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New field study heads to Egypt

Illustration by Gracie Street
Illustration by Gracie Street

During spring break—February 26 to March 6, 2016—there will be a field study to Egypt for literature and writing students. The field study will be led by Rollins English professor Dr. Jana Mathews and Director of International Programs Giselda Beaudin.

The field study and its two linked courses will utilize various works of literature, films, museums, and more to study how ancient Egyptian literary and material culture relates to contemporary western society.

The field study was subsidized by an alumni donor who wanted to give a “once in a lifetime” opportunity to all English department students who may not have the financial stability to study abroad. There is a two-course requirement taught by Dr. Jana Mathews and Giselda Beaudin, which will allow students to think critically about traveling and a culture other than their own.

“We wanted to choose a place where students would want to go, and this field study gives students the opportunity to explore a different part of the world and a different part the literature world,” said Dr. Mathews.

The courses and field study will explore how ancient Egyptian culture relates to present-day culture. The lore and culture of ancient Egypt is very much a part of contemporary America, such as in mummy tourism, casinos, etc.

According to Dr. Mathews, “Students will study what these residues of ancient culture mean in contemporary society.”

Students will gain various life-long skills on this field study such as a deeper appreciation for how the past informs the present and to think more critically about the rules that travel plays in in everyone’s life.

“There often isn’t an opportunity for students to analyze the role that travel plays in our lives, and Giselda’s class will delve deeper into that,” said Dr. Mathews. “They will explore questions like: ‘What do I do with this experience? I have all this new information, what is the next step?’”

The application is open to all students; however, the courses count toward the English major and minor. Beaudin will be teaching ENG 245 “Off the Beaten Track” and Dr. Mathews will be teaching ENG 321 “Mummies and Manuscripts.”

Student athlete and English major Kate Stefanski ’17 said, “I’m super excited about the two courses, and I think Egypt is a fascinating place with amazing history and so much to explore and learn. Study abroad opportunities in general are just a great way for students to become more knowledgeable, accepting, and open-minded about different cultures.”

Students will have the chance to visit many places in Egypt, including Cairo to see the pyramids, the market and the catacombs, Luxor to see the Valley of the Kings, and Alexandria to visit the Great Library of Alexandria.

If students have questions about finance, security, or itinerary, please contact Dr. Mathews. “I don’t want any unanswered questions to deter students from wanting to apply. I want everyone to feel comfortable.”

Stefanski said, “I’m most looking forward to spending time with other students who are passionate about English and to explore the ancient pyramids of Egypt! There’s so much history and ancient architecture and I can’t wait to experience all of it!”

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