Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

A Day In the Arts

August 25th, 2009 · No Comments


Today’s class centered around a discussion of how immigrant and minority populations in London have either struggled or been able to assimilate. We examined specific groups and religions and attempted to define exactly what assimilation entails. Kelley brought up a great point about how some groups that come to London have no interest in assimilation. They come simply to get an education, make some money and share what they’ve learned once they return to their country of birth. This complicates the assimilation process even more.  What can we do as educated young people to help minority groups achieve assimilation? Do they want our help at all? These are some questions I am going to continue to wrestle with for the remainder of my time in the U.K.

After class today I had an afternoon filled with art, both musical and visual. A lunchtime concert at historic St. Martin in the Fields featured a fantastic three man ensemble called E.L.F.  Made up of a pianist Geoff Eales,  french horn player Dave Lee and flautist Andy Findon the group put on an incredible performance highlighted by an extraordinary 40 minute take on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”. The music was moving and captivating throughout and at the end of “All I Ask of You” I was left with goosebumps from head to toe.  As someone who played trumpet and a little bit of French Horn throughout high school I was amazed by the richness of the sound Mr. Lee produced. It was superior to anything I had ever heard performed in the past.  The church’s incredible acoustics certainly had a major impact on the groups resounding sound as well turning a three man ensemble into what sounded like a full fledged orchestra.  One action that took place during the concert that Brandon and I were pondering was whether it is customary for performers to exit the stage completely while the audience applauds and then return for the next number shortly after. We were unsure if this was something unique to England, unique to St. Martins in the Fields or whether the group chose to do so at their own discretion. In any event it was something we had never seen before.

After the concert Aidan, Brandon and I headed over to the National Gallery where we gazed at thousands of works of art from all different countries and time periods. I do not know much about visual art and what techniques are used to make paintings considered great but I was continually amazed and impressed by the amount of detail these artists put into their work. Even the smallest stroke of a paintbrush can change a painting entirely. We spent a number of hours inside the National Gallery gazing at everything from  Van Gogh to Manet to Van Brugh. Visual art is not my forte nor my specialty but I was very impressed and would go back to the museum in a heartbeat.

After our tour of the National Gallery we headed back out to Trafalgar Square. The rain had let up and the square was alive with all kinds of people. There was protesting, dancing, singing  and any number of exciting things going on. We took an abundance of pictures while in the area, attempting to catch all the excitement that was taking place as well as capturing the various monuments in the area such as Nelson’s Column and St. Martin in the Fields. 

The final stop in our afternoon included a tour of the National Portrait Gallery, just down the road from St. Martin in the Fields. Inside we viewed portraits of everyone from Princess Diana to T.S. Eliot. My favorite part of the portrait gallery was the section they featured on the Bloomsbury Group. Portraits of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey just to name a few were found inside this area. After going on the Bloomsbury walk  the day before with Professor Qualls the information was still fresh in my mind and I was able to make connections between the tour and the exhibit. This was fascinating.

I can safely say that this has been my favorite day in London so far. A stimulating discussion, an unbelievable concert, a walk through an internationally recognized museum and time spent with friends adds up to a wonderful and busy day. I hope that the rest of our time spent in London will follow suit.

Tags: Churches and Cathedrals · Henry · Museums

Organized Chaos and Learning History from a differemt Vantage point

August 25th, 2009 · No Comments

This Sunday in London the Humanities group went on a walking tour of the Tower Hill and a designated area of London built by the Romans (i.e the roman wall). The beautiful architecture seemed so distinct to London, because of this sense of organized chaos of defined by the Roman architecture mixed with the modern. Of all the places that I have ever been to in my short lifetime London buy far has the most character. London has no structure as to what any given area must look like, instead a person traveling the city would view a very diverse array of structural design, and although not in harmony with the “look” of London, still manages to define the personality of London.
As we walked the tour I could not help but compare the diversity within the building design to that of the people and different cultures that inhabit London. Being completely unaware of what the structure and the faces of London would like, I was completely surprised to see how similar in diversity London was in comparison to a large metropolitan area like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. People from all different regions of the world all together in one area is something I am used to seeing from where I come from, so coming to London and witnessing this same phenomenon of integration, however surprising, provided me with a sense of comfort because of how normal it felt.
However, as I mentioned before the major difference from major cities in America and perhaps most of the major cities in the world in comparison to London is the architectural structure and the randomness that is London. It is not uncommon to walk the streets of London to see a Cathedral or monument next to an insurance firm or a modern day office. Nor is it out of the norm to see a Starbucks located inside a historical monument. This theme of organized chaos that makes up this amazing city is one that is unique to that of any other place in the world, and makes me love it that much more.
However while walking through the tour of the London wall, and having read the history of London, I was surprised that I had not heard of the negative history of London. I pondered why I had not learned of London’s dark history, specifically the slave trade, and London’s role in it. Luckily later that afternoon my group visited the Docklands museum, where my curiosity would not only be satisfied, but educated.
On the top floor of the museum just past the first exhibit lies, the London African slave trade. When I tell you that this was one of the most amazing exhibits I had ever had the privilege of entering, I am only describing about 10% of how surreal this experience was. Having always learned about the slave trade as being an international event, I had only delved my knowledge to the America’s experience of it. So to actually learn about one of the world superpowers who participated in this inhumane portion of history made me challenge my views of what I had learned previously. In the exhibit they made it a point to express to the audience why they chose certain word’s in the exhibit and explained the history of the words so that the audience was able to get a sense of how important language is in this system of oppression that is slavery.
This experience has taught me so much about the world, and that there is so much more to learn. I feel so blessed to be in a position to get to learn about the world and its many different cultures in a way that others only get to dream about. I will cherish these moments forever!

Tags: Anthony · Uncategorized

Greenwich: Forgot to Post, Sorry!

August 25th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Greenwich Adventures-August 21
I woke up this morning feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of activities and travel planned for the day, but immediately felt at ease as we made our way to the Thames River embankment. I enjoyed watching the scenery and different types of architecture pass by as we made our way to Greenwich, and definitely felt like a tourist while taking what seemed like hundreds of pictures of Big Ben. Since I spend much of my summers in parks in New Jersey, I felt comforted by being in what seemed to be a familiar place to me. The walk helped to wake me up as well
I was most interested by the museum dealing with the creation and use of early clocks on ships. It truly amazes me that people were able to construct such intricate and elaborate instruments by hand, without the aid of computers or modern technology. I also laughed when I read that early ships planned to calculate their position in relation to other ships by firing a rocket exactly 6440 feet in the air at exactly 12am..it seems silly, but I suppose without clocks or ways to calculate latitude/longitude, it seemed logical. I feel rather inadequate when I realize that I would have absolutely no idea how to even begin to create something like these clocks from scratch, from the plans to making the parts to the actual collaboration and execution of the instrument. I’m also impressed that sailors trusted the instruments enough to actually use them while in the middle of the ocean. I know I would be nervous about being the first one to use something so important to my travels and, in essence, vitality.
I also enjoyed the planetarium and was quite amused by the man running it. Despite the presentation’s humorous aspect, I left feeling like an insignificant part of an infinitely larger being. Although I had learned about the solar system and galaxies in elementary school, I don’t find much use revisiting that information with my English and psychology majors. I liked connecting the passage of time with the movement of planets, stars, and the expansion of space in general. While some of the information was jarring, it was certainly useful and thought provoking.

Tags: Amy · Uncategorized