Insert Title Here (6th Week, HT)

Over the course of the MSt in Medieval History we are assessed on three papers: an essay on Approaches to Historiography (coming out of our core module in Michaelmas Term), another essay based on our optional module in Hilary Term, and then of course the dissertation. The first two are both due the first day of Trinity Term, while the dissertation is due the last Friday in August. In order for examiners to be assigned to each paper (and, I suspect, to make sure we’re all somewhat on track), we students have all been required to turn in an official-looking form to the History Faculty with our chosen title for each paper by noon on Friday of Week 6, Hilary Term.

Easier said than done if you haven’t picked your topic yet . . .

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Digital Bodleian

Digital Bodleian

Treasures of the Bodleian

Online digitized facsimiles of some of the best of the Bodleian collections, including quite a few medieval manuscripts.


Forays into Manuscripts (5th Week, HT)

This week I requested my first manuscripts from Special Collections – which doesn’t sound all that impressive until you take into account that this involves a Bodleian librarian cheerfully handing over 800-year-old books into my grubby carefully scrubbed hands.

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The Rise of Fiction

This figure of the author-writer came into existence in the years around 1170 after a gestation that had lasted several decades… It was the scholarly writer who groped his way toward fiction, not the oral storyteller who simply resorted to writing.

Per Nykrog, ‘The Rise of Literary Fiction’

Chivalry & Learning

Our books have informed us that the pre-eminence in chivalry and learning once belonged to Greece. Then chivalry passed to Rome, together with that highest learning which now has come to France. God grant that it may be cherished here, that the honour which has taken refuge with us may never depart from France. God had awarded it as another’s share, but of Greeks and Romans no more is heard; their fame is passed, and their glowing ash is dead.

Chrétien de Troyes, c. 1170

Lots of Lectures (4th Week, HT)

Undergraduate history lectures in Oxford form a slightly different function in the curriculum than they do at most universities, as they are intended to be supplemental to the students’ regular weekly tutorials. As they are generally open to all members of the university, however, and delivered by world-class academics, they are worth seeking out even as a graduate student, particularly if one is seeking a condensed general background on a less familiar topic (or interested in a particular professor’s spin). Plus, it’s an excuse to bask in the Victorian splendour of the gorgeous Examination Schools.

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The Wonderful World of Historiography (3rd Week, HT)

This week I attended a brilliant one-off lecture by Professor Michael Bentley on ‘Historiography: What It Does, Why It Matters’, one of the few I’ve heard so far on the theory of history. I won’t do justice to it (particularly as historiography is still one of those things I have yet to entirely untangle in my own brain), but here’s the 60-second version.

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