Seminars 2019

Students select one seminar to dive into for the three-week program. Mornings at Oxford are spent in 12-person seminars taught by British university scholars—tutors, as they are known in Oxford—who are experts in their field. These gifted and experienced instructors are passionate about sharing their knowledge.

Courses cover unique themes that change every year. Examples include Brexit and the European Union, King Arthur, Shakespeare, the role of the English country house (providing a window into TV’s Downton Abbey), and much more!

At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

The Age of Hogarth | Dr. Jacqueline Riding

Course Description: The art of the painter and graphic satirist William Hogarth (1697–1764) has come to define an entire period of British history. This course will explore, through Hogarth’s iconic images, the early-Georgian age: the “Age of Hogarth”.

Hogarth was the product of late-Stuart England, who was then shaped by the troubled birth of the Union with Scotland (1707) and the unstable early decades of a new nation, Great Britain. During this time, Henry Purcell penned the first English opera, Dido and Aeneas, Daniel Defoe the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe, Sir Isaac Newton astonished the world with his revolutionary theories on motion and universal gravitation, while London, Hogarth’s birthplace, was still rising from the ashes of the Great Fire (1666).

Hogarth lived his entire life against the backdrop of societal and political tensions caused by the dynastic struggle between the supporters of the senior and Catholic branch of the House of Stuart (exiled since the so-called Glorious Revolution of 1688-90) and those of the Protestant Succession, from 1714 embodied by the House of Hanover (George I and II). Yet by the time of Hogarth’s death, the Hanoverians were safely on the throne, while Britain’s expanding Empire and Trade had been secured through unprecedented military successes against the old enemy, France in Europe and North America, and, to the East, the increasing might of the British East India Company.

At home, the extremes of Hogarth’s world can be characterized by the rumbustious travels of Jonathan Swift’s Lemuel Gulliver (1726) and Henry Fielding’s foundling Tom Jones (1749) on the one hand, and the fraught moral and social dilemmas of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and Clarissa (1748) on the other. Meanwhile, Dr. Samuel Johnson created the first English Dictionary from the garret of his Gough Square home; Hogarth’s friend, the charismatic David Garrick, brought a new dignity and realism to the British stage; the pioneering Lanarkshire-born brothers William and John Hunter transformed the fields of anatomy and surgery; and the naturalized Briton, George Frideric Handel created Messiah, one of the most beloved musical compositions of all time.

Hogarth has it all – from the horrors of Gin Lane and the Stages of Cruelty, the King’s Guards marching to war and the compassionate old sea-dog Captain Coram, via the folly of harlots, rakes, modish marriages, and self-serving politicians. Over the three weeks, as if stepping into his canvases and prints, students will immerse in Hogarth’s vibrant world through such diverse subjects as trade, fashion, colonialism, warfare, rebellion, politics, religion, social reform, criminal justice, medicine, science, architecture, art, music, opera, theater, and literature.

About the Tutor: Dr. Jacqueline Riding taught on Oxford Berkeley Program in 2018 (Royal Academy of Arts). She is the author of Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion (2016/2017), Basic Instincts: Love, Passion and Violence in the Art of Joseph Highmore, 1692-1780 (2017), Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre (2018) and is currently writing a major biography of William Hogarth (2020). Former curator of the Palace of Westminster and Director of the Handel House Museum, Dr. Riding now works as a consultant for historic buildings, museums, and galleries, and is an adviser on feature films, including Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (2014) and Peterloo (2018). She is a Trustee of Turner’s House and the Jacobite Studies Trust, Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Honorary Research Fellow of the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, London University, and Senior Editor of the new research journal, Jacobite Studies (Manchester University Press).

Reading List: The dynastic, political, and religious situation in Great Britain and Ireland during the period covered was complicated. Some knowledge prior to arriving in Oxford will be invaluable.

Required Reading:

  1. Jonathan Keates, William III and Mary II, Allen Lane (Penguin Monarchs), paperback 2018. A short political background to the Age of Hogarth.
  2. Tim Blanning, George I: The Lucky King, Allen Lane (Penguin Monarchs), 2017, paperback available from April 2019. A short biography of the first Hanoverian King of Great Britain and Ireland (r.1714-1727).
  3. Paul Langford, Eighteenth-Century Britain: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, 2000.

Recommended further reading: Students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

  1. Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1837, Yale University Press, paperback 1992.
  2. Jenny Uglow, Hogarth: A Life and a World, Faber & Faber, paperback 2002.
  3. Hannah Smith, Georgian Monarchy: Politics and Culture, 1714-1760, Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History, paperback 2009.
  4. Jacqueline Riding, Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion, Bloomsbury, paperback 2017.
  5. Peter Ackroyd, Hawksmoor, Hamish Hamilton, Penguin paperback 1993, for fun.
  6. George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London: The British Life of America’s Founding Father, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, paperback 2017.

Films and TV: The eighteenth-century has been depicted many times on the small and big screen. Students may find the following of interest, as well as entertaining.

  1. The Beggar’s Opera (1953) directed by Peter Brook (starring Laurence Olivier).
  2. Tom Jones, the film directed by Tony Richardson (1963) or the 2006 BBC drama series.
  3. Barry Lyndon (1975), directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the 1844 historical novel by William Makepeace Thackeray.
  4. The Last of the Mohicans (1992) directed by Michael Mann and [loosely] based on the 1826 historical novel by James Fenimore Cooper.

