It’s been a long road since freshman year — since being inundated with icebreakers like “Where are you from?”, “What are your interests?”, etc. This blog is my final chance to lead off with an icebreaker activity as I share a little information about myself, my background, and my research! My name is Patrick Ford and I’m a senior here at Providence College. I’m in the process of obtaining a B.S. in marketing, along with an English minor. I come from a small, rural town in southern New Hampshire. Home to the most prestigious private high school in the United States (Phillips Exeter Academy), Exeter is a sleepy, colonial town with a rich history — deep rooted in the heart of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, I attended the public school on the other side of town. Anyway, I mention my hometown and the peaceful surrounding area because that is where my research begins.
Exeter, along with the neighboring towns of Portsmouth, Hampton, Seabrook, and Dover are experiencing a frightening epidemic. Heroin use is at an all-time high in the United States, but there are pockets of the country that are witnessing even more destruction. Rockingham County in New Hampshire was recently classified as one of the top 25 most dangerous counties in the country in regard to drug overdoses. Normally, this collection of sleepy New Hampshire towns is relatively crime free, but from 2014-2015, the Union Leader cited 540 overdoses in the state alone. That figure is staggering. Thanks to Governor Maggie Hassan’s proactive approach to this epidemic, first responders are now armed with the opiate antidote Narcan, which has saved hundreds of lives across the state — leaving the overdose death count at 40.
The reason I am so invested in studying this epidemic starts with its proximity to my home. Also, doctors are prescribing painkillers (opioids) at the highest rates in history. These medications are extremely addictive and can turn a simple surgery into a lifetime of dependence. The problem really begins after the patient’s prescription runs out. Prescription opioids are expensive and many people cannot finance a full-fledged opioid addiction, so they turn to street drugs like heroin. Buying heroin on the street is a risky investment for a number of reasons. Street heroin is cut with harmful chemicals and sometimes even more potent drugs. Over the next few entries, I will do my best to fully explain opiate and opioid addiction and how easily it can spiral out of control.
Alternative medication has been viewed as a key to fighting, or at the very least, containing this epidemic. Medical cannabis is one of the fastest growing industries in the healthcare field. Although, federal laws still classify this drug as a dangerous narcotic, President Obama has left cannabis legislation in the hands of the states. Twenty three states have already legalized medical cannabis and four states have actually legalized recreational use of the drug. Through my research, medical cannabis is consistently advocated in place of prescription pain medication. It is true that the social stigma of the drug has impeded its progress into mainstream medical practices, but studies have shown that it suppresses pain and combats insomnia in the same ways that medications, such as prescribed painkillers, do. Now, I’m not saying that each time a doctor prescribes a patient with an opioid, the patient develops a need for that drug post operation, but the fact that it IS happening is extremely concerning.
I have created a survey that will be sent out to hundreds of folks across the country, asking about addiction, patient doctor satisfaction, and the perceived effects of medical cannabis and other drugs. The responses will be complied to study the social stigmas and benefits of drugs, primarily cannabis and opioids. Hopefully conclusions can be made that will slow down the heroin epidemic and advocate for serious consideration of other medications.
–Patrick Ford ’16
It’s been a long road since freshman year — since being inundated with icebreakers like “Where are you from?”, “What... MORE
On our last day in Grasmere, students quickly finished up their online exhibition, linking the writings of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and images of their manuscripts with photographs and drawings of the places they describe. Their intention was to assemble something that the Trust would find useful for its outreach program to seniors with memory loss. Then came the test: how would it be received? They had an exacting audience: Jeff Cowton, Curator of the Wordworth Trust, and Gillian Dow, head of research at Chawton House Library, the center of Jane Austen studies. I was impressed with the clarity of their presentation, and the sophistication of the project—and so were Cowton and Dow. It was a triumph.
Triumphs deserve rewards, so Jeff brought out some of the Trust’s greatest treasures for us to hold and admire. The earliest complete manuscripts of The Prelude, Wordsworth’s autobiographical epic, a beautiful Lake District watercolor by J.M.W. Turner, a first edition of Lyrical Ballads which we passed around while reading Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and, for Konner Jebb, a first edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and a recitation of the moment of the monster’s creation.
