mean just 80 just for the guild to see it in the course of this cocktail party. But of course I've I've been in talks for a long time and places baldness in my bones and I live in the sense of it that a lot of it really is already in me I had to do a lot of good real research but the general lines of it will always be my. Mind Well you've made a splendid job of that assignment that you won at that cocktail party. As I've already said it's a distinguished brief history and written with clarity and sprightliness. But let me get on to our special theme how Oxford has changed within fairly recent years probably as our educational institutions of change that is more students more buildings more colleges even. But there may be other ways in which it is changed.
Well I suppose the biggest change in Oxford began in 1945 with the with the Education Act. When the state accepted responsibility for supporting students. Who whether going to university. And that of course meant that nobody in the future was to barred from going to Oxford or Cambridge or his universities by a by lack of means. The system now is that every student who gets a place in universities gets full support to an end maintenance subject to the parental means test. Yes now has that led in turn to more students and more buildings that I was just saying a moment ago when there was enormous expansion in the first decade after the war. The undergraduate numbers at talks in Cambridge are diabolos stabilised at
about 8000 undergraduates and those no longer valid the pressure to expand undergraduate numbers because of the growth of the new universities. You know the ones that are popularly called red brick universities Well that yes that is that is I don't know whether the new universities which have been found in the last seven years could be called red brick red brick was rarely applied to the old 1900 shield verses which were the civic universities redbrick Asbos is rather out of date as. The name will probably stick the name will help. Yes even if Sinatra not a red brick on the campus. Well I messed that mess to steal and steal a glossy hard look remembering now the whole matter of establishing a new colleges has interested me greatly. Traditionally it seems to have been the determination of one man you're very often wealthy of course. I'm going way back in history now. Who wants his name
perpetuated and so he gives money to endow a college. Or buy the land on which it may rise now has that change recently say over the last hundred years I know there's been some new colleges established in Oxford. I wonder how they have come about is it because one man decides that he ought to be have his name perpetuated in that fashion. How do they arise. Well the graduate college is sort of the last 30 years of the first one was Nuffield. Well that was of course was William Morris. Here is the English Fuld who was given enormous sums of money to Oxford and elsewhere that created a new graduate college of Nuffield. And then soon ended is also graduate college was founded by the perfection of and today Bess who was a great sort of French.
Traitor based on he ate in the DC opiate. I exactly why he died. Well the reason by and out Oxford I think was mainly because he was impressed by the the graduates from Oxford who would introduce employment this is what drew his attention to Oxford. Then the Newson Catherine's college which is an undergraduate college was created most deliberately by the university. It hived off the graduate part and created a new totally new undergraduate college. Then various other hurdles have been promoted to colleges. He sneered but the whole sort of finally became a full college about 15 years ago and Peter's College which reduced Peter's whole became a college fairly recent. There one or two of the women's colleges got full college status quite recently.
I suspect for our American audience you had better than just English between a whore and a college for us. Not would I that that's. That is rather difficult. There could only really be done in historical seed in medieval times across the halls preceded the colleges they were the undergraduate dormitories the colleges is rigidly founded were not meant for undergraduates at all they were up they were graduate colleges or what we would call research institutes and it was only in the 16th century that the colleges took over the undergraduates and medieval holes tend to disappear and were absorbed into the colleges. Although all the fuel like my own college which was originally the set usage heart hole became the eighteenth century full college becoming a college means that you get full independent self-governing status by Act of Parliament managing order
and having your own indictments. And it's still true that man of very considerable wealth there are like you to be the source of the money for new colleges. Yes because although the university receives a large government support. The colleges to Dalt colleges still have to revive rely on individual benefactors loved by and the great foundations. No new colleges mean new buildings almost inevitably you know where do they go when Octon Oxford particularly where there are not any available sites. I would think at least not near the university proper At any rate. And then there are parts of the city of Oxford which are getting heavily industrialized. Is it feasible to build colleges away from the University Center where are these new colleges going up anyway.
