Four Program Goals

Students read and discuss poems on the shore of a lake in Grasmere, England

Summer 2018 class members discussing poems on site in Grasmere, England

This study-abroad summer program in nineteenth-century studies consists of a graduate-level seminar for up to ten Baylor students from disciplines such as—but not limited to—English, History, Education, Religion, and Museum Studies. It was founded by Dr. Joshua King (English, Baylor; Margarett Root Brown Chair, Armstrong Browning Library) and is currently supported by Baylor Libraries (particularly the Armstrong Browning Library), the Department of English, and the Baylor in Oxford undergraduate study-abroad program.  Dr. King ran the first course for the program in 2017, and the second in 2018. Course topics will vary, but they will always pursue four goals:

(1) Relevant Dialogue:

With the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) and Baylor as focal points and centers of organization, this program relates nineteenth-century studies to issues of present and global concern. The environment is foremost among these issues.

(2) Vocational Formation:

Investment in the formation of Baylor graduate students is a top priority, as this is essential to the survival and the purpose of the ABL and Baylor. Without questioning traditional academic careers, this program recognizes that graduate education in the humanities is increasingly both interdisciplinary and a door to vocational paths in and beyond universities—vocations on which the academy itself depends for a healthy future. To this end, each course will seek to attract Baylor graduate students from a range of disciplines, exposing them to a variety of opportunities for professional development that include scholarship and teaching in academia, but extend to areas such as the heritage sector, community outreach, and non-profit service.

(3) Academic Community:

Each summer course forges relationships—and thereby the basis for continued, mutual exchange—between the ABL, participating Baylor departments and programs, and collaborating universities, libraries, museums, and cultural centers in the UK.

(4) Sustained Collaboration:

The communities formed between people and organizations by this program are meant to nourish collaboration of immediate and long-term benefit to all involved. This cooperation has already begun to materialize, not only in new courses for the program, but also in exhibitions at partnering archives and museums; visits by faculty, staff, and students from and to the ABL and Baylor; scholarly publications and presentations by Baylor faculty and students; and academic conferences and special events to be held at the ABL in partnership with institutions and individuals either directly connected to this program or brought into collaboration with Baylor during visits to the UK for this program.

“Dwelling Responsibly:Legacy of the English Lakes”

A woman reads a book propped up on foam blocks.

Student in program gets intimate with Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals.

In summer 2018 (July 5-August 8, 2018), Dr. King directed and taught the second course for this program entitled “Dwelling Responsibly: Legacy of the English Lakes.” Six English graduate students participated. Two weeks of the course were spent at the Armstrong Browning Library, and three weeks were spent in the United Kingdom at two primary locations: the Wordsworth Trust and Museum in Grasmere, and Lancaster University (a center for study of John Ruskin, literature and religion, and the environment).

This course addressed a question at the root of our contemporary environmental crisis: how might we dwell responsibly in the places we call home, practicing attentive care for our human and non-human neighbors? The class thereby highlighted two related senses of dwelling: to abide and inhabit, and to give time to something in thought or action.  We focused on a number of authors and activists in nineteenth-century Britain, each of whom struggled to bring attending and abiding into sensitive and ecological combination. In addition to sharing concern over the reckless extraction and waste stemming from industrialization, these authors and activists found a common point of reference for their imagination and initiatives in England’s Lake District. Key figures were authors William and Dorothy Wordsworth, art and social critic John Ruskin, and Anglican clergyman Hardwicke Rawnsley.

A man holds a book and shows it to a group of students sitting around a table. There are book shelves in the background.

Jeff Cowton, Curator and Head of Learning, introduces students to rare items in the Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre.

Each of these literary figures and reformers found in Christianity powerful sources of inspiration and difficulty, and this course therefore remained sensitive to the relationships between ecology and theology in their writings and practices. The ultimate goal was not only to study how these figures sought to dwell responsibly, but also to ask how responsible dwelling might result from studying them now.  The students participated in a wide range of archival sessions, innovative seminars, on-site learning activities, unique projects, and the creation of a long-term exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum of the Wordsworth Trust.

Here are a few highlights from 2018:

Students gather around a large table looking at a book. There are bookshelves in the background.

Summer 2018 class members exploring the archives at the Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Research Centre

~Archival workshops for students at the ABL and the Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Research Centre (major archive for Wordsworth and the Romantics) and Lancaster University’s Ruskin Library (major archive for the study of Ruskin).

~Special seminar sessions for students with ten partnering UK faculty (from the Universities of Manchester, Lancaster, and Warwick) and curators and museum directors (from the Wordsworth Trust and the Ruskin Library).

People sit in a circle on the ground outside near a stream.

Students in program learn in the open air with special guest, Dr. Joanna Taylor (now of the University of Manchester).

~Multiple place-based learning discussions and hikes for the students through cultural landscapes of the Lake District and heritage sites, such as John Ruskin’s home.

~Meetings with Grasmere residents and ecologist to extend the course discussion up to the present day.

