Informed by a liberal arts pedagogy, dedicated exclusively to Kenyon students, mentored closely by the Kenyon faculty, the Kenyon-Exeter Seminar fosters the sort of dynamic but intimate academic community familiar to those who have studied in Gambier. Explicitly designed to take full advantage of the rich historical and cultural heritage of the British Isles, the Kenyon-Exeter Seminar typically focuses on two different themes—“Plays in Production” and “Literature and Landscape.”
Integrating classroom analysis of play texts and performance theory and history with attendance at world-class productions, “Plays in Production” is an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in drama, stagecraft, theatrical history and culture. Students will study—and see—between 15-20 plays, ranging from the works of Shakespeare and other Renaissance and classical dramatists to the most avant-garde of contemporary writers. Performances range from “Original Practices” productions at London’s Globe Theatre to “immersive theater” works in London warehouses to cutting-edge plays written by hot new playwrights and staged by boundary-defying companies. Thus while students spend considerable time in established venues like the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theaters in Stratford-upon-Avon and the National Theatre in London, they will also explore productions and companies at the vanguard of modern Anglophone theater--and study the ways contemporary playwrights, performers, directors, and companies are reshaping theater itself.
The Kenyon-Exeter Seminar’s second theme—“Literature and Landscape”—takes a different shape each year, depending upon the Resident Director’s scholarly specialty and the particular interests of the Kenyon participants. Integrating analysis of literary texts and study of the distinctive geographic and social landscapes that have inspired them, “Literature and Landscape” balances literary study with travel throughout England and the British Isles. Students might read the poetry and journals of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and walk in their intellectual and literal footsteps on Exmoor, at Tintern Abbey, and across the fells of the Lake District. They might study Yeats’ re-invention of the Irish landscape and explore the bens and loughs of County Sligo for his traces. After visiting the great estates of Chatsworth and Stourhead, they might better comprehend the country-house tradition and issues of property and community in Jane Austen’s novels. And the complex social and cultural history of London becomes increasingly legible to those who have come to view it through the literary lenses of William Blake, Charles Dickens, or Zadie Smith. As a central part of this section of the Kenyon-Exeter Seminar, students will undertake an extended sojourn (one or two weeks) across a broad region of Britain or Ireland; past trips have included explorations of Scotland’s Highlands and Western Islands and an extended tour of the Republic of Ireland. Virtually every Kenyon-Exeter Seminar also undertakes a trip to the Lake District and numerous day-trips (some optional, some required) to such sites as Dartmoor, Bath, Lyme Regis, Stonehenge, and Tintagel.