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Ireland’s Burren: Landscape, Memory and Imagination

    May/June – 4 weeks
    6 Credits consisting of two 3-credit courses:

  • HUMT396: Humanities/Cultural Studies Travel Elective OR WRTG396: Writing Travel Elective
  • FA396: Fine Arts Studio Travel Elective OR DS396: Design Studio Travel Elective
  • Pre-requisites: Completed Freshman year by time of travel and instructor approval

For nearly 10,000 years, human settlement and patterns of migration have shaped the landscape of Ireland, just as Ireland’s rugged terrain has played a key role in shaping the island’s human culture. In this program, based at the Burren College of Art in County Clare, students will be immersed in artistic, literary, environmental and historical examinations of the ways that landscape, memory, and human creativity intersect. Both academic and studio work will be supported by field trips and guest speakers to steep students in the rich environmental and human history of Ireland, the turbulent waves of invasion and emigration, the traditions of Irish literature and art, and the lives and works of contemporary Irish artists and writers. Course materials and activities will examine and encourage the ways in which human experiences of place and history translate into creative interpretations of landscape in art and writing.

The Burren College of Art, located in a restored 16th c. castle near the village of Ballyvaughan, provides a unique base from which to explore the wonders of County Clare. The surrounding area, known as the Burren, comprises 250 square kilometers and is one of the largest limestone karst landscapes in Europe. Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Galway Bay on the west and north, this wild and unforgiving topography is characterized by subterranean caverns, rugged hills, and dramatic seascapes, along with a unique assemblage of plant and animal life.

This course will utilize both the human and natural environment of the Burren and the village of Ballyvaughan as classroom, studio, resource, and subject, inviting students to explore the relationships between individual identity, collective memory, and a sense of place. Assigned readings and studio projects will complement numerous field trips and guest artist presentations to focus discussions, reflections, writing, and making.

The Writing/Humanities component will have a particular emphasis on Irish poetry, storytelling, and balladry: through both academic and experiential learning, students will examine the connections between landscape and literary form, discovering how an author constructs a voice, a self, and a sense of place through language. At the same time, the Studio component of the course will guide students to consider how place and history shape an artist’s creative work, culminating in an individual project that thoughtfully incorporates new experiences with Irish landscapes and culture into the conceptual and physical creation of student work.

Students will be required to do some preparatory coursework in advance of trip and will complete coursework upon return. See syllabus for more complete details.


Judith Harway, Associate Professor of Writing, earned an M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University and has been a member of MIAD’s faculty since 1992. Her approach to the teaching of writing reflects her identity and commitment as a working writer, and actively engages the creative curiosity of students. She is a widely published poet whose books include All That is Left (2009) and The Memory Box (2002), and her work has earned fellowships from the Wisconsin Arts Board, the MacDowell Colony, and the Hambidge Center. Judith co-taught in the MIAD Ireland program in 2011.

Bruce Grudzinski graduated with a Masters of Fine Art in Sculpture from University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. As a sculptor and professor at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, he has taught artists and designers for over twenty-five years. His sculptures are socially relevant and spiritually introspective constructions that often include metal forging, welding and casting. Bruce has taught in the MIAD Ireland Program multiple times.

Estimated Cost: $4750
Includes 6 credits summer tuition, housing, studio use at BCA, field trips, museum fees, travel health and safety insurance, and some meals. (Airfare NOT included.)

Application Deadline: November 30, 2012. Students must apply for program. Deposit of $600 must be submitted with completed application materials by deadline. After student is accepted, deposit is non-refundable.

Minimum enrollment (12) must be met for course to run. Deposits will be returned if course is canceled because of insufficient enrollment or if student is not accepted.
Download application materials

Financial Aid:
Financial aid is available for qualified students. Interested students should inquire at the MIAD Financial Aid office as soon as possible to determine eligibility. Students should be aware that financial aid cannot be distributed any earlier than 5-7 days before trip, so other means to cover required payments, purchase of airfare, etc, should be planned.

Payments on balance of course fee and tuition* will be due in the MIAD Business Office:
November 30, 2012 – $600 Deposit (non-refundable after program acceptance)
February 1, 2013 – $600
March 15, 2013 – $600
May 1, 2013 – $2950 FINAL PAYMENT**

Full payment is required before program begins.
* Payments beyond the initial deposit may also be non-refundable if expenses have already been paid on participant’s behalf.
** Students who are expecting financial aid can have this applied to their final payment.

Jenny Krantz, Director, Creative Learning Opportunities & Research –

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