Coming Spring 2018: Magical Britain, Imagining Venice Travel Seminars

At the end of the spring 2018 semester, California Lutheran University faculty members will be taking groups of students to either Britain or Italy as part of the travel seminar classes Magical Britain and Imagining Venice. Both courses are semester-long classes that, at the end of the academic school year, will be followed with a 2-3 week trip to Britain or Italy.

“Travel seminars are regular semester CLU courses that have the integrated travel component, so you’re going for a short period of time to another country with other CLU students and a CLU faculty member and you’re generally, although not always, going to different locations,” said Marja Mogk, an associate professor of English at Cal Lutheran.

Mogk leads the Magical Britain seminar course, and said she has led the course almost every other year since 2008. The trip will run May 13 through to Jun. 3, Mogk said.

According to a flier supplied by the Study Abroad office, “students will learn the legends of King Arthur in Medieval and popular literature and culture, the history and culture of Britain under the Celts, Romans, Saxons, and Normans, and how these different eras of British history provide key contexts for the evolution of the Arthurian legends.” Students will be immersed into British history and culture while traveling to England, Scotland and Wales.

Imagining Venice is the other travel seminar offered during the spring 2018 semester. The trip will run May 14-30. The seminar is led by Dru Pagliassotti, a professor and chair of the communication department, and Terry Spehar-Fahey, a senior lecturer of art. Spehar-Fahey said the first seminar they led together was back in 2011.

Spehar-Fahey said the course goes over the history of Venice and “its imprint on what the city looks like today.”

According to the Cal Lutheran website, “students will acquire a background knowledge of Venetian history, geography, demography, culture and politics with special attention to how Venice has operated as a significant symbol – of an untouchable republic, of a militant mercantile nation, of a corrupt political system, of a decadently sexual culture, and of a dying empire – within various cultural media and artifacts of the Western world.”

Stephanie Sullivan, the assistant director of Study Abroad, said the office starts planning the trips about a year ahead of the seminar because “they take a lot of time and energy to plan.”

“When the Study Abroad Center was formalized into an actual center, we were able to help streamline the process so that faculty could focus on teaching and we help support them with all the in-country logistics,” Sullivan said.

Mogk said each group already has a carefully scheduled itinerary because they will “cover a lot of sights in three weeks.” Reservations for lodging and sightseeing have been made in advance, she said.

“Every time I go, I learn something new and I get excited about incorporating that into the next version of the course,” Mogk said.

Sullivan said the ideas for the travel seminars usually originate from the professors that lead them, and that the professors have itineraries in mind while getting ready for the course.

“The history and culture and literature of Britain are my greatest passions and I love sharing it with students. I love enabling students and helping students and being a part of students’ experiences when they discover Britain,” Mogk said.

Spehar-Fahey said that her inspiration was two of her favorite artists, John Singer Sargent and J.M.W. Turner, both of whom visited Venice to paint. She said that Venice is so small and confined that students can “begin to feel what it feels like to live there.”

When Spehar-Fahey first met Pagliassotti, she learned that Pagliassotti had spent sabbatical writing her book in Venice.

“[Pagliassotti] is the link, this is who I need because then we can team teach it and she has more experience of the city than I do,” Spehar-Fahey said.

Sullivan said there have been travel seminars that “go to a lot of different areas, different regions of the world and they have all been with different disciplines.”

David Nelson, an associate professor of history, led a travel seminar to Japan last May and Gregory Freeland, a professor of political science, led a seminar to Cuba the same month.

Other seminars also visit Spain, China, Thailand, Turkey and Israel, according to the Study Abroad website.

Rissa Gross