‘Oxford in the bush’: the founding (and diminishing) ethos of Rhodes University (English)

In: African Historical Review   ;  48 ,  1  ;  21-35  ;  2016

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Over the years, many members of the Rhodes University community have proudly claimed their university to be a kind of transplanted Oxford, while others have viewed this claim as pretentious – hence the derogatory label ‘Oxford in the bush’. This article explores the connections and comparison between the two institutions. In the early twentieth century, both universities strongly identified with the British imperial cause; and for decades Rhodes University regularly celebrated its symbolic association with the historical figure of Cecil Rhodes, who also happens to be one of the most commemorated figures in Oxford. There was also a shared ethos, as both laid stress on a style of education that was character-building, a prerequisite for which was a strong grounding in the classics. There was, too, a cultural affinity between Rhodes and Oxford, exemplified in the strict segregation of the sexes, the importance attached to sporting achievement, and a tendency to engage in frivolous activities. The article goes on to show how over time the Oxford tradition at Rhodes came to be challenged and undermined, especially from the late 1960s onwards.

Table of contents – Volume 48, Issue 1

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The University of South Africa (Unisa) 1918–1948: the first transition, from colonial to segregationist institution
Manson, Andrew | 2016
‘Oxford in the bush’: the founding (and diminishing) ethos of Rhodes University
Maylam, Paul | 2016
The origins of university education in KwaZulu-Natal: The Natal University College 1909–19491
Guest, Bill | 2016
South African University history: a historiographical overview
Strydom, Bronwyn | 2016
Leo Fouché and history at Wits University, 1934–1942
Murray, Bruce | 2016
J.S. Marais, a great South African historian: a personal re-assessment
Garson, N.G. | 2016
Internationalisation at Stellenbosch University during the international academic boycott of the apartheid era (1948–1994)
Baumert, Stefanie / Botha, Jan | 2016
Whither the free South African university?
Simpson, Thula | 2016
Eden’s exiles: one soldier’s fight for paradise
Wessels, André | 2016
Iron fist from the sea: South Africa's seaborne raiders, 1978–1988
Mouton, Alex | 2016
Our land, our life, our future: Black South African challenges to territorial segregation 1913–1948
Morton, Fred | 2016
The road to democracy in South Africa, volume 6 [1990–1996], parts 1 and 2
Suttner, Raymond | 2016
Selling apartheid: South Africa‘s global propaganda war
John Makgala, Christian | 2016
Land, chiefs, mining: South Africa's North West Province since 1840
John Makgala, Christian | 2016
The walking Qur'an: islamic education, embodied knowledge, and history in West Africa
Haron, Muhammed | 2016
Die Dorslandtrek, 1874–1881
Nöthling, F.J. | 2016