naturalironist on Mar 12th 2019 at 6:29:47 PM
Last Edited By:
naturalironist on Mar 17th 2019 at 11:31:38 AM
Page Type: trope
Another draft split off of Oxbridge. Many examples there may qualify but need more context to describe the setting; help needed moving them over.
This university setting is the native habitat of "smart people", characterized by a certain pompousness and attention to learning above all else. Tradition and history are given great reverence, and everyone is entirely occupied by in highfalutin' intellectual discussions, often accompanied by a disdain for the practical. The professors are all doddering eccentics, and there's often an unusual culture of formality befitting the university's pedigree. Bizarre, ancient traditions and a Pretentious Latin Motto are a common feature. All this gives the place a sense of being stuck in the past, and most such institutions will have a history going back for centuries. A campus composed of neo-Gothic buildings covered ivy and resembling castles is often a visual shorthand for this type of culture.
Depending on the work, the Academy may be a portrayed as an Academy of Adventure, as a mundane but invigorating intellectual environment, or as a place of insufferable stuffiness and boredom. Professors are given more prominence than here than in other depictions, so this is less likely to be a School of No Studying, but Wacky Fratboy Hijinx are still possible.
The Ivy Tower is the natural home of the Insufferable Genius, Grammar Nazi, and Gentleman and a Scholar. Often the hometown of the Adventurer Archaeologist or his hated rivals. If not the main setting of a work, characters may journey there to seek The Professor to gain assistance with a problem.
This trope has its basis in Oxford and other medieval European universities. Because of Ivy League for Everyone, expect this trope to show up if the common prestigious universities are given any characterization.
Compare Smoky Gentlemen's Club, which may have a similar vibe but is for men of the world rather than self-absorbed academics. Contrast College Is High School Part 2. See also Strawman U for some other stereotypical depictions of the University.
- In Wet Hot American Summer, a few scenes take place at the University of Maine, portrayed with a neo-Gothic campus. All the professors spend all their time drinking wine and arguing snootily, looking down on Prof. Henry. The highly decorous setting highlights the humor when Prof. Henry gets into a fistfight with his academic rival in the middle of a hallway.
- The Cavaliers Series: As the name of the first book, Oxford Blood, suggests, the series is set at Oxford University. The books revolve around a vampire dining society based on the real life Bullingdon Club. The books give a detailed portrayal of life as an contemporary undergraduate student. All the boxes - Oxford Union, punting, rowing, black tie dinners, tutorials with grumpy dons - are quite thoroughly ticked.
- Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency partially takes place at a fiction college in Cambridge University. One of the characters is an Absent-Minded Professor who has to undergo dull, formal dinners with colleagues and associated traditions, and who himself seems stuck in the Middle Ages. Which of course he is, since he's a Really 700 Years Old time traveler.
- Discworld: Unseen University, a wizard academy full of stuffy deans and bizarre traditions, is heavily based on the real Oxbridge. Some of the wild traditions in the books, such as Hunting the Megapode are based off of real university traditions. The wizards tend to look down on practical applications of magic; in Interesting Times a minority of engineer-like wizards invent a teleporter much to the chagrin of the university hierups. In-Universe this is intentional, as wizards who are preoccupied with banquets and petty arguments aren't out setting the world on fire.
- Lucky Jim: Jim works at a lower-tier English university which is nevertheless filled with stuffiness and pretension. Because Jim studies Medieval History, he spends most of his time appreciating and discussing obscure Medieval art forms, which he finds insufferable.
- The fictional Bailie College at Oxford made occasional appearances on Yes, Minister, being Sir Humphrey's alma mater, to which he retains connections. Bernard is noted as another Oxford alumnus, having read Classics (his pedantry regarding grammar and Latin are a running joke). Both tease Hacker for having attended the London School of Economics because of its real-world curriculum and lack of pretentiousness. These personality traits of the alumns speak to the culture of the school.
- Truth in Television to some extent for Oxford and Cambridge, some of the most highly pedigreed universities in the world. Both date back to the 13th century, and for a long time emphasized the classics over practical learning. They're also unusual for being some of the only places where academic dress is regularly worn and periodic black tie dinners are a requirement, among other traditions.
- The University of Chicago has this reputation as well. It's one of the only major American universities that still offers a Great Books program, and has a reputation for theoretical intellectualism underlined by university t-shirts with slogans such as "That's all well and good in practice, but how does it work in theory?". It also has several buildings that are replicas from Oxford's campus.
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