Well as opposed to getting a little further out of the center of the center of Oxford of course is not industrialized that so made today much more on the outskirts. But of course the pressure on space is enormous. Presidential business purposes and of course certain as a city are now designated as university at full university expansion. And of course the universe decides the poetry is a quad and all was about to space so the credit will not with there will be no space for a full feather colleges I think of the most recent one. Catharines found a site developed by the river. Quite Yeah but I mean it's was fairly low like that and it was I think it was simply gardens and allotments. Today it's a very fine site but it wasn't it wasn't a sort of
congested size. There were no new buildings also means some measure of newness in their design and architecture. I looked carefully into the photographs which had so much to beauty and usefulness of your book and I see a number of college buildings very different from those along High Street and Martin Street. Those were centuries palpably upon them. What's your resolution over there of the problem of fitting the new buildings in among the old. Or do they just sit there fresh and new among the very old. Well I suppose about yes a ghetto. The age was born as decided to see what could go on building in copying the old architecture. This was silly what if was God one was going to build but had to build in the contemporary style. So one just had to hope that the contemporary architects would be able to build something which would fit in. Well it doesn't always do so and I do
and some of it I don't think is is very good. Some of it I think is is exciting. It's a bit hit or miss like all contemporary architecture but I think this is the right decision. It's stupid to go on just copying me. Oh you have quite all together I should think. And of course a so many periods of architecture in an oxer of troll century all modes. Then of course you get to great read period and then you get the caustic revival of the 19th century. So we're quite used to the mixture and somehow it all does fit in a curious would seem to me that it did the last time I was there not too long ago. It seemed to me that you would solve that problem and I think far better than we have on American campuses. I think the problem here with us is more aggravated because the contrast is sharper. They're not so many stages and styles as with you. We have merely the old and aggressively new you may have noted that if you travel
about among our colleges and universities have you done so. Well I've been to a fair number. I was started in the university softer light and I've seen North Carolina Duke Duke cross the chapel at Duke is one of the last great examples of get Gothic revival architecture to ever be built attic. It's about 130 years. Then I've seen Stanford back there. Colorado was called City because I think think about the American campuses this is so much more space. Yes tribute is easy in that way because it's not surprised you had a good space at that. Now I'd like to lead you into some of the discussion of some of the market changes that have come about over there in Oxford. And this all may be very familiar to you but to a great many of our listeners it's going to be quite fresh altogether I think. Now one of those changes is in the in the people who were
admitted to Oxford in particular it was traditionally of course a place for a man exclusively. Now when was this first broken down when the arrival of the BBN students at Oxford Well of course that is of a funny extreme to find in history it has get breached. Briefly the cross the battles were waged over that rocks were made at the time already if they probably think they just appear at their boldness forced their way to diversity for about 50 years refused to acknowledge their existence until of course the whole social change produced by the First World War emancipation would be just swept away all the oppositions. But of course the the the women students are still in the minority they're still learning about. One in four one in five in the colleges. So we are not by deeds fully coed.
So I would predict that it would never happen. Our other observable differences in the emphasis in the women's colleges which have been established have these colleges worked out a different curriculum. For example for the women. Oh no no no because I mean they they take exactly the same examinations and a torta exactly the same with the men and the Very often they're told by bid I mean we exchange pupils I mean I've had a scattering of women pupils and my pupils have been told by the women tutors this is not completed changed now there's nothing different in the curriculum at all and I'm happy to hear that across completely and they take calls to the exactly the same examination. But you've kept them in their in their own colleges is no advance of any pre-college going co-educational as you indicated I think a moment ago. Oh well yes it has already been booted and I think it was.
