Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I have to be honest. I was disappointed in Mark Ravenhill's play. His manner of playing up the shock factor, making each scene more explicit and shocking than the last detracts rather than enhances the point he is trying to make--that consumerism is taking over the world, turning even love and relationships (what human beings tend to value most) into commodities that can be bought or sold on a whim. He could have easily gotten his point across just as well in a subtler fashion, perhaps even better, because the increasingly explicit scenes place the reader's focus and attention on the literal rather than the point Ravenhill is trying to make in writing such a play. It is like having someone screaming at you from three feet away. Because the person is screaming, the meaning is obscured because your brain only perceives that the person is screaming rather than making out the words that are actually being said. This is not what I would call good writing, and I have to say that I will be disappointed if the rest of the plays we read are written in a similar fashion. However, I am interested in hearing others' thoughts on the matter and seeing how they compare with my own. I guess I will find out in class tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I have been in England for four days now. Oxford is beautiful, some of its buildings built as early as the 1300s. We are currently staying about a 20 minutes walk from the 38 Oxford colleges but will be moving into Jesus College on Sunday, located at the heart of the university. Then we will really be able to experience Oxford college life! Right now, I am staying in a picturesque cottage covered with trailing vines. The garden is beautiful as well, with paths winding through flowering plants and bushes and a small grassy area in the middle where I currently sit at a small lawn table, writing this blog entry. The only drawback is that the inside of the cottage is damp and musty and I am apparently allergic to something in the air, resulting in constant sneezing and a hacking cough. However, we are only here for a week, and despite the allergies, I am enjoying staying in such a charming location. Today, we took a tour through Oxford and even went inside one of the colleges. It was fascinating to learn a bit about Oxford's history and to see the inside of some of these ancient structures. The ceiling of the Sheldonian theatre could be a mini replica of St. Peter's cathedral, and the stained glass windows in the Queen's College chapel are breathtaking. Unfortunately, my battery charger to my camera is missing, so I wasn't able to get any pictures. I hope to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, so I can post some pictures on this site. Tomorrow is an induction ceremony at the Bodleian library where we will receive library cards that will gives us access to Oxford's libraries. I have most of the books I need for my independent research already, but it will be useful for the group research and a quiet place to study.