A Tale of Two Cities Study Abroad, June 2019
Dr. Stephen Himes, Librarian Carrie Jacquin, MA/MS, and Theater Director Shana Prentiss, MA
Students read A Tale of Two Cities during the school year, and during Interim Week they read Claire Tomalin's biography of Dickens, Oliver Twist, and then were given a prompt: What is History? How do we know what we think we know about the French Revolution? During the trip, students followed learning activities to understand how Dickens wrote his historical fiction, the social conditions in London that influenced Dickens' view of the French Revolution, and the actual history of the French Revolution itself. The students investigated Dickens' original handwritten manuscripts at the Victoria and Albert Museum; engaged in an all-day learning session at the Dickens Museum, concluding with the actor Dominic Gerrard performing Dickens' own script he used to promote A Tale of Two Cities; took a trip to the British Film Library to learn about how the French Revolution has been portrayed on stage and screen; enjoyed several tours by Blue Badge guides geared toward our project; and participated in other intensive, hands-on, authentic research. During the evening, cultural and entertainment around the two cities were enjoyed: leaning against the stage in the Groundlings Pit for The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe after an acting session with a member of the company (the group was even mentioned in a review of the play as "part of the show"!), experiencing the English National Opera's Hansel and Gretel at the Open Air Theatre at Regents Park, Top Girls at the National Theatre; and Les Miserables the night before the train to Paris, after a learning session at the Prince of Wales Theatre where part of the production team taught us how they used the historical record to block the famous barricade scene.