Retro Readings


In our Retro Readings courses, students receive a “close reading” experience, the hallmark of a liberal arts education. Faculty experts partner with honors students from all colleges in a 75-minute, seminar-style discussion in which they view classic works through a contemporary lens. Courses may focus on an author, an artist, a composer or even a revolutionary idea. 

Note: Honors College Retro Readings courses no longer require an application. Register as early as possible on UA Connect during your enrollment period to ensure you get a seat in these courses. When registering, register only for one hour of credit for a Retro Reading.


Class will meet Thursdays, 2:00-3:15 p.m., Fall 2022

A manuscript of the BibleThe Ozarks is a place often described by outsiders: hillbillies, moonshiners, regressive, insular, and more. But how have Ozarkers thought about themselves over the years? What are these assumptive descriptions really saying? And how is this region redefined in the age of Walmart and Netflix? By joining classic texts from the Arkansas and Missouri uplands (spanning folklore to science fiction) with healthy doses of history, nature writing, and anthropology, students will explore how Ozarkers have been engaged in meaning-making in this place during the American Century--and maybe help redefine these old hills.

Professor Jared Phillips of International and Global Studies will lead this course. Visit the Ozarkers course web page for more information.

ten really bad emperors


Class will meet Mondays, 5:00-6:15 p.m., Fall 2022

They fiddled while their kingdoms burned. They imposed reigns of terror while building entire armies to guard them in the afterlife. Their personal lives were so decadent that they have become bywords for depravity. Now 10 Really Bad Emperors will explore some of the most infamous rulers in history across time and space, from Roman Caesars and Muslim Caliphs, to Ottoman Sultans and Chinese Emperors.

Each week 12 honors students will examine a different bad emperor in-depth in a seminar discussion with sources ranging across thousands of years of history and multiple perspectives, from both those they oppressed and those who supported and even loved them, to gain the fullest view of these emperors. We will consider the historiography to understand how each emperor earned their reputation for “badness” both during and after their reigns. And we will look at how deserved their reputations really are, and how much may be propaganda and later legend. Through a comparative approach we will grapple with how different cultures construct “badness” and why some themes are universal across the bad emperors. Finally, we will examine the continuing lives of the bad emperors and how they continue to be used as exemplars of “badness” throughout history up to the present day, especially in comparison with modern bad “emperors.”

Professor Charles Muntz of the History Department will lead this course. Visit the Ten Really Bad Emperors course web page for more information.