After lunch and souvenirs at the sheep shop, we headed north to Keswick for our last excursion. First stop: Castlerigg Stone Circle, a Stonehenge in miniature, ringed by Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Helvellyn, three towering Lake District mountains. Next, Jeff drove us through the village of Keswick and, ever so gingerly, along a narrow road around Derwentwater. Try doing hairpins in a minibus! We stopped at Brandelhow Woods for dramatic views of the mountains and the lake. The poet Gray called Derwentwater “the Vale of Elysium,” and we could all see why.
The day ended with rest in the Dove Cottage gardens and another meal in Wordsworth’s home: salads and cold meat pies, and plenty of laughter and memories. It was a fitting end to a perfect week.
Sometimes, teaching is simply sharing a gift. 30 years ago, I was given the gift of Wordsworth’s lakes by the late Stephen Parrish of Cornell. Last week, I was able to pass that gift on to eight PC students—John Connolly, Branan Durbin, Kris Gianquitti, Konnor Jebb, Abby Johnston, Patricia Krupinski, Brendan Murphy, and Nick Tavares. I have never felt more privileged.
–Dr. Bruce Graver
Maymester in England On our last day in Grasmere, students quickly finished up their online exhibition, linking the writings of... MORE
A rainy Thursday in the Lake District saw us holed up in the “reading room” today. If it hasn’t been mentioned before, the reading room is the archive room at the Wordsworth Trust. It has a great, big table in the center and several million dollars of rare and important books lining all four walls (that estimate is a guess because Dr. Graver won’t be more precise). A day in the reading room is really notable for the silence that pervades it. There is no rule against speaking in it, but a hush falls on the group when we all begin to settle into the various aspects of the research we’re preparing. It’s not a library silence, and it is by no means an awkward silence. Rather, there is an air of focus and intensity.
I have had very few academic experiences in my life akin to the feeling of the silence this morning. For a solid hour and half before lunch (after tea, of course), scarcely a word was spoken nor a joke made (unusual for a group like us), and there was a mood of devotion to what we were doing. It may have been the first time on the entire trip that I felt as if we’d all found exactly what we came for: handling the primary texts (diligently) and working toward the common goal of understanding what it is about life, literature, and landscape that we find so intrinsically important to ourselves. Anyway, it may be hard to capture perfectly, but the commonality that I’ve found in studying the worth of Wordsworth’s words in their original form, and the intense emotion that accompanies has had a lasting effect today, if not for the entirety of this trip to the Lakes.
–John Connolly ’16
During lunch, some of us ventured into town to explore downtown Grasmere, exploring shops for local wool products and other souvenirs to bring home. The other half of the group set out on a walk around Grasmere Lake, but within 10 minutes of our journey we were soaked by a flash of down-pouring rain. We returned to continue work on our project, making progress on an online exhibit for the museum and a presentation geared toward an audience that is unable to travel to Grasmere. We connected our personal experiences with the beautiful landscapes of the Lakes District to William’s poems and Dorothy’s journal entries. Our hard work was rewarded by one of the most delicious meals of the trip — a steak and ale pie made by our lovely hosts at the Thorney How hostel, followed by apple and rhubarb crisp. The beautiful old words, the sights, the friendly people, and the delicious food have made this trip unforgettable so far, and with our Saturday departure approaching, we are all savoring every moment while we can.
–Nick Tavares ’16
Maymester in England A rainy Thursday in the Lake District saw us holed up in the “reading room” today. If... MORE
This morning was the first truly cloudy morning as we walked to Dove Cottage, but not even the clouds could cover Grasmere’s natural beauty.
The first half of the morning we listened to two women from the Trust discuss how the museum engages elementary school children. One of the kids’ favorite activities is matching stanzas of Wordsworth’s poems to a story board. To get the full experience, we tried this activity for ourselves. Luckily, we all got it right.
