Westmont in ENGLAND

Little Gidding church

On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel

History is now and England.

--- “Little Gidding,” Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

England Semester, Fall 2016

Literature comes alive in the land of its origin

During fall semester of even-numbered years, Westmont students explore the terrain where British and Irish literature was written. Led by English Department faculty, England Semester actually begins in Scotland amid the world's largest arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where students scurry from venue to venue witnessing theatre, comedy, dance, music and street performers from all over the world. From Edinburgh, students trek to the Lake District of the Romantic poets, the howling moors of the Brontë sisters, and the walled medieval city of York, before arriving in Stratford-upon-Avon where the Royal Shakespeare Company offers stunningly professional productions on their new thrust stage. The program includes substantial periods of residential study at one or more Christian conference centers. Students spend several weeks in London and travel to Canterbury, to Northern Ireland, to Dublin (during the Dublin Theatre Festival), and to Galway in the west of Ireland where poet W. B. Yeats lived in a 15th-century tower. The program often visits Oxford, Cambridge, and sites associated with the Brontë sisters (in northern England) or with the poet T. S. Eliot (in London and East Anglia). England Semester is open to any students (regardless of major) interested in studying British literature and theatre. Upper-division English and interdisciplinary studies credit is offered.

What you can expect:

Discovery, virtuosity, community

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 EngSem takes place in the context of pilgrimage—a journey to sites of literary and historical significance that shaped some of the greatest writers of English poetry, prose, and drama. The extraordinary works of literary art we will study, as well as the places that inspired them, continue to shape our understanding of the role that literature plays in constructing national and cultural identities. 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.

 

Discovery

There is so much to see and do, and so much to be surprised and delighted by. Here is a taste of some of the discoveries that that may lie in store for you on England Semester.King's College, Cambridge

Fall 2016 Itinerary Overview

Edinburgh: The Scottish capital sparkles with excitement during the annual Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. We will be there to take in the energy of round-the-clock theatre, dance, music, comedy, art, and street performance, all in the shadow of the most spectacular castle in Britain.

The Lake District: Wordsworth wandered lonely as a cloud through the hills and dales of some of the most beautiful countryside in all of England. How might your own writing by inspired by the lakes around Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage?

York: This medieval city's walls hearken back to Viking ages long past, even while the majestic cathedral of York Minster proclaims an enduring faith in God whose love connects all times and all places.

Stratford-upon-Avon: The birthplace of William Shakespeare is home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, whose productions are among the finest in the English-speaking world. Visit Anne Hathaway's cottage, or mingle with the actors at the Dirty Duck.

Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre: Our stay in this retreat centre outside Birmingham allows time for reading, writing, and reflection. Linger chatting over morning coffee, or stroll around the grounds to admire the colors of the changing leaves.

Canterbury: The present seat of global Anglicanism, Canterbury Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. What does it mean, as a contemporary Christian, to walk upon flagstones burnished to a rich patina by the footsteps of generations of the faithful?St. Paul's and Millennium Bridge

London: 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 the route through the Unreal City described in Eliot's The Waste Land. Our multiple visits to London will ensure that you have time for everything from visiting the Crown Jewels at the Tower to discovering you favorite haunts in Bloomsbury.

Galway: 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.

Dublin: The Republic of Ireland's capital city, Dublin has inspired some of the greatest Anglophone poetry in the world. 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.

Rostrevor, Northern Ireland: 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.

Belfast: In a city once torn by sectarian violence, and still scarred by the trauma of religious factionalism, we will reflect on what it means to be God's hands and feet in the world. How can we live out an authentic faith in a world torn by war? How can religious wounds be healed? Belfast is even now trying to live into an answer to those questions.

Belsey Bridge Christian Conference Centre: Our final "home base" for the trip, in rural Suffolk in the east of England, offers a tranquil environment for focused study. We will delve deeply into research, writing, and discussion, and make our own fun in the form of Shakespeare scenes, a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast, and maybe even a few spirited games of ping pong.

