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Taking Your English Major Abroad

Augustana has an extensive study abroad program, and our English faculty have accompanied students to many distant corners of the earth. During these trips abroad, English faculty teach a literature course with special relevance to the location being visited. For a list of upcoming trips, see International and Off-Campus Programs.

For example, students have read Joyce and Yeats beside the streets of Dublin and among the oft-mythologized villages and countrysides of Western Ireland. English Department Chair Joe McDowell leads students in the study of Ireland's native literatures, her ancient myths and legends, and her estimable contributions to modern literature. Students spend time at all of Ireland's cultural centers, including Dublin in the East, Cork in the South, and Galway in the West.  

Holding class at Cahersiveen Students pose on the ring fort Cahersiveen
Students at Dun Aengus The Cliffs of Moher
Above, students attend class (left) and pose for a picture (right) at an ancient ring fort at Cahersiveen in County Kerry. Below and left, students look out from the top of another Iron Age fort, Dun Angus, located on the island Inish Mor off the coast of Galway. Both forts pictured were in use between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. Below and right is a view of O'Brien's Tower from the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.


Vietnam Term

Another trip brings Augustana students, English majors among them, to the cities, jungles, and former battlefields of Vietnam. In their study of the cultural, economic, and political effects of the Vietnam War, students examine perspectives from both sides of the battle lines. In his course, ENGL315 Vietnamese Literature, David Crowe leads students in the study of the written efforts, by American and Vietnamese writers alike, to capture the horrors of the war. In many ways it was a particularly horrific war; the legacy of psychologically damaged veterans in our own country is ample testament to that fact. More than a few American novelists, poets, and creative journalists attempted to capture in their work just what it was that made this such a harrowing conflict. Participants in this term abroad have the chance to visit the places they are studying and reading about as they travel across Vietnam to its three main cities: Hanoi, its capital, in the north; Hue, its cultural hub, in the center; and Ho Chi Minh City, its locus of economic activity, in the south. To read about the winter 2008-09 term abroad in Vietnam, which offered courses from the English, business administration, and political science departments, click here.

Students in front of capital
Participants in the 2008-09 term abroad in Vietnam, including David Crowe (middle row, second from right), pose for a group photo in front of the People's Committee Building in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).


West Africa is a diverse and colorful land of contrasts, peoples, languages, and countries. Visiting the region represents a transformative opportunity to experience ancient cultures, colorful markets, rich music, local ceremonies and masking traditions, rich botanical gardens and wildlife, and the world-famous hospitality of the African people. It must not be forgotten however, that Africa has been permanently transformed by its contact with European/American culture. Ghana and Senegal, the two West African countries visited on West Africa term, were both colonies of European nations until the mid-20th century (Ghana a colony of the British, Senegal of the French). As the subjects of active economic exploitation, these nations were bound to suffer irreversible economic and social injuries. As part of West Africa Term, John Tawiah-Boateng's Contemporary African Literature surveys some of the ways that writers in postcolonial Africa have tried to account for a mixed heritage, a history of injustice, and a rapidly changing cultural and economic atmosphere. Visits to some of the sites encountered in the texts, guest lectures by African writers, and attendance at local poetry readings and theater performances further enhance students' understanding and appreciation of the texts. To read about the upcoming West Africa Term for the spring of 2010, featuring courses in the English, history, music, and art departments, click here.

English majors who choose to participate in Augustana's program at Holden Village, high up in the Cascade Mountain Range in the state of Washington, are particularly lucky, since they may find themselves accompanied by not one member of the English faculty, but two. With Jan Keessen and Paul Olsen, in the reflection-provoking atmosphere of communal living, where their only communication with the world outside is pen and paper, and where the snow is measured not in inches, but in feet, students study the works of writers like William Styron, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Richard Wright, and Toni Morrison. During this 5-10 week break from consumer culture, students, living thoughtfully and deliberately, have sought out answers to questions of human purpose, moral responsibility, and defensible living practices.

Holden Village in the winter time
A taste of the beauty and serenity that life at Holden Village has to offer.


Students of Jason Peters' ENGL355 English Romantic Poets class are granted the unique opportunity to recite the poetry of Wordsworth and Coleridge at the scene of the crime, beside the "tumultuous brooks" and mountain tarns of England's Lake District. Walking the very landscapes wherein and about which the poems were composed, students get to see those poems, which above all were poems about a particular beloved place, come to life. Every other Fall Break, following the completion of the course, Peters leads students across the Atlantic to rainy Grasmere Village, where they visit Wordsworth's and Coleridge's homes and graves and explore the mountains and sheepfolds where they lived and wrote.

Students descend from atop Greenhead Ghyll
Students of Dr. Peters' English Romantic Poets class descend toward Grasmere Village following a strenuous climb to the top of the "tumultuous brook of Greenhead Ghyll."


Several of the English faculty have accompanied students on Augustana's semi-annual European Term, where they have studied the peoples and literatures of Western Europe. The program is a particularly good fit for English majors, since it spends half of its time in London, a city wherein students curious about English literature find no end of helpful resources and compelling places to visit. In famed Westminster Abbey, for example, an illustrious group of writers have been either buried or memorialized in an area which has come to be known as Poet's Corner. Here students have explored tombs and tributes to the likes of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Blake, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, Kipling, Dryden, T.S. Eliot, Byron, Shelley, and Dickens. The term often spends time in Paris as well, where English majors can visit the haunts of the expatriate American modernists of the 1920's, such as Stein, Hemingway, Pound, and Dos Passos.

English faculty have also led students in the study of the literature and culture of such diverse locales as Latin America, Japan, and Sweden, and the options for students who wish to take their literary studies abroad have only grown with the passing years. For example, one trip in the making will send English/Language Arts Education students to Norway and Sweden with David Crowe and Katie Hanson to visit Scandinavian schools and teacher-training universities.

To read more about international study opportunities at Augustana, visit the web page for the Office of International Programs.