England Semester, Fall 2018


Little Gidding church

On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

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

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. Although the name is England Semester, the program reaches beyond England to Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

The 2018 program begins with a week of orientation in London. We dive into the literature and culture in earnest when we journey to the countryside of Northern Ireland for the month of September. After four days of independent travel, we reconvene in England’s Lake District, home to some of the English literature’s best remembered names--William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Beatrix Potter, and John Ruskin. Then we head to the Midlands for three weeks in Birmingham at Woodbrooke, a Quaker study center beloved of Westmont students for the past two decades. Birmingham exploded with the Industrial Revolution--a phenomenon that provided fertile ground for many Victorian novelists and poets--and after WWII, it became one of England’s most culturally diverse cities. We spend our final month back in London, digging deeply into this city that has always been at the heart of Britain’s literary culture.

From these four hubs we will visit many other sites deeply connected to British and Irish literature: Dublin, the West of Ireland, Edinburgh, Stratford, Haworth (home of the Brontës), Canterbury, and more.

England Semester is open to any students (regardless of major) interested in studying British literature. Upper-division English and interdisciplinary studies credit is offered.

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What you can expect

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 English 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.


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 may lie in store for you on England Semester.


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.

England WallRostrevor, 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. We’ll hear (and maybe make) music, listen to Irish storytelling, pray together with Irish Christians, and travel throughout the island from our cottage homes.

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. 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.

The Lake District: 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.

England BikeWoodbrooke 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, or spend an afternoon in the center of England’s second city.

Canterbury: The present 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.

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 many of the routes of Dickensian characters through the city he loved.



England ClassPart 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, we will strive to engage in the academic enterprise in ways that honor both mind and spirit.

ENG-048 Survey of British Literature in Time and Space, Hoeckley/Larsen Hoeckley (4)

Fulfills 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.

England CrossENG-163: Authors in Context: Household Words, Larsen Hoeckley (4)

Fulfills 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.

ENG-186: Ireland and its Literatures, Hoeckley/Larsen Hoeckley (4)

Fulfills 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.

England BuildingIS- 196 British Culture and Current Events, Hoeckley (4)

Fulfills the "Communicating Cross-Culturally" GE requirement, and does not count 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.


On England Semester, we live as a community of Christian learners, caring for one another and encouraging one another as scholars and as followers of Christ. 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.


Cheri Lasrsen HoeckleyProfessor Cheri Larsen Hoeckley

Dr. Larsen Hoeckley is entering her 21st year on the English Department faculty, and looking forward to her third 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.



Chris HoeckleyProfessor Chris Hoeckley

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. 2018 will be his third England Semester.


Program Costs

Westmont tuition, room, and board (2018-2019), a program fee not to exceed $2000 and roundtrip airfaire. 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 Hoeckley