The festival hosts a school programme at The Marlborough School, Woodstock, sponsored by Owen Mumford Ltd in association with Oxford Brookes University. These events are not open to the public.
The Private Life of the Diary from Pepys to Tweets
Writer, teacher and researcher Dr Sally Bayley looks at the life of the diary through great diarists such as Virginia Woolf and Pepys and asks what the diary is for and what we should make of the 21st-century explosion of self-disclosure via online blogs and video and radio diaries.
Bayley says the traditional diary kept secrets and was a place for confessions. Woolf’s diaries contain personal frustrations about her servants, comment on the passing of history and even on a solar eclipse. Today, young people are the most frequent users of online diaries or blogs and traditional diary writing is on the wane. Bayley says the large number of young people using this form is a clear indication of the role of a journal or diary – the search for an identity in relation to the world.
Bayley is a teaching and research fellow at the Rothermere American Institute and a lecturer in English at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. She has written widely on visual responses to literature including Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual, and is also author of Home on the Horizon: America’s Search for Space, from Emily Dickinson to Bob Dylan.
Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape
World-renowned botanist Aljos Farjon takes pupils on a walk around some of the oldest oak trees in Europe on the Blenheim estate.
Farjon explains why England has more ancient native oak trees than the rest of Europe combined and how he uncovered the largest single collection of ancient oak trees in Europe on the Blenheim Palace estate.
Farjon says the predominance of the ancient English oak has nothing to do with climate or soil but is down to the Norman conquest and the creation of royal forests where only the nobility could hunt deer and it was forbidden to cut down trees. During his research, Farjon uncovered the largest collection of ancient oak trees in Europe in Blenheim’s High Park, originally created by Henry I in the 12th century. At least 60 of the oak trees are believed to date back to the Middle Ages.
Farjon is particularly known for his work on conifers while he worked at Kew Gardens. He is an active conservationist and has led the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species for conifers twice.
John Clare: Nature, Criticism and History
English professor Simon Kövesi takes a look at the life and work of the English poet John Clare who was known for his celebration of the English countryside.
Clare lived his early life as a poorly paid labourer and gardener. His first book of poetry published in 1820, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, was highly praised. He was known as the Northamptonshire Peasant Poet and, for much of his life, he battled the conflict between the world of poetry and his humble surroundings. The destruction of traditional rural ways of life distressed him deeply.
Kövesi is head of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Oxford Brookes University. He has a long-standing research interest in John Clare, and has been editor of the John Clare Society Journal since 2008.
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