A museum exhibit with two display cases and posters on the wall between with the words "Walking with the Wordsworths." There are paper footprints on the ground creating a trail around the display cases.

“Walking with the Wordsworths” exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum.

~Range of project options between which students chose to prepare for an array of vocations: Public Exhibition and Engagement (creation of a public exhibition at the Wordsworth Trust based on the class subject and student research, and/or use of digital media to engage public with research based on the class); Pedagogical Innovation (development of curricula, lesson plans, and/or new pedagogical techniques/activities); Scholarly Engagement (creation of conference papers, short articles, and/or dissertation prospectuses based on course and research for it); Place-Based Learning (creation of literary hikes and on-site learning experiences that could be of use in the classroom and in the heritage industry); Creative Synthesis (a combination of elements from the above options, with instructor approval).

Bulletin board covered in paper footprints with handwritten responses.

Visitors from around the world early began leaving responses.

~Creation of long-term public exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum on “Walking with the Wordsworths,” in which four of the students drew from the course activities and archival research to emphasize the connections between environmental responsibility and daily walking, listening, and attending—both for the Wordsworths and for us.  The exhibition incorporated rare items from the Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre and is now a feature of the Wordsworth Museum at the Wordsworth Trust, which attracts upwards of 50,000 visitors each year.

~Design of a public-oriented blog series by another student on the science of handwriting (what we can learn from the texture and ink of handwritten manuscripts) that focused on Dorothy Wordsworth’s journal manuscripts at the Wordsworth Trust’s Jerwood Centre. She aimed this blog at teachers, students, and members of her calligraphy guild.

Students are outside gathered in a circle looking at a something on the rocks in the middle. There are grassy hills in the background.

Student in program helps lead a literary hike for group of Baylor in Oxford undergraduates—they’ve spotted a tiny frog.

~Preparation of a course unit on Wordsworth by another student, focusing on the poem Michael, its manuscript and composition history, and the relevance of both to the way we still imagine place. This served as the basis for an honors colloquium taught by the student to Baylor undergraduates in spring 2019.

A group of 6 people pose together, sitting on a rock in the hills above Grasmere. You can see a lake down below in the background.

Dr. King on a literary hike for Baylor in Oxford undergraduates, led by two students in the summer program (back).

~Cooperative teaching of Baylor undergraduates from the Baylor in Oxford program.  The graduate students in this course worked with Dr. King to design literary hikes for Baylor undergraduates in the Baylor in Oxford program, who joined this program for several days in Grasmere.  Dr. King  mentored students in charting the hikes and literary activities so that they could lead groups of undergraduates through the region in teams.

A Sample of Enthusiastic Student Responses

Students were enthusiastic about their course experience and continue to describe it as the highlight of their graduate education at Baylor.  Below are just a few sample quotations from their responses to the summer 2018 program.

It’s hard to pick a favorite aspect of this course. From the hiking to our work in the archives to our meetings with scholars to long dinners at our hostel, it was a truly wonderful trip. Each aspect of the course seemed to beautifully reflect back on the theme of responsible dwelling, pedagogically reinforcing the topic at hand. There’s really no experience like reading a text and then handling it in person and then visiting the home of the author who wrote it—seeing an author’s physical surroundings and how these places shaped the author and the text. This kind of embodied education was, perhaps, the most unique and wonderful thing about the course. It inspired me to think about ways to incorporate this kind of education into my own classrooms one day. It’s this kind of learning that reveals education’s holistic influence upon a student—not just shaping them intellectually but also spiritually and in this case, physically!

I loved getting to learn about and from each other on this trip. The place was highly educational, but the people brought so much to it as well. Seeing everyone’s personal interaction with the materials and places we encountered brought a new dimension of richness to what we experienced. Every moment of living in Grasmere brought new life to William and Dorothy for us. We walked where they did, read their actual handwriting, and grew to love their home. The Wordsworths used to be historical/literary figures to us, but during this trip they became our dear friends.

I appreciated the connections we were able to make from Wordsworth up through the 19thcentury with Ruskin and Rawnsley and into present day theological concerns. As beautiful as Grasmere was, the literature is still my favorite part. I look forward to bringing what I’ve learned in this class into my own teaching in years to come.

I enjoyed the opportunity we had to read and discuss poetry one week, then experience the places in which those poems were written the following week. Spending time in the places that inspired Wordsworth, Ruskin, and Rawnsley really transformed the ways in which I looked at and understood their writings. Beyond that, thinking deeply about questions of responsible living in a place filled with as much natural beauty as Grasmere offered a unique opportunity for reflection.

My favorite part of the program was learning about more specific and tangible ways we can connect what we read in poetry to our present-day lives and how we can apply what we learn from those connections. The lessons and discussions about ecological concerns in the Lake District today demonstrated practical ways literature can change our lives.

A group of people walk on a path. There is a fenced field with sheep to the left of the path, and there are hills and trees in the background.

Students return to group lodging after a day in the archives.