School of Athen by Raphael


Liberal Studies Abroad

England - 2001


Course Outline

Schedule of Events




The purpose of the program in England is to examine various related aspects of English culture. While a considerable part of the focus will be on the art, literature, philosophy and science of the late 19th and early 20th century, the program will also stretch back in time as far as the Middle Ages to compare the history of church music and church architecture, as exemplified in the magnificent cathedrals of this island nation.


Thus the curriculum will include such subjects as the art of the pre-Raphaelites and Bloomsbury Group, the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Dante Gabriel and Christina Rossetti, Rudyard Kipling and Vita Sackville-West, the writings of Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and Bertrand Russell, as well as the music and architecture of an entire millennium of composers and builders.


The mode of instruction is primarily the participatory seminar, though lectures will also be included. Visits will be arranged to concerts, museums, galleries and other artistic sites. No specific previous experience is required for full participation.


For most students, course activities will begin in Nanaimo with a number of class sessions during May and June.




Dr John Black, Liberal Studies Department, VIU: has taught Liberal Studies and Philosophy at VIU since 1990, and has special interests in English music and architecture, as well as the Bloomsbury Group. As a student in his native England he attended the University of Cambridge (where he attained a level of credibility in the art of punting on the River Cam) and the University of Sussex.


Maureen Okun has taught English Literature and Linguistics at VIU since 1991 and joined the Liberal Studies Department in 1997 to participate in team-teaching its new first-year program Ways of Knowing. She has special interests in Victorian literature, the art of the Pre-Raphaelites and 19th century science.


The Courses


LBST 290, 291 & 292: Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) I, II & III

LBST 390: Advanced Special Topics in Liberal Studies (Abroad) I

LBST 412: Special Topics in Western Culture: Victorian England

LBST 422: Special Topics in Western Culture: Bloomsbury


The first three courses are open to all with the minimum pre-requisite of a 'C' grade in English 12; the remaining three require third-year standing (54 semester-credits completed by April 2001). Participants may enroll in up to three courses, but may not take any of the following combinations: LBST 290 & 390; LBST 291 & 412; LBST 292 & 422. These paired courses are essentially offered with the same content, but with different expectations on students depending whether they are taken at the lower- or upper-level.


Outline of Course Content


LBST 290/390 will focus on the relationships between church music and church architecture from the Middle Ages to the present day, and will include visits to cathedrals and concerts.


LBST 291/412 will explore Victorian philosophy, science, literature and art, with a view to characterizing the times of the British Empire and to establishing the context in and against which the Bloomsbury Group defined itself.


LBST 292/422 will examine the art, literature and philosophy of the Bloomsbury Group and its associates (e.g. Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Bertrand Russell), who were influential in British intellectual circles in the early 20th century.


Course Texts

Richard Altick: Victorian People and Ideas

Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market and Other Poems (selections)

Virginia Woolf: Orlando

Laurence des Cars: The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Realism


Course Readings Package, including selected poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Algernon Charles Swinburne, George Meredith, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, Rudyard Kipling and Rupert Brooke; William Morris: Useful Work and Useless Toil; Lytton Strachey: "Florence Nightingale," from Eminent Victorians; Vita Sackville-West: Sissinghurst; Bertrand Russell: A Free Man's Worship.


Course Readings Package: Church Architecture, Church Music.


Handouts: Benjamin Britten: War Requiem; E.M. Forster: The Other Side of the Hedge and The Road from Colonus.




The evaluation of your work in the program is divided into two sets of components: some assignments are specific to a particular course, and some apply generally to all the courses you are taking. Some are due before we leave Canada, some after we return. There are further differences which depend on whether you are taking the courses at the lower or upper level. Please read the following extremely carefully. See the separate pages below for details of the requirements for each component.


General Components


These include (i) Journal; (ii) Internet Research Assignment; (iii) Seminar Participation.


(i)             The Journal is a single item which will count towards all the courses taken.

(ii)           The Internet Research Assignment is likewise a single item which will count towards all the courses taken, irrespective of to which course its content applies.

(iii)          Seminar Participation will be assigned a single mark which will count towards all courses taken.


