BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Senior religion major Andrew Clack of Albany had perhaps the most interesting "what I did during my summer vacation" story to tell when he returned for classes at Birmingham Southern College here recently.
The Harrison Honors Scholar returned in August from Magdalen College in England, where he studied some of the greatest literary and religious influences of the 20th century under the University of Oxford's summer school program. Clack received a $3,000 stipend from the honors program to fund the summer study.
"I am privileged and blessed to study in the very building where (C.S.) Lewis, (J.R.R.) Tolkein and their friends met weekly for years," Clack, the son of Dawn and Glenn Clack of Albany, said. "Their influence, whether it be in 20th-century literature, apologetics or Hollywood, is unparalleled.
"In 'The Lord of the Rings,' Gandalf tells Frodo that 'even the wise cannot see all ends.' Though I do not pretend to see the ends of my time here, I feel certain that this study-abroad experience is preparation for what life has in store for me."
Clack, a Deerfield Windsor School graduate, arrived in England on June 29. His studies in the Oxford summer program included a concentration on the college's literary group known as the 'Inklings,' a circle of authors that included Tolkein, Lewis and Charles Williams, among others. The study also included the Medieval literature that inspired the renowned British authors.
Classes during the summer program were taught by leading Oxford scholars and guest professors. During weekends, students took part in class-related excursions and social events.
Clack, who is a member of the Birmingham Southern track and field team, stayed in Europe an additional week after the summer study program to travel throughout England, Wales and Germany.