‚ When the English author Peter Ackroyd published his magisterial 2000 study London: The Biography, he effectively announced that as far as he is concerned, London is a living, breathing entity, one that must be understood as such if it is to be properly appreciated and genuinely known. The idea contained within Ackroyd's subtitle, that it is neither possible nor desirable simply to write a history of London, to treat that great metropolis as if it were an inanimate and static thing, will anchor our study of London and literature. We tend to think of London as a literary setting, a place where authors have for centuries gathered to write, as well as a backdrop for their poems, plays, and stories. But London, as its most astute and sensitive chroniclers have instinctively understood, is more than a setting and a scene: It is also very much a literary character in its own right, one whose place in English letters is as vibrant and varied as it is old. This course will take a chronological look at London's literary life, charting its progress from Renaissance drama to Augustan poetry and prose, through the Romantic period, and onward to the narrative experiments of Victorian, modernist, and postmodernist authors.
Along the way we will see London assume the guises of moral allegory and inspirational muse, stable home and criminal den, refined cultural center and uproarious multicultural accident, victim of violence and promoter of pacifism. At every point, we will examine how writers' representations of London both build on prior representations and influence subsequent ones, studying, in effect, the evolutions--and, perhaps, devolutions--of London's literary character over time.
Required Texts: (available at the Penn Book Center)
Ackroyd, Peter, London
Defoe, Daniel, Journal of the Plague Year
Dickens, Charles, Oliver Twist
Greene, Graham, Ministry of Fear
McEwan, Ian, Saturday
Smith, Zadie, White Teeth
Woolf, Virginia, Mrs. Dalloway
One short paper (5-7 pages), due October 25
One longer paper (10-12 pages), due December 11
One historical web posting (250-300 words, plus links), due October 20
Weekly weblog postings
An in-class presentation ‚
Be sure to read the course policies carefully.
Schedule of Readings
Sept. 6 Introduction
Sept. 11 Jonson, Bartholomew
Sept. 13 Jonson, Bartholomew Fair
Sept. 18 In class: Swift's poetry; outside class: read Journal of
the Plague Year
Sept. 20 In class: Johnson's poetry; outside class: read Journal of the Plague Year
Sept. 25 Journal of the Plague Year
Sept. 27 Journal of the Plague Year
Oct. 2 In class: Blake's poetry; outside class: read Oliver Twist
Oct. 4 In class: Wordsworth's poetry; outside class: read Oliver Twist
Oct. 9 In class: Arnold's poetry; outside class: read Oliver
Oct. 11 In class: Oliver Twist
Oct. 16 Oliver Twist
Oct. 18 Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Man with the Twisted Lip"
Oct. 20 HISTORICAL BLOG POST DUE
Oct. 23 FALL BREAK
Oct. 25 FIRST ESSAY DUE
Oct. 30 Mrs. Dalloway
PRESENTATION: Leslie Onkenhout, "The Clink"
Nov. 1 Mrs. Dalloway
Nov. 6 Ministry of Fear
PRESENTATION: Charlene Chai, "London Slang"
Nov. 8 Ministry of Fear
PRESENTATION: Jess Purcell, "London and Empire"
Nov. 13 White Teeth
PRESENTATION: Laura Kittell, "Zadie Smith"
Nov. 15 White Teeth
PRESENTATION: Cat Prewitt, "Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours"
Nov. 20 White Teeth
PRESENTATION: Brendan Dutch, "Gin"
PRESENTATION: Andrew Lee
Nov. 22 THANKSGIVING
Nov. 27 Saturday
PRESENTATION: Chloe Charlet
PRESENTATION: Dax Thomas
Nov. 29 Saturday
PRESENTATION: Alison Weiss, "The Inns of Court"
PRESENTATION: Nicholas Joy
PRESENTATION: Nick Corsano
Dec. 4 Saturday
Dec. 6 Last day of class ‚
Dec. 11 FINAL PAPER DUE