Course-Specific Components


LBST 290/390: Essay; and Architecture Project


LBST 291/412: Essay; and EITHER Art Project OR Creative Writing Assignment


LBST 292/422: Essay; and EITHER Creative Writing Assignment OR Art Project


Note: You must complete exactly one Art Project and exactly one Creative Writing Assignment. If you complete the Art Project for one of the two relevant courses, you must complete the Creative Writing Assignment for the other.


Due Dates


The Internet Assignment is to be completed before leaving Canada and brought along on the trip. It will be presented to the class in England.


You must hand in two Essays before leaving Canada. If you intend to write your Essay for 291/412 before leaving Canada, it is due on June 5; if you intend to write your Essay for 292/422 before leaving Canada, it is due on June 26. Essays for either of these courses may be postponed until August 24, in which case your Essay for 290/390 is due on the empty due date in June.


The Journal, Architecture Project, Art Project and Creative Writing Assignment will be worked on in England, are due with the third Essay on August 24, and should be delivered or mailed to: John Black, Liberal Studies Department, Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5, to arrive by that date.


Upper-Level Students


The requirements for upper-level students are more demanding than those for lower-level students.Aside from a greater demand for quality, there are the following differences:


For the Essays, lower-level students must write 1000 words, upper-level students 1500.


In addition, upper-level students will assist lower-level students on the Creative Writing Assignment by facilitating peer tutorials in England.


Contribution to Final Grades



LBST 290/390

LBST 291/412

LBST 292/422





Internet Project (including Presentation)




Seminar Participation








Architecture Project




Art Project OR Creative Writing Assignment




Schedule of Preparatory Sessions


Date and Time


Preparatory Reading

Sunday April 29


Lecture: Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Lecture: Introduction to Architecture

Seminar: Tennyson: Ulysses

Seminar: How to Talk about Painting


Tuesday May 8


Lecture: Victorian Poetry

Seminar: Victorian Poetry

Seminar: How to Talk about Music

Course Readings: Poetry by Tennyson, Arnold

Church Music + Listen to Music Tape

Altick: Chapter I

Tuesday May 15


Lecture: Pre-Raphaelite Poetry

Seminar: Pre-Raphaelite Poetry

Course Readings: Poetry by the Rossetti's, Morris, Swinburne, Meredith; Altick: Chapters V & VI

Tuesday May 22


Seminar: Pre-Raphaelite Painting

Seminar: Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market

The Pre-Raphaelites: Romance and Reason

Goblin Market; Altick: Chapter VIII

Tuesday May 29


Seminar: William Morris' Socialism

Seminar: Lytton Strachey

Course Readings: Useful Work & Useless Toil &

Florence Nightingale ; Altick: Chapter IV & VII

Tuesday June 5


Lecture: English Church Architecture

Lecture: Virginia Woolf

Seminar: Orlando

The Cathedrals of England


Tuesday June 12


Film: Orlando

Seminar: Orlando


Tuesday June 19


Music Lecture: Benjamin Britten's War Requiem


Tuesday June 26


Film: Carrington

Discussion: Journal Writing & Wrap-up



All meetings take place in Building 355, Room 104, 203 or 211.



Schedule of Classes and Events in England









2 July



9:45 am

Duke Point

3:20 pm



10:15 am

Arrive Gatwick, transfer to University of Brighton


9:00 am






9:00 am


E.M. Forster

Rupert Brooke



9:00 am

Leave for Coventry

4:30 pm



9:00 am

Leave for Ely,



College Chapel












8:30 am

Leave for London #1:

Bloomsbury, Nat. Portrait Gallery,

St. Paul's




9:00 am






8:00 am

Leave for


Stonehenge Salisbury,

7:00 pm Concert



9:00 am














9:00 am


Rudyard Kipling

Vita Sackville-West

1:00 pm

Leave for





9:00 am


William Morris:

The Defence of Guenevere






9:00 am

Leave for

10:30 am




Move to Sussex 1:00 pm

Leave for Chichester

7:00 pm












8:30 am

Leave for London #2:

V&A, Westminster Abbey, Tate Britain



9:00 am





9:00 am





1:30 pm

Leave for

Monk's House, Berwick Ch.



