MCLA goes 'Across the Pond'


MCLA students are active learners whose experiences extend beyond the classroom. For 13 students this past spring, this meant traveling to England with their class on "The Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Britain." It's a trip English professor Dr. Rosanne Denhard makes with students every other year.

While abroad, students explored medieval and Renaissance British literature, history, and culture through on-site experiential learning and research. In the classroom, they engaged in extensive reading, writing, discussion and research work. They spent five nights in York, North Yorkshire, England; four nights in London; and took a day trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Denhard sums up why it's important for students to travel abroad in three words - high impact learning. In addition to collaborating and conducting research, the students have the opportunity to problem-solve both academically and socially while away from campus and home.

"We saw and experienced everything from The Globe, The National Gallery where Renoir and Van Gogh and Van Eyk paintings are, The Tower of London, The Poet's Corner in West Minster Abbey, a ghost walk in York, Measure for Measure at the Almedia theater, Renaissance-style dancing, and The Castle in Scotland among other sites and activities," said Devin Kibbe '11.

"I got to see my favorite painting by Van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, in person as well as so many of the Dutch and Italian masters," Kibbe continued. She also enjoyed the British culture. "It was amazing to see their fashion, standards for quality food and great public transportation."

For her class project, Kibbe needed to see certain paintings.

"Without seeing the pictures in person, understanding the concepts of hatching and stippling would have been much more difficult since they are incredibly separate entities when considering them as processes and as effects," she explained. "Likewise, the video at the Victoria and Albert Museum is not available anywhere else and, to my knowledge, no other source presents the 16th century process for visual learning in this way."

To further the Shakespeare learning segment of the course, the class attended the Almeida Theatre Company's production of Measure for Measure, which they had read and discussed in the classroom. 

The group also visited the 15th century Barley Hall to explore daily life of the period. One student scheduled an interview with two members of the historical /curatorial staff as part of her research project on recreation during the English Renaissance.

They also met with other students at York St. John University for an Intercultural Symposium.

"The students used Facebook for several weeks to communicate as they planned their presentations," said Denhard. "The students shared research on language and dialect, educational systems, their local histories, and campus life with their counterparts from 'across the pond.' ... It was a rich learning opportunity."

Kimberly Capriola '11 explained, "Since we were an American class going abroad, meeting students from a different country and culture was a must.  The presentations from both universities were thoroughly researched and well executed.  I loved comparing and contrasting our lives in America with theirs in the United Kingdom."

"I had an amazing time, saw millions of beautiful things, immersed myself in a new culture, and learned both about England and myself," said Melissa Wolfert '11.