British Studies Summer 2013
ENG 489/598: The London Underground: Exposing the Other Side of Victorian London
When you think of Victorian London, you may think more of high tea than of low life. You may imagine witty ladies and gents rather than sneaky criminals and detectives. You may picture a prim and proper world rather than one that is seedy and scandalous. In this course, we’ll investigate the sinister and enthralling underbelly of Victorian London through its depictions in Victorian novels, short stories, and journalism. We’ll read of monsters roaming city streets, Holmes and Watson solving unsolvable crimes, a poor girl striving to become A Little Princess, and Dorian Gray descending into London’s squalid shadows. By visiting the Fleet Street of Sweeney Todd and delving into Alan Moore’s London-set graphic novels, we’ll also explore why Victorian London continues to inspire current writers.
We’ll aim to understand London as a character in—not just as the setting of—Victorian literature. Charles Dickens loved walking the streets and witnessing the “restlessness of a great city.” We’ll absorb that “great city” by joining a Jack the Ripper walking tour, exploring the grand Victoria and Albert Museum, and visiting Victorian landmarks that still exist today. Just as Dickens contrasts two great European cities—London and Paris—in his classic novel A Tale of Two Cities, we’ll cross the channel to compare London to the famed city of lights and love during our four days of LondonAWAY!
Will you keep all of the Victorians’ secrets after a summer of digging deeply into their hiding places? Perhaps…
- 6 credits in ENG 498 or 598
- LondonAWAY! Experience: Paris for 4 nights
- Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor
ENG 498/598: Uncovering Shakespeare’s Lost World
In this course we’ll read Shakespeare’s plays and poems in the places where Shakespeare lived, acted, wrote, and loved. We’ll visit archeological sites in London, where researchers are learning about theatres where Shakespeare walked the stage when he came to the city as an aspiring actor, and we’ll travel to Stratford-upon-Avon to learn about the ancient folk traditions Shakespeare grew up with in the Warwickshire countryside. We’ll spend four days in Edinburgh, Scotland, where we’ll learn from experts and first-hand observation about the realities behind Macbeth—a play for a new royal dynasty, which casts an eye towards the religious and political dangers that began to loom following the death of Queen Elizabeth.
While we’re exploring the past by visiting libraries, museums and historical sites like Hampton Court Palace, we’ll also be connected to the artistic vitality of today’s London–one of the world’s most vibrant and global cities. In fact, we’ll be staying just a few steps from the rebuilt Globe Theatre, build at the site Shakespeare’s original Globe.
At the rebuilt Globe, the RSC Theatre in Stratford, and elsewhere, we’ll see productions of Shakespeare that range from the traditional to the experimental, taking in productions that bring us into the past, and ones that find ways of making Shakespeare’s texts speak to new audiences in a new age. We’ll even take to the stage ourselves, in a drama workshop led by a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
We’ll work hard during our weeks in Britain, reading, writing and thinking together. But if you love the language and imaginative power of Shakespeare’s works, and if you’re interested in how the revolutionary age in which Shakespeare lived is still with us today, then this course will provide you with an extraordinary experience, as we get to know the works of the most famous poet and playwright in the English language, and the remarkable world of the English Renaissance.