Learn more about the classes
MSSU has designed a course to help you acclimate to University life. 'University Experience 100' is team taught by highly qualified instructors and course assistants.
The course focuses on issues such as developing study skills, learning about campus services, understanding the advising and enrollment process, and becoming familiar with the University's international mission.
Common Reader Program
For each themed-semester, a related book is chosen as a common reader for use in all sections of the University Experience 100 course. The common reader for 2016-2017 is The Last Enchantments.
An American in England
10 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016
Corley Auditorium in Webster Hall
When he started writing The Last Enchantments, was still a student at Oxford, working in a little carrel deep within the oldest continually open library in Europe. In this talk, he will discuss what it was like to go there as an American, unused to the university’s customs – never to walk on the grass, for instance, or how to get a free pint of beer at the Bear, a coaching inn founded in 1242 – unsure of himself at first, but soon falling
into the intense friendships that would inspire his novel. Along the way he’ll answer the crucial questions: What is it like to live in a foreign country? What is the difference between autobiography and fiction? And was there a real-life Sophie who broke his heart?
Charles Finch is a novelist and literary critic. He grew up in New York City, then studied at Yale, where he won the class fiction prize, and Oxford, where he did graduate study on Shakespeare. He is the author of The Last Enchantments, about his golden years in England, and also the bestselling series of Charles Lenox mystery novels. He writes about books and travel regularly for The New York Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the Lonely Planet, and Slate, and was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Critics Circle award in criticism. He currently lives in Chicago.
Oxford: City of Dreaming Spires
9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
Corley Auditorium in Webster Hall
In 1167, a group of scholars from the University of Paris decamped to a small English parish town to start their own university: Oxford. Nearly a millennium later, it still feels utterly medieval, a maze of stone-walled alleyways, irregular houses, and castle-like college buildings, rising into the mists. In this talk, Charles Finch will explore the enduring allure of the city where he lived for three years, and about which he wrote his novel The Last Enchantments, explaining the university’s odd traditions; what “real tennis” and bowler hats and punting and Mob Quad mean there; how to study there; and the long literary tradition of the city that inspired Brideshead Revisited, Tolkien, Narnia, Philip Pullman, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland.
“Everywhere You Can”: On Creative Writing about Travel
1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
Cornell Auditorium in Plaster Hall
“It’s all in the art,” the famous British writer V.S. Pritchett once said. “You get no credit for the living.” Many of us have had unforgettable travel experiences. But how do you turn them into great travel writing? It’s one of the most beautiful and meaningful kinds of essay we have, yet also one of the trickiest to pull off, and in this talk Charles Finch, who has written widely about his travels in England, Africa, Greece, and elsewhere, talks about the rich tradition of travel writing, the pitfalls young writers should avoid, and his favorite expatriate novels and memoirs, from My Family and Other Animals to A Moveable Feast to Songlines.