London, England

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This program offers students the opportunity to study literature, theatre, art and culture in one of the most diverse urban centers of the world. Students elect two courses from the four offered:

  • The London Theatre Experience
  • The Cultures of Collecting
  • Risk
  • Writing for Children: Tales of Childhood

There are a number of excursions during our five weeks, and all students are provided with tickets to all theatre performances whether they elect the Penn Theatre course or not.


Early admission deadline: Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Rolling admissions continue until the program reaches capacity
Final application deadline: Sunday, March 31, 2019


Join us for an information session to learn more about the program:

  • November 28, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. in Harrison College House, Room M20 
  • December 3, 2018 at 7 p.m. in Harrison College House, Room M20
  • December 10, 2018 at 3 p.m. in Harrison College House, Room M20
Saturday, June 15, 2019 Morning arrival in London
Saturday, June 15, 2019 Program housing check-in
Saturday, June 15, 2019 On-site orientation
Monday, June 17, 2019 Classes start
Thursday, July 18, 2019 Classes end
Saturday, July 20, 2019 Program housing last checkout date

All students register for a total of two course units (c.u.)*. Course offerings are subject to change. Course registration is completed by the Penn Summer Abroad office for students who confirm their intent to enroll and submit the required pre-departure documents.

The London Theatre Experience

ENGL 068 / THAR 068 (1 c.u.)

  • Taught by Michael Gamer
  • Fulfills requirement: Sector 6 of English Major

London is one of the most exciting theater centers in the world, and the focus of this course will be on live performance. We will attend theatrical productions 2-3 times a week, seeing a wide range of plays produced by companies such as the Royal National, the Royal Court, and the Royal Shakespeare and staged in spaces such as those as well as in the West End (London's equivalent of Broadway) and in Fringe Theaters (what would be off-Broadway in New York City). Every Thursday we will be joined by Times theatre critic Samantha Marlowe, who will lead those sessions and share her knowledge as a theatre critic and practitioner. Tickets will be arranged in advance. Readings for the class will consist of responses to plays and productions. The class may also participate in field trips to other sites of theatrical interest, such as the Royal National Theatre and the reconstructed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

The Cultures of Collecting

ENGL 034 (1 c.u.)

  • Taught by Dr. Whitney Trettien
  • Fulfills requirement: Sectors 1and 6 of English Major

“Every passion borders on the chaotic,” writes the theorist Walter Benjamin, “but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.” In this course, we’ll examine the chaos of memories contained in London’s extraordinary libraries. We’ll begin with the British Library, the largest national library in the world and the fount from which much literary research today springs. Working directly with early printed books and literary manuscripts, we’ll explore the library’s rare treasures and learn how its staff uses the latest technologies to make these important books accessible to a new generation of readers. At the same time, we’ll turn a critical, historical eye on the British Library as an institution, tracing its origins back to eighteenth-century imperialism and linguistic nationalism. How have the institution’s enlightenment values shaped what “counts” as literature? Who decides what texts are saved and read? With this history in hand, we’ll consider counter-archives where individuals have, over the centuries, saved what otherwise would have been lost. Roaming the back alleys of London, we’ll visit small zine libraries and collections of ephemera, taking a different view on the chaos of memories. Throughout our discussions and site visits, we’ll keep an eye on the ethics of collecting and the passions that drive it. Students will collaborate on producing their own digital collection and through that process gain experience in planning, implementing, and coding a digital humanities project.

Literature of Risk

ENGL 210 (1 c.u.)

  • Taught by Ms. Lorene Cary
  • Fulfills requirement: Sectors 2 and 5 of English Major

The Zong was not the first or last British slave ship to throw living Africans overboard, but it was the one that sparked a trial against insurers who denied the owners' claim to be paid for their lost profits. This course examines the intersection of the insurance industry, slavery, and the Western imagination. We'll read the best recent study of the voyage and trial as well as a novel imagining the case by London-born British-Guyanese author Fred D'Aguiar, the painting "The Slave Ship" by J.M.W. Turner, and passages in contemporary novels that reveal the growing anxiety in English middle-class society about how industrialism was being fueled. We will visit Lloyd's of London and the excellent International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. We will imagine ourselves into the lives of insurers, sailors and Africans in our own writing. We will re-see the legacy of the British genius for figuring out how to ensure living capital. What and who is at risk for us still?

Writing for Children: Tales of Childhood

ENGL 121 (1 c.u.)

  • Taught by Ms. Lorene Cary
  • Fulfills requirement: Sector 6 of English Major

We will read Roald Dahl, and his autobiography, Boy: Tales of Childhood. The point will be to rediscover nasty and naughty, as well as how, as writers, we mine our own childhoods—not for confession, but for story and meaning, especially children's strong sense of justice, often at odds with adult behavior. Then, we'll travel together to the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden 20 miles outside London. With Dahl as our muse, albeit, an occasionally grumpy one, we will determine what kinds of stories each of us needs to tell and how to structure them. Then, we'll write them, for pre-K, elementary, middle and teen readers, aiming at a clear voice appropriate to the story, and as much order or misrule as each writer’s kid-muse demands. Yes, fun is required. Workshopping happens with student-writer colleagues in pairs and small groups, and then with the real kids. Returning with revisions will be a promise fulfilled, and an important marker in the literary life of everyone involved. A celebration! Tea and cakes are involved.

Students are housed in a private student residence in London.

Tuition and fees are subject to the approval of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and may change without notice.

Tuition and fees for 2019 will be posted in spring 2019. Please use 2018 costs listed below as general estimates only.

  • Tuition for summer 2018: $8,448
  • Program fee for summer 2018: $2,760
    • Penn Summer Abroad deposits ($500) will be deducted from the program fee amount
    • Includes student accommodations, theatre tickets, cultural activities and administrative costs

Contact Information

For details about the program, courses, or location including academic advising, travel dates, housing and orientation:

Michael Gamer

Program Director

Michael Gamer
Professor of English         
University of Pennsylvania
Tel: (215) 746-3766

For assistance with the application, financial questions, pre-departure or other general information:

Nicola M. Gentili

Penn Summer Abroad Office
College of Liberal & Professional Studies
University of Pennsylvania
3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA, 19104-3335
Tel: (215) 898-7326

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

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Penn Summer

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326

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