Brazeneck College

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

An upstart rival to Unseen University. Not only having the brass neck to call itself a college of magic and to confer degrees in wizardry when not long ago it was the Braseneck School of Conjuring, it seems to have instigated a Big Thing War between the two institutions.

Ponder Stibbons is playing this very cleverly so as to get larger grants from the Faculty for the High Energy Magic Building. Unseen cannot be seen to lose face nor be out-trumped by the upstart rival. So Ponder's hints that Unseen's VBT (Very Big Thing, specifically Hex) might be superseded by Brazeneck's, although it's only a QBT (Quite Big Thing) now. The senior faculty are concerned that an EBT (Even Bigger Thing) might be in the works. Having discovered a way of getting research money out of the senior wizards - "we can't have those buggers at Brazeneck going one better than us!" (M. Ridcully)- you may be sure Ponder is exploiting this to the full. After all, as an additional argument, the Sociology department could get hold of the extra funding and they'd either waste it, or cause trouble, or both. The next step would be a GBT (Great Big Thing.) Ponder states that "if we could ever build a GBT, we'd know the mind of the Creator." By the time of The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day, Ponder has suceeded in getting his GBT up and running.

Of course, what the QBT and VBT actually do is besides the point - what matters is the prestige for a University in owning one, so that it can beat its collegiate chest and shout at other Universities "Ours is WAY bigger than yours!".

Ponder Stibbons has certainly learnt how University politics works... Braseneck College also published the Journal of Irreducible Research, much to the UU's contempt; proper wizards don't tell others what they're working on, and they suspect most of the Journal is for "having written", not for reading, in any event.

In Unseen Academicals, we learn that this competing institution is based in Pseudopolis and has systematically been poaching Unseen University staff, including its Dean and with the help of Adrian Turnipseed they have constructed Pex, a chicken powered version of Hex. However, much to the disappointment of its new Archchancellor, banquets are in short supply due to "Government Funding". In an attempt to attract new applicants Braseneck gives all new students a free crystal ball and a voucher for a free frog or frog-like creature.


The Faculty & Staff

Tentative annotations and associations

It was at first thought that Ponder Stibbons may have made the competing college up, inspired by a Roundworld institution that is part of Oxford University named after a brass body part, in order to frighten Ridcully into releasing more research money. However, this was prior to the publication of A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices, in which it is revealed that not only does Brazeneck, or its alternative spelling of Braseneck, have an independent physical existence, it is - or was - also located in Ankh-Morpork. Unseen Academicals relocates it to Pseudopolis).

The fact it used to be called the Braseneck School of Conjuring suggests that this deliberately reflects what some commentators have described as a watering-down of standards in British higher education. In recent years, what used to be called "polytechnics", the old second tier higher education establishments, have been allowed to recharter themselves as universities, much to the displeasure and disdain of traditional universities who frankly didn't want the competition. Thus the old cheap-and-cheerful Manchester Polytechnic now calls itself Manchester Metropolitan University, and occupies buildings right next to the very long-established Manchester University, much to the latter's collegiate irritation. Even some further education colleges, long thought of as the third division of British HE and ranking even behind polys, have been able to recharter as Universities. This contributor was recently most amused and somewhat disbelieving to drive past the run-down and seedy tech college he used to attend in Wrexham, North Wales, to see it has rebranded itself as "University of Wales, Wrexham". Aston Tech still looks as shabby, seedy, underfunded and run-down from the outside as it ever did... Braseneck may well be Ankh-Morpork's equivalent of Aston College, Wrexham, elevated to university stature by Vetinari to convey some subtle point over to Ridcully and the wizards... or, offered university status and the chance to relocate to larger premises by the newly-formed Republic of Pseudopolis (which seems to have become a republic at about the same time that Braseneck is reported as being there: both are recorded in Unseen Academicals) so the city could claim to have a magical university of its own.

The Journal of Irreducible Research is a take on RoundWorld's The Journal of Irreproducible Results, a magazine with a humorous take on science and math.

Mentioned in The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch, A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices, and Unseen Academicals.