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From Otterbein to London: Students Explore Historic Literary Sites

While many Otterbein University students spent their Spring Break on the beach, or at home visiting family, or working, 12 students, enrolled in the English course titled Literary Locations, as well as three alumnae, were exploring London and visiting historic literary sites.

“This trip was a lot of fun,” said Dr. Patti Frick, who developed the course and, along with colleague Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Alison Prindle, accompanied the students on the trip. “Our students are always impressive, but this was a great group to travel with because they went into it with the right spirit.”

Frick said that students prepared for the trip by studying selections from Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and other important writers with literary connections in London.

Junior, literary studies major Tim Warner said that after taking a course with Dr. Frick on the literature of Charles Dickens, he wanted to see London and where Dickens created his novels for himself. “All the locations and experiences that I had in London made me appreciate such a fascinating city and the equally fascinating historical and literary figures,” he said.

While in London, the group toured a variety of literary sites including historic Bloomsbury, the Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes Museums and the Keats House.

“Traveling to London gave me the opportunity to experience a vibrant city that has played a role in the lives and writings of my favorite writers – from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolfe,” said junior, literary studies major Rachel Scherzer. “Experiencing the city allowed me to feel the energy that those authors found in London and see how it contributed to their work.”

The group also attended a period play, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, at the Globe Theater; traveled to Oxford and Hampton Court; and visited the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the British Library and the British Museum.

Alumna Jacqlyn Schott ’13 said the play at the Globe was one of her favorite experiences. “There theater was lit only by beeswax candles in order to stay true to the time period. The seating was old fashion, too. The hilarity of the play and the brilliance of the acting only enhanced an already amazing experience,” she said.

Brittney Byrd, junior, literary studies major, said the visit to Hampton Court Palace lingered in her mind. “I have a certain amount of experience studying Tudor history and there was something eerie about being in a location where these events actually happened,” she said. “After spending such a long time (studying these) subjects and attempting to understand the historical figures involved, it was rather surreal to be surrounded by and immersed in the actual locations.”

Sophomore, public relations major Heidi Olander said she enjoyed hearing about English history from England itself while on the trip. “There are always two sides to every event in history, and I am glad that I had the opportunity to hear both – the American and English versions – in some cases,” she said.

Throughout the trip, the students were asked to keep a journal of their experiences in London, something junior, creative writing major Michelle Bowhers found rewarding. “It was nice to reflect on the day and now I have something to look back on,” she said. “I won’t be able to forget the smaller moments.”

Sophomore, public relations major William Sipe said that the moments afforded to students who choose to study abroad can change one’s thinking and widen one’s perspective. “Seeing the world, feeling history and understanding the powers that govern them give you such an insight into your own life. Education is best done in practice,” he said.

After studying in Costa Rica with a different course in January 2014, junior, biology major Bailey Dye said she wanted to go on the London trip to continue broadening her cultural horizons, as well as indulge her love of literature. She encourages other students to take every opportunity to travel abroad. “I have grown so much both personally and academically from my travels. I believe other student would enjoy the enriching experience of traveling as much as I did,” she said.

Frick said she hopes that this course will foster similar travel opportunities for English majors in the future. “It was a wonderful to experience the excitement of literary London through our students’ eyes,” she said.