By Ronna Fisher, Assistant editor
Today, possibly as you read this, sixteen students will be on their way to London for Spring Break.
Some for the first time, some for a second, third, or fourth time. Since the 70’s or earlier, according to Dr. Peggy Poteet, SNU has been offering a Literary Studies trip every other spring. Many of SNU’s professors have taken the trips as students themselves, including Dr. Poteet, Dr. Gwen Hackler, both Dr. Crutchers, and Professor Michelle Bowie. The trips have toured Italy, France, Boston, Little Rock, Oxford, Missouri, Memphis and New York City.
The course description for the trip explores the purpose of providing such a trip: “A travel-study experience designed to acquaint the student first-hand with the cultural and historical settings in which great writers produced their literature.”
Bowie said, “It is a privilege to be able to walk where these writers walked, see what inspired them, and just experience a new place.”
On the trip, students will see sights in London, including the British Library, British Museum, the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, but they will also get to explore Stonehenge, Oxford, and Bath.
The trip is paired with a course that meets the General Education learning outcome for Aesthetic Analysis Windows credit. Most of the student travelers are taking the class that focuses on London and Post Colonialism, Empiricism, and Queen Victoria.
Bowie writes in a press release, “So, we are examining, through storytelling, what this looks like from the perspectives of both the colonized and the colonizers.” Students have to turn in a final literary analysis essay on a selected colonized country. The trip will provide time to find documents and artifacts in British museums for the students’ research.
Even Bowie, the Professor of the course, is connecting what she will do while in London with class topics, “I am looking forward to looking for some buildings and artifacts I have learned about during our course this semester… which I will be looking at differently since I have become more aware of the impact of British Imperialism.”
Sophomore Emma Carley is going on the trip and taking the class. She said, “The class and its information will definitely provide a new view on what we are going to see in London due to all the history we are learning.”
Fellow sophomore Jessica Bowie agrees, “I think [the class] is making me more excited for the trip because we are preparing so much for it, and it will be fun for me to document everything we are doing for our assignment.”
There is a plethora of reasons for going on the SNU trip. In an email correspondence with The Echo, Professor Bowie expresses her love of the beauty of the city, its art, and its food. “I always have to go visit the Pre-Raphaelites in the Tate to stare at Ophelia and the Lady of Shalott, as well as Persephone . . . I can’t wait to go back to Brick Lane and enjoy the spectacle and amazing Indian food.”
“I love to travel, and I thought this would be a great way to get some college credit in the process,” explains Carley. “I’m looking forward to being able to see firsthand all the different historical London sites that you see on TV and in movies. Making a phone call in a red phone booth and eating some fish and chips are somewhere on the list too.”
Unlike Carley, who has never been to the UK, Jessica Bowie has been to London before. “I’m going to London because I love London so much! I am really looking forward to seeing the museums I missed last time but most of all visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour!” She also explains that the trip is a great way to get to know fellow students, “I am super excited to hang out and get to know people I don’t normally see; there’s nothing like an international trip to make new friends.”
Professor Bowie, who has traveled on five literary field studies trips, looks forward to learning and experiencing with students. She writes in the press release, “Travel is such an enriching experience, and getting to experience that alongside students is so personally and professionally rewarding for me. Whether it is taking a subway/the Tube with a student who has never used public transportation before or watching them see an iconic location for the first time, I get to experience those things anew also. “
“My perspective is being broadened along with theirs,” Bowie said. “We always learn something new together when we get to immerse ourselves in another culture. It is a lot of work to both plan the trips and the course, but once we get on that plane, it is all worth it!”