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $370, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Trips may include the great trading city of Bristol, home of William Penn, Charles Wesley, and England’s oldest continuous working theater, the Bristol Old Vic (1764-1766), or the elegant spa town of Bath; and London, including visits to The Foundling Museum, Sir John Soane’s Museum (A Rake’s Progress and The Election Series), Hogarth’s birthplace Smithfield (St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and Hogarth’s Staircase), the East End district of Spitalfields, including Hawksmoor’s monumental Christ Church and the surrounding streets of Huguenot (French Protestant) silk weaver’s houses (including Dennis Severs House, 18 Folgate Street) and Hogarth’s “country house” in Chiswick. Some morning sessions will involve venturing around Georgian Oxford and its environs, and there will be the opportunity, if available, for music, theater, film, and operatic performances. Prospective students should note that visits will require a fair amount of walking and standing.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

The D-Day Landings: From Conception to Consequences | Dr. Kees Windland

Course Description: The Second World War invasion of Normandy, launched on June 6, 1944, has assumed an almost mythic status as, in Churchill’s words, “the supreme climax of the war”—at least from British and American perspectives. We will explore the complicated planning, course and consequences of this greatest of amphibious landings from a variety of historical perspectives.

In military history the event is studied in staff colleges around the world as an exemplar of successful strategic, tactical, and logistical planning. A prominent place in this course will therefore be taken by a beach-by-beach study of events as they unfolded on June 6 and in the days that followed, including the calculations and deployments of enemy forces. However, as Churchill’s Chief of Staff Alan Brooke noted, there were many weaknesses to the invasion plan, and prominent among them were the diverging perceptions and objectives of senior commanders. Winston Churchill’s contributions (and perceived obstructions) will receive special attention as a means of access into the wider diplomatic implications of the invasion.

However, the greatest historical interest must be accorded to the larger story behind the invasion, which concerns the contributions of a vast and disparate collection of servicemen and women, their families, officers of the intelligence services, technicians laboring in innumerable secret locations, mathematics and computing wizards, shy academics driven into public service by the urgency of the times, the women of Bletchley Park, German spies, double agents, and a wide assortment of dubious characters who provide a backing cast of uncounted thousands for the drama unfolding on the Normandy beaches. The success of the invasion itself was only possible due to the efforts of many who never saw France and whose names have only become known to historians long after the war, through the release of previously classified material and their own willingness to speak out before their stories were lost forever.

Out of this multi-faceted approach we will develop not just one epic tale, but a multiplicity of human stories illuminated and given greater significance through their conjunction with this historic event. As a postscript to the series we will consider through literature and film how popular understanding of the D-Day landings has changed through time.

About the Tutor: Dr. Kees Windland is a graduate of St. Cross College, University of Oxford, and a specialist in later modern British cultural history. As a lecturer at Oxford Brookes University (2002-2006) his teaching interests focused on British imperial and social history as well as 20th-century ideologies while his research interests concerned the relatively new methodologies associated with the study of British political culture. Since then he has taught extensively in eastern Europe and India. As a regular contributor to Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education programs over the past seventeen years, he has developed a particular interest in the history of British espionage, especially as regards the Second World War and the Cold War.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are absolutely prescriptive nor are they needed in Oxford. Beyond this, students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

Recommended Reading List: At least one of the following will provide a good introduction to the subject. An asterisk* indicates a key text.

  1. Beevor, Antony [2009] D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (London: Penguin and Kindle).*
  2. Hastings, Max [1984] Overlord: D-Day and the Battle for Normandy (New York: Simon and Schuster).
  3. D’Este, Carlo [1984, 1994, 2000] Decision in Normandy (Oregon: Robinson Books).
  4. Keegan, John [1984] Six Armies in Normandy. From D-Day to the Liberation of Paris (London: Pimlico).
  5. Macintyre, Ben [2012] Double Cross. The True Story of the D-Day Spies (London: Bloomsbury).*

Extended Reading List: Specialist studies and more general histories of the war.

  1. Beevor, Antony [2012] The Second World War (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson).
  2. Calder, Angus [1992] The People’s War. Britain 1939-1945 (London: Pimlico).
  3. Churchill, Winston S. [1952, 1985] The Second World War, vols. V, VI (London: Cassell, Penguin).
  4. Hastings, Max [2009] Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-1945 (London: Harper Collins).
  5. Jeffrey, Keith [2010] The Secret History of MI6 (London: Penguin).
  6. Rankin, Nicholas [2011] Ian Flemings Commandos. The Story of 30 Assault Unit in WWII (London: Faber and Faber).
  7. Rankin, Nicholas [2008] Churchill’s Wizards. The British Genius for Deception (London: Faber and Faber).

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $235, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Week One: Bletchley Park was home to the Government Code and Cypher School during World War II, where the work of code breakers was crucial to the success of the deception operations (code-named “Fortitude”) which informed German tactical planning along the Atlantic seaboard prior to the D-Day landings. Through our visit to the museum students will gain a deeper understanding of how the breaking of the “Enigma” and “Lorenz” ciphers contributed to the so-called “Double Cross” (XX) program run by MI5 and the ultimate success of Operation Overlord.

Week Two: The Imperial War Museum – Lambeth Road, London. This remarkable museum offers an extensive overview of the equipment, technologies, and experience of warfare from British military and civilian perspectives. As regards our studies, of particular interest will be the permanent exhibitions “Witnesses to War”, “A Family in Wartime”, and the “Secret War”.

Week Three: Visit to Dorset, focus of extensive invasion preparations and concentrations of American troops awaiting embarkation for Normandy. First stop is Castletown D-Day Centre, Portland, Dorset. This recently-opened museum features a recreation of the dockyard from which thousands of American troops embarked for Normandy in June, 1944. Among the period artifacts on display and fully accessible to visitors are a restored Sherman tank, a replica Spitfire, and various vehicles and weaponry connected with the landings.

Then visit the Royal Signals Museum—Blandford Camp in Blandford Forum, Dorset. Situated within a working army camp, the museum offers a special exhibition on the roles played by the Royal Signals Corps in the pre-invasion deception campaign (Operation Fortitude) and in delivering the complex communications requirements of the invasion forces. The exhibition further recounts the activities of the Corps in continuing the deception campaign after the invasion and the exploits of its linemen in Normandy, who were often working under fire.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

The English Garden in History: Painting With Plants | Richard Bisgrove

Course Description: While most people now see our gardens in a literally down-to-earth manner, the garden in English history has been a refuge, a source of life’s essentials, a work of art and a place for the expression of philosophical and political ideas. The evolution of gardens is inextricably linked with, and a fascinating barometer of, developments in art, science, technology, and social change. A study of gardens therefore provides a fresh perspective on cultural history and our search for paradise.

