The course: INDS 265 | Empire Strikes Back (London, England)

The experience: In London and Belfast, 18 students under the guidance of Andrew Smith, associate professor of film and media studies, and Nandini Sikand, professor and chair of film and media studies, explored the topics of race, gender, and colonialism through visiting cultural sites and analyzing related media. 

“Part of our preparation for studying colonialism abroad was to have students before departure examine the wonderful Skillman Library exhibit from the fall 2023 A&S 235 class: Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism–A Pop-Up Exhibit,” Smith says. “From this exhibit, students learned concepts that they then applied when encountering museums, memorials, and public spaces in the U.K.”

Destinations included the British Film Institute, National Theatre, Tate Britain art gallery, and additional sites across the two countries. 

“Arguably our most memorable activity was in Belfast, where we participated in a Black Cab Tour of ‘The Troubles,’ the 30-year colonialist conflict centered in Northern Ireland,” Smith says. “Drivers told the story of The Troubles from both Loyalist and Republican perspectives, and students walked the streets and witnessed the memorials to those lost in the violence of The Troubles.

“We had been learning about and analyzing the impact of and resistance to colonialism, but in Belfast, we all felt it,” Smith continues. 

“My favorite memory was visiting Tate Britain, where we saw an exhibit called ‘Women in Revolt!’ that had a wide range of feminist art by over 100 women artists living in the U.K.,” Quinn Gregorich ’24 says. “The art was focused on resistance and activism during the women’s liberation movement, and it was so memorable to me because it was packed with people of all genders and all ages, and you could just feel the electricity in the air. There was a ton of queer art as well as art by artists of color, and I felt so lucky just to lay eyes on it because it was so moving.”

“One of my favorite things that I did with a few other students was go to the Sky Gardens,” Caitlin Mullooly ’24 says.“It is an indoor garden on the top floor of a skyscraper with a view overlooking the city and the Thames. It was really cool to see the geography of London from above, including iconic symbols like Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.”

“We were most pleased to see the individuals in this extraordinary group coalesce into a smart, supportive, tight-knit community,” Smith shares. “They supported each other throughout, looked out for each other, pushed each other to learn more, made everything work, and everything more memorable.”

Categorized in: Academic News, Featured News, Film and Media Studies, Interdisciplinary, News and Features, Students, Study Abroad

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