Creative Writing/English

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Caribbean Sea: Fall 3-week, 2012

Travel Dates: November 29 - December 17, 2012

The Faculty

Rodney Hessinger, Professor of History

Renee Gutierrez, Assistant Professor of Spanish

The Course

INTD 280: Contested Seas:  Exploration, Exploitation, and Resistance in the Caribbean Basin

3 credit hours plus 1 credit hour to be taken during fall 12-week session

The Program

Conquistadors, slaves, sailors, pirates, and merchants, among others, jostled for power in a contest over the Caribbean.  This course will examine the conquest of the Caribbean basin by the colonial European powers from historical and literary perspectives.  It will explore both rhetorical and physical contest, revealing how the major European New World empires rose and fell.

In the course of readings, students will encounter a literary contest over the Caribbean.  From the very moment of arrival, the explorer Columbus staked rhetorical claim to the territory he saw, inscribing inhabited lands with new European names.  Such presumptions aided and abetted conquest.  It did not take long for dissenting voices to rise.  Students will see how sailing has a discourse all its own.  Needing to master both the open seas and the ship, students will need to learn a series of terms necessary to navigation.

Students will follow this journey in letters while sailing for 17 days aboard a traditional 125 foot schooner in the Caribbean.  While aboard, they will learn basic sailing techniques and will be required to participate in the sailing and maintenance of the vessel.  The time spent on the tall ship and in the Caribbean seaports will present tremendous learning opportunities.  In the sailing of ship they will see how and why barriers of race and class became blurred upon sea-faring vessels.  Living in close quarters where men relied heavily upon one another for survival, the niceties of status were often irrelevant to daily life.  Expertise and skill counted most of all.  Simultaneously, and paradoxically, they might come to appreciate why order was so violently enforced on vessels.  Crews completing difficult tasks in concert demanded clear channels of communication and order.

We will visit a series of islands in our travels: San Juan, St. John, Dominica, Guadeloupe and Antigua.  On these islands they will visit historic sites that were politically and economically important in the shaping of colonial empires.  These sites will include Spanish fortifications in San Juan and the ruins of a colonial sugar plantation on St. John.


Class Requirements

Program participants will be graded on various criteria: a paper due before the trip on the assigned readings, class participation in discussions, an oral presentation on a port of call, reading presentation, their journal entries, 4 long answer quizzes on assigned readings, and a final reflective project on their journey in the Caribbean (completed once back at Hiram College).

Estimated Program Costs

The estimated trip fee of $4,000 (not including Hiram College tuition) includes the round trip airfare, all food and lodging on the vessel, and admission to sites in ports of call.

* Personal expenses, passport fees, and course texts are not included.

Students from Hiram College will not be charged room and board for the days they will be traveling overseas.

Application Deadline

March 9, 2012

A $75 non-refundable fee is due upon receipt of your application.  This fee is used to pay for processing costs, an International Student Identity Card, passport holder, and luggage tags.

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For advising and more information, please contact:

  • Jeff Swenson,
    Department Chair and Associate Professor
  • 330.569.5328
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.