Over the past few weeks I’ve been dotting around the college – and the wider university – interviewing people, which is sort of what I used to do for a living. My subjects have been part of the LMH academic community – graduate students and tutors – and pretty soon we’ll start posting the results on the LMH website.
First, and least important, it gave me an excuse to go round asking nosy questions of my new colleagues and to find out what sort of research was going on in the offices and labs of the academics who live and work here. But, in conducting around 25 interviews, I discovered that most colleagues have only a hazy idea of the precise nature of the research being done across the college. When we sit down for lunch or supper the talk doesn’t necessarily turn to the distributional properties of critical random hypergraphs.
After 40 years of mainly telling stories in text – I’ve found it quite liberating to perch behind a camera and allow people to speak for themselves. Almost without exception my subjects apologized in advance for their anticipated inarticulacy. And, almost without exception, they then spoke fluently and fascinatingly. Only one had had any form of media training, which so put her off that she vowed never to speak to the media.
The first film – showing the work of a small number of our graduate cohort – is here. You’ll see the extraordinary range of research life at LMH – from jet engine blades to 14th century painters; from muscular-skeletal injuries in rugby players to how much sex took place between Neanderthals and humans; from French Canadian dialect to alcoholism.
The film also features possibly the finest moustache in all of Oxford.