In 1629 Frances Bacon famously declared that “when Ages grow to Civility and Elegancie, Men come to Build Stately sooner than to Garden Finely: As if Gardening were the Greater Perfection.” A century later Horace Walpole identified “poetry, painting and gardening” as “the three new graces that dress and adorn nature” while William Hogarth published his Analysis of Beauty to guide the maker of the new landscape garden along the appropriate “serpentine” path.

The English garden has evolved over a thousand years in response to changes in society, from the paradise garden of the medieval monastery through the status symbol of the 17th century, the 18th century landscape garden of Lancelot “Capability” Brown and the 19th century technological masterpieces of Victorian horticulture to the 20th and 21st century searching for a new paradise. As such the garden is a fascinating barometer of human aspirations and achievement in the realms of art, science, technology, world exploration, and philosophy. It marks the change in society from the gardens of kings to the rising power of the aristocracy, the gentry and the industrial elite to the modern garden of a democratic age. The course will chart the evolution of the garden and explore the multifarious factors which have contributed to its development.

About the Tutor: Richard Bisgrove studied horticulture at the University of Reading (25 miles from Oxford) and landscape architecture at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor before returning to lecture in Horticulture and Landscape Management at the University of Reading for forty years. He has had long associations with the Gardens Panel of the National Trust and with the Garden History Society, and has been involved with the Oxford Berkeley Program for many years. In recent years he has been awarded the Veitch Memorial Medal by the Royal Horticultural Society and the Peter Youngman Award by the President of the Landscape Institute and has been made an Honorary Life Member of the Kew Guild.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. Beyond this students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

Suggested Reading:

  1. Mavis Batey, Oxford Gardens (Avebury 1982)
  2. Richard Bisgrove, The National Trust Book of the English Garden (Viking 1990)
  3. Roger Phillips & Nick Fey, Photographic garden history (Macmillan 1995)
  4. Christopher Thacker, The genius of gardening (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1994)

Other books covering specific periods/aspects of English gardens:

  1. John Harvey, Mediaeval gardens (Batsford 1981)
  2. Roger Whalley & Anne Jennings, Knot gardens and parterres (Barn Elms 1998)
  3. Roy Strong, The Renaissance garden in England (Thames & Hudson 1979)
  4. John Dixon Hunt & Peter Willis, The genius of the place (MIT Press 1988)
  5. Michael Wilson, William Kent: architect, designer, painter, gardener (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984)
  6. Dorothy Stroud, Capability Brown (Faber 1975)
  7. Stephen Daniels, Humphry Repton: landscape gardening and the geography of Georgian England (Yale Univ. Press 1999)
  8. Brent Elliott, The Victorian garden (Batsford 1986)
  9. David Ottewill, The Edwardian garden (Yale Univ. Press 1989)
  10. Gertrude Jekyll, Colour schemes for the flower garden (Country Life 1914; new edn. Frances Lincoln 1988)
  11. Jane Brown, The modern garden (Thames & Hudson 2001)

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $320, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

As Britain’s oldest center of learning Oxford has been the natural focus for artists and aristocrats, philosophers and scientists for centuries. Oxford and its environs therefore provide a microcosm of Britain as a whole and there can be no better place than Oxford to pursue the study of garden history. Visits will include:

  • Cliveden with historical layers from the 17th to 21st centuries
  • Rousham, an early 18th century garden recorded in detail by its gardener of the time
  • Stowe, the 18th century garden which reversed the Grand Tour bringing the nobility from Europe to learn how to make a garden
  • Sezincote, with its remarkable early 19th century ‘Indian’ garden overlaid with 20th century planting and
  • Hidcote, the ultimate 20th century ‘English’ cottage garden made by an American born in Paris.
  • Note: The magnificent gardens of Blenheim Palace are not included in the program of visits as Blenheim is easily reached by bus on a free afternoon for those who have not seen it before or wish to see it again.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

Friends, Foes, Rivals: American And British Economic Relations With Continental Europe Since 1919 | Richard G. Smethurst

Course Description: The year 2019 will be a particularly appropriate year in which to study the changing economic relationships between the USA, the UK, and the countries of Western Europe. On present plans, Britain will leave the European Union in March, the first major country to step aside from the path towards greater economic—and thus political—integration which has been a constant theme in European policy since the end of World War II. Yet June will see the 75th anniversary of D-day, which will highlight the importance of the cooperation of American, British, Commonwealth, and other allied forces in liberating Western Europe from German domination. Also in the summer of 1944, less than a month later, delegates from 44 countries met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to invent the institutions and determine the rules which would govern post-war international economic relations. The dominance of the USA was further demonstrated by the generous flow of Marshall Aid to war-torn Europe. This gave impetus to plans for economic integration to put an end to the bitter rivalry between France and Germany, which developed into the ECSC, thence to the European Economic Community, and finally to an EU with a common currency, and a membership of 28, including, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, former communist states.

Is this the final victory for democracy, capitalism, and free markets? If so, why is Britain leaving, and the US highly critical of many elements of EU policy? Or is history repeating itself? Two other anniversaries which fall this year are the centenary of the Versailles Peace Conference, and the 90th anniversary of the Wall Street Crash. Will the tariff barriers and competitive devaluations, and the rise of nationalism, which marked the period between 1919 and 1939, recur and submerge the liberal international order agreed seventy-five years ago? We shall search through economic history to help us understand today’s controversies.

