UA in Oxford Courses
All of the English and History courses taught at Oxford can be taken both as regular A&S classes and as Honors classes. EN311/422 also carries a "W" designation. Course seats for all our sections do fill up fast! We do our best to accommodate course choices, but we reserve the right to place you in other courses in order to make every course operate effectively.
UH 210: Honors Fine Arts: Arts of Oxford (Jones)
Honors Fine Arts: The Arts of Oxford includes literature (Phillip Pullman, Lewis Carroll), architecture ancient and new, art (you’ll love the Pre-Raphaelites), science (see Einstein’s chalkboard), baroque music in baroque chapels, Shakespeare in college gardens, pub food and high tea, and many tours of sights and sites (walk in the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Lewis Carroll and Alice, Emma Watson, Oscar Wilde, Christopher Wren, and the Oxford Martyrs). Remember, if you have taken UH 210 once already, you can take it again for credit in Oxford.
EN215: Honors British Literature 1 (Phelps)
C.S. Lewis has commented, in a really rather dull book, that the literature of early England ought to be read in its “once born” condition, by which I suppose he meant in a garden, vellum in hand, and with little sense of something else competing for one’s attention. That’s more or less what we’ll attempt to do with the Oxford iteration of EN215: Honors English Literature I, 800–1800CE. In some cases, in fact, we’ll best Lewis by sitting in the author’s actual garden and holding in our hands the earliest available editions of the texts under study. You see, in Oxford we can do things with literature that we can only approximate elsewhere, and the wide aim of this course will be to maximize this tangible interaction with the instruments and contexts of literary production. Along the way, we’ll also ask questions about the shaping value of the texts, about their political, social, and religious influences, about the ways in which they interiorize their characters, and about how these vectors of intent and representation combine to produce startling literary artifacts capable of withstanding the tests of time. Weekly short papers, one research/library assignment, and expected participation.
EN 311/422: "Black Sails" and the Real Pirates of the Caribbean (Smith)
Perhaps no counterculture in world history stimulates the modern imagination more than does piracy. From the ever popular Disney blockbuster franchise Pirates of the Caribbean to the STARZ series Black Sails to modern-day pirates attacking vessels off the coast of Somalia, images of pirate culture abound. To what extent is Johnnie Depp’s portrayal of Jack Sparrow beholden to historical accounts? And how much of the character is the product of present-day pirate mythology? For those pirates raiding the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia, are they channeling a historical European counterculture of piracy? Or something else? In this Oxford course, students will examine the connections between our modern-day fascination with pirates and some of the original manifestations of piracy, focusing especially on English piracy in the Caribbean in the 17th and 18th centuries. We will interrogate questions such as the following: Who were the real pirates of the Caribbean and how did they differ from buccaneers and privateers? What place did they occupy in English social circles? What made theirs a “counter” culture? To what/whom exactly were they counter? What was life like for pirates? Laws? Customs? Diet? Conditions aboard the ship and off? Why would anyone want to be a pirate – both in the past and present? Why, today, do we have such a fascination with this historical counterculture? We also will examine pirate iconography – the black flag, eye patches, swords, and parrots. We will look for the origins of these icons in English texts written in the 17th and 18th centuries and in English port cities like Bristol.
HY 366/367 (Honors): Music and Race in the UK since WWII (Green)
Amid postwar prosperity in the States and the arrival of television and vinyl records, soul music appealed to many consumers worldwide. Newly arriving West Indians in England, not unlike working class whites, were enthusiastic consumers of “black music," which also touched a blossoming demographic: teenagers. The cross-fertilization of cultures generated numerous recordings by Motown and Memphis studios, white British songstress Dusty Springfield, and the Beatles. As the Civil Rights Movement ground to a halt, the Seattle-born rock star Jimi Hendrix and Georgia native and funkster James Brown, also affected audiences in the U.K. as did rhythms from a Muscle Shoals, Alabama, recording studio that drew the attention of the Rolling Stones. But when Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “I Shot the Sheriff” was rerecorded by Eric Clapton in the seventies, the same decade witnessing a growing friendship between Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, unresolved social conflict lead to the conservative policies of Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Well into a new century as electronic dance, acid jazz, and trip hop music became popular, the thirst for soul music persisted as made evident in the Grammy success of vocalists Sade, Lisa Stansfield, and Adele, groups like Loose Ends, Incognito, Soul II Soul, and Swing Out Sister; and Corinne Bailey Rae's work with producers on Kendrick Lamar's 2015 breakout hip hop album. How do we find meaning in commercial sounds that have deep roots in African traditions and historic work songs? Does the imperial might of the U.S. reveal itself ironically in music of the marginalized? Or is music one of the few places where, aside from sports, people can press pause on the grievances that help tell the story of what it means to be modern? This course produces a worthy soundtrack to think through these questions.