There are various things we commonly do with English — read it, write it, study it. We don’t often talk of designing it.
Designing English is the intriguing title of an exhibition that I stumbled across in the Weston Library in Oxford’s Broad Street.
Curated by a professor — Daniel Wakelin — in Oxford’s English Faculty, it’s an absorbing show, full of surprises. I thought it would be all bibles and poetry, but in fact there’s a great variety of handwritten texts on display, all from the Bodleian I believe. The texts include practical manuals, accounts books, scientific and medical books, and books for performance and reading aloud.
Overall, I found the exhibition large enough to exhibit variety and small enough to be manageable.
Academics are often defensive about policy-makers’ desire for research to have an impact outside academia, but this exhibition is a great example of how to make scholarship accessible to the public.