Night skyline
Roman baths
Sherlock Holmes Museum
boat tours
Big Ben
St. Pauls
Regent
London Eye
LL Alumni
Orangery
Telephone booth and LL alumni
London Tube
High Tea
London Eye
Hyde Park
Tower of London
Globe Theatre
Literary London Reading

London Study Abroad Experience Enhances Students’ Love of Literature

Literary London 2015 Info Sessions

Tuesday Sept. 30 & Wednesday Oct. 1
5:30 & 6:00PM
BAC Reading Room, BAC 337
 

by Samantha Edmonds

Miami University's Literary London program, a summer study abroad opportunity dedicated to introducing students to the abundant literary culture and history in that city, is an experience that cannot be duplicated by a mere vacation. For six weeks, it places students in the heart of a city where writers and literary enthusiasts have been flocking for centuries, which impresses any student with an interest in literature.

“It's difficult to put into words how wonderful it made me feel,” said Laura Hower, a senior creative and professional writing major. “I've never actually been to a place that celebrates writing quite as much as London.”

While the program focuses primarily on literature, it is not limited to literature majors. Students of all majors are welcome, and everyone earns seven credit hours, taking two classes that meet for two hours each on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Wednesdays reserved for group activities and weekends free for independent traveling. Classes are taught by Miami Department of English faculty and vary depending on the year, with Shakespeare and Renaissance literature being the most common subject. Professor Kaara Peterson is the director and backbone of the program. Groups are limited to 20-25 students total, all living in off-campus flats within walking distance of class.

There is also particular emphasis placed on the study of history and theatre in the course material, as both subjects have a prominent position in London’s cultural identity. London is a city where the past and present coexist side by side, an effect that never ceases to amaze.

“The moment that really stuck out to me most was over at Westminster Abbey,” said Hower. “We were led to the poet’s corner and I found myself standing on top of Lewis Carroll, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy… It was awesome being in the presence of such talent, even though it was post-mortem.”

Students also have the opportunity to attend modern and classic plays, including some at Shakespeare’s reconstructed Globe. 

“I absolutely loved seeing plays at The Globe Theater,” said Dani Heitz, a junior professional writing and Spanish major. “Sitting in the seats with my book in one hand and my pen in the other was the highlight of my trip.”

Many of the plays included in the official itinerary for the trip coincide with the literature the students are studying.

“I was definitely more interested in the subject matter because I was living in London,” Heitz said.  “For most classes on campus, the readings are about a faraway place, whereas in Literary London, the material was relevant and necessary to our daily lives in London.  Every day you were seeing and witnessing events and places that were referenced in the literature being studied.” 

Eric Rubeo, a junior creative writing and English education major, agreed. “I have an even greater appreciation for literature, especially Shakespeare, than I ever had before, but the greatest change in me is that I'm now much more confident in myself, my major, and my ability to solve problems and be successful in achieving the goals I set for myself.”

As an alumni of the program asked to give advice to those considering the trip, Hower could not speak encouragingly enough. “Don’t let any fear of travel or fear of new things stop you from doing this,” she said. “It is an experience you’re not going to get out of school. And you can visit London on your own, but you can’t experience it as you do in this program.”