About the Tutor: Richard Smethurst has a long record of combining academic economics with government service, and of commitment to adult education. He retired in 2011 after twenty years as Provost of Worcester College, Oxford, the last eleven serving as a Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University. Earlier in his Oxford career he chaired the sub-faculty of Economics, the Board of the Faculty of Social Studies, and the General Board of the Faculties. In government service, he was an Economic Adviser in HM Treasury and later in the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street. He was a member of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for 11 years, the last three (1986–1989) as a Deputy Chairman. He was a Board Member of the Investment Management Regulatory Organization, and a member of the consumer panel of the Financial Services Authority. He taught his first course for adults when a postgraduate student in 1965, and became Director of the University of Oxford’s Department for External Studies (now Continuing Education) in 1976: in his ten years in that role he rebuilt the department’s premises at Rewley House with a large grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and taught on and directed the Oxford Berkeley Program. He was Chairman of the southern region of the Workers’ Educational Association, President of the National Institute for Adult Continuing Education, and is a member of the Hall of Fame of the International Adult Education Association. Since his retirement he has delightedly returned to the ranks as a regular tutor on economics courses for his old department. He is an Honorary Fellow of three Oxford Colleges and one in Cambridge.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. Beyond this students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible. Other than reading news sources listed in the first bullet, no pre-course reading matter is prescribed, and you need not bring any particular books to Oxford with you. However, below are some books you might enjoy.

  1. Try to keep abreast of the ever-changing world of international economic relations by regularly reading a reliable newspaper or magazine, for example The Economist. Foreign Affairs, published every two months by the Council on Foreign Relations, cannot be as up to the minute with its contents, but is highly recommended not just for its thoughtful articles but also for its book reviews.
  2. For an overview of many of the themes of this course, except for the last decade, see Mary Nolan, The Transatlantic Century: Europe and America 1890-2010 (NY, Cambridge University Press 2012).
  3. A very readable, non-technical account of the international economic system is given by Dharshini David, The Almighty Dollar (London, Elliott & Thompson 2018).
  4. For the European Union, see John McCormick Understanding the European Union: A Concise Introduction (London, Palgrave Macmillan 7th. ed. 2017); or (lengthier) Desmond Dinan Europe Recast – A History of the European Union (London, Palgrave Macmillan 2nd. ed. 2014).
  5. For a long view of the dollar, see Berkeley’s Barry Eichengreen Exorbitant Privilege (NY, Oxford University Press 2011). The same author’s Hall of Mirrors (NY, Oxford University Press 2015) is a most interesting comparison of the Great Crash and Depression of 1929-1933 with the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and considers the uses and misuses of history in policymaking.
  6. A similar theme covering nine economic policy disasters and what we can learn from them emerges from Richard S. Grossman’s Wrong (NY, Oxford University Press 2013).
  7. A sobering account of the 2008 crisis and its aftermath is to be found in Andrew Gamble’s Crisis Without End? – The Unravelling of Western Prosperity (London, Palgrave Macmillan 2014).
  8. A more optimistic view comes from a little book by Joseph S. Nye, Jr. Is the American Century Over? (Maldon MA and London, Polity Press 2015).

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $350, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Field trips for this seminar include visits to the BMW Plant in Cowley; Imperial War Museum and Churchill War Rooms; and Ironbridge Museums and Shropshire.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

From Castles to Country Houses | Dr. Gillian White

Course Description: England’s landscape is littered with the power houses of the past: the castles and country houses of monarchs, lords, and gentlemen. In this course we’ll look at a period stretching from the Middle Ages through to the early seventeenth century and consider the transition from castle to country house as the status symbol of choice for the nation’s powerful elite.

Our survey will include architectural and decorative history, but will also consider the changing politics, warfare, social conditions, and culture of the owners of these great buildings. What was the purpose of the castle, and how did its military and domestic functions coexist? What factors encouraged the emergence of the unfortified house? How did sheep and religion affect the development of the social elite and their country estates during the Tudor period? How far did the Renaissance influence the houses of Elizabethan courtiers?

We’ll explore the role of a medieval lord but we’ll also think about the role of women in this society, including the complex codes of chivalry in the male-dominated world of the medieval household. We’ll take a detailed look at the remarkable life of Bess of Hardwick, a four-times-married social climber whose great sixteenth-century house at Hardwick Hall remains remarkably intact. We’ll spend some time with Elizabeth I and think about the lavish arrangements made for her as she went on progress, and we’ll also eavesdrop a little on her relationship with her favorite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, whose entertainment of her at Kenilworth Castle provides a focus for one of our site visits. We’ll use contemporary art and literature to find out about good behaviour and pleasant pastimes, and we shall find out how the great palaces of Henry VIII and his court shaped expectations of comfort and formality. We’ll think about the organization of households and learn how to be a model servant according to contemporary training manuals, and we’ll also give some thought to the education of children within these establishments.

The course brings together a range of sources to shed light on medieval and early modern England and will be accompanied by site visits that include Raglan, Goodrich, and Kenilworth Castles. Prospective students should note that these visits involve fair amounts of walking and standing, sometimes on uneven ground.

About the Tutor: Dr. Gillian White formerly worked for the National Trust as Curator/Collections Manager of Hardwick Hall, one of the most important surviving Elizabethan courtier houses in England. Since completing her PhD she has worked as a freelance lecturer. She is involved with the Centre for the Study of the Country House at Leicester University and also teaches in Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education, where her courses generally concentrate on History of Art of the medieval and early modern periods. She has taught for several years on the Diploma in the History of Art and contributes to the MSt. in the History of Design. Away from Oxford, she contributes regularly to the year-long History of Textiles course at the V&A Museum in London, lecturing on Elizabethan textiles.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None is obligatory reading or needed in class, although students may find them useful for reference whilst in Oxford. Beyond this students are encouraged to read around the subject as general preparation.