9:00 am



10:30 am

Leave for












9:00 am

Leave for





9:00 am




9:00 am



1:15 pm

Leave Gatwick

4:05 pm

Arrive Vancouver



5 August



Assignment Details


Journal Assignment


During our visit in England, keep a journal of your experiences relating to the trip and the study we are engaged in. The journal should be delivered or mailed to John Black along with your other assignments (to arrive by August 24, 2001) and will be marked for both content and presentation. The instructor will not make comments in the journal itself, so that it may function as a permanent record of your visit and the feelings it evoked.


The focus, however, should be primarily on the intellectual and cultural components of your experiences, not on the personally private or simply touristic aspects. Of course these will become intertwined to quite a large extent, but you should endeavour to avoid mere relation of the activities of the day, without any consideration of the broader, cultural issues they raise. Do try, furthermore, to articulate your own reactions, not merely gather mementos.


You are welcome to include material of all sorts: free writing, literary and artistic criticism, poetry, drawing, painting, photo-collage, newspaper and magazine clippings, expository writing, pressed flowers - really anything at all which expresses some aspect of your experience of the trip If you use material from sources like magazines, there is no need to attribute it to a source, but it should be used to express or introduce your thoughts and reactions, not just those of its author.


You might want to buy a nice book for use as a journal. If you don'tt come across one in Canada, you may be able to find one in England.


Remember that a journal is not an essay (even though it may contain essay-like portions if you wish), and so does not need to be approached in the way you would an essay. Be creative and honest in expressing your feelings and thoughts: they do not have to be organized in support of a point of view or conclusion. If you are like other participants in Liberal Studies Abroad, you will probably find this to be the most rewarding of the assignments you will complete, and its results will contribute to the (hopefully precious) memories you will retain of this unique educational experience.


This single assignment will be worth 25% towards your grades in all of the courses you are taking.


Internet Research Assignment and Presentation


The purpose of this assignment is to give you practice in using Netscape, Internet Explorer or a similar web browser to search the Internet, and in presenting the results of your search to your classmates in England. You will use the Internet to locate in England some viewable object germane to the course (painting or other work of art, piece of architecture, museum display etc.), and make a presentation on your selected object to your seminar class when we arrive in England. This presentation should convey what you have learned about the object, why it is of interest to you and how your audience could set about viewing it. In this way your presentation will contribute to the richness of everybody's experience during the course.


If you are unable to access the Internet (because, for example, you are currently travelling), you should complete the assignment as best you can using guide books or other resources. If this applies to you, or if you require help using a web browser, contact John Black as soon as possible.


You should complete the following steps:


1) Use Netscape (or a similar program) to visit England over the Internet. Any of the following sites will be helpful:


You may also want to try searching the Internet for information and other sites related to England. You might try, for example, the Google search engine: Enter whatever keywords you think appropriate for your search.


2) Locate some object which is of interest to you. The only restrictions are that it should be related in some way to the topic of one of the courses, and that it should be possible for you and others to view it once we get to England.


3) Write a short (400-500 words) description of the object and of your interest in it, including how and where you found it on the Internet (give the URL, that is to say the Internet address, usually beginning). Bring a copy of this write-up with you to England.


4) Once we arrive in England, you will be assigned a date and time for your presentation. This should last about ten minutes, and will take place in friendly surroundings before your small group of colleagues. Remember to include suggestions as to how the audience can view your selected object, as well as what you know and what you find interesting about it.


The written assignment and presentation are worth 5% towards your grade in each course, irrespective of the content.


Essay Assignments


You are required to write one essay (lower-level students: 1000 words; upper-level: 1500 words) for each of the courses you are taking (i.e. three in all). The finished essays, which should be typed or printed using a computer, are due at different times: the first (for 291/412 or 290/390) by June 5, the second (for 292/422 or 290/390) by June 26; the third by August 24). Each essay is worth 25% of the grade in the corresponding course. You may not write more than one essay on the subject matter of a single one of the courses.


These essays should be examples of expository writing: that is, you must take a thesis, a point of view about the text or about an issue it raises, and defend that point of view with reasoned argument. This requires you to justify your interpretations and evaluations of the text, to argue against alternative interpretations and judgments where these are likely to arise and to speak with your own voice, not that of other critics.


