03 September 2016

Oxford and the Professor

I'm not sure if I've explicitly talked about it on my blog, so this may be a bit of an announcement, but I'll *FINALLY* be going back to get my master's degree this autumn.  WHOO HOO!I'll be studying 'Christianity and the Arts' which is a sort of dual art history/theology degree at King's College London. I'm so excited about it, it makes me giddy to just think about it. Many of the classes are given at the museums in London, so you are face to face with the original artwork. But what is actually the most exciting to me is that, at its core, the degree is in theology. An anglican priest is even the head of the programme. Over the past few months I've been working on my dissertation, gearing up for school to start. As part of my research, I reached out to the man that quite literally wrote the book on subject I'll be undertaking. By some miraculous twist of fate, he is actually at Oxford right now for a whole term. (BE STILL MY BEATING HEART!) As soon as I found out, we organised a meeting, and I took the train up to Oxford to say hello.I wasn't sure what to expect when I met him, as I've literally been book-crushing on his work for the last six months. He was so friendly as full of amazing information, even providing me with new ideas for leads. At one point, when I was going through some of the art I've found, he jumped and said, "I have to wake up my wife, she has to see this!" Apparently, I had uncovered a piece of artwork that shows a bit of theological doctrine his wife has been investigating for months. It was all very exciting.In the end, he was so encouraging of my research and told me several times how significant it could end up being (which made me want to run out of there screaming and dancing). It was my first time to Oxford and pretty much solidified my hope of getting my PhD there in a few years. GAH! A girl can dream... 

01 September 2016

The Database

To celebrate my birthday week, I have a gift for the world!

For the last couple of months I've been working to put together this database of funding for researchers of Mormon-centric studies. There are actually two databases-- one that is specifically research related to LDS topics (for which member and non-member could technically apply) and a second that relates to awards offered as scholarships to members of faith. 
Between our two databases, we have 51 awards, which I have to say I'm pretty jazzed about (I wasn't sure there would even be enough to consider creating a database). Phase two of the project will be to approach LDS family foundations and individual donors to consider setting money aside for individual research projects. If you'd like to help, please let me know!

In other news, as Jon is currently back in Australia (though he'll be coming home in only a couple of weeks-- not months! YAY!), I've been spending an awful lot of time at the British Library trying to get ahead on some research I'll being doing for school this autumn. This view (above) is pretty much the first sight you see when you come in the library. It is like a Disney-Beauty-and-the-Beast fantasy come to life, and genuinely made my heart skip a beat when I first went inside. 

This place is insanely exclusive. You can't even get near any of the books unless you have a card, which is a bit of a process to acquire (you even have to show a list of books you are planning on reading before they give it to you-- which I find ridiculous). It is a copyright library, so you can't check anything out and they only have one copy of every book. You sit in the beautiful reading rooms, and wait for an hour while your books get brought up from storage. As it is the largest library in the world, these things take there sweet time. 

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with the place. On the one hand, I think it is glorious. It is like a palace to literature and knowledge. On the other hand, it is a bit snobby. And by a bit, I mean a lot. This is an actual conversation I heard while I was waiting for my books: 

(Context: A man had just gone up to the front desk to collect his books. The librarian hands him what looks like a folded piece of paper)

Man: What is this? Where is the book?
Librarian: Oh, you only requested the dust jacket. 
Man: The dust jacket? Why would anyone request a dust jacket?
Librarian: I don't know. Perhaps for research. 
Man: I requested all that was available. Why would only the dust jacket arrive?
Librarian: Maybe it was mislabelled. 
Man: Well then you need to purchase a new book to replace it. 
Librarian: Um... I don't think so. 
Librarian: (clearly annoyed) I'm sorry. I have other customers. (There is literally no one else anywhere near the front the desk. Librarian turns and walks away)
Man: Where am I meant to go to sort this out? Downstairs? Excuse me!
Librarian: (without turning around) Ask the front desk. 

Man walks off, equally dazed and infuriated. 

It was rather funny to watch as a spectator, but I would have been livid if I had been the guy. 

Anyway, as snotty as they are, they have the books. I'll probably be spending a lot more time there over the next few weeks. 

Enjoy the database!