Postcard from Sean Geddes

Greetings! I have recently begun an MPhil in Medieval and Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge, and I write to you from Magdalene College. Though my place is with the Renaissance part of the course, I am surrounded by both of those periods. From my room window, on my left, I see a beautiful quadrangle that was established in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel; on my right, the Pepys Library, which houses the library and manuscripts of the diarist Samuel Pepys. Rose gardens and ivy, river walks and willows in the river, stained glass and peals of bells – these make up the rest of Magdalene. It is a wonderfully inspiring place to work, and an especially fitting one for my period. In five minutes I can be in Trinity, pass by Milton’s room, and then, if I have called them up, spend time with his autograph corrections of “Lycidas.” The resources for research are everywhere. And in addition to other literary scholars, I also live (and, in gown, go to formal dinners) with scientists, mathematicians, and musicians in my college, and have had many interesting glimpses of other disciplines.

There are heavy books as well as dreaming spires. The course is very challenging here, and goes in depth into many areas of the Renaissance. I am taking courses in paleography, bibliography, neo-Latin, printing, Renaissance theories and practice of prosody, classical reception, and religion. Of course, there is research and a dissertation as well, and I feel like I am getting a truly excellent preparation for future studies. But the excitement and energy of the place, and of those I learn from and work with, help buoy up enthusiasm. The English Faculty is very welcoming, and every student is openly invited to an array of seminars, language classes, and special events.

I find that my time at the University of Calgary has stood me in very good stead. I have come to Cambridge not only having learned many things (theory, Latin, close reading in historical context, how to write a thesis (in the Honors program, which, I can see, will prove to be invaluable)) from many fine and inspiring professors; but my application here has been suggested, aided, and encouraged by them in many ways. I have also had a wonderful time in the English faculty throughout the five years of my undergraduate.