Virtuosity

Part of our voyaging will be across worlds created by language and shaped by a literary tradition centuries old--a tradition by turns both nourishing and provocative. In grappling with texts and contexts that challenge and inspire, in witnessing theatrical performances that delight and discomfit, and in experiencing the joy of the graceful sentence, we will strive to engage in the academic enterprise in ways that honor both mind and spirit. In so doing, we will encounter virtuosity, and consider its connections to virtue.Book collage

Academic Courses

Required Orientation Course, taken on campus Spring 2016

• Trans-ponding: British and Irish Culture and Politics (2 units; required of all students, Spring 2016) – Instructor: Prof. Elizabeth Hess
fulfills GE: Communicating Cross-Culturally

This orientation course opens a three-way conversation between three English-speaking nations—England, Ireland, and America—and in so doing attempts to come to grips with the question of what it means (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde) to be divided by a common language. Students will further their understanding of British and Irish culture, politics, and social structure through independent reading, research, and investigation, anchored by discussion of insights and discoveries. We will seek to understand British-ness as distinct from American-ness, while also learning about how "British" is itself a complicated term. We will learn about the shape of contemporary British politics and faith. And we will begin to articulate frameworks for cross-cultural experience that will shape our expectations and awareness (and sensitivities) in advance of the program. In practical terms, this course will also serve as a place to begin to build relationships with each other before we travel as a unit, and it will also serve as the location for the dissemination of important travel planning and lessons in good travel citizenship.

Course Offerings in the UK, Fall 2016

British and Irish Theatre (4 units; required of all students) – Instructors: Dr. Paul Delaney & Prof. Elizabeth Hess
fulfills pre-2014 English major req. for British literature after 1800
counts as dramatic literature credit towards the theatre arts major

In London, Stratford, and Dublin we'll be treated to some of the best theatre in the English-speaking world, and in Edinburgh we have access to some of the most exciting experimental theatre from around the globe. Therefore, the content of this course is geared to the plays in production during the time we're in these four cities. We'll read, see, and talk together about the plays as both dramatic literature and as performance, addressing such topics as the dramaturgical elements of dramatic texts, performance styles, use of stage space, the evocative power of design choices, audience-actor relationships, and the dominant themes conveyed through text and performance.Globe with Samuel M

• Shakespeare in Performance (4 units) – Instructor: Prof. Elizabeth Hess
fulfills GE: Performing and Interpreting the Arts
fulfills pre-2014 English major req. for a major author
fulfills post-2014 English major reqs. for a single author and literature in English prior to 1800
counts as dramatic literature credit towards the theatre arts major

We start from the premise that the plays of Shakespeare are works written for the stage, and are not fully realized except in the context of live performance. Students will read approximately eight Shakespeare plays, with particular focus on plays we can see in production. Students will research a past production of a Shakespeare play, and enjoy the thrill of imagining a future production in rehearsing and staging Shakespeare scenes of their own. Throughout, we will revel in the genius of the playwright who, for the first time in the English language, crafted characters with the complexity, contradictions, and idiosyncratic completeness to be fully human. Students who have taken Eng 117 already on campus may also take Shakespeare in Performance on England Semester for credit.

• Crossing Borders: The Poetry and Drama of Ireland, North and South (4 units) – Instructor: Dr. Paul Delaney
fulfills post-2014 English major reqs. for a course focusing on identity and Anglophone literature

The island just to the west of England has been responsible for some of the best literature in English of the past century. We will consider the post-colonial crafting of a national identity by poets from Yeats to Heaney—and the reexamination of that identity by more recent women poets from Eavan Boland to Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. Throughout we will be questioning how the border between things British and things Irish runs through the literature, as well as the border between North and South, republican and loyalist, Catholic and Protestant. In Northern Ireland we will be visiting Rostrevor, a community committed to reconciliation in Ireland and throughout the world. In order to appreciate the difficulty of the answers, it helps to understand the context and the complexity of the questions. We will be considering questions posed by some of the following:

  • J. M. Synge The Playboy of the Western World
  • Brian Friel Translations
  • Brian Friel Dancing at Lughnasa
  • Christina Reid The Belle of the Belfast City
  • Marie Jones A Night in November
  • Sebastian Barry The Steward of Christendom

Madonna and Child

• Mysteries and Martyrs, Saints and Sites (4 units) – Instructor: Dr. Paul Delaney
fulfills the pre-2014 English major requirement for British literature after 1800
fulfills the post-2014 English major requirement for a historically organized course that spans a century

Perhaps it’s easier to understand why medieval writers would write saints’ plays than to understand why modern and contemporary playwrights would revive and extend the genre. But both believers and non-believers find compelling mysteries in sainthood—and even seek to come up with some kind of secular equivalent. We will study poems and plays and visit some of the places— the Tower of London, Canterbury Cathedral, Dublin Castle—that they evoke. Possible texts may include works by Julian of Norwich, Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, Dorothy Sayers, U.A. Fanthorpe, and Robert Bolt.