Recommended Reading List:

  1. Mary Hill Cole, The Portable Queen, University of Massachusetts Press, 1999
  2. Mark Girouard, Life in the English Country House, Yale University Press, 1978 and later editions (chapters 1-4)
  3. Marc Morris, Castles: Their History and Evolution in Medieval Britain, Pegasus Books, 2017
  4. Simon Thurley, Houses of Power: The Places that Shaped the Tudor World, Bantam Press, 2017

Optional Reading List:

  1. Malcolm Airs, The Tudor & Jacobean Country House: A Building History, Sutton Publishing, 1998
  2. John Gillingham and Ralph A. Griffiths, Medieval Britain: A Very Short Introduction, OUP, 2000
  3. Sarah Gristwood, Elizabeth and Leicester, Bantam Press, 2007 (also known as Elizabeth and Leicester: The Truth about the Virgin Queen and the Man She Loved), Penguin Books, 2008
  4. John Guy, The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction, OUP, 2013
  5. Matthew Johnson, Behind the Castle Gate: From Medieval to Renaissance, Routledge, 2002
  6. Mary S. Lovell, Bess of Hardwick: First Lady of Chatsworth, Little, Brown, 2006 (also known as Bess of Hardwick: Empire Builder), W.W. Norton and Co., 2006
  7. Dan Spencer, The Castle at War in Medieval England and Wales, Amberley Publishing, 2018

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $285, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Visits will include Goodrich and Raglan Castles, where we will see the contrast between a strongly fortified castle mostly built in the thirteenth century, and one of the last castles built in Wales, where, by the fifteenth century, comfort and display outweigh the pretense of defense. We shall also visit Kenilworth Castle to explore the great entertainment that Robert Dudley provided for Queen Elizabeth in 1575. A third visit will focus either on a Tudor palace or on a country house.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

Henry VII and Henry VIII: Power, Passion, Tyranny? | Dr. Janet Dickinson

Course Description: The reigns of the first Tudor monarchs, Henry VII and Henry VIII, witnessed a transformation of English culture, society, politics, and religion. This could not have been predicted in August 1485, when Henry Tudor, Duke of Richmond and pretender to the throne took to the field at the Battle of Bosworth Field, facing the superior might of Richard III and his royal army. The new King Henry VII’s stunning victory transformed his situation but there was no certainty that he would be able to hold onto his newly acquired crown and he was to face serious challenges to his power over the coming years. Using contemporary sources and thinking about the society over which Henry VII took control, we will assess the remarkable extent of his success, revealing a man who was no dry bureaucrat but a daring adventurer who came from exile to establish a monarchy that was the equal of any in the world at the time.

Throughout, the focus of the course will be on the monarchs and the worlds in which they lived, thinking about their close personal and political connections. As well as studying Henry VII’s mother, the redoubtable Lady Margaret Beaufort, we will reconstruct the close circle of advisors, ministers and nobles that circled around him and the impact of their deaths on his life and the nature of his rule. We shall consider the varied fates of his children, including his eventual heir, a second Tudor Henry; a celebrated Renaissance prince whose betrothal to the Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon heralded a golden era of further achievement and progress.

But this glorious vision was not to endure. In May 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn and five men, including her brother, were arrested, tried, convicted of treason and adultery and executed. Just eleven days later Henry VIII, apparently unmoved by the death of the woman for whom he had divorced Catherine of Aragon and put in process the changes that led to the break with Rome and the English Reformation, married again, this time to Jane Seymour, the future mother of his only legitimate son. In seeking to understand how these events unfolded, we shall think carefully about Henry VIII’s relationships with those around him, including the infamous six wives and the looming, powerful figures of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and Thomas Cromwell. The nature and the costs of power will be discussed, both within the court and further afield. What were the limitations of royal authority? Did the Tudor monarchs exert a tyrannical power over their subjects?

About the Tutor: Dr. Janet Dickinson is Senior Associate Tutor in History at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing education, where she teaches on a range of programs including two online courses that she authored, and the Masters in Literature in Arts and the Masters in Historical Studies. She is also Lecturer for New York University in London. Her research focuses on the nobility and the court in early modern England and Europe and she has published a number of chapters on these subjects. Her book, Court Politics and the Earl of Essex was published in 2011. Most recently, Janet has been working on an Anglo-Dutch project, “Maritime Archaeology meets Cultural History”, focusing on the extraordinary objects retrieved from a 17th century shipwreck off the Dutch island of Texel. Her students in Oxford have three times named her as “Most Acclaimed Lecturer” and in 2018 she was nominated as “Outstanding Graduate Supervisor” and named as “Outstanding Tutor”.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. Beyond this students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

Recommended Reading List:

  1. G.W. Bernard, Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions (2011)
  2. Thomas Penn, Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England (2012)
  3. David Starkey, Henry: Virtuous Prince (2008)
  4. Lucy Wooding, Henry VIII(2008)

Optional Reading List:

  1. M.J. Bennett, The Battle of Bosworth (2013)
  2. Sean Cunningham, Henry VII (2007)
  3. G.W. Bernard, The King’s Reformation (2005)
  4. S.B. Chrimes, Henry VII (1999)
  5. Susan Doran and David Starkey, eds., Henry VIII: Man and Monarch (2009)
  6. Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: traditional religion in England 1400-1580 (1992)
  7. E.W. Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn (2005)
  8. Michael K. Jones, The King’s Mother: Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby (1993)
  9. Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: A Life (1997)
  10. Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thomas Cromwell: A Life (2018)
  11. Kevin Sharpe, Selling the Tudor Monarchy: Authority and Image in sixteenth-century England (2009)
  12. David Starkey, Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII (2004)
  13. Simon Thurley, Houses of Power: the places that shaped the Tudor world (2017)
  14. Giles Tremlett, Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen (2011)

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $275, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Visits may include a trip to see the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s lost warship, raised from the seabed in 1982 along with thousands of objects revealing the innermost details of life on board, displayed in a spectacular, award-winning museum. We will stand in the footprints of Henry himself in nearby Southsea Castle, from where he watched his ship founder. We shall also visit buildings associated with members of the Tudor court, including The Vyne in Hampshire, a peaceful Tudor courtier’s house and country estate; Basing House, once the largest private house in Tudor England; and Sudeley Castle, home to Henry VIII’s last queen, Katherine Parr and to her wards, Jane Grey and the future Elizabeth I. We will also witness the physical impact of Henry VIII’s break with Rome on the lives of his subjects, visiting the atmospheric ruins of Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire, a thriving Cistercian community that was one of the last to surrender to the King, finally dissolved on Christmas Eve 1539.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

