Oxford Abroad Spotlight: Eleni K. Pessemier

Eleni in front of Tom Tower at Christ Church (2019)


I was the type of kid who smuggled books into the trees I climbed and read under the covers past my bedtime (what can I say, the thug life chose me)—yet I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever loved books as much as I have since coming to Oxford. The libraries and book shops here are incredible (and everywhere), which makes working on papers feel almost easy. The biggest challenge is dealing with the temptation to take photos the whole time instead of working.


Writing twelve essays in eight weeks seemed daunting at first, but there are endless resources readily available here and tutors tend to be very personable and helpful. I have learned so much in each of my tutorials, which are on 17th-18th century literature and the development of the English language. My tutors are both experts within these fields and have given me invaluable advice that has made me a better researcher and writer. This experience has given me a new appreciation for UT as well, since my professors at home are similarly knowledgeable and willing to offer guidance.


Although we do a lot of studying here, I’ve also enjoyed more free time than expected. Tutorials require a good deal of preparation but only take up one or two hours per week. This type of schedule also frees up time for travel. OSAP plans free trips for us to famous historical sites every other weekend; I’ve gotten to see ancient Roman baths in Bath, gone on three day trips to London, and even spent a weekend in Nice, France (which is possibly the most beautiful place in the world and I highly recommend). There is also so much to see here in Oxford, from the 38 beautiful colleges to a thousand-year-old Norman church and the Eagle and Child pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to discuss their books.


It has truly been amazing to study English language and literature in a place where so much of what I am reading about actually happened. As the term comes to a close, I look forward to seeing more of Europe and then heading home for my last year at UT. This experience has been an unforgettable addition to my education, which I am so grateful to the Honors Program and Oxford University for making possible.

Conferences – Adeline Davis

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Adeline Davis recently presented some of her scholarship at the Irish Studies Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Her presentation was well-received, as attested to by her mentor, Kathleen Ochshorn:

I wanted to thank you again for your support of Adeline Davis’s trip to the Irish Studies Conference in Jackson Hole. Her paper was well attended and her session chaired by the conference organizer. She was the only undergraduate presenting and nearly everyone there commented on the quality of her work, her poise and her intelligence. Professors were recruiting her for their graduate programs. We were able to dine with accomplished scholars, and Adeline loved the intellectual exchange. She also spoke with graduate students and recent Ph.D.’s who gave her advice and related their own experiences. This sort of opportunity is invaluable for our best undergraduates. It also spreads the word about the quality of UT.

Honors Symposia – Caleb Smith

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On Friday, February 16th, 2018, Dr. Caleb Smith of Yale University, presented an English and Writing Symposium that was co-sponsored by the Honors Program on his recently published book, The Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict: Austin Reed. Austin Reed was a black prison inmate in New York during the 1800s who wrote about what it was like to be in prison during that time period. In his presentation, Dr. Smith discussed the process of converting Austin Reed’s writing into a readable manuscript and the various findings that resulted, including finding that parts of the manuscript were plagiarized and other parts were fanciful imaginings that didn’t actually happen.

Honors Symposium – Dan Walden

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On January 27th, Dan Walden, Associate Professor of English at Baylor University, gave a fascinating presentation to Honors Program students on pirates!  The timing was perfect as Gasparilla festivities were beginning that night and the main Gasparilla event was the next day.  Dan noted that the life of pirates not anything like the modern depictions seen in movies or amusement park rides. Their lives were often short-lived, hard, dangerous, and dirty.  Honor Student questions during the Q&A led to an insightful discussion about the similarities between modern-day pirates and their earlier counterparts.