This week, a wonderful thing happened. I attended a graduate lecture on the development of medieval Latin, and I understood it. All of it. I knew all about the historical figures featured – in almost every case, I had read at least some of their cited texts. I was familiar with the proponents of the historical theses being discussed. I had even read every book on the ‘Further Reading’ list on the handout. It was a brilliant moment, the more so as it’s one that hasn’t happened to me all very often here in Oxford.
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.
Hilary Term has gotten off to a wonderful start, most particularly due to the last few glorious days of frosty sunshine that Oxford has laid on to welcome everyone back. It’s lovely to see the libraries full of familiar faces once again. With our doctoral applications now out of our hands, we can now gratefully turn our attention back to our current programme of study.