Summer School 2015 Reviews

Edinburgh Summer School Review - MA and International Students

Having the opportunity of learning the culture in Edinburgh and applying it to real life makes the Edinburgh Summer School a very impressive and efficient study experience. The Summer School is a chance to get first hand experience for cultural studies students, which provides a unique learning environment that is drastically different from what students traditionally do in the classroom. This ?learning through living? experience makes learning cultural studies more tangible.

Even though there were relatively few Masters modules offered, the coordinators of the program were willing to be flexible with individual student?s needs. This means Masters students still have the possibility to actively participate in the program, even though perhaps one module has already been completed in a previous semester. However, there is a majority of Bachelor students in the courses, which made discussions lack a certain depth, especially on a theoretical and analytical level. For this reason, courses would benefit from the participation of more masters students.

International students also have the opportunity not only to participate in yet another abroad program, but they are able to experience the program through another cultural perspective, namely that of a German student?s perspective. The international students were not treated any differently from the German students and were actively involved in the group mentality. For future courses, it would be beneficial to include more of the international students? distinctive cultural experiences in order to enrich the study and understanding of Scottish culture.

In conclusion, the Edinburgh Summer School program was an enjoyable and educational experience which more Masters and International students should be involved with in the future.

Edinburgh Summer School Review - Scottish Women's gothic writing

Every summer, forty students get the chance to participate in the Edinburgh Summer School. It offers the amazing opportunity to study Scottish literature and culture right where it actually takes place. One of the literature courses of the 2015 Summer School was about Scottish women's gothic writing. We mainly discussed the novels O Caledonia by Elspeth Barker, Hotel World by Ali Smith, and So I Am Glad by A.L. Kennedy. We examined them with regards to different cultural approaches, such as gender criticism and psychoanalysis. The topic in itself was very interesting and we learned a lot about Scottish literature and the gothic genre. We also learned how to analyse texts with regard to cultural approaches and got to practise it.

Having to read three novels, a short story and a few texts on the topic may seem like a lot of work for a two week long course. But studying Scottish Literature in Scotland offers a lot of advantages. It is, after all, a lot easier to understand a culture and it's specific literature when witnessing it first hand. Concentrating on the subject for three hours every day also allowed us to get a deeper insight into the literature and methods. And even though it was challenging at times it was definitely worth it. An example for the benefits of the Summer School is the City of Literature Tour we got to do. It is a tour of all the places in Edinburgh which have a certain significance when it comes to literature. Seeing where the books we were learning about were written and are set was an amazing experience. We learned background stories and got to expand our knowledge on Scottish writers and their work. We also had two amazing guest lectures. Ian Campbell, an emeritus Professor at Edinburgh University, taught us about Scottish literature. Christine de Luca, the current Edinburgh Makar, read us some of her poems and talked to us about different dialects. We even went on a City of the Dead Tour to experience the uncanny and gothic history of Edinburgh. These moments allowed us to get a much deeper understanding of the matters we were getting acquainted with during the two weeks.

All in all, the Edinburgh Summer School was a great experience. I personally believe that we learned more in the two weeks than we could have during the semester. The background information and experience we acquired was very valuable when it came to writing our term papers. I felt like it allowed us to gain a deeper understanding and connection with the literature we were discussing. It was a fun, educational and unforgettable experience.

Edinburgh Summer School Review

When I went to the Summer School this year, I was unsure what to suspect. The course description and reading material available were as broadly spread as expected. Given this variety I was uncertain if I would be able to keep up with the course and still have time to explore the town or just relax for an hour or two. A lot was on the slate: the National Poet: Robert Burns, whose poems could keep a class busy for much longer than two weeks, but also an abundance of other poets ranging from an early Walther Scott to contemporary writers, deeply involved in Scotland?s troubles of today. I have to say though that whilst my expectations were met, my fears were not.

As a survey one could not expect deep and detailed studies of a single work. If ones interest were solely in Burns?s love poetry, one might be disappointed. To everybody else the course was immensely interesting, since it managed to show a broad variety of different poems, authors and topics. By that I mean a short, but highly informative overview of the works of Robert Burns, of course the most important writer in the context of Scottish Poetry, pre-romantic patriotism in the form of Lady Nairn?s lament for ?Bonnie? Prince Charlie, and highly romantic travel guides to Scottish lochs in Sir Walther Scott?s ?Lady of the Lake?. But also other poets were examined, such as the beautiful depictions of a romanticised village in Joana Bailie?s poetry and even contemporary poems, mainly dealing with the reception of Burns today, by Liz Lochead, Scotland?s official poet and Seamus Heaney, an Irish poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. We even had a visitor from the Scottish Poetry Library, an institution founded to preserve Scotland?s rich poetic tradition. Jennifer Williams, a poet herself, talked about the library projects, making poetry accessible and approachable to a broad public, but also about her own work, giving us an insight into a poet?s mind at work. To wrap it all up, the course did what was expected in a very good fashion. Neither did the focus stay on one topic too long to deviate from the overview promised, nor were the topics on hand dealt with in a shallow or superficial way.
What I could take away, as many others, was a good and concise understanding of the broad variety that Scottish poetry of the period offers, both to the inclined reader, who might wish to enjoy good poetry, but also to the scholarly reader, we were in the context of the class. In connection with the ?Landeskunde? seminars and the visitors we had both in the course and in the wonderful lectures by Professor Ian Campbell and the author Christine DeLuca, we explored poetry as such and the specialties of Scottish poetry in particular.

Edinburgh Summer School Review - Scotland Then and Now

The course Scottish life and institutions then and now held by Miss Reitemeier and Mr. Pfändner gave us a brief impression on what it means to live in Scotland. Furthermore we learned about the history of "becoming Scottish" and the recent developments in politics.

With Miss Reitemeier we talked about Scottish art, living conditions and Scottish history. Therefore we visited the national museum of Scotland, the national gallery and a house-museum where we were able to see how the living conditions used to be. We could choose between "Gladstone's land" or "The Georgian's House". For preparations we were asked to look up some terms and read 3 texts.

Mister Pfändner on the other hand talked about modern politics in Scotland. We started with an introduction to Margaret Thatchers political impact on Scotland and with contemporary politics. To make it more understandable we went to the new Scottish parliament and had a guided tour.

All in all we can say that the mix of theoretical and practical learning was well balanced, made it really interesting and helped us to understand the context, because it is easier to learn something about a country's history when you're actually there. We really enjoyed the timewe had in Scotland and can recommend it to anyone.