Mediterranean Shakespeare | Dr. Lynn Robson

Course Description: From what we know of Shakespeare’s life he travelled from Stratford-upon-Avon to London and back again. However in his imagination he travelled much further, “to unpathed waters, to undreamed shores” and 450 years after his birth he still invites audiences and readers to make those journeys with him. Shakespeare always asks you to imagine yourself placed somewhere between here and there, now and then, so every one of his plays is a rich journey of exploration and discovery. In this course, we’ll explore together the stories, characters and cultures of the “Middle Sea” that so enriched Shakespeare’s craft and imagination. Greece and Rome were two of the dazzling ancient civilizations nurtured by the Mediterranean and their impact was fundamental to Shakespeare’s own culture. Shakespeare re-imagines the stories of writers such as Homer, Ovid, Virgil, and Plutarch, transforming distant lands and times for his audiences. You’ll trace these influences in Shakespeare’s political thriller, Julius Caesar, and in the tragic clash between idealism and satire in the Trojan War setting of Troilus and Cressida.

However, for Shakespeare and his first audiences the Mediterranean wasn’t just a region lost in antiquity. Its vibrant mercantile culture, the splendors of the Italian Renaissance, religious conflicts, and fearsome stories of shipwrecks and Barbary pirates made it exotic, dangerous and necessary to early modern England. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona and Othello you’ll explore these contemporary influences and encounter some of Shakespeare’s most controversial and moving characters and stories. Finally, in Pericles, Shakespeare takes his audience on a journey around the Mediterranean with the Prince of Tyre as he is forced into exile to escape incest and murder, and then searches for his long-lost daughter.

In this course, you’ll study plays written across Shakespeare’s career and we’ll journey together across comedy, tragedy, and romance. Our detailed explorations of the plays will never lose sight of performance and we will think about how they’ve been adapted for stage and screen. This course is open to all-comers: if you already know something about Shakespeare, come and find out more; if you’ve never studied him before then this is the class that will introduce you to the world’s greatest playwright.

About the Tutor: Dr. Lynn Robson is Supernumerary Fellow in English Literature at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, teaching early modern literature (1550-1760) to full-time undergraduates studying for BA (Hons) in English Language and Literature, Classics and English, and History and English, as well as part-time students studying at Oxford University’s Department for Continuing Education. She also teaches and supervises graduates on MSt in Women’s Studies and the part-time, interdisciplinary MSt in Literature and Arts, run by the Department for Continuing Education. She is Tutor for Admissions for English and allied Joint Schools and joint Director of Studies for BA (Hons) in Classics and English. She also directs Regent’s Visiting Student Programme, organizing and coordinating academic programs for students from North America, China, and Europe. Her awards include Most Acclaimed Lecturer in the Humanities and University of Oxford Teaching Excellence Award.

Reading List: All books on the reading lists are in print, available online, and most of them are in paperback.

Required Reading: students will need to bring these books with them to Oxford. Please try and ensure that you read the required plays in annotated editions as they provide useful background information, often give a performance history, and have invaluable notes.

  1. William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  2. William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
  3. William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida
  4. William Shakespeare, Othello
  5. William Shakespeare, Pericles

Suggested Editions:

  • Arden Shakespeare, Oxford Shakespeare or Cambridge Shakespeare.
  • Cambridge School Shakespeare editions are very good if you’re new to Shakespeare – they gloss unfamiliar words and difficult lines and provide invaluable context as well.
  • In previous classes, students have found Folger Shakespeare Library editions easily accessible, user-friendly and very portable.
  • I understand the attraction of No Fear Shakespeare but these editions are NOT suitable for this class.

Films: It’s always useful to see plays as well as read them. The DVDs below are available from Amazon but also check out YouTube and the Globe Player. Film adaptations I’m likely to use in class are below.

  1. The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Royal Shakespeare Company
  2. Julius Caesar, Royal Shakespeare Company
  3. Troilus and Cressida, BBC Shakespeare
  4. Othello, Royal Shakespeare Company
  5. Pericles, BBC Shakespeare

Further reading: these are background works and criticism that you might find useful. These general, introductory texts will give you a sense of Shakespeare’s life and career and the culture he inhabited. All of them are available in paperback versions.

  1. Jonathan Bate, Soul of the Age: The Life, Mind and World of William Shakespeare (Penguin, 2008)
  2. Julia Briggs, This Stage-Play World: Texts and Contexts 1580-1625 (OUP, 1997)
  3. Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare After All
  4. David Scott Kastan, A Companion to Shakespeare (Blackwell, 1999)
  5. Frank Kermode, The Age of Shakespeare (Phoenix, 2005)
  6. Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language (Penguin, 2001)
  7. James Shapiro, 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (Faber & Faber, 2005)
  8. James Shapiro, 1606: Shakespeare and the Year of Lear (2016)
  9. Stanley Wells & Lena Cowen Orlin, Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (OUP, 2003)

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $475, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

The course usually includes trips to see performances at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

Prohibition and Transgression: The Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Gothic Novel | Dr. Emma Plaskitt

Course Description: The eighteenth-century gothic movement was a reaction to the dominance of the Enlightenment emphasis on reason and rationalism. The Marquis de Sade saw it as the natural literary result of the violence and terror of the French Revolution. Its conventions included aristocratic villains and persecuted maidens, the supernatural, the victory of nature over man’s creations and of chaos over order, and the theme of imprisonment with the consciousness forced back upon itself. As a transgressive sub-genre of the novel, it was anti-Catholic, anti-nostalgic, and anti-aristocratic. It evolved in the Victorian age to reflect nineteenth-century concerns about religion, race, gender, imperialism, and cultural degeneration. This course will trace its development from the first gothic novel, Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), to Bram Stoker’s presentation of fin-de-siècle anxiety in Dracula (1897). Other novels to be discussed include Ann Radcliffe’s highly influential novel of “sublimity”, A Sicilian Romance (1790), Jane Austen’s witty and complex parody of the genre, Northanger Abbey (1817), and Charlotte Brontë’s domestic re-imagining of the gothic romance in Jane Eyre (1847). Students will also have the opportunity to read gothic fiction by Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde and each piece of fiction will be placed in historical and cultural context.

