Day 4 2017: From Canterbury to Dickens

Hello from London!  It was another busy day for the 2017 Literature 292 class.  Dr. Firenze started the day by putting all of our various tickets (train, museum, etc.) into all of his various pockets.  We met bright and early (8 am) in Russell Square for class and several of the students discussed how their experiences in London are helping them to prepare their final project paper.  After about an hour of class we went to the Russell Square Station and took the tube to St. Pancras Rail Station.  St. Pancras Station was opened in 1868 and is a great example of incredible Victorian engineering. It is a masterpiece of Victorian Gothic Architecture and we spent some time walking around the station.  We took a Southeastern Rail train to the City of Canterbury.  Canterbury has been occupied since Paleolithic times and is the home of Canterbury Cathedral. Founded in 597, the cathedral was largely rebuilt in 1174 to accommodate the flow of pilgrims visiting the shrine of Thomas Becket, the archbishop who was murdered in the cathedral in 1170. The present structures were built in the late fourteenth century.  A journey of pilgrims to Becket’s shrine served as the frame for Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th century classic The Canterbury Tales.  We read some of the tales this semester and a few of the students are writing about them for their final projects.  We spent a few hours touring the magnificent cathedral (which is undergoing quite a bit of renovation) and then walked through the streets of the City of Canterbury (and did some shopping). Late in the afternoon we took the train back to London.

We arrived back in London just in time for our 6 pm private tour of the Dickens House Museum.  We relaxed for a short time with a glass of wine, and then enjoyed an interesting and informative tour of the museum.   Dickens and his wife Catherine moved to this house in 1837. They raised the eldest three of their ten children here and hosted many exciting dinners and parties.  Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers, and Nicholas Nickleby in this home.  Our guide told us all about Dickens and we were able to see many of his personal possessions. We even saw the desk where he wrote the novel that we read and discussed in this class, Great Expectations.

After the tour ended we made plans to meet in Russell Square at 8 am tomorrow for another class discussion and then we went our separate ways. Some students had plans to see a show while others went for dinner (see picture below…thanks, Rachel) and some well deserved rest. It was a really great day and once again we are so happy to be working with this terrific group of students.  Tomorrow after class we will meet our wonderful friend, Dr. David Tucker, for a walking tour of Dickens’ London and then spend a couple of hours at Borough Market.  We are also looking forward to focusing on Darwin during our upcoming day at Down House on Sunday.

We know everyone is tired from our non-stop schedule, but the students have been engaged, polite, and attentive at every activity.  We had a twelve plus hour day and, despite some particularly nasty blisters, there has not been a single complaint.  It is great to see the students making the most of their time in this incredible city.

Cheers from London!

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~ by Dr. Musa on June 2, 2017.

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