While Bale and sedans college was women's college I think all putting up a graduate building which is going to be sad. So I suppose this is a first move to the graduate level. Great changes are coming out of her on trial but you know we've been speaking of changes in England's two major universities white exclusive of what we call die red brick institutions or which really isn't quite proper as you were saying. I'm interested to know if there have been any significant changes at Oxford in Cambridge or perhaps anywhere in England higher education away from the tutorial system from reading with a master as you say well this is the this is the Oxford and Cambridge system which was developed fully developed I suppose in the 19th century by the great wood well bij been judged to master Bayliss is the greatest influence all of the
well I suppose it's affected American universities and the Caldwells you know best is all spread from Oxford. The new rule you're the best is of course you can't use that system to the same extent they have to go get it. The American system relies more lectures and seminars simply I suppose because the food tutorial system would now be impossibly expensive. Yes it's true it's difficult to think of teaching science. My reading with the master isn't really of course a scientist who has a tutorial system in the same way not to the same extent but they they see that once or twice a week. Exactly although they do have rather more formal lectures than people in the humanities the sciences Oxford is taught in roughly the same way.
But did your university is and red brick would be nearly of the American system. This is a result in part when you think of the advance of science in Oxford now. Well because the the shift to science has been quite marked I mean Oxford made a slow start in the 19th century of science or a dull that's paradoxical of course that the scientific revolution really started you know in the 17th century with their dogs who'd sort of went to sleep on that that hundred years and was rather behind Cambridge and getting going on science and I think it's now put don't equal This is one of the things that I wanted to emphasize in my book because you still get this extraordinary image.
That Cambridge the science of Oxford for arts through not just gender. Have which is which is which is now completely untrue has been true for 40 years. But you still get this traditional imagery matey. Well for example you were saying in the book at one point the Nuffield started off as a school first for science very largely but then was turned in social science when it wasn't quite that Nuffield but he died to college wanted it to be a college devoted to engineering and the university persuaded that at that time that was not right but it's good for social science. He was persuaded perhaps against his better judgment because it was said in the 1930s that Cambridge had to settle the School of Engineering it was the did you folks would have a dolla course would work a whole picture changed.
Yes yes. Now there is one sense in which England is far ahead of us here and making the best university education available to the best brains. You know the thing our children of poor parents now you refer to this a little while ago and I might have come back to and talk a little bit more about it and what changes that has made in Oxford. I think over here you see we've not yet approved the full application of the principle that excellence of intelligence is a national resource. Is it now strictly in literally true that such a concept is official policy in England not the search for excellence is really effective. Oh I think it's true I mean this was fully acknowledged in 1994 to fall by the butler act and I don't think anybody is not now prevented from getting to a good university. If he's good enough. The difficulty of course comes not out
I think at school and it's the same it's the same across a different is in United States I suppose the uneven does of the school teaching. But now it does seem to be across the United States has an advantage over us here because of the enormous scale of university education that somebody will get to the college. And then prove himself and develop. Everybody has the chart so to speak. To get to college and then if he's good he will make his mark in the neches drawer is drawn so white white of them without us. And what kind of effect has this created upon the student body is it. I hesitate to say this because you have been democratic probably long long time but is it more democratic now than used to be. Well it's certainly much more democratic than it was in the 19th century because this way you see the world wheel is come full circle because the medieval
university in the first two stages existence was extremely democratic because people could come from any and all get into the church. So it's a highly democratic society. Then of course it was taken over by the as talks in the gentry till about the middle of the 19th century and then it just gradually reopened so to speak to every class you know any bill any longer have a plebeian is doing you. Out. Well now they're not and are not. Oh no I don't. There are cruel thoughts that this would be never I did people buy come from any background. The the there's been a fairly steady shift you see from the proposal of reform public schools which you call you would call private school years as opposed to the school. State schools. And I wish we could go on and on but this discussion is tomorrow but it's rather too big of an unavailable for our available time. You know I can at least point toward your
book again. Oxford published by runnel and co. as a source of many of the answers to questions about university education in England is also as I was saying earlier a magnificent collection of photographs beautifully reproduced. I'm happy to have started this new season of broadcasting with so significant and impressive a book and next week I should be interviewing father Donnelly the translator of a new book about the American Indian. Until then good reading to you the readers all men act is produced by Warren Bauer and is originally broadcast by station WNYC in New York. The programs are made available to this station by national educational radio. This is the national educational radio network.
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