They should not be primarily research essays, and definitely not mere summaries of the views of other critics. At the same time, it is legitimate to introduce the views of other writers if doing so would help illuminate your own point of view. When you do make such an appeal, you should always specify the source to which you are referring. Plagiarism (using outside sources without acknowledgment) will result in a mark of zero, and, if repeated, a failing grade for the course.

LBST 290/390




1.     With specific reference to both their heard musical qualities and what you think their composers are trying to express in them, compare and contrast two of the pieces of Church music we have studied during the course.

2.     Select two pieces of music studied during the course, one of which you judge to be successful, and one of which you judge to be unsuccessful, in fully expressing its verbal text. Explain in detail why these judgments are justified, and what are the characteristics which account for the difference in success.

3.     Select two pieces of music of contrasting styles studied during the course. With specific reference to their stylistic characteristics, explain what kind of God each evokes. How do you account for the difference, or lack of difference, between these Gods?




1.     With specific reference to both their architectural characteristics and what you think their designers were trying to express in them, compare and contrast two of the churches we have visited during the course.

2.     Select two of the churches we have visited which were built in different architectural periods. With specific reference to their stylistic characteristics, explain what kind of God each evokes. How do you account for the difference, or lack of difference, between these Gods?

3.     Select the church or cathedral (visited during the course) which in your view is the most impressive. Explain in detail why you make this judgment.



1.     Gothic Architecture is Music Written in Stone. Drawing for illustration upon your experiences of church architecture and music during the course, explain whether or not, in your view, this claim captures an important truth.

2.     Select ONE of the following periods in church architecture and church music: mediaeval (= Gothic), early modern (= classical/Baroque), late modern (= 20th century), and, by reference to works encountered during the course, explain how the music and architecture express the social, political or intellectual preoccupations of their time.

3.     Neither music nor architecture is an art. Architecture is nothing more than masonry and bricklaying; music is just tootling tunes for the entertainment of the rabble. Neither compares to a true art like painting. Discuss these claims with reference to works of art, architecture and music encountered during the course.


LBST 291/412


Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market


1.     Examine the thematic role in Goblin Market of sensual experience, both its indulgence and denial.

2.     What do the fairy-tale aspects of Goblin Market add to the theme of the poem?

3.     In what ways are Laura's final words to her children in Goblin Market an inadequate ending to the poem?


Dante Gabriel Rossetti: House of Life


1.     What are the connections between and importance of love, life and death in any two sonnets from House of Life?

2.     What is the importance of failure in any two sonnets from House of Life?

3.     Compare any Dante Gabriel Rossetti sonnet with any of his later oil paintings. In what ways do they complement each other? In what ways are they different?


Victorian (including Pre-Raphaelite) Poetry


1.     Choose any two poems of the Victorian period and compare the attitude of each toward life and death.

2.     Choose any two poems of the Victorian period and compare the attitude of each toward duty.

3.     Compare the ways in which Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson and The Defence of Guenevere by William Morris use dramatic monologue to achieve their effects.

4.     Compare the themes of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach and Bertrand Russell's A Free Man's Worship.

5.     Compare the responses to doubt and hardship in Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach and Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Lotos-Eaters.

6.     Compare Algernon Charles Swinburne's Hertha to Bertrand Russell's A Free Man's Worship. In what ways are their themes compatible? Do they part company, and if so where?


Pre-Raphaelite Painting


1.     Compare the paintings of The Lady of Shalott by John Waterhouse and William Holman Hunt.What are the similarities and differences in the way each interprets Tennyson's poem? In your response, be sure to consider each painting's composition and treatment of colour and light.

2.     Discuss the depiction of women in Pre-Raphaelite art.

3.     Compare the treatment of Christian themes in two Pre-Raphaelite paintings which focus on such themes.

4.     Discuss the meaning and significance of beauty in Pre-Raphaelite art.

5.     Discuss the significance of the natural world in Pre-Raphaelite painting.

6.     Choose any two Pre-Raphaelite paintings that feature vegetation. How does each depict plant-life, and what is its importance in the painting?


Rudyard Kipling: The White Man's Burden


1.     Why does Kipling use the plural "Gods" instead of the singular "God" in the last line of the sixth stanza?

2.     Is there any moral ambiguity expressed in Kipling's poem?

3.     How, if at all, do the formal characteristics (e.g. rhyme scheme, metre, alliteration etc.) of the poem reveal satirical intentions?


