Yasmine Richardson is the Merton exchange student at the École Normale Supérieure in 2013-4. She is working with the Équipe Proust and consulting manuscript sources including Proust’s "cahiers" (notebooks). 2013 was the centenary of the publication of the first volume of À la recherche du temps perdu.
Arthur Defrance is this year's ENS Visiting Student; here he describes his experiences at Merton:
"The year I have spent at Merton College is undoubtedly one of the most enriching and valuable experiences I have had at university. The environment at Merton lends itself perfectly to study, research and communication. The Mertonian community is so closely knit that it enables students to exchange viewpoints with other students from totally different backgrounds and specialities, so that everyone can really benefit from the experience and the knowledge of others.
"Although Japanese Studies, which are my major, are not well represented at Merton, the atmosphere at the College enabled me to have rich discussions with students specialising in Literature, Mathematics, Sinology, and Archaeology. I must also add that the rich and intense social life of Merton makes it all the more simple and casual to get acquainted with people and to create links and a feeling of solidarity with the other members of the College.
"The position of Visiting Student at Merton carries the right to attend almost any lecture at the University of Oxford, which enables you to choose the classes that exactly suit your needs and interest. At the Oriental Institute I attended the lectures on Japanese Linguistics, Ancient and Classical Japanese by Professor Frellesvig and Dr Horn, certainly among the most interesting and stimulating ones on the subject I have ever listened to, providing the students with both a very solid knowledge of the field and an insight into the most recent research topics. I must add that I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to do some voluntary work on one of the research projects conducted by Professor Frellesvig and the Centre for Japanese Linguistics, which also helped me get a clearer insight into the state of research in this field.
"Finally, I would say that being given access to the University's libraries was a great privilege, which helped me a great deal in my own research. Being able to consult books at the Bodleian Library, the Oriental Institute Library, the Nissan Institute Library and the Library of the Centre for Chinese Studies has been of great help to carry out my research, which needed very specific sources; needless to say I always found whatever I needed in one or other of those libraries.
"To summarise, I would say that the position of Visiting Student at Merton offers a very large range of opportunities for students of all fields and that the environment at the College and the University create an intellectually challenging atmosphere, where the wellbeing of the students and the insertion into a community are at the same time very central."