Walking in the footsteps - or in some cases hiking in the footsteps - of 19th century British romantic poets brought the era to life for seven Tusculum College students and their professor on a recent trip to London, England.
The students were part of Dr. Sheila Morton’s “19th Century British Literature” course and spent March 23 through April 1 in London and surrounding areas studying British 19th century romantic poets. Morton is assistant professor of English at the college.
For 10 days the students took in the sites of the “hub of 19th Century British poetry,” including visiting the homes of William Wadsworth, Mary Elizabeth Coleridge and John Keats. The group lived and studied in the Lake District, which is in itself a history museum of the poets the group studied, according to Morton.
“The Lake District was quite influential on all the poets and was often almost a character in the poems, so strong was the influence,” she said.
In addition to those whose homes they visited, Lord George Gordon Byron also spent time there and the group visited his home there and his grave site.
Morton also led the students on several day hikes in the areas where Keats was recorded to have hiked. In his lifetime he recorded more than 600 miles, using the images from those hikes as inspiration for many of his poems.
In addition, to daily readings and taking in the sites, the students also recorded their experiences in reflection journals each day and expressed what they could see themselves in the environment that could inspire such long-lasting poetic works of art.
“We were also able to attend a lecture and a reading by a local poet,” Morton said, “and he focused on how place and connection to place gives birth to great poetry.”
Students who participated included Sabine Azimar and Lelia Heinbach of Greeneville; Danielle Armstrong of Blountville; Joshua Kibert of Speedwell; Brianna Cox of Madison, Ala.; Kenneth Hill of White Pine; and Abby Wolfenberger of New Market.
Morton and the students all felt the trip was a true immersion experience, and Morton is ready to have another opportunity.
“The learning experience was invaluable. It was educational and life experience combined. Of all the classes they have had at Tusculum, this will be one that they remember.”
Tusculum College, the oldest college in Tennessee and the 28th oldest in the nation, is a civic arts institution committed to developing educated citizens distinguished by academic excellence, public service and qualities of Judeo-Christian character. About twenty-one hundred students are enrolled on the main campus in Greeneville, the campus in Knoxville, Tenn., and two additional off-site locations in Morristown and Gray, Tenn. The academic programs for both traditional-aged students and working adults served through the Graduate and Professional Studies program are delivered using focused calendars whereby students enroll in one course at a time.