Students will be also able to take advantage of world class art galleries in Oxford and London to see for themselves how gothic themes caught the imagination of contemporary artists and architects and how they translated them into paintings and drawings, many of which acted as inspiration for the writers themselves. Why does the Gothic genre refuse to die? Why do we remain fascinated with the forbidden and enjoy being terrified? What is the difference between terror and horror and why did Romantic poets like Coleridge, Byron, and Shelley view the former as such a rich source of inspiration? These are some of the questions we will address.

About the Tutor: Dr. Emma Plaskitt is a graduate of Merton College, Oxford, where she wrote her doctoral thesis on the treatment of gender and reputation in fiction by eighteenth-century novelists Eliza Haywood, Samuel Richardson, and Frances Burney. Since 1994 she has taught English literature 1640–1901 for various Oxford colleges, including Brasenose, Worcester, Somerville, and St. Hugh’s. She has also taught for a variety of American visiting student programs. Having worked for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, where she was responsible for writing many articles on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women writers, she now focuses on teaching for the SCIO Study Abroad Programme based at Wycliffe Hall in Oxford and for Stanford University, for whom she is an Overseas Lecturer. Though a specialist in the literature of the long eighteenth century, her research interests include the Victorian novel—particularly the gothic novel and novel of sensation—and children’s literature. In 2010 she was awarded Stanford’s BOSP Award for Teaching Excellence.

Reading List: Please bring copies of the required reading to Oxford. The Norton or Broadview Critical Editions are recommended but any edition is fine. Novels can also be downloaded onto kindles, etc.

Required Reading:

  1. Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto (1764)
  2. Ann Radcliffe, A Sicilian Romance (1790)
  3. Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)
  4. Sheridan Le Fanu, “Carmilla” (1872)
  5. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
  6. Bram Stoker, Dracula (1897)

Optional Reading List: These will be referenced in class but are not required reading.

  1. Matthew Lewis, The Monk (1796)
  2. Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (1817)
  3. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus (1816; 1831)
  4. Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
  5. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)
  6. Bram Stoker, “Dracula’s Guest” (1914)

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $305, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Visits will likely include Horace Walpole’s Gothic “villa”, Strawberry Hill in Twickenham, London; the National Gallery and National Portrait Galleries in London; The Vyne (Tudor palace in Hampshire).

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

Roman Britain | Dr. Steve Kershaw

Course Description: The influence of the ancient Romans on modern British society is enormous and unique. “Roman Britain” will concentrate on the fascinating events and the extraordinary cultural and artistic achievements of the Romans in Britain, and the Britons under Roman control, across a range of topics pertinent to history, archaeology, and material culture. These will include: the nature of our archaeological evidence; Roman knowledge of Britain; Julius Caesar’s expeditions; the tribes of Britannia and their relationships with Rome; the Claudian invasion; Boudicca’s revolt; Tacitus’ Agricola; Hadrian’s Wall; the nature of identity and ethnicity in the Roman/Barbarian world; slavery; Bread and Circuses; the army; towns and villas; and the end of Roman involvement in Britannia.

Numerous intriguing human issues will be confronted on the way as we follow the process of the creation of a province, explore the challenges faced by both the Romans and the natives, examine the physical and mental environment in which they spent significant parts of their lives, and assess their mistakes and evaluate the solutions they tried. Who were these people? Why did they succeed? Why (or) did they fail? Overall “Roman Britain” will develop skills of observation and analysis with further applications in study, work and leisure, and provide an interesting, enjoyable, and relevant learning experience.

About the Tutor: Dr. Steve Kershaw is a tutor for the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education and the Victoria and Albert Museum, and is the author of Oxford University’s online course on The Fall of Rome. He spent 25 years as a guest speaker for Swan Hellenic Cruises, with whom he traveled widely throughout what was the Roman Empire. He is also an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society, and a guest lecturer for New York University, London. He is the editor of The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology (1991) and the author of A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths (2007), A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization (2010), A Brief History of the Roman Empire (2013), and A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato’s Ideal State (2017). He has recently appeared as an Expert Contributor on the History channel’s Barbarians Rising series. Steve’s other interests range from cricket to contemporary jazz.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory reading for the topic. None are needed in Oxford—all relevant texts will be provided in translation on handouts in class. Beyond this students are encouraged to read around the subject as widely as possible.

Required Reading:

  1. Caesar, The Conquest of Gaul, Penguin translation.
  2. De la Bédoyère, G., Roman Britain: A New History, Thames & Hudson.
  3. Kershaw, S.P., A Brief History of the Roman Empire, Constable & Robinson.
  4. Salway, P., Roman Britain, A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press.

Optional Reading List:

  1. Ajjason-Jones, L., Women in Roman Britain, Council for British Archaeology.
  2. Bowman, A. K., Life and Letters on the Roman Frontier, Routledge.
  3. Cunliffe, B., Iron Age Britain, Batsford.
  4. Frere, S.S., Britannia, Routledge.
  5. Johnson, S., Hadrian’s Wall.
  6. Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, Penguin translation.
  7. Tacitus, The Agricola and the Germania, Penguin translation.
  8. The Ordnance Survey Map of Roman Britain (4th ed.).
  9. Reece, R., The Coinage of Roman Britain, The History Press.
  10. Salway, P., Roman Britain, Oxford University Press.