William Morris: Useful Work and Useless Toil

1.     Explain and evaluate the case Morris builds in Useful Work and Useless Toil against the capitalist system of production.

2.     What alternative to capitalism does Useful Work and Useless Toil articulate? Is it a coherent and realistic alternative?

3.     Does Morris, in Useful Work and Useless Toil, succeed in showing that the semi-theological dogma that all labour, under any circumstances, is a blessing to the labourer, is hypocritical and false. (p. 135)?

4.     In Useful Work and Useless Toil, Morris identifies the aristocracy with "those who do no work," the middle class with those "who work fairly hard," and the working class with those "who work so hard that they may be said to do nothing else than work." Does this characterization have any value for our understanding of Canadian society today?



1.     The Victorian Age is often referred to as the heyday of British Imperialism. Drawing upon a range of cultural works (in music, painting, literature, architecture etc.), decide whether or not those works show this characterization to be justified.

2.     Describe in detail two 19th century cultural works between which there exist deep and interesting parallels. What is the significance of these parallels for our understanding of the historical period in which they appeared?

3.     To what extent does knowledge of the social context illuminate cultural productions of 19th century England? Support your answer by careful reference both to historical data and to one or more cultural artefacts.

4.     Discuss the importance of human dignity in any two of the following: William Morris' Useful Work and Useless Toil and The Defence of Guenevere, Alfred, Lord Tennyson's The Lotos-Eaters and Ulysses, Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach, and Bertrand Russell's A Free Man's Worship.


LBST 292/422


Lytton Strachey: "Florence Nightingale," from Eminent Victorians


1.     Lytton Strachey has been accused of playing fast and loose with historical truth in Eminent Victorians. To what extent, if at all, does this damage the validity of the work?

2.     Given the criticisms Strachey levels at his subject in this extract from Eminent Victorians, what are the values he himself holds dear?

3.     Explain how you would defend Florence Nightingale against the author's criticisms.


Virginia Woolf: Orlando


1.     What of importance does Orlando's amazing longevity add to the novel?

2.     The word "sex" refers to biological differences between males and females; "gender," on the other hand, refers to the social roles and codes of conduct a given society assigns to members of each sex. Orlando's change from man to woman is, in part, a biological sex change. To what extent is it also a gender change, and what of importance do both these changes add to the novel?

3.     Select a character other than Orlando (which may include the narrator), and analyse the role s/he plays in the overall work.

4.     What does Orlando say about the relationships among biography, novels and "he truth"?


Vita Sackville-West: Sissinghurst


1.     Is Sissinghurst a good, bad or indifferent poem? As part of your answer, carefully explain and justify the criteria of poetic value on which you base your judgment.

2.     What relationship does the poem suggest exists between the narrator and the daily life which surrounds her?

3.     What exactly is the thematic role played by water in the poem?


Bertrand Russell: "A Free Man's Worship," from Mysticism and Logic


1.     Explain and evaluate the main argument Russell is making in this essay.

2.     In your view, does whether it makes sense to attribute value to human actions depend upon the existence of some form of God or Creator? Why/why not?

3.     Russell does not believe in God. Despite this, is it plausible to regard him, on the basis of this essay, as having some kind of religious sensibility?

4.     Compare the themes of Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach and Bertrand Russell's A Free Man's Worship.


Edward Morgan Forster: The Other Side of the Hedge and The Road from Colonus


1.     What is The Other Side of the Hedge really about? What is it trying to say? Justify your answer by close reference to the text.

2.     What is the significance in The Other Side of the Hedge of the narrator's brother?

3.     What do you think is the central conflict at work in The Road from Colonus? Justify your answer by close reference to the text.

4.     The Road from Colonus describes a realistic series of incidents in a world essentially the same as the one we inhabit; The Other Side of the Hedge does not. Which approach is more effective, in your view, for conveying deep truths about the human condition?




1.     Several members of the Bloomsbury Group, including Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, Lytton Strachey and Duncan Grant, had, during their lives, romantic and sexual relationships with members of the same sex. Explain in detail to what extent, if at all, this fact is important in understanding their works.

