July 21, 2014
This year’s May Term included the “Special Topics in Regional Studies in the United States” course. Dr. Claire Deal, Elliott Professor of Rhetoric, led students to the coastal regions of South Carolina, Georgia, and extreme northeast Florida, known to many as the “Lowcountry and Sea Islands”.
The course examines the authenticity of a particular geographic region in the United States: a place defined by both its people and its natural environs. Its history, physical environment, language, cultural expressions, religious traditions, and economics are studied in order to develop a sense of the area’s unique attributes and contributions.
This was an experiential, educational trip with hands-on learning and many adventure activities that took students deep into the region. The course work included tours, camping, biking, and kayaking in various locations. These experiences helped each student create a digital blog with a three-part entry describing an activity or site, their personal reflection, and an analysis of its relevance to the course content. Ryan Kluk ‘16 writes in his blog “When I first heard about the trip, I never imagined it would turn out like it did. The trip was way more than I ever could have expected… The cultures that we witnessed were just as unique as the landscape itself.”
Along with their written work, each student was assigned the task of delivering four speechs based on the places they visited or the historical issues confronting the community. One student, Austin Franklin ‘15, discussed the importance of the First African American Baptist Church in Savannah, GA, built by and for the enslaved people and used as site of the Underground Railroad. Another student, Holden McLemore ‘15, delivered a speech on the community’s economic development and increasing cruise ship traffic in Charleston as a means of enhancing the region.
Pictured at right (left to right), Austin Franklin ‘17 and Graves Anthony ‘15 discover an artifact of Cumberland Island’s history. Below, the class on the last day of the term. Some of the students' blogs and photos can be viewed at LINK and LINK.