Vikings? Gothic Art? Student ready for challenges

By Tim Hagood

Lakehill alumna Claire Crow, ’16, has always loved a challenge, especially when it comes to language. When her professor and mentor at Sewanee: The University of the South challenged her to take a daunting seminar on Chaucer, Claire’s response was, “Challenge accepted.” The result? This spring, Claire (pictured) will be taking classes at the University of Oxford in England as a select student in the Middlebury-CRMS Oxford Humanities program.

Photo courtesy of Lakehill

Claire’s love of language began at Lakehill in her English and French courses. She was the first Lakehill student to “double up” in English classes her senior year, taking both AP Language and Composition and the senior Survey of British Literature. Her stellar efforts earned her the English Gold Medal award.

After heading to Sewanee to study English and play volleyball, Claire enrolled in Stephanie Batkie’s “The Roots of Western Literature” course in which Professor Batkie first noticed “her quiet and powerful introspection.” In that class, Claire distinguished herself, writing papers on topics ranging from “hybridity and monstrosity in Seneca’s De Clementia to narrative temporality and feminine agency in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses.’” But it was Claire’s work in the Chaucer class, and especially her work on “The Franklin’s Tale,” that convinced Dr. Batkie, who attended Oxford herself, that Claire would be the right fit for the semester-long program.  

Claire is looking forward to next spring when she will become an associate member of Keble College, Oxford, taking courses in “Vikings, Saxons and Heroic Culture,” Gothic Art and Medieval Gender Studies. Perhaps most exciting for Claire is the prospect of studying under the famous Oxford tutorial system on which Dr. Batkie models her courses at Sewanee.  

Oxford and its tutorial pedagogy are the pinnacle for English majors, and Claire’s experience stands as a lesson to us all. She says, “Just because you’re surrounded by all sorts of fun opportunities in college, doesn’t mean you can’t go your own way and push yourself.” 

Her academic achievement proves it. After all, with just one encouraging nudge from Dr. Batkie, Claire has pushed herself all the way to Oxford.