2.     What did the phenomenon of Bloomsbury have to say about the relationship between arts and crafts? Do you agree?

3.     Describe in detail two works (of the Bloomsbury period, though not necessarily by the Group's members) between which there exist deep and interesting parallels. What is the significance of these parallels for our understanding of the period in which they appeared?

4.     Choose a Bloomsbury work which seems to be a response to or interpretation of some aspect of the Victorian period. Discuss the nature of this response or interpretation as it is manifested by the work.

Architecture Assignment: LBST 290/390




Architecture may be defined as the art of arranging and manipulating space to fulfil a certain sort of function. Space is not a thing itself; nor can it be reduced to a collection of things or treated merely as a container in which things are collected: instead it is a relationship among things. Because we focus on the things inside a space, we often fail to notice the space itself. Architecture, however, asks us to confront space, to experience it in a way which combines both attention to function and sensitivity to artistic expression.


Buildings, of course, are made to be used for living, working, learning and many other human activities. The function of a building is part of, and reveals, the building's subject-matter; but it does not exhaust it. Values other than functional values are expressed in architecture: it is inflected by the values of the architect's society and culture. Whether they adopt a critical or a reverential attitude towards their culture, architects must deal in one way or another with the public values of their society.


During the last thousand years, a huge variety of architectural approaches and tastes has made itself manifest in the building of cathedrals and other churches, many of which still stand today. Each style, it might be argued, says something distinctive about what was important to the society which sustained it, about the place of religion in that society and about the concept of the divine which that religion embodied. As we investigate the connections between the architecture and music of differing times, we should be aware also of how these subjects are related to the lived human experience and the broader social values of those times.


This assignment involves selecting as a focus of study any one of the churches we shall visit. You will be asked to answer various questions about the building, drawing upon your interaction with it, and to provide graphic illustrations of some of its features. Most of the illustrations may be in any medium: photography and sketching with pencil or charcoal are probably the easiest, but one part of the assignment (B) calls specifically for a sketch You should make sure you carry the necessary supplies with you on the visit.


You may draw on the architectural readings and related handouts for help in expressing your ideas, but the bulk of the assignment involves your responses to the church under examination, and these responses must be based on your experience of the building. The assignment may be completed after returning to Canada, based upon the notes and illustrations you make on-site. It is due on August 24, 2001, and is worth 15% of the grade for LBST 290/390.




A. Carefully observe the building from the outside. Keeping in mind the fact that architecture articulates social values, write a report on the building which incorporates the following elements and answers to the following questions:


1. What is/was the building's function? Is it possible to discern the function from the building's exterior? If so, on the basis of what features?

2. What are the materials of which the building is made? Why do you think they were chosen? How do they articulate the building's subject-matter?

3. During what historical period(s) was the building constructed? Does it hark back to earlier times?

4. What kind of presence does the building have? How does it relate to the surrounding space: does it dominate, meld in, contrast?

5. How do you respond to the building, and why?


B. Make a sketch of the building's exterior. Don't worry about getting all of the details, or in getting them perfectly "right".Reduce the exterior view to its geometrical components: rectangles, squares, circles, semicircles, triangles.


C. Make a sketch or photograph of an interesting detail of the exterior: a door-handle, window-frame, panel, cornerstone, statue or whatever.


D. Spend some time sitting in and walking around the interior space.


1. Do you find the entrance inviting?

2. How is the inner space organized? Is there a single focal point, or many? If so, what is it/are they? How do the focal points relate to the function of the building?

3. Is the inner space unified or disjointed? Does it harmonize or contrast with the exterior?

4. What materials are used inside the building, and to what effect?

5. How does the inner space make you feel? What elements inside are the most striking?


E. Make a sketch or photograph of an interior element or detail, and explain the purpose it serves in the building as a whole. What if any values does it communicate to you?


F. General questions:


1.     Is the building beautiful? Does it matter? Is the building well-designed? Does it matter?

2.     What cultural, social and/or religious values are projected by the building? What does the church say about the kind of God its builders believed in?

4. If architecture is a language, what language does this building speak?


Art Project

Re-imagining English Art: A Conversation with History


This Art Project asks you to create an original piece in some art form, as follows:


1. Decide first for which course you will complete this assignment: it must be for either LBST 291/412 or LBST 292/422; it must not be for LBST 290/390, nor for the course for which you complete the Creative Writing Assignment.

