Literature and Landscape (second term)
Hannah: This is how it all looked until, say, 1810-- smooth, undulating, serpentine--open water, clumps of trees, classical boat-house--
Bernard: Lovely. The real England.
Hannah: You can stop being silly now, Bernard. English landscape was invented by gardeners imitating foreign painters who were evoking classical authors. The whole thing was brought home in the luggage from the grand tour. Here, look--Capability Brown doing Claude, who was doing Virgil. Arcadia! And here, superimposed by Richard Noakes, untamed nature in the style of Salvatore Rosa. It's the gothic novel expressed in landscape. Everything but vampires.
--Tom Stoppard, Arcadia (1993)
Explore the parks and gardens that Stoppard refers to in his remarkable play about successive versions of "Arcadia" in landscape theory and practice. In the second semester of the Kenyon Seminar students will study some version of a course focussing on "literature and landscape." Students are thus able to have a wonderful balance between travel and study while in England. Students have truly memorable experiences associated with the texts that they study in this course, reading William and Dorothy Wordsworth with greater appreciation and understanding not only because they have visited Tintern Abbey and Exmoor but also because they have explored the fells and the mountains of the Lake District. They no longer quickly pass over the long descriptions of landscape in Hardy after having visited Dorset. After visiting Chatsworth and Stourhead they can better comprehend the country-house tradition and understand issues of property in Jane Austen's novels.
A central part of this course is a one or two-week group trip to some area of Britain and/or Ireland. Some groups have explored the Western Islands of Scotland and the Lake District (northern England), some have roamed through Ireland, and others have toured Wales and the Lake District.