• Capstone Experience (2 units) – Instructor: Dr. Paul Delaney
for students graduating by August 2017, fulfills the post-2014 English major req. for a capstone experience

The content of the capstone experience course will be determined by the particular interests of the individual students enrolled, and may include the development of a writing portfolio.

And ONE of the following courses, TBD:

• Topics in World Literature: Literature and the Postcolonial British Isles (4 units) – Instructor: Prof. Elizabeth Hess
fulfills GE: Thinking Globally
fulfills the pre-2014 English major req. for British literature after 1800
fulfills post-2014 English major reqs. for a course focusing on identity and Anglophone literature

We will focus on the national identities represented in the literatures of Scotland, England, and Ireland, as well as modern global, multicultural, and diaspora British voices. Along the way, we’ll consider how Britain’s colonial past still leaves its mark on its postcolonial present by reading Anglophone literature that particularly addresses exile, belonging, and identity from within a variety of (inter)cultural and (inter)national perspectives. We’ll take advantage of our presence in Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, London, and elsewhere to see how the landscape of these regions affects the literature written there. Further, alongside our reading of several London-based texts, our stays in London will give us ample time to get to know the multicultural terrain that London represents, considering both how London is a global center while also challenging the notions of center and margin upon which colonialism relies.

Verse and Verity (4 units) – Instructor: Prof. Elizabeth Hess
fulfills the pre-2014 English major req. for British literature after 1800
fulfills the post-2014 English major req. for a historically organized course that spans a century

From John Donne and Gerard Manley Hopkins to Bono, poets have written movingly of the agony and the ecstasy in the encounter between God and humanity. This course undertakes a transhistorical examination of several British poets whose writings follow the model of Jacob in wrestling with the divine. Authors studied may include Donne, Blake, Hopkins, T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden, Denise Levertov, and U.A. Fanthorpe. The work of these poets grapples with faith, confronts doubt, and seeks answers to the question of what it means to know and be known by God; this course engages in the same pursuit, with an eye to how our own faith may be deepened by the experience.

Community

On England Semester, we live as a community of Christian learners, caring for one another and encouraging one another as scholars and as people. The opportunity to study English literature in the land of its birth with a group of like-minded and eager fellow students is one not to be missed.Punting on the Cam

Faculty Leaders, Fall 2016:

Dr. Paul Delaney

Dr. Paul Delaney, Professor of English at Westmont, was introduced to live theatre as a high school sophomore when an English teacher took him and others to a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Dr. Delaney has tried to return the favor by taking students to plays ever since. Besides having led six previous England Semesters, he has in recent years been taking smaller groups of students to London, Stratford, and Dublin on Mayterm theatre jaunts. Specializing in modern and contemporary British and Irish drama, Dr. Delaney's publications on playwright Tom Stoppard are among the most frequently cited works on Britain's preeminent living dramatist. He also loves contemporary Irish poetry, straight-ahead jazz, and finding great new London restaurants.

Prof. Elizabeth HessProf. Elizabeth Hess is Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Westmont, and holds the distinction of having gone on more England Semester programs than any other person on the planet. With a degree in Dramatic Art, and extensive teaching experience in both literature and arts programs, Prof. Hess delights in sharing the thrills of both the stage and the page with Westmont students abroad. She specializes in dramatic literature, theatre history, and modern and contemporary poetry, and is particularly interested in helping students connect the life of the mind with the life of faith. Her husband, Kevin Hess, is Senior Director of Information Technology at Westmont, and her son Liam thinks that knights, astronomy, and Minecraft are pretty cool.

QUESTIONS: Contact Dr. Paul Delaney

Program Costs

Westmont Fall 2016 tuition, room, and board; round-trip airfare; and a program fee that will not exceed $4500. The program fee 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.