Daphne Lawson, art history professor at the Bader International Study Centre
When art history professor Daphne Lawson began teaching for Queen’s at Herstmonceux Castle, now the Bader International Study Centre (BISC), in 1994, she was adamant about taking students outside the classroom to learn. Every week she would accompany them to London to visit one of the impressive galleries or museums, such as the Tate or the British Museum, giving them a first-hand experience of the art they were studying.
Now, that teaching philosophy – experiential learning – is the norm, and the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in the United Kingdom is the perfect place to put it into action.
“Seeing the primary sources is important, not just for art history but for everybody,” says Ms Lawson. “At the castle, you have that location, as well – you see where things happen. You see Virginia Woolf’s house or you do a walking tour of London in order to understand Jack the Ripper. You experience the city, whether it’s London or Paris or elsewhere.”
Ms Lawson began teaching at the castle when it opened for studies in September 1994. Securing the position was a stroke of luck, she says, believing that “for the first time in my life I really was in the right place at the right time.”
Beloved by students, Ms Lawson came to the field of art history after a career as an actor in the UK. She remembers in her early twenties taking numerous trips to Italy, where she would naturally end up at the galleries gazing at paintings. She began studies in art of the High Renaissance but her interests shifted to the modern world over time, falling in love with Impressionism.
Ms Lawson teaches art history in the first-year program, a 200-level Romanticism and Realism course, along with upper-year courses in Impressionism and French Impressionism. She leads several field studies programs into London and Paris every year. New summer programming for 2013 will also give art history students another opportunity to travel to Paris after stopping in Brussels and Dieppe with a larger group.