Wordsworth 2017 Day Five: Intense Effort, Togetherness Leads to Fitting Tribute to Poet

Wordsworth 2017 Day Five: Intense Effort, Togetherness Leads to Fitting Tribute to Poet

Posted by: on July 14, 2017   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

Our last day was a flurry of hard work, as the students assembled their final project: an exhibit in the Wordsworth Museum.

The Wordsworth Trust has a major grant to redesign its exhibitions, and Jeff Cowton, curator of the Wordsworth Trust, enlisted the class as part of their efforts: he wanted them to find a way to present literary manuscripts to the general public in an interesting way. That means finding the story each manuscript contains within it, and figuring out how to tell the story clearly and concisely, with impressive visual illustrations.

The class decided to tell the story of how a poem is made, and chose two examples. In the first, Wordsworth developed a new poem out of another he was already writing, and students told that story by overlaying two manuscript pages with clear plastic, using color-coded lines and text boxes to do so.  The poem, “Old Man Travelling, or Animal Tranquillity and Decay,” was one of the original Lyrical Ballads. Jeff praised their design, saying that no manuscript had ever been presented in that way, and that it represented a major step forward.

Their second example focused on revision and transcription of one of the most famous episodes from Wordsworth’s autobiographical poem, The Prelude: the stolen boat episode, an episode he wrote and rewrote for over 40 years. What impressed them was how many family members contributed to the composition process: William himself, his sister Dorothy, who produced the first fair copy of the poem in her best handwriting, his wife Mary, who also produced a full fair copy, his clerk John Carter, who transcribed the poem in his best handwriting, and his daughter Dora, who helped her father produce the last fair copy of the poem, the basis of the version published in 1850, after Wordsworth’s death.

So they placed a copy of the first edition, open to the stolen boat episode, in the center, and surrounded it with silhouettes of the contributors, and a sample of their handwritten versions of the opening lines of the episode, and they called the display “a family affair.”

And indeed it was, as was the project itself, since after two weeks of such intense effort and togetherness, we became a family, dedicated to the beautiful landscape of the English Lake District, and the poet and his family who lived and wrote there.

Bruce Graver

Our last day was a flurry of hard work, as the students assembled their final project: an exhibit in the Wordsworth Museum. The Wordsworth Trust has a major grant to redesign its exhibitions, and Jeff Cowton, curator of the Wordsworth Trust, enlisted the class as part of their efforts: he wanted them to find a […]MORE

Creating Change, Preserving Heritage in South Africa

Posted by: on July 13, 2017   |Comments (0)|Uncategorized

Hey everybody!

For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies.

I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and I have finally adjusted to the time change. Being back in my favorite place in the world has me extremely grateful to Providence College and the Feinstein Institute for Public Service for the various research grants I have received and for choosing me to be the trip leader of the Global Service Learning trip.

Through the Global Service Learning trip, I will be taking part in a course at the University of Cape Town called “Social Infrastructures,” which includes various site visits and focuses on what it really means to engage with the local community in an intentional way. I took this course last year, and it introduced me to some of the most resilient communities I have ever encountered. I will also be spending an extra two weeks in Cape Town (one being this week before the group arrives and one after the group leaves to go back to the States) conducting two research projects. The first is with my adviser, Dr. Nick Longo, and the second will be alongside Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, a farmer and political activist at Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) – an agroecology site. I will be conducting interviews and focus groups to collect data in order to build a case for PHA to submit to the United Nations so that it can hopefully gain status as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems Site (GIAHS).

My first few days here have been full of lots of reading, research, and taking some time to become acquainted with this area of the city (since last year, I stayed a bit closer to the university). But, as much as I love to adventure around to coffee shops and take in the fresh (45 degree, YES, IT’S COLD HERE) air, this first week has to be full of research. As I sit in my room reading articles and taking notes on Philippi Horticultural Area, outside my window sits Lions Head – one of my favorite mountains in South Africa. Hiking is my number one favorite past time and although the mountains (one of my favorite parts about Cape Town) are calling me, I must do research. Being able to research in my favorite place reminds me of what a privilege it is to be a student of Providence College and the opportunities that have been provided to me by this institution.

Becoming a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System site (GIAHS) is not easy, and it requires a lot of support from not only the members of PHA, but also the City of Cape Town itself. One of the major reasons PHA desires to gain this status GIAHS is to have an international arm of support against City developers. PHA is a very special place because a little over a quarter of its surface area is a seasonal wetland. Through my research, I have found that it has a great history and heritage in agriculture. In the 1650’s the Khoi and San nomadic tribes would let their animals graze over this land, and in the 1850’s the Philippi Germans came and began agriculture here. They used various heritage techniques, one being no-till farming. However, during the apartheid state in South Africa thousands who were not considered to be “white” were forcibly relocated to this area known as the Cape Flats. This area became and still remains a place full of informal and formal settlements leaving less and less land for farming and greater food insecurity in Cape Town.

The land that remains (a little over 3,000 hectare) is the last of the land over the aquifer. This is important because this is what makes PHA so great for farming. The aquifer replenishes itself and allows over 4,000 farmers in Philippi to produce about 80% of the vegetables to the City of Cape Town, which is just about 200,000 tons of food. This is why PHA is known as the “breadbasket” of Cape Town. However, over the past few years developers have been attempting to gain permission to create housing developments on the remaining land over the aquifer. This is severely detrimental for a couple of reasons. First, it would deplete the only remaining land over the aquifer, which would not leave any land for agriculture. If no land is left for agriculture, the City would have to import vegetables and the prices would severely increase. Second, it would deplete livelihoods. This would cause more than 4,000 farmers to lose their jobs and their source of income.

