Sunday afternoon heralded the last of our weekly cream teas.
This time it was Pembroke hosting, so in the Thomas Gray room, where Thomas Gray and William Pitt have both lived, students helped themselves to an array of sandwiches, savoury snacks, salads, fruit, four different types of delicious cake and a dozen different types of tea, not forgetting scones with jam and cream:
Thoughtful students even shared their scones with the porters’ lodge, which results in a photo of one very happy porter:
Dr George Yeats’ popular Shakespearean Drama course begins its final week with an exploration of disguise in The Winter’s Tale. As Dr Yeats explains, disguise can take the form not only of characters but also of events: ideas of “felix culpa” can also be found in the writing of both Milton and Aquinas. Class discussion is intermixed with the showing of clips from the RSC production directed by Greg Doran. The highly entertaining scene in Act IV between Autolycus and the Clown gets a lot of laughs from the students, especially as the production expanded on the text to have Autolycus steal not only the Clown’s purse, but also, unbelievably, all his clothes. Dr Yeats uses the scene to demonstrate the motif of characters being disguised as themselves, “a disguise which is, in a sense, transparent.”
We also watch the sheep-shearing feast. “The RSC really go to town on this.” Perdita’s discussion of “streak’d gillyvors” with Polixenes is analysed, in terms of ideas of the hybridity of identity and of human intervention. The students contribute their insights to the discussion: Emily suggests the previous scene may have referenced the sheep-shearing through a “transaction of fabrics”; Emmett notes that the social order has been upended as the characters previously speaking in prose are now speaking in blank verse. Shakespeare sets up the festival as a forum in which different types of disguise collide and interact with one another.