Monday, January 25, 2016


Moving on from drama of the last post!
I have started my second placement at UCL working in Library Services. As usual, I won't go into the details of what I am actually doing, but suffice to say that I am loving being back where I did my masters degree.
I completed my MA in Medieval Studies (now called Medieval and Renaissance Studies) at UCL, with the initial intention of gaining a more solid grounding in medieval history with the wonderful tutelage of the inimitable Professor David d'Avray. I previously had studied History of Art and Architecture at Trinity College Dublin with a focus on medieval art, and intended to return there to pursue a PhD in medieval art. But, while at UCL I found the text that would become the focus of my DPhil at Oxford, and that was that!
It is wonderful to be back, although tinged with sadness that so many friends made during my MA now live far away! The nostalgia is alive and kicking as my office is on the same history corridor of the library I used to work in. I am literally 2 doors down from where I sat and wrote many of my course essay! And I get to walk by the stunning Flaxman Gallery every morning, usually when it's empty so I have a few moments in this beautiful space to myself!

Flaxman Gallery, Main Library, University College London
In case this looks in anyway familiar to those who haven't seen this in person before, it featured in the movie Inception briefly (which filmed during my MA, but I missed Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Caine in the library by one day!). Christopher Nolan, the director, is a UCL alumnus, hence the choice of UCL as a setting.

UCL has been used in many other films, a lot of which I didn't even realise until I had been to UCL and then rewatched. For example, in The Mummy, UCL takes the place of the British Museum:
The Real Facade of the British Museum
The 'British Museum' in The Mummy
UCL is an incredible institution. I have to admit that I had barely heard of it before I started research MA programmes in Medieval History, despite its impressive standing in university world rankings. Situated in the heart of Bloomsbury, it is a vibrant, cosmopolitan and perfect university for the study of medieval history. The British Museum is a few steps south while the British Library is a few steps north. The main reason I didn't consider UCL for my PhD was the size and expense of London (little did I know that Oxford rental market is as bad, if not worse than London). I wanted to live somewhere small enough to truly get to know, but with the resources and culture that London provides. And when Oxford got a little too small, London was but an hour away!
But UCL and Oxford have a lot in common. Both are devolved institutions (although Oxford more so) made up of a composite of faculties, departments, institututes, and libraries which make up the whole. So it is both familiar to be back in many respects, but different as I approach my current time in UCL not as a student viewing the workings of the university from the outside, but working and understanding it from the inside!

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