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.

Lecture lists are posted by the History Faculty each term (if experience is any guide, usually not ’til the day before term starts). Michaelmas Term papers (and therefore lectures) focus on British history through the various historical eras, while Hilary and Trinity Terms tackle ‘General History’ (i.e. everything else). On any given Monday and Wednesday during Hilary, one can therefore choose Prelims lectures on General History I (370-900) thru to General History IV (1815-1914). As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been attending many of the General History II lectures focusing on 1100-1300 (the 10th century having inexplicably fallen between the cracks), and have in return received insightful and handy 50-minute overviews of feudalism, medieval Germany, the mendicant orders, heresy, urban centers, etc. Each slot has a different lecturer and therefore a different style. Many of the lectures take a historiographical approach, which is handy for getting oriented to the secondary scholarship.

Plus, after spending hours poring over books in the library, it’s rather nice to sit back and let someone else do the work for you . . .



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