"studying about Peter the Hermit and Walter the Penniless for my history exam"
Medieval illuminated manuscript showing Peter the Hermit's 'People's Crusade' (1096)
Public DomainMedieval illuminated manuscript showing Peter the Hermit's 'People's Crusade' (1096) - Credit: unknown

As may be noted throughout the text, Esther Greenwood studies a range of subjects at her college, in spite of the fact that she is an 'English major'. This is in keeping with the ethos of an American 'Liberal arts college' where the first two years concentrate on general education.

Peter the Hermit, who died in 1115, was a priest from Amiens in France, and one of the leaders of the First Crusade;

Walter the Penniless (sometimes also known as Walter Sans Avoir or Gautier Sans-Avoir) was a French nobleman who acted as lieutenant to Peter the Hermit.