By Grace Apostol
News Co -Editor
Retired Washington College English Professor and Co-Founder of the Kiplin Hall Trip Dr. Richard Gillin visited the College on Monday, Nov. 7 to discuss his work with the program.
The event began with Assistant Professor of English Dr. Katherine Charles introducing Dr. Gillin, who taught literature at WC for over four decades, to the audience.
According to Dr. Gillin, he and his wife, Barbara Gillin, were invited to a conference on Romanticism and Williams Wordsworth in the Lake District of Yorkshire, England in the 1970s, beginning the idea for what is now known at WC as the Kiplin Hall Trip.
“We fell in love with the area, the Lake District,” Dr. Gillin said.
Dr. Charles also had the opportunity to hike for five days in the Lake District during one of the trips.
“It’s this really interesting, this really other-worldly beautiful landscape that also has a lot to tell us about various environmental histories as well as literary histories, so for every part of your brain and body, there is something we can work on in this space with this companionable band, this improvisable family,” Dr. Charles said.
The trip grew to be a two week experience for students at WC to hike the Lake District while reading and learning about the authors who wrote of the areas they are hiking.
“During the two week Kiplin Hall program, students attend lectures each morning and participate in field excursions in the afternoons,” the WC page on the trip said. “Sites of significant historic, literary, landscape, and architectural interest are part of the field experience. Students have an opportunity to explore areas where [William] Wordsworth, [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge, [Mary] Shelley, and other influential literary figures found so much inspiration.”
Dr. Gillin also read several excerpts of his book “A Guide to Hiking the Liberal Arts: The WC Kiplin Hall Program,” which describes numerous encounters of Dr. Gillin’s times hiking in both Ireland and England with students.
“I want students to experience an initial exposure to foregin cultures in England, Scotland, and Ireland,” he said. “I want them to read literature connected with various landscapes we visit. I want them to write honestly about the experience. I want them to find ways to getting along with others in intense situations, developing ways to accepting differences among them, and I want them to discover how their way of confronting different challenges in hiking often in trying circumstances, makes them away of how they have greater powers of will, intellectual depth, and physical strength than they expected.”
According to the WC website page regarding the trip, Dr. Gillin and his late wife began the trip in 1999 and continued to do so for 20 years, ending in 2019 with Dr. Gillin’s retirement.
With Dr. Gillin returning next semester to teach a special topics Irish film class called Ireland and Irishness, the responsibility of leading this literary trip is being handed over to Dr. Charles.
According to Dr. Charles, she will be conducting a seven day Kiplin Hall trip in the summer of 2024, which will be open to all students to apply, including the graduating class of 2024.
“This is a program that no one on campus right now has direct links with alumni who participated, due to the pandemic…It’s important to me that people who have been hearing about this for the last couple of years have that opportunity,” Dr. Charles said.
To learn more about the trip, interested students can visit WC’s page regarding Kiplin Hall at https://www.washcoll.edu/academic_departments/english/kiplin-hall-trip/index.php.
Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Photo Caption: Kiplin Hall, a museum in North Yorkshire, England, was built in the seventeenth century by Maryland founder George Calvert, according to its website, kiplinhall.co.uk.