24 January 3-4.30pm: What was it like to study at Mason College?

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In 1880, Mason Science College opened in Birmingham, offering a university-level education. At the opening ceremony, the biologist T. H. Huxley declared that ‘No child born in Birmingham, henceforward … need fail to obtain, not merely the instruction, but the culture most appropriate to the conditions of his life’. Mason College was to be a new kind of university, centred on science, modern languages and modern literature rather than theology or classics. Twenty years later it would be incorporated into the new University of Birmingham, becoming the core of the first independent civic university to be awarded full university status.

What was it like to be a part of this radical new experiment in education? Who were the first students at Mason College? How did they gain the ‘instruction’ and the ‘culture’ that would equip them for their lives ahead? What did they make of student life and the opportunities it gave them? And what contribution did they go on to make to the intellectual, cultural and political life of Birmingham and the United Kingdom?

Join John Holmes, Professor of Victorian Literature and Culture at Birmingham, and an international panel of experts on Mason College for an online discussion of the first University of Birmingham.


Dr Abigail Droge, Purdue University, Indiana

Dr Anne Roderick, Wofford College, South Carolina

Dr Clare Stainthorp, Queen Mary University of London

This session is hosted as part of the UoBE Festival.

To join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 816 7763 2667

Passcode: 406022

The recording from the meeting can be viewed here: https://bham-ac-uk.zoom.us/rec/share/VdfwjvR-m9JHWoMipI4EqH7z8HNUL3mP-1uaOJyaauQTMD00qjUOGxEi_rhjthK_.3ACkLQz8KH9dDrCY?startTime=1643036665000 (Passcode: q1?hvQP0)