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Spend an interim in the historical heart of New England

Visit the places that shaped Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Connect with contemporary authors and publishers. Put on Little Women-style plays in your free time. Something clicks when you breathe in the places where great writers spent their lives.


  •   Author: Prof. Donald Hettinga
  •   Published: October 2, 2019
  •   Author: Prof. Donald Hettinga
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

What you’ll study

The “New England Saints” interim will connect you with one of the most vibrant times in American literature: a period around the middle of the 19th century that critics call the American Renaissance. In this class, you’ll reflect on the ways that the history of a region—here, eastern Massachusetts—affected the writers of the time.

A good number of these writers, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau, lived in Concord, a small village north of Boston and your home for the month.

Where you’ll stay 

For the majority of your time in New England, you’ll stay at a lovely bed and breakfast where your group will make meals together, gather for discussions and singing, and even put on a play, acting out scenes the way that Alcott and her sisters did.

Where you’ll visit

  • Cape Cod for Henry David Thoreau 
  • Amherst for Emily Dickinson 
  • Lowell for a study of the literary accomplishments of young women who moved from farms to work in cotton mills

What you have in common with these writers

  • Many of these writers weren’t famous when they first lived in Concord. They wanted to write, and they struggled to get published. 
  • They were passionate about life, ideas, and social justice—and wanted to find friends who shared those passions.

Professional connections

On this trip, you’ll end up hearing the life stories of many of the people you meet—from published authors to bookstore owners. You’ll meet with a number of contemporary artists, illustrators, and editors. On past trips, the group has met with creators of children’s books like Chris Van Allsburg (think Jumanji and Polar Express) and Jarrett J. Krosocka (think the Lunch Lady books and the Jedi Academy series).

Immersive learning in Plymouth

You’ll enter Plimoth Plantation for an intense three days of historical re-creation. Not only will you sleep in Pilgrim cabins and cook over wood fires, you’ll also engage the period from the point of view of the indigenous peoples who inhabited New England long before the Mayflower sailed into the bay.

You’ll meet with descendants of the Wampanoag people, discussing their story of the encounter with Europeans, eating a Native American meal with them, and spending time in a re-creation of one of their longhouses while learning about canoe making and their agriculture.

Favorite Moments

  • Walking on Walden Pond
  • Holding drafts and journals of 19th century writers
  • Participating in the group’s nightly sing-alongs
  • Listening to a student play Emerson’s piano
  • Experiencing a re-creation of the Battle of Lexington with snowballs 
  • Browsing used bookstores

Learn more on the program page or by watching the video overview.

  •   Author: Prof. Donald Hettinga
  •   Published: October 2, 2019

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