News Release

Special history courses mark Henry VIII's 500th anniversary

Contact: Christina Chapple


Click on thumbnail for high resolution photoBill Robison

     HAMMOND – Bill Robison is inviting students to join him – and earn academic credit – in celebrating Henry VIII’s anniversary.

     “No, not his wedding anniversary – he’s had lots of those,” said Robison, head of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Department of History and Political Science. Robison, a Tudor historian, is offering a series of special courses during the 2009-2010 academic year to mark the 500th anniversary of the often married, sometimes misrepresented and always fascinating English king’s ascension to the throne.       

     Robison has created “one-time-only bonus classes” to give undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to learn more about Henry’s famous/infamous reign. They include a summer online readings course to be offered this year and next and two courses exploring how movies and television have portrayed – and mangled – the lives of Henry, his six wives, three offspring, and assorted royal relatives.

     “This is just a good time to do something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Robison, who has published extensively on both Henry’s reign and that of his daughter Elizabeth I. “I’ve also been toying with the idea of an online readings course, so I decided to try it out with Henry. There are a lot of students interested in this period, plus it crosses over a bit with English majors.”

     Robison, who will not get any additional salary for offering the “bonus” courses, said approximately a dozen students have already expressed interest in the summer online course, which, he said, should appeal to students who like to read and are interested in the subject, but also are attracted to the convenient online format.

     The class is open to graduate and undergraduate students who will read a book a week on topics ranging from Henry’s spouses, siblings, and children to famous statesmen such as Thomas More. The books are “quite readable and relatively brief as history books go,” he added.

     In the fall, “Henry VIII on Film” will meet for three hours each Friday afternoon, when Robison and his students will watch and analyze 15 films or television shows with several texts as backup. The films will include 1933’s “The Private Life of Henry VIII” – which won Charles Laughton an Oscar, but Robison said wrongly portrayed Henry as a clown – to the recent cinema hit “The Other Boleyn Girl” – “The worst!” he said – and the lavish Showtime television series “The Tudors.”       

     The spring version of the class will focus on films about Henry’s children, such as “Young Bess” (1953) and “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “with Lady Jane Grey and Mary Queen of Scots thrown in for good measure,” Robison said.

     “We’ll start the weekend with a great movie, free popcorn, intelligent discussion, and academic credit,” Robison said. 
     Robison said a number of regular fall and spring history courses will also include Henry or his historical period. Students interested in any of the classes are welcome to contact him for a syllabus and additional information at

     Robison’s popular “More-or-Less Annual Halloween Lecture,” which traditionally closes out his department’s Fanfare “Then and Now” lecture series each year, will also have a “Henry” theme this year. Titled “The Wrath of King Henry: Henry VIII, Cardinal Wolsey, and the Surrey Justices,” the Oct. 30 lecture will be “a violent tale of factional strife and royal intervention, with a touch of the supernatural and who-knows-what-else thrown in,” Robison said.

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