September Seminar in the Humanities

In cooperation with Hertford College, Worcester College will offer its third September Seminar in the Humanities in autumn 2017. This intensive, month-long seminar is open to any student studying at Worcester during the Michaelmas Term, and allows those students to extend their stay in Oxford so that the fall term's work is comparable in substance and duration to a full semester. 

See below for detailed information.

Academic Experience 

The seminar will be of interest to intellectually adventurous, highly motivated students who wish to consider why and how we study the humanities even as they engage in humanistic study. The seminar takes as its organizing theme "other minds," and considers the way that texts from various periods and cultures grapple with problem of imagining the consciousness and experience of others—while examining critically the practices that humanistic disciplines use to approach this problem. The culminating project of the seminar is a research essay in which each student will pursue an independently developed question related to the material on the syllabus. 

Worcester's Provost, Professor Jonathan Bate, will open the course with a welcome address posing key questions for students to consider on this topic, drawing from and developing upon his work as editor of The Public Value of the Humanities as well as his extensive work on Shakespeare and on Romanticism. In each week of the seminar, there will also be an informal gathering where students can discuss their work in the course over tea and cake. 

These informal contributions will supplement the central body of teaching for the seminar. That teaching will be provided by faculty from the departments of Classics, English Language and Literature, and Medieval and Modern Languages. Different tutors will teach each week of the seminar, providing over the course of the month a chronological sequence that moves from the idea of the barbarian in ancient texts to the problem of representing consciousness in the modern psychological novel. 

The seminar will include visits to the Ashmolean Museum and to Worcester College Library's special collections to examine primary source materials, as well as a trip to see an RSC performance in Statford-upon-Avon.

Faculty involved in teaching the seminar in September 2016 included:

  • Dr Scott Scullion (Faculty of Classics and Worcester College Senior Tutor)
  • Dr Helen Appleton (Career Development Fellow in English at Balliol College)
  • Dr Laura Ashe (Associate Professor and Kemper Fellow in English at Worcester College)
  • Dr Christopher Salamone (Lecturer in English at The Queen's College)
  • Professor Emma Smith (Professor of Shakespeare Studies and Tutorial Fellow at Hertford College)
  • Professor Ben Morgan (Associate Professor in German and Fellow of Worcester College)


Residential Life

The seminar includes visiting students from both Hertford College and Worcester College; students will reside in the college where they are enrolled.

At Worcester, enrolled students will reside together on the college campus. A Junior Dean, one of several graduate students serving on the college's Student Welfare Team, will live on the premises with the group of students and make sure that they are comfortable as they settle into Worcester, Oxford, and the UK. In addition to the Junior Dean, the Programme Director is also available to students at any time should they require assistance or simply want to chat. Catering services are available in a limited capacity during September, and students have the options of cooking for themselves or dining in college. 

There are several social events for students enrolled in the seminar, including a group visit to the theatre (in 2015 and 2016, to the Royal Shakespeare Company). The month opens with a formal welcome dinner at Worcester, and closes with a traditional tea party at Hertford.