4 Replies to “Saturday, 8 August: Bus to Dublin and Return Flights to US”

  1. My final reflections: In general I learned a lot about myself and academia while in Ireland. The most important lesson I learned was that I now know for certain that I will never be in the position of the lecturers or seminar leaders of the Yeats summer school. I do not have the drive and passion for academia to spend my life reading Yeats’s poetry, plays, essays, and autobiography to the point where I could write a book on it. I also realized that I probably cannot do that with any literary or historical works. I cannot commit my life to such endeavors. Besides that, I have learned that traveling can teach you just as much as lectures and seminars. I met so many people and had so many experiences with strangers that opened my eyes to the fact that one can trust in others, so long as you have a good judge of character. I also realized that there were many great lessons that came out of the seminars and lectures besides turning me away from it. The biggest for me is something we discussed about Ezra Pound’s perspective on history and memory. The idea that history is not an anesthetized clear cut linear narrative, but a spiral of complex interactions which all spiral out uncontrollably and fit together in unique and particular ways. I also got a great understanding for Sligo because of my seminar with Jonathan Allison. He was a great dude who talked to us about poetry like most people talk about sports. Then we got a fantastic walking tour where too much information was unloaded on us like a deluge from our guide Stella. The lectures were interesting and showed me a variety of perspectives of scholarship and a variety of teaching styles. Mostly, I felt as if they were kind of just babbling their arguments which were almost always over my head. I felt that many of the lectures left me without any real closure. They did not have a clear end lesson in mind, but were just the scholarship of the lecturer. I did not go to all of them, but the ones I went to definitely had this feel.

    As for the time outside of the Yeats summer school when we traveled beforehand. I found the experiences of being in a place while learning about its particular history and culture to be extremely enriching. The lessons taught by Doggett and Cope had clear cut end goals which were always oriented towards enlightening the perspective of the students to be more aware of the life of the world which they were currently in. For example, when we had our first sit down class session in Galway, the goal was clearly to explain the most crucial elements of the colonization of Ireland and we traced a clear narrative through historical documents. This lesson continued forward throughout the entire trip and was relevant to every other lesson. Another good example was Derry, where we talked about the poetry of Seamus Heaney in dialogue with James Joyce’s “Counterparts” and the history of Irish culture as it has been influenced by English colonization, the systems of capitalism, and sectarian violence and politics. All of the previously discussed works came up in the context of Heaney. It was really informative and helped to paint a comprehensive picture of the culture and history. It did so with a linear narrative, but also worked within the vision of history and culture eddying out in a spiral from various moments. That’s how I envisioned it at least.

    Other reflections: I am basically done with my undergraduate degree, I am planning on working full time for the rest of my life (tentatively), I will never stop being a scholar and an academic, and I have no regrets about attending school or about studying abroad. It was one of the most fun times of my life. I learned so much and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else. Thanks to the professors and students and strangers who all made my time unbeleivably amazing.

  2. As I think of how to describe my experience abroad to my family and friends, I struggle to express all that happened in three and a half weeks. At one point throughout the trip I texted my sister saying that if I gained anything at all from this trip it would be the ability to assert myself. In addition, traveling essentially by oneself with a group of people one has never met, in a foreign country, one has to be entirely self-aware in order to manage effectively and safely. Because I’d previously traveled abroad, I believed before the trip that I knew exactly how things were going to look and be, and in some respects I was well prepared, but Ireland is its own nation still. I am not a nature person, yet the trips to Knocknarea the Isle of Innisfree, and Cliffs of Moher were the most difficult to leave.

    The time in the summer school itself was unlike anything I had imagined, in a very good way. The program was amazing, and to take classes with colleagues such as those, from professors like Hannah Sullivan was inspiring. It also reminded me of how little I know of the literary world. To be surrounded by people writing their dissertations on connections between the atmospherics seen in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf and the concept of failure in Yeats and Joyce was a learning experience to say the least. In some respects I was in awe of them and their knowledge, and in others I was comforted in the fact that everyone was faking in an attempt to prove oneself. I am choosing between a high school teaching path and going beyond that level, and was fortunate enough to speak with some high school English teachers there for professional development, as well as those with or attaining their doctorates. The opportunity to be around so many people already in one’s field is hard to come by at my age. Picking their brains was interesting and helpful; the whole experience actually helped me to realize how much I had missed a subject I had chosen not to pursue through college.

    The experience, although it had its ups and downs, is not one I would trade. I learned not only about myself and the Irish culture, but also about an entire literary world of which I had not even scratched the surface.

  3. This entire experience was invaluable to me and indescribably fun. Academically, I obviously learned a lot. Having had an introduction to Yeats in Dr. Doggett’s Irish Literary Revival course last spring, the Yeats Summer School provided a very unique opportunity to go further in depth about certain topics in Yeats’ poetry and prose. In this class, Dr. Doggett had briefly mentioned Yeats’ Vision philosophy, but (very understandably) did not go into detail. Meg Harper’s seminar on Yeats’ Vision was a unique opportunity to go more in depth in this interesting, exceedingly complicated belief system, especially as that particular topic would be extremely difficult to learn about without guidance. Joe Valente’s “Mad Yeats” seminar offered an excellent in depth analysis of a number of Yeats’ lesser known poems. I also benefited greatly from learning about Ireland’s history and culture in Ireland instead of in a classroom. This was probably most evident in Derry on the Bogside mural tour. Speaking with Tom, the artist, really drove home the human element of this conflict. It is easy to distance oneself from these conflicts, but speaking with someone who lived through the Troubles and was personally affected by them really humanized the entire conflict.
    As much as I truly did enjoy the academic aspects of the trip, it was primarily other things that were really unforgettable. The sightseeing was incredible. The bus rides ended up being some of my favorite parts of the trip because of the extremely scenic landscapes. The view from Knocknarea was stunning, and absolutely made suffering through the climb worth it. The pub culture was perfect, and the people were some of the friendliest strangers I have ever met. Honestly, it was odd how almost literally every person I met was more than happy to talk with me. One of my fondest memories was when we all met a man in a pub who immediately treated us like we had been friends for years. We ended up spending the next few hours that evening talking to this guy. These kinds of experiences are really the ones that stick out to me, and the ones I expect to stick with me. On the last night in Ireland, I played guitar and sang “Wild Mountain Thyme” with and for a bunch of Yeats scholars. Regardless of how terrible it may have sounded, how many people can claim to have done that?

  4. The flight back was bittersweet. It was a long three weeks and I was exhausted by the end of the trip, yet at the same time, I wish I could have stayed longer. I learned so much during my stay, and it was an incredible experience getting to meet and talk to people from all over the world in the summer school. When I got to college for the first time in my freshman year, I was struck by the new levels of devotion to intellectual pursuits that I was exposed to. Everyone in college wanted to be there, and that was leagues above what I had encountered in high school. Attending the Yeats Summer School felt like a similar shift, as suddenly, I was surrounded by published authors and top scholars. As an undergrad, I was in the minority amongst the students of the summer school, who were mostly composed of men and women with greater educational backgrounds than me. Listening to not just the lecturers and seminar leaders speak, but also the others in the audience or classroom discuss Yeats was intimidating and enlightening. I wish I could go back and do it all over again so that I might better comprehend everything.

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