Community Engaged Learning Blog

About the Project…

Four students from Dr. Manina Jones’s course, Canadian Literature, Creativity, and the Local, have partnered with Penn Kemp to work on aspects of her new play, THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS. This collaboration is made possible through a Western CEL (Community Engaged Learning course). CEL courses partner students with groups in the community to broaden perspectives and give students the chance to be involved with projects that interest them and gain experience. They also use their skills and time to help these community partners achieve their goals: http://www.uwo.ca/arts/current_students/undergraduate/csl.html. See also https://teresaharrisdreamlife.wordpress.com/.

The Canadian Literature, Creativity, and the Local student group, English 3777F, Department of English, Western University: a Community Engaged Learning Course.

Photo of Teresa Harris: Harris Family Fonds, Western Archives, Western University.

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Reflections: the Students’ Blog

Eldon House is one of London’s most fascinating landmarks; a direct connection to the Victorian Age in modern times. It was home to some of the most privileged people in the region, including the subject of Penn Kemp’s 2013 production (The Dream Life of Teresa Harris) at Eldon House, Teresa Harris. She was raised in the house, the youngest of twelve.  The original play took the audience through various rooms of Eldon House and utilized the historic space to create a narrative about Teresa’s life. Teresa led an eventful life full of adventure, as you will see.

This blog was created by a group of students from Western University. In displaying our collaboration with the local writer and poet, Penn Kemp, we aim to raise awareness on her never-before seen and highly anticipated play (The Triumph of Teresa Harris) at the Palace Theatre in London on March 22nd to the 25th . This blog is not only a chronological documentation of our journey on the project, but provides an insight into the history of Teresa Harris and Eldon House.

But before all that, let us introduce ourselves!

Hello! Our names are Rachel and Alex. We are third year students at Western University and we are going to be responsible for updating this blog to ensure you are always kept up to date!

Rachel: As a city girl from Toronto, one of my favourite hobbies is to surf blogs and online shop. I’m super excited to be given an opportunity to be a part of this project, and I welcome all the viewers to join in on our journey in collaboration with Penn. We have a lot of ideas and we can’t wait to bring it to the table to share.

Alex: Hey everyone! My name is Alex and I’m a third year student at Huron College at Western. I’m majoring in Philosophy and English and I love going to the beach and listening to music. I was born and raised in London so I’m really looking forward to being part of a local project and sharing a part of London’s history with all of you!

And working alongside with us are our two trusty group members, Charlotte and Diego, who you will get to know soon enough.

So far, we have started on some exciting projects to help promote the upcoming play. In our studies, we are studying local literature of the Southwestern Ontario region, which makes The Dream Life of Teresa Harris mesh perfectly into the course. Recently, we took a field trip to the Weldon library archives. Interestingly enough, many collections of letters and diaries from the Harris family, who lived at Eldon House after it was built in 1834, were kept here. It was interesting to see London in the Victorian time, especially in regards to such a wealthy and influential family.

One could recognize parallels between The Dream Life of Teresa Harris and those diaries. Even though one is a fictional work, it is very much a real story; both give insights into the society in London at the time. As well as transcripts of the diaries of the Harris family, the Weldon archive also has a collection of real letters, some of which are written by and to Teresa herself.

Picture Credits: Letter from Amelia Harris to John, George and Theresa Harris, 1854, Series 2 : Correspondence, Harris Family fonds, Western Archives, Western University and Eldon House Diaries, Harris Family fonds, Western Archives, Western University.

The Harris family definitely plays a role in our London heritage in regards to class, colonialism, and gender during the Victorian time. Hopefully this blog will capture our attempt to help Penn frame this important piece of Canadian history and further local talents to flourish.

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Several students from Dr. Manina Jones’s course, Canadian Literature, Creativity, and the Local , have partnered with poet/performer Penn Kemp to design a CD of her play, THE DREAM LIFE OF TERESA HARRIS.

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