Selected Fall Semesters Westmont's England Semester
Literature comes alive in the land of its origin
During the semester, Westmont students explore the terrain where British and Irish literature was written. Although the name is England Semester, the program reaches beyond England to Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland. England Semester brings together a community of Westmont students enlivened by new experiences, passionate about language and literature, and eager to broaden their cultural horizons. Learning on England Semester takes place in the context of pilgrimage—a journey to sites of literary and historical significance that shaped writers of British and Irish poetry, prose, and drama. And on England Semester, you also will be shaped—by an experiential learning environment that embraces the whole person. Come expecting your relationships to be transformed: your relationships with your friends, with the written word, and with the Word made flesh. Come expecting to know and be known anew.
The 2021 program begins with a week of orientation in London and weekend on the grounds of the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral. We dive into the literature and culture in earnest when we journey to England’s Lake District, for two weeks in the home of some of the English literature’s best remembered names–William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Beatrix Potter, and John Ruskin. After a short stay in Dublin, we head to the countryside outside Rostrevor, Northern Ireland, a place beloved of hundreds of Westmont students who have journeyed there before. After a weekend in Galway, in the West of Ireland, and several days of independent travel, we reconvene in the cathedral city of Salsbury, England. Then it’s back for a second stay in Rostrevor before we close out the semester with several weeks in London, digging deeply into this city that has always been at the heart of Britain’s literary culture. (This is a tentative schedule for Fall 2022.)
England Semester is open to any students (regardless of major) interested in studying British and Irish literature. Upper-division English and interdisciplinary studies credit is offered.
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One of the world's great cities, London offers up an extraordinarily diverse array of people and experiences. Jostle with the groundlings at Shakespeare's Globe, consider the complicated legacy of imperialism in the treasures of the British Museum, or trace many of the routes of Dickensian characters through the city he loved.
The seat of global Anglicanism, Canterbury Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. We’ll take a long weekend here to ask with generations of writers and Christians before us what it means to walk upon flagstones burnished to a rich patina by the footsteps of generations of the faithful.
Wordsworth famously romped with friends through the “rocks, and stones, and trees” of this beautiful part of England’s countryside. Beatrix Potter used her literary earnings to preserve these vast open spaces for generations to come. We’ll stay in the charming village of Grasmere, and travel out from there.
The Republic of Ireland's capital city. We will walk in the footsteps of poets from W.B. Yeats to Eavan Boland, and consider the complicated history of the connections between Ireland and the UK in the light of postcolonial questions of literature and culture.
In this bucolic setting dotted by small cottages, we will breathe in the air of the Irish countryside and learn more about Ireland's Catholic heritage and the work of religious reconciliation. We’ll hear music (and maybe make it), listen to Irish storytelling, pray together with Irish Christians, and travel throughout the island from our cottage homes.
A gorgeous town on the west coast of Ireland, Galway offers the chance to hear traditional Irish music played live nearly every night, and the prospect of a day-trip to the Aran Islands may just entice you to brave a ferry ride on the North Atlantic.
The cathedral in the charming half-timbered town of Salisbury boasts the tallest spire in England, and we'll stay right in its shadow. Salisbury is central to the work of Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and George Herbert.
Satisfies the historically organized and English prior to 1800 requirements in the English major
From Beowulf to Virginia Woolf and beyond, to contemporary Anglophone writers, this course will draw on our locations for literary context and will help us explore how literature can equip us to become more attentive and informed visitors in the British Isles, as well as how places makes us more attentive readers. In the first week of the semester, there will be an exam on authors, chronology, and location to prepare students to function as their own literary guides, with expectations for what to look for in any British locale. Each student will also select one literary figure to present to the class on location. As we read through British literature, short essays will give students the opportunity to reflect on connections and disjunctions between sites, theater, scenes, and texts.
Satisfies the Single Author requirement for the English major.
This course puts Charles Dickens in the context of the many contributors to Household Words, the popular periodical he published through the 1850s. In addition to David Copperfield and Bleak House, our reading will include short stories and poetry by some of the 380 contributors to the popular periodical, including Elizabeth Gaskell, Wilkie Collins, Eliza Lynn Linton, Harriet Martineau, William Howitt, and Adelaide Ann Procter. We will also read Dickens’ novel Hard Times and his Child’s History of England in facsimile, as they appeared in the weekly publication. Along with two brief papers, students will develop individual research projects, drawing on primary sources, relevant exhibits, site visits, plays, and lectures to shape their topic, and relying on major critical sources for development and support.
Satisfies the Identity requirement and the Anglophone requirement in the major.
From St. Columba to Bono, Irish literature has drawn on local and global influences to build a rich literary tradition. We’ll begin with Ancient Irish tales and continue through the literature of British colonialism, Irish Independence and early Nationalism, then on to literature of the Troubles and today’s poetry, lyrics, and fiction. Writers will include Edgeworth, Yeats, Joyce, Lewis, Bowen, Friel, Heaney, McCann, Boland, Sands, Ni Dhomhnaill, and Meehan.
Satisfies the GE Communicating Cross-Culturally requirement, and counts toward the English major.
This course will offer guidance and practice in how to learn and grow from first-hand experience of British sites, theater performances, guest lecturers, hosts, current events, and artifacts which have played, and are still playing, significant roles in English history and literature. Along with our collective study of contemporary Britain in its cultural diversity, this course will create an environment in which our spiritual and intellectual lives are seamlessly woven together in our daily lives as we travel through the semester. Required of all England Semester 2018 students.
Dr. Larsen Hoeckley is entering her 23rd year on the English Department faculty, and looking forward to her fourth England Semester. Her specialties are Victorian Literature, women writers, and the novel. She looks forward to thinking about the convergence of those three literary canons in places like Birmingham, Bath, and London.
Dr. Hoeckley directs the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts and teaches philosophy. Recently, his interest has turned to exploring the possibility of "just" warfare in both secular and Christian thought, with special interest in learning from conflict and reconciliation in Ireland. 2020 will be his fourth England Semester.
Westmont tuition, room and board, a program fee to be determined and round trip airfare. The program cost covers transportation within the British Isles, housing, food, theatre tickets, select admission fees, guest lectures, Q&A sessions with actors, directors, and designers, and other group expenses.
QUESTIONS: Contact Dr. Cheri Larsen-Hoeckley