Because of all of this, over 25 local organizations have formed the PHA Food and Farming Campaign against the City developers. The spokesperson of the campaign, Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, is who I am working alongside in this research. Although the PHA Food and Farming Campaign just recently had a large victory over the developers this past February/March by winning a court case against development, their battle is far from over.

This is where my research comes in. The interviews and focus groups I conduct will lead to data and narratives to be analyzed so that PHA can apply to be a GIAHS and hopefully gain status and increased protection against developers.

The end of this week will be filled with perusing through the South Africa National Library for important documents, going to the Cultural Heritage Museum, meeting on UCT’s campus with other researchers who have done work in Philippi, and forming more interview documents. This first preliminary week is all about setting the groundwork to propel me into researching alongside the activists and farmers in Philippi – so it is hard not to be excited. I am also preparing to do an Instagram and Snapchat takeover through PC’s @friargram account, so look out for details on that.

The rest of the PC group arrives on Sunday and then class, “Social Infrastructures,” will begin. I am really looking forward to class beginning and for the group to arrive! We will have an extremely packed schedule once class begins! I am quite busy but enjoy balancing all of these diverse roles!

Until next time! Sending a lot of love all the way from South Africa!

Delina

Hey everybody! For those who do not know me, my name is Delina (Dee), and I am a rising senior at Providence College – double majoring in Global Studies and Public and Community Service Studies with a minor in Black Studies. I have now been in Cape Town, South Africa, for a few days, and […]MORE

Wordsworth 2017 Day One: Understanding the Poet’s Human Side

Posted by: on June 6, 2017   |Comments (0)|Undergraduate Research

Maymester in England
A group of English majors recently spent the week abroad in England as part of the Maymester course, Wordsworth in the Lake District. After a week of study at PC, the students traveled to Grasmere, William Wordsworth’s home in the picturesque English Lake District. Below is the first of five daily posts that recap the group’s time in the U.K.

Our first day started with a tour of the area that Wordsworth lived in during his time at Grasmere. Upon our arrival at the Wordsworth Trust, we enjoyed tea time with our instructors and snacked on homemade gingerbread, which is somewhat of a delicacy to locals and others who find out about it. We briefly relaxed as we were informed of the tasks that lie ahead of us throughout the week.

After we finished our tea and snacks, we were given a personal tour of Dove Cottage, the home where Wordsworth composed a large number of his most influential poems. We got to see the very bedroom that he slept in, the kitchen that he ate in, and the garden where he looked out upon the mountain range of Grasmere. This opportunity allowed us to see a more human side of Wordsworth that is often forgotten when one finds himself lost in the genius of Wordsworth’s words. The tour also gave us the opportunity to stand in the very footsteps of a successful poet while looking out onto the nature that inspired him most.

Seeing the beauty of the scenery that surrounds his home from a first-hand perspective makes me understand why he appears so awestruck in his poems. Together we stood at the highest point in Wordsworth’s garden while overlooking the hillside. After we finished in Dove Cottage, we chatted with our instructor, Jeff Cowton, about how to improve the current status of the museum in order to gain a larger crowd of clientele.

Katherine FitzMorris

Maymester in England A group of English majors recently spent the week abroad in England as part of the Maymester course, Wordsworth in the Lake District. After a week of study at PC, the students traveled to Grasmere, William Wordsworth’s home in the picturesque English Lake District. Below is the first of five daily posts […]MORE

Life in the lab: Back at home (and missing Max)

Posted by: on July 15, 2016   |Comments (0)|Walsh Fellows

Hi guys!

After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab for 20 years and attempting to find a spot for them. How am I supposed to categorize an old computer mouse, a pink geode crystal that looks like it was purchased from an aquarium, and a mysterious wooden box labeled ‘government property?’

Max is not having nearly as much fun as I am this summer — he suddenly entered a coma during one of our trials. He refused to respond and is currently in New Jersey seeking treatment.

Although this tragedy set us back quite a bit, Roger Williams University down the road in Bristol, R.I., offered for us to come down and use their fluorometer while Max is recovering. We’ve also spent some time at URI this summer — proving that science really is about collaboration. That chemistry collaboration also exists within the Providence College Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. There’s actually so much collaboration that I convinced my fellow researchers in the department to star in a little video that I decided to make one afternoon as a spoof of The Office.

Despite taking group trips to the grocery store, going on coffee runs to several different places, and hanging out with friends and seeing Finding Dory (in addition to shooting and editing that entire video), I promise I do actually get work done in lab. We just finished collecting all of the data for the Extended Lipid Hypothesis project last week and are slowly chipping away at writing the paper. I consolidated all of the data into graphs for the easiest display and wrote the “experimental,” or the procedure, so far. Hopefully it’ll be published in time for me to apply to graduate school!

Since I’m done collecting data for that project, I’m focusing more heavily on my second project while the paper is coming together. The second project I’m working on consists of radiating different plastics, specifically polystyrene and PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) with UV light and observing how their chemical structure changes as a result. When plastics come in contact with UV light for an extended period of time, the UV light breaks weaker bonds in the structure of the plastics and creates substances with odd-numbered electrons known as free radicals. These free radicals then react with the other particles of plastic and with each other — altering the chemistry of the plastic.

We monitor the plastics, furthermore, in water, and eventually hope to study this degradation of plastic in a mock-ocean environment. That way we can hope to better understand how plastics in our ocean affect the environment so we can work on preventing those effects!

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more information on my summer research in Friartown (and the much more important Chemistry vs. Biology wiffle ball game rumored to happen this weekend)!

Bri

Hi guys! After more than a month of wandering around Al Mag, I’m finally moving into my renovated lab! That means I’m going to spend the majority of the day carting chemicals back and forth and attacking things with a label maker. Unpacking boxes also means finding objects that have been hiding in a lab […]MORE