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The Irish Sea Cultural Province:Crossroads of Medieval Literature and Languages

Comments from 2006 and 2009 Seminar Participants

"The seminar was excellent. It was a good balance of scholarship and free time, and the group meshed beautifully."

"I found this seminar to be stimulating and engaging. I am looking at some familiar literature in new ways and am considering different approaches to teaching, as well as adding some material that had been unfamiliar to me. Separate from my teaching duties, I am working on some projects deriving from my experiences in this seminar. The seminar has inspired me to pursue some scholarly and academic interests that have been on hold for many years."

"Overall, this was a wonderful experience. The Isle of Man is truly a magical place, and it was wonderful to have the opportunity to explore so much of it. I learned a lot and gathered a lot of materials that I will use in my classroom this year and for years to come. While I am certainly not an expert in languages, by the end of the seminar I felt comfortable tackling some of Beowulf in Old English, and I was able to read quite a bit of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in its original Middle English. My understanding of these texts was certainly deepened by the seminar discussions. It was interesting to read the sagas and stories from Wales, Ireland and Iceland as well and to find the common links in the various cultures. Among the many highlights of the trip was researching the Manx memorial stones on the Isle of Man, exploring the many medieval castles…and seeing the three illuminated manuscripts at The University of Glasgow. Perhaps the best part of the experience was traveling with people who, for the most part, shared my interests and were excited to discover new things together."

"We were provided with lecturers on archeology, linguistics, and literature, as well as some lighter moments in learning the Manx language and traditional dances. We also had the opportunity to witness the longest-running "democracy" in Europe at the National Day celebrations."

"The seminar was thoroughly enjoyable and engaging on both an academic and personal level. The group discussions were lively and informative, I enjoyed the texts that we read, and the Isle of Man was truly a magical place. The insights I received during the seminar will definitely be utilized in my classroom."

"I found the experience of studying Medieval cultures on the Isle of Man to be extremely interesting and academically stimulating. Receiving instruction from archeologists in the field and being able to visit the dig and other archeological sites has given me a first-hand experience that makes what I have been teaching in class for years more meaningful to me and therefore more meaningful to my students….to be immersed into the culture of another country is a learning experience that is sorely missing from many Americans."

"It was great that the course leaders invited us to take part in future academic conferences."

"I teach British Literature, spending about 6 weeks on Viking/Anglo-Saxon culture. I have learned so many things about this culture that I did not know, and actually seeing the places I have discussed in my classroom has ignited my enthusiasm. I am anxious to share with my students all the things I have learned. I was exposed to new ways of looking at the pieces of literature, and it was exciting to share opinions in a seminar setting with other teachers."

"The collegiality of our group was exceptional. To my surprise, the group jelled almost at once, and we had some wonderful discussions. Each of us brought something to the discussions, and I think we took away more than we gave. It was a true seminar. The members of our group became friends as well as colleagues. Our activities exposed us to things we only dream about as English teachers….On the Isle of Man, we were able to visit the places Vikings had been, and actually envision how Vikings lived, worked, and played."

"I believe that the seminar experience will enable me to provide my students with a fresh perspective when presenting literature from the Middle Ages. My colleagues and I explored museums, castles, prehistoric ruins and the awe-inspiring coastline of the Isle of Man."

"Our directors were knowledgeable and encouraged each of us to explore the texts according to our individual interests and goals. I was quite impressed by the guest lecturers and the variety of subjects covered which related to our program."

"It was a very positive experience. I knew little about Njal's Saga, the Tain, and the Mabinogi, and now I feel knowledgeable and enjoyed all three works. I also increased my knowledge of Beowulf and Gawain and the Green Knight and have developed lessons and essays for them."

"I have a far broader and deeper understanding and appreciation for the literature and the history of the British Isles, thanks to this workshop. The pictures and stories of my travels will bring the period and places alive for my students. I am inspired to delve into the material with my students to allow them to experience the beauty and impact of the literature."

"The discussions were exceptionally inspiring. I loved discussing literature with people who could contribute insights from so many backgrounds. The speakers were fabulous! I am in awe of the expertise shared. Seeing the sites that inspired the writing and being able to experience the effect of the authors' locations on their writing helped me to better appreciate the literature."

"The director was very helpful and did a terrific job leading the class discussions. The guest speakers and activities we took part in were all truly excellent…I thought our group was well chosen and that all of the different backgrounds brought many interesting topics to the discussions."

"Both the Isle of Man and Scotland were astounding experiences for me. Reading and dissecting the primary texts while situated in a culture passed down from the Celts and the Norse proved effective for me, as it forced me to approach the readings with a focus and reverence that I might not have had otherwise."

"Participating in this seminar was an amazing experience. I truly enjoyed studying the texts and plan to integrate pieces of them into my teaching. I also took pictures of nearly every place we visited and have already utilized them as visual aids during class lectures. My students seem to enjoy them. I loved being a student again. It was nice to "recharge" for the upcoming school year while pursuing scholarly endeavors. Because of this seminar, I am researching on my own and plan to present a paper at the Celtic Conference at UCLA."

"The program was a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of. My understanding of how English evolved has more historical context because of the program…the locations we traveled to were beautiful, interesting and historically important."