2. Select the art object which you have found to be the most interesting, valuable, beautiful, striking, intriguing of those things which you have encountered during the course you have chosen.

3. Document the work, in any appropriate form: photographic, drawn, written, collage, advertisements/pictures in magazines/postcards, etc. In your documentation you must identify the work: what is it? by whom is it? when was it made? of what is it made? what purpose/meaning did it historically have? what contemporary relevance, if any, does it have? why have you chosen it?

4. Respond to the work. This response may take any form: it may be (but is not limited to) a reproduction of the work in your own visual vocabulary or it may be a re-imagining, deconstruction, critique, celebration, inquiry into, or interrogation of the work. The piece may take any appropriate form: two-dimensional, three-dimensional or some combination thereof; painting, sculpture, mixed media, collage; found objects or attachments, assemblage; large, medium or small; mobile or stationary. It may be made from anything you think works to convey your ideas.

5. Title your piece.

6. Explain your piece. Include a typewritten account of the project that answers the following questions: How does it fulfil the task assigned? Why has it been created in this particular way?

7. Deliver your piece, including the account and other documentation described above, to the Liberal Studies Department at Vancouver Island University between August 15 and 24 (when there is someone there to receive it!).


This Art Project is worth 15% of your grade in the relevant course.


Do not be concerned if you feel that you lack artistic talent: first, you are probably wrong about this, and perhaps have all sorts of talents which you have not yet tapped; second, the range of media and techniques is very wide, so that you should be able to find some form of expression which you are able to manipulate freely; third, what are most important are the ideas you express through your piece.

Creative Writing Assignment


The task for this assignment is to write either a short story (1000 words maximum) or a poem exploring the theme of viewing the past through the eyes of the present. If you write a poem, it must have one of the standard structures we have encountered during the course (e.g. sonnet, free verse) and the title must specify this structure. The writing may be entirely fictional, based partly on fact, purely autobiographical or any combination of these. It must be related to the content of either LBST 291/412 OR 292/422, but must not be related to the course for which you complete the Art Project.


As we shall probably discover as the program progresses, when we try to relate the events of an historical period, or of our own earlier lives, it is impossible to avoid bringing in contemporary perspectives in the attempt to understand what has happened. This fact may lead to a distortion of the past events, but it need not do so: whether the lens of the present is essentially a distorting lens is one of the many issues comprehended under this general theme.


A second issue is that of how the past can help us to understand the present, whether by providing us with an historical precedent for some problem we are facing, or by helping us to understand the historical roots of an issue or to see it as no longer relevant to the modern age. This kind of factor is germane to the assignment because our own contemporary ways of viewing the past might themselves be historically-rooted, so that when we turn them on the past they turn back upon themselves.


An example of the kind of dynamic interaction of past and present which can lend a distinctive flavour to a piece of creative writing is in the selection of language. If I am remembering, for instance, the events of my early childhood, the child in me recounts those events and expresses his reactions in the simple version of the English language I/he then spoke. The adult who is writing about them now, however, has learned an entirely richer language for describing the world, including those past events and feelings. Autobiographical writing can achieve interesting and poignant effects by counterposing the two sensibilities, of the child and the adult, through the use of the two different kinds of language. Similar effects can be achieved in historical writing by distinguishing the language of the narrator from that of the people described in the narrative.


Expanding on the theme for the assignment in this way is not intended to set rigid constraints on what you can do, but merely to give you some idea of what is meant by "explore the theme of viewing the past through the eyes of the present." You may certainly come up with your own idea of what this theme means, and of how you want to construct your piece of writing so that it qualifies. If you are in any doubt about whether what you propose to do satisfies the conditions of the assignment, please discuss the matter with the instructors before starting.


This assignment will be worth 15% towards your grade in the relevant course. When complete it should be mailed to John Black at Vancouver Island University along with the other assignments, to arrive by August 24, 2001.




If you encounter any problems whatsoever (academic, legal or personal) while in England, please contact one of the instructors immediately. If they are not available, consult the staff at the residences. In cases of serious emergency, contact the Canadian Embassy in London or the International Education Department at VIU:


VIU Emergency Contacts: Audrey Hansen or Sheila Swanson: 250- 753-3245.