TOEFL Listening Exercise 5




Professor – As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, Oxford is a unique and historic institution. There is no clear date of foundation but teaching existed at Oxford in some form in 1096 and developed rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. In 1188, the historian Gerald of Wales gave a public reading to assembled Oxford dons and in 1190, the arrival of Esmo of Friesland, the first known overseas student, set in motion the university’s tradition of international scholarly links. By 1201, the university was headed by a magister scolarum Oxonie, on whom the title of chancellor was conferred in 1214 and in 1231 the masters were recognized as a universitas or corporation. In the thirteenth century, rioting between town and gown, townspeople and students, hastened the establishment of primitive halls of residence. These were succeeded by the first of Oxford’s colleges, which began as medieval halls of residence and endowed houses under the supervision of a master. University, Balliol, and Merton colleges, which were established between 1249 and 1264, are the oldest. Less than a century later, Oxford had achieved eminence above every other seat of learning and won the praises of popes, kings, and sages by virtue of its antiquity, curriculum, doctrine, and privileges. In 1355, Edward III paid tribute to the university for its invaluable contribution to learning. He also commented on the services rendered to the state by distinguished Oxford graduates. From its early days, Oxford was a center for lively controversy, with scholars involved in religious and political disputes. John Wyclif, a fourteenth-century master of Balliol, campaigned for a Bible in the vernacular against the wishes of the papacy. In 1530, Henry VIII forced the university to accept his divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and during the Reformation in the sixteenth century, the Anglican churchmen Cranmer, Latimer, and Ridley were tried for heresy and burned at the stake in Oxford. The university was royalist in the Civil War and Charles I held a counter-parliament in Convocation House. And in the late seventeenth century, the Oxford philosopher, John Locke, suspected of treason, was forced to flee the country. The eighteenth century, when Oxford was said to have forsaken port for politics, was also an era of scientific discovery and religious revival. Edmund Halley, professor of geometry, predicted the return of the comet that bears his name. John and Charles Wesley’s prayer meetings laid the foundation of the Methodist Society. The university assumed a leading role in the Victorian era, especially in religious controversy. From 1833 onward, the Oxford movement sought to revitalize the Catholic aspects of the Anglican Church. One of its leaders, John Henry Newman, became a Roman Catholic in 1845 and was later made a cardinal. In 1860, the new university museum was the scene of a famous debate between Thomas Huxley, champion of evolution, and Bishop Wilberforce. From 1878, academic halls were established for women and they were admitted to full membership of the university in 1920. Five all-male colleges first accepted women in 1974 and, since then, all colleges have changed their status to admit both women and men. St. Hilda’s College, which was originally for women only, was the last of Oxford’s single sex colleges. It has admitted both men and women since 2008. During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Oxford added to its humanistic core a major new research capacity in the natural and applied sciences, including medicine. In doing so, it has enhanced and strengthened its traditional role as an international focus for learning and a forum for international debate.