What is the course about?
Dickens was brought up in London, and grew to know the city and its ways intimately. His concern at the spectacle of immense power and wealth existing cheek by jowl with desperate poverty and filth shines through his fiction. Through close reading of extracts from the later novels – complemented by visits to the Temple and the Dickens Museum in Doughty Street – we shall develop a more profound appreciation of the role played by London in Dickens’s creative vision.
What will we cover?
We shall discuss extracts from Little Dorrit, Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend, as well as paying (in our imaginations) a mercifully brief visit to Edwin Drood’s Limehouse opium den. On the Saturday afternoon we shall visit the Temple (where crucial scenes in Great Expectations are set) and on Sunday afternoon we will walk to the nearby Dickens Museum which will help us to see and feel the reality of which Dickens wrote.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Demonstrate insight into how Dickens depicts the dynamism and desperation of contemporary London life.
- Appreciate the depth, complexity and relevance of Dickens’s art.
- Identify how Dickens’s life and circumstances influenced his work.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No particular prior knowledge will be assumed, but you will need to feel enthusiastic about the prospect of reading and discussing Dickens’s work. You will interested in listening to – and learning from – the responses of other students to the works discussed. You will be able to walk the short distances to the Dickens Museum and the Temple in reasonable comfort. (Please note that, when visiting the Dickens Museum, heels must be larger than the size of a postage stamp to avoid damaging the original wooden floors).
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teacher explanation; group discussion.
Peter Brennan is a poet, and was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton. He founded Visionary Company courses in 2005, and is Editor-in-Chief of Perdika Press.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No. You will be provided with photocopies of the extracts to be studied. Bring a pen and paper.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Have a look at the Literature and History courses on offer in the prospectus and on the website under History, Culture and Writing.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details