Sunday, April 15, 2012

0th week, Sunday

For my non-Oxonian readers, let me first explain that we have, like most British universities, three terms. The Autumn/Winter term is Michaelmas, named after the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. The Winter/Spring term is Hilary, after the feast of St. Hilary of Poitiers. And the Spring/Summer term -- which is just upon us -- is Trinity, after Trinity Sunday. Each of these terms has eight, very intense weeks. Each week starts on a Sunday and ends on a Saturday (unlike in Cambridge, where they start on Thursdays and end on Wednesdays). But undergraduates usually arrive a week before the start of term, and we call this week noughth (0th) week. (Pronunciation trap there.) At the end of noughth week, many of us will have collections -- tests about last term's work. Typically, lots of groovy stuff also happens during the week after term ends -- or 9th week. As for me, being an international student, I always stick all for the holidays, except for Summer. Readers will be led (well, you don't really have a choice now, do you?) to reflect on how these divisions of the year are still very closely tied to the liturgical calendar, and the feasts and celebrations of the Anglican Church.

So much for that. I hope we're all on the same page when I declare that it is now the first day -- Sunday -- of 0th week. This is significant for several reasons. It is the beginning of the last term in Oxford for us Finalists. In a few weeks, terms of (hopefully) hard work will be judged in essays produced in mere hours (by comparison). One scents the end, and is led to dully contemplate the possible permutations of the clich├ęs expressing (and regretting) the brevity of one's apprenticeship at this ancient institution.

I imagine, when my mind is no longer full of quibbles about Dante's vision of providential history (or the political Augustinianism of Giles of Rome, or the influence of Pseudo-Dionysius' conception of hierarchy on Aquinas' metaphyics, or ... I'll stop now), that I'll be led to reflect more deeply on the end of an era. But let me mark the moment with this preliminary placeholder of a post.

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