We spent the second half of the morning looking at facsimiles of one of Wordsworth’s handmade notebooks in which he works out parts of “The Ruined Cottage.” Deciphering Wordsworth’s handwriting made reading the manuscript an almost meditative experience, as it required extra concentration. We also compared the manuscript to a typed copy of the final poem, paying extra attention to what Wordsworth kept and what he left out of the poem. A large section of the manuscript was dedicated to several rewritings of only a few lines of the poem. As writers, it was reassuring to see Wordsworth’s editing process and realize how many verses do not make it into the final product and how much even authors as great as Wordsworth sometimes struggle with their writing.
Abby Johnston ’2017
This afternoon, after a quick lunch in town, we returned to the Trust to begin working on our project. We spent some time bouncing various ideas back and forth, deciding to use all we’ve researched this week to explore the emotions found in Dorothy and Wordsworth’s own writing. Specifically how the landscape and picturesque spaces among the Lake District relate to these emotional responses.
Our project consists of eight different excerpts from both Dorothy’s journals and William Wordsworth’s poetry. Each of us is writing a short review of a specific journal entry or poem, giving examples of the descriptions of Grasmere within the works themselves that illustrate the emotional impact they had on the two of them. We’re also including visuals of manuscripts, sketches of the areas within each entry, and quite possibly even a few recitations of the works we chose. Jeff seemed excited when we pitched our idea to him. Hopefully, this exhibit will become a valuable one for the Trust and both interests and excites their visitors!
It finally rained today, and Grasmere was still just as beautiful. After our work was done, Jeff drove us back to the hostel where we had another lovely dinner that involved chicken Caesar salad – the chicken was wrapped in bacon! It was a great night that was spent laughing and working on our project after dinner.
Konnor Jebb ’2016
Maymester in England This morning was the first truly cloudy morning as we walked to Dove Cottage, but not even... MORE
This morning we made our way back to the Jerwood Center bright and early. The walk to the center from our hostel is about half an hour long and quite beautiful, taking us through Grasmere past various shops and establishments.
At the Trust, we had the opportunity to use the tips and tricks we had learned the day before about handling and interpreting manuscripts. Jeff led us through the process of analyzing one document in particular, allowing us to make discoveries for ourselves through our various observations and gently using our insights to prompt us in the correct direction. We eventually ascertained that the particular document we had in front of us was about 200 lines of a final draft of “Home at Grasmere,” a poem we studied in class back at PC this past Friday. In the poem, Wordsworth explores the nearly divine beauty of his home. Since it holds a subject so personal and dear to his heart, this poem more than others feels as though it has more of him in it, which made having the original manuscript before us even more precious.
Branan Durbin ’16
Just before lunch we went to our afternoon destination of Hawkshead. This trip was being taken so that we could view more of the locations referenced by Wordsworth in his poetry, specifically in his Prelude. We visited his elementary school (called primary school here in the UK) and his childhood parish. After the first few sites, we went for lunch in the village and then continued out to the rural areas of Hawkshead. We finished it with some cream tea and scones, and then hopped on our minibus to drive back to Grasmere and The Wordsworth Trust. Once back, we listened to a presentation by a philosopher introducing a new interpretation of Wordsworth as a poet. When this finished, we headed back to Thorney How for a lovely dinner, some drinks, and conversation. After dinner, some of us went off to read, others to write, and a few went for a hike.
In May and June, the sun does not set in the Lake District until around 10:15 p.m. This is an incredible asset for visitors. I was a part of the group that went for an evening hike. We went towards the Easedale Tarn, traversing pastures, rocky roads, and steep hills. The experience was incredible in the evening air. Though we had hiked as an entire group and experienced the magic that these hills can share a day prior, the feeling was just as incredible this second time. We each sat at a peek or near a lake and reflected on our day and the landscape. It is a truly fantastic way to end a busy day. We joined up again as the sun began to set and returned to the hostel. Again a whole group, we relaxed until bed, thankful for another terrific day.
Brendan Murphy ’16
Maymester in England This morning we made our way back to the Jerwood Center bright and early. The walk to... MORE