The Reformation and the Renaissance became more than concepts in a textbook for a group of Tusculum College students who discovered the art and architecture of the periods in a recent trip to Italy and Germany.
The group of Tusculum students were primarily students in a “Cultural and Literary Heritage of the West” course that includes study of the Reformation and Renaissance. The students shared their experiences on the March trip during a presentation April 18.
“It is amazing for the students to see in person what they would later be seeing in the textbook,” said Dr. Nancy Thomas, associate professor of English, one of the professors that accompanied the students and teaches the Humanities course.
As an instructor, the trip also had benefits, Thomas said. The Reformation and Martin Luther are two of the significant topics covered in the Humanities course, she noted. “Going to Germany, seeing the places he had been and going to his museum fleshed him out. He is real to me now.”
Dr. Joel Van Amberg, assistant professor of history who also accompanied the students, encouraged those at the presentation to travel abroad. “You will learn things you didn’t anticipate and be stretched in ways that you did not expect,” he said. “The unexpected is the most exciting thing of foreign travel, the broad range of experiences you get when you go abroad.”
The trip began in Rome, where the students visited such sites as the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pantheon and the Circus Maximus. “The most amazing part of Rome is the architecture,” said Marcus Taylor, an English major from Kodak, Tenn. “You can’t imagine what it is like until you are actually there.”
At the museum at the Vatican, the students were able to see masterpieces of the art in various forms. “One of the things that amazed me was the tapestries, the sheer magnitude of them,” said Ben Sneyd, an English major from Unicoi, Tenn. “You can look at them in a book, but you will never understand about the size or magnitude and never really see the detail and understand the work that must have gone into them until you see them.”
The students’ next destination was Florence, where they continued to explore the art and architecture of the Renaissance. One of the sites they noted was the Florence Baptistry where the saw Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise, two solid bronze doors containing panels with intricately designed illustrations of events from the Old Testament.
Traveling on an overnight train, the students headed to Germany and Wittenberg, which was very different than what they had experienced in Italy. “Rome and Florence were big cities and then we get off the train in Germany at a stop with just some gravel and a bench,” said William Hogg, a political science major from Pikeville, Ky. “Wittenberg was a very quaint town.”
The students noted that Germany was cleaner than the Italian cites and the people were more friendly.
In visiting the various sites related to Martin Luther, Isiah Lyman said they were able to see how he grew as a person through the various stages of his life.
While in Germany, the students also visited Coburg where they able to visit a castle. “It was amazing to see a castle up close and see the way it looked,” said Lyman, a history major from Boiling Springs, S.C.
One of the rooms in the castle had a display of weapons with a wide variety of swords and the cannons and ammunition used to defend the castle walls, said Codie Fleming, a political science major from Washington, Ga.
Dr. Thomas, Dr. Van Amberg and the students expressed their appreciation for those who had made the trip possible at the college and the travel professionals who found them clean and comfortable youth hostels to stay in along the journey.
International trips are in the planning stages for the next academic year, said Dr. Geir Bergvin, director of Tusculum’s Center for Global Studies. Planned are trips to Ecuador and Spain, a fall trip to London and service-learning trip to Belize.
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