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English course travels to England every other year

Every other year Cornell English professors lead 20-30 students on an 18-day exploration of Great Britain.¬†They tour London and the English countryside, stopping to explore iconic sites such as Westminster Abbey, Dover Castle, the cathedrals of Canterbury and York, the Lake District, and Hadrian’s Wall. Along the way, the class views and reflects on numerous theater performances and exhibitions.

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Student Reflections

“As a lover of English literature I greatly appreciated all the locations we visited, not only for their relevance to the books I’ve read but because of their rich history,” said Lindsay Emanuel, who is majoring in English with a studio art minor. “It was so surreal being completely surrounded by centuries-old stone and cities that have been growing and changing for such a long time. On top of that we saw nine theater productions and visited art museums and cathedrals and explored every inch that we could, so I feel more connected to England than ever.”

Emanuel was particularly taken by the Lake District that inspired Wordsworth and other Romantic poets.

“If I had to choose one highlight from the incredibly long reel, it would have to be standing on the hillside in Keswick between the village and the lake. England has the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen; you forget time exists until the sun goes down. I suppose in an ideal world I would be able to move to a tiny English village and furiously write novels from my attic, but for now I’ll just hope to return someday soon.”

Monica Brown is double-majoring in English and theatre and said that she’s wanted to travel to England for as long as she can remember.

“The prospect of spending time in the homes and haunts of famous British authors, playwrights, and monarchs sounded like the best field trip in the world. ¬†Also, as a student of English and theatre, the chance to see some of the highest quality theatre in the world every night was a fantastic dream come true.”

During the 2010 course, the group saw productions ranging from “MacBeth” (staged by the famed international theater company Cheek by Jowl) to “Waiting for Godot” (starring Sir Ian McKellen and Roger Rees) to the hard-hitting “Chronicles of Long Kesh” (a more recent musical production set in a Northern Ireland prison.) They were also treated to in-depth tours at London’s historic Globe Theatre and the Royal National Theatre.

“Probably the most important day for me was visiting the Royal National Theatre and getting a backstage tour of their numerous theatrical and shop spaces,” Brown said. “Someday I would love to be able to work in the theatre in Britain, so it was excellent to get a glimpse of what a possible future career would look like in a place where passion clearly comes alive.”