Unreal city: the history of London through literature from 1800 to today
Time: 14:30 - 16:00
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now finished
What is the course about?
London’s social and economic history as revealed through imaginative writers’ eyes.
What will we cover?
What topics will we cover?
The Regency; social divisions and inequality; Romantic visions of London as a centre of mysterious power; the
arrival of the Metropolitan Police and its impact on crime writing; Charles Dickens as a ‘special correspondent for
posterity; slum fiction – explorations of deprivation and social exclusion at the end of the 19th century; Modernist
visions of London; the Roaring Twenties; Jewish Whitechapel; race and religion in London’s dockside areas;
Communist realism; the bedsitter novel; neo Victorianism; dystopian visions of impending urban disaster; the capital
as a place where young people come to learn about themselves and about life; and as a site of mass migration
across two centuries.
Authors include: William Wordsworth; Thomas De Quincey; Thomas Hood; Edward Bulwer Lytton; Edgar Allan Poe;
Robert Louis Stevenson; Fyodor Dostoevsky; Somerset Maugham; Virginia Woolf; Evelyn Waugh; Israel Zangwill;
George Orwell; Pamela Hansford Johnson; Iris Murdoch; Elizabeth Bowen; Ruth Rendell; Sarah Waters.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
IIdentify the major fictional portraits of London from 200 years of history.
- Define key moments in London’s social history.
- Identify some of the literary trends / shifts in style across 200 years of fiction writing.
- Pursue further reading on these subjects, with a detailed bibliography/secondary reading list for each session.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
No previous skills or knowledge required, but curiosity and an appetite for reading will be helpful.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Teaching will be delivered via illustrated mini-lecture and seminar; students are strongly encouraged to present their own 15- to 20-minute seminar paper/presentation on any of the fictions or subjects that are of greatest interest.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Extracts for us to consider in class will be provided in advance. The full reading list will also be supplied in advance,though you are not expected to have read these ahead of class, unless you have lots of time on your hands this summer!
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses in London history. Please see the City Lit website.
Sarah Wise is an award-winning writer and historian, with an MA in Victorian Studies from Birkbeck, University of London. She teaches social history and literature at the University of California’s London Outreach Center. Her interests are urban history, working-class history, medical history and nineteenth-century literature and reportage. Her most recent book, Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England, was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize. Her 2004 debut, The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London, was shortlisted for the 2005 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and won the Crime Writers’ Association Golden Dagger. Her follow-up The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum (2008) was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature's Ondaatje Prize. Last year she was a contributor to the volume Charles Booth's London Poverty Maps, published by Thames & Hudson/London School of Economics. For reviews www.sarahwise.co.uk/reviews.html
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.