Final Report: Research Stay at the University of Oxford
Name: Františka Zezuláková Schormová
Home university: Charles University Prague, Faculty of Arts
Programme: English and American Literature
Duration of Stay: 10.5.-10.6.2017
Between May 10 and June 10, 2017, I had the honour to visit the University of Oxford as a scholar. There were several aims of my stay: to conduct research which would be the basis of the opening chapters of my dissertation, to strengthen existing academic relationships between University of Oxford and Charles University and establish new ones, and to gain a broader perspective on the field of my study.
For my research, I depended on materials from the Bodleian Libraries and also from the Vere Harmsworth Library at the Rothermere American Institute. Thanks to the kind support and advice of Dr. Paul Flather from the Europaeum office, I had no problems getting access to these libraries. With the help of the materials, I was analyzing the Czech translations of anti-racist poetry in the 1950s in the context of global anti-colonial movements and also the Civil Rights struggles. My stay, however, included much more than just books (though it must be said that the range and scope of the sources available at Oxford was beyond my imagination). I attended meetings of the Race and Resistance Programme at The Oxford Research Centre of Humanities, and consulted with Dr. Tessa Roynon, the co-ordinator of the programme and a specialist in Anglophone literature of the African diaspora.
The lectures, seminars, and presentations I have attended in the framework of this programme were (together with guest lectures, fascinating talks, and enlightening cultural events Oxford offers) an eye-opening experience in two ways. Firstly, the contact with the current methodological debate and the new impulses I obtained there completely changed the way I look at and think about my topic. The second reason is less direct, but very valuable both personally and professionally. The first impressions of the University of Oxford were overwhelming and also a bit scary: the tradition, the eminent personages teaching there, the students who looked (and were) so accomplished… However, after the initial shock, I was able to fully participate in the Race and Resistance programme and to discuss the topics with the students and lecturers both inside and outside the classroom which was truly reassuring. The debates I had about my project also showed me that it can be relevant and interesting to other scholars as well and that it fits into a broader field explored at present. Finally, being able to consult with Dr. Roynon and to hear her suggestions for my project was a rare and precious opportunity I greatly treasure.
During my stay, I have met wonderful and inspiring people who have broadened my horizons in many ways. I have gained insight into the current debates in the field, and also gathered up materials for much more than just opening chapters of the dissertation. Navigating between the medieval buildings of the University felt like a dream at first, but it was also hard work that will hopefully pay off in my future endeavors and will benefit not just me, but Charles University as well.