For all the societies Trinity has to offer, sometimes it feels like none of them fit. Although the options may seem extensive, from debating to frisbee to knitting, for many students it can feel as if they have yet to find a hobby.
The prospect of launching into a brand new activity for the sake of making friends can be daunting. A lot of students just want to find a place where they can feel welcome, without being forced to delve into a niche hobby for which they take little interest.
What many people do not know is that such a place exists. Its name? The Bram Stoker Club. An affiliate of the Phil, the Bram Stoker Club, or Bram, runs a paper reading once a week in the conversation room of the GMB. Each week a student will informally give a prepared talk on a topic of their preference.
This topic can be anything but it is almost always related to something that the student is passionate about. The audience are often completely new to the topic, and as such, the talk is given in accessible language and simple terms. Afterwards, there is a relaxed discussion with questions from the audience and the Bram committee member running the event.
Speaking to Nicole O’Sullivan, one of the Bram committee members about the club, it is apparent that the subject matter is often broad and far-reaching: “The main thing that I would like people to understand about Bram is the scope of topics that can be discussed, and the potential that a Bram paper can have.
There is no need for it to be a strictly ‘academic’ topic – for example, last year we had papers on Gilmore Girls and the bottled water industry.” It is this broad variety that makes Bram stand out from every other club and society in Trinity. Accommodating such an extensive array of interests is quite refreshing, which is reflected in the wide range of people that attend the weekly readings.
O’Sullivan is keen to emphasise the freedom that people have in delivering a paper. “If you want to have images or music throughout your paper then that’s totally welcome. As long as you have a topic that you’re passionate about, then that’s all you need to write a Bram paper!”
While the talks can be serious, many have a humorous element too. The speakers are often engaging, given that they are talking about their niche hobbies and enthusiasms.
O’Sullivan, along with Hugh, Chair of the Bram Stoker club, is hugely positive about what Bram has to offer. Speaking with them, it is clear that they believe that Bram has something special to offer. “It’s a fantastic way to get started with public speaking or just to learn more about a topic that you like.”
If there is a downside to Bram, it is that the club is not particularly well-known. The only way to hear about events is to attend them. “There’s also no membership needed to go to Bram events or submit a paper – it’s open to everyone!”
So if you ever feel like you want to see people talk about their passions and what really makes them tick, come along and listen in to a paper reading. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your passion too.
- What is the background/origin of the Bram Stoker Paper-Readings?
The main reason why Bram came into existence was to continue on the tradition of weekly paper readings that the Phil used to do. Instead of having regular weekly debates where speakers debate on a certain motion/statement – as it is now – the tradition was that speakers would debate on an entire paper which was presented to them.
This stopped over the years, and the current system took over. However about seven years ago, a few ordinary members of the Phil decided to bring the Phil’s Paper Readings back in a less formal setting, giving members of the society the opportunity to still write and present papers. And so the Bram Stoker club was born. And naturally, who better to name it after than The Phil’s most famous president?
- How would you describe Bram? Is it a “society”?
I’m not sure that it would fall under the category of a society in itself. The paper readings themselves and the other events we run are less formal than other society events in college, they have a more relaxed atmosphere. There’s also no membership needed to go to Bram events or submit a paper – it’s open to everyone! And since we’re a sub-committee of the Phil, we’re acting as part of the society as a whole.
- Is there anything that you especially want people to understand about Bram? How do you see its purpose/it’s comparison with societies that might cover similar topics?
The main thing that I would like people to understand about Bram is the scope of topics that can be discussed, and the potential that a Bram paper can have. We’ve had students present papers on virtually anything – usually the more niche the topic is, the better. We can even have multimedia Brams; if you want to have images or music throughout your paper then that’s totally welcome. As long as you have a topic that you’re passionate/enthusiastic about, then that’s all you need to write a Bram paper!
Another thing that I think is good for people to know is that you don’t have to have done anything with the Phil or debating to get involved in Bram. One aspect of Bram is to provide a place where people can share their opinions/ideas in a less formal setting – it’s a fantastic way to get started with public speaking or just to learn more about a topic that you like. If you’re not sure how to start your paper but you know that you have an idea that you want to run with, then just get in touch with Hugh, Andrew, or myself and we can help you out.
- There is some affiliation with the Phil; what is the connection?
Bram was originally set up by ordinary members of the Phil as a sub-committee of the main society, and that’s still very much how it is run today. We’re made up of three ordinary members of the society (or “extraordinaries”, as we’re known) – the Chair (Hugh) and two Ordinary Committee Members (Me and Andrew). The way that I see it is that Bram is like an extra branch of the Phil.
- What can we expect from upcoming papers?
We have a lot of exciting events and papers planned for the rest or Michaelmas term and for Hilary term as well. We’re currently working with Amnesty & Q Soc to host some themed papers in the coming weeks, and we’re planning on running an event during Trinity Arts Festival – so keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page over the next few months for the announcements as they come.