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $345, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

This course will invite students to analyse and reflect on the controversies and dilemmas posed by the material evidence, and to supplement our studies we will make three field trips that will give us particular insights into the material culture of Roman Britain: to the site of Roman Verulamium (modern St. Albans) with its excellent museum and remains of the Roman theater; to the Roman Palace at Fishbourne with its unparalleled mosaics, where we will also view the archaeological stores and handle genuine Roman artifacts, before viewing the impressive fort at Portchester; plus an excursion to Cirencester, rich in Roman remains, and nearby Chedworth Roman villa, nestling in beautiful Cotswold countryside.

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.

“The World Turned Upside Down”? Revolutionary England in the 17th Century from Civil War to Restoration—and Beyond | Dr. Kate Watson

Course Description: The era of English Civil War lives long in popular memory with its vivid imagery of pious roundheads and dashing cavaliers, of a defiant Charles I, and a puritanical Cromwell. Yet these images tell us only half the story. For throughout this turbulent period England not only lost a king, and gained a “Lord Protector”, but created the first modern republic - and the first modern dictatorship. In the process, it truly was a “world turned upside down”, not least for the English people themselves, forced to navigate a way through these challenging times.

During the course we will consider both the image and the reality behind the historical headlines, through an exploration of the ideas, and the people, who helped make this revolution a reality. We will begin by examining the legacy of Tudor and early Stuart rule on England, asking what this meant for the concept of kingship in England and how this was influenced by contemporary trends elsewhere, notably in France. The key role of the two original protagonists will be explored, both royalist and parliamentarian, as we ask how King and Commons contributed to the outbreak of the conflict - and what they truly aimed to achieve. Cromwell’s vital contributions will also be examined as we ask how and why a radical third force came to emerge in the midst of conflict, leaving him in apparent charge of the state, yet seemingly ever plagued by doubts about his overall hold on power. Finally, we will examine the circumstances surrounding the collapse of “Godly Rule”, and its longer term implications, discussing why England returned to the system of monarchy, and why that system found itself under challenge again and again, from Glorious Revolution to Lockean legacy.

Throughout all these discussions much emphasis will be placed on the exploration of primary materials, at both elite and popular level, as we seek to discover how the English people made sense of, or simply learned to live with, this first great modern revolt, through an analysis of their own contemporary aims and fears. The course will also include guided visits to historic houses of key significance in this long drawn out conflict, as we seek to capture the personal impact of the war for those involved and its often tragic costs.

About the Tutor: Dr. Kate Watson is a Senior Associate Tutor for Oxford University Department of Continuing Education (OUDCE), where she has worked for many years on a variety of courses, from adult weekly and summer schools, to term time postgraduate studies, delivering seminars and tutorials on a range of modern history topics. A graduate of the University of York, she was awarded a research scholarship to the Open University, where she completed her PhD, and worked on various courses as lecturer, examiner and moderator. She also worked for Mansfield College, Oxford, delivering tutorials for their visiting student program. Since 2013 Kate has devoted all her attentions to OUDCE, helping to design and deliver courses for the Department’s online studies too. She also received a university wide award for her contributions to the use of technology aided learning (OxTalent). Kate is currently pursuing research on Britain and the revolutionary experience.

Reading List: The following texts are suggested introductory and/or background reading for the topic. None are required reading or needed in Oxford. A full bibliography will also be given to students on arrival.

Optional Introductory Reading List:

  1. Coward, B. (2002) The Cromwellian Protectorate, Manchester.
  2. Gaunt, P. (ed.) (2000) The English Civil War: The essential Readings, Oxford.
  3. Hill, C. (1972) The World Turned Upside Down: radical ideas during the English Revolution, London and New York.
  4. Morrill, J. (ed.) (1991) The Impact of the English Civil War, London.

Wider Suggested Reading List:

  1. Aylmer, G.E. (1986) Rebellion or Revolution? England 1640-1660, Oxford.
  2. Braddick, M. (2008) God’s Fury, England’s Fire: A New History of the English Civil Wars, London.
  3. Hill, C. (1965) The Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution, Oxford.
  4. Gaunt, P. (1996) Oliver Cromwell, Oxford.
  5. Hill, C. (1972) God’s Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution, Harmondsworth.
  6. Hutton, R. (1990) The British Republic 1649-1660, Basingstoke.
  7. Morrill, J. (ed.) (1992) Revolution and Restoration: England in the 1650s, London.
  8. Hughes, A. (2nd edn., 1998) The Causes of the English Civil War, Basingstoke.
  9. Morrill, John, (ed.) (1993) The Nature of the English Revolution, London.
  10. Richardson, R.C., (3rd edn. 1999) The Debate on the English Revolution, London.
  11. Russell, C. (1990) The Causes of the English Civil War, Oxford.
  12. Sharpe, K. (1992) The Personal Rule of Charles I, London.
  13. Worden, B. (2009) The English Civil War 1640- 1660, London.

Field Trips and Associated Cost: This seminar requires a supplemental fee of $275, which covers the field trips you will take over the course of the seminar.

Visits will include a trip to Broughton Castle: the historic home of the Lord of Saye and Sele for 600 years, and a key Parliamentarian center in the civil war period - and the critical years leading up to it; Old Moseley Hall: a Royalist manor house which played a significant role in Charles II’s dangerous attempts to evade capture in Cromwellian England; Sulgrave Manor: A Tudor home in origin, testament to the sorrows of those who found themselves on the losing side in Civil War—and a place with surprising American connections!

Course Requirements: At the end of each course, students are required to write a paper on a subject of their choice that relates to their seminar. Papers are approximately 1,500 words in length and provide an excellent way for students to summarize what they learned and their experience as scholars at Oxford. Paper subjects will be presented to students’ classmates in a ten minute presentation towards the end of the seminar. Continuing Education (CE) units are offered to students who successfully complete all of the requirements of their seminar.