The Taunton talks are intended to appeal to students who wish to engage in serious thinking beyond the confines of the tutorial and are motivated by the pursuit of truth. They touch on pressing topics of the day as well as on perennial questions about the world and how to lead the good life.
It is hoped that those attending will be from across the academic spectrum, as the talks are open to students from all disciplines.
Oxford students generally put in the hours and the terms are intense. Besides the dangers of burn-out from overwork, there may be a sense of frustration that having to focus solely on one discipline means there is little time to range more widely and explore other fields of knowledge.
Where does this leave the student who wishes, in the words of John Henry Newman, to be ‘properly trained and formed to have a connected view or grasp of things’?
Then there is the feeling of isolation or even rejection on account of a prevailing atmosphere that does not allow for open discussion on issues where debate has been closed down.
These talks are intended to complement the educational formation provided by university and college, to expand and fill out a student’s range of interests, and to provide an informal setting where he or she can engage with academic minds on matters of interest.
Format: buffet lunch served from 12.30 pm; talk at 1.15; discussion 1.45 to 2.30. There will be a £5 charge for lunch.
Numbers: restricted to 24 for each talk
Sign up to reserve a place and receive pre-talk reading material
NB the talks are named after William Elias Taunton, Town Clerk of the City of Oxford, for whom Grandpont House was built in 1785.