Study Abroad Spotlight: Literature and Theology in Dublin, Ireland

Author: Ashley Conde, junior

This past fall I had the privilege of studying abroad at Trinity College Dublin. There, I encountered a rich and fascinating academic environment. During my time at Trinity, I discussed controversial literary theories in class, learned to encode texts, and even had a pint with a former president of Ireland. Trinity is widely regarded as one of Ireland’s most prestigious universities and I was initially nervous about taking upper-level classes there. I soon found that my time in the Honors Program prepared me well for my courses. 

Trinity College’s “Long Room” library, which houses the Book of Kells, the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, and the Guinness harp.

I took two advanced (called “sophister” by the university) English courses— “Digital Humanities Now” and “Hamlet in Theory”— and two theology courses— “Jewish Thought and Practice” and “Imagining Moses and the Exodus in the Arts.” Each class was around 12 students– the same size as my Honors seminar classes– and I was often the only visiting student in my class. I enjoyed all my classes thoroughly and appreciated how the small class sizes fostered better class discussions.

“Hamlet in Theory” was both the most difficult and rewarding of my classes at Trinity. Each class meeting reminded me of Dr. Miller’s Honors Philosophy course, with students scrambling to copy the professor’s words verbatim. I made an effort to participate in each class (even after my traumatic experience of offering a misreading of Walter Benjamin) and attended office hours in preparation for my final 20-page paper (upon which my entire grade was based). Going to office hours is a common practice at Fordham, and especially in Honors, but I was surprised to hear from my Trinity professor that I was one of the only students to consult him before the final was due. 

Being in a foreign academic environment made me appreciate the skills and study habits the Honors Program has instilled in me. My discussion-based Honors classes empowered me to be vocal in my Trinity classes. Honors’ rigorous curriculum, furthermore, taught me to be proactive in seeking help from professors. 

Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, popularized by Game of Thrones.

Now that I am back at Rose Hill, I plan to integrate my readings from “Hamlet in Theory” into a potential topic for my Honors Senior Thesis topic. I was particularly interested in critiquing Jean-Françis Lyotard’s reading of Hamlet. During office hours at Trinity, my professor informed me that my paper idea would likely exceed 20 pages and encouraged me to write a thesis on it in the future.