Literary London: Mapping Englishness

The London Program features two separate courses for undergraduates and graduate students, and a variety of content-related learning experiences in central London. 

Liquid History: The River Thames in British Literature

David Kaplin, Assistant Professor


More than 90,000 objects recovered from the Thames and its foreshore currently reside in the collection of the Museum of London. For centuries, the river has offered up many of London's secrets, and it has also offered unique inspiration to writers of fiction and poetry.  In this course, we will explore depictions of the River Thames in the works of Daniel Defoe, Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, Jerome K. Jerome, and T.S. Eliot.  How does each writer envision the geophysical and metaphorical significance of this venerable waterway, and how does its function vary from author to author?  In addition, we will study historical and contemporary documents recounting the development of the river and its importance to the city's economy, from the age of Londinium to today.  Excursions include the Museum of London, the Museum of the Docklands, the Port and Naval Academy in Greenwich, and, of course, the Thames itself, both by walking along its banks and by taking a boat-ride up to Oxford. All majors welcome.

Decadents, Degenerates, and Pagans: the Secret Side of London

Shannon McRae, Associate Professor

This course delves into the fertile underground of mystical beliefs, occult practices, and Dionysian experimentation that fed the stately traditions of Literary London—particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth-centuries. Reading the works of such authors as Oscar Wilde, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Christina Rossetti, William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Aleister Crowley, Alan Moore, and Neil Giaman, we will discuss their shared notions of England in general and London in particular as a place that existed on two different planes: one real and present, the other mythic, powerful, dangerous—just out of reach but deeply influential. Besides reading the literature, we will explore some of these places, in excursions to places such as Stonehenge, Highgate Cemetery, and walking tours of Whitechapel and Occult London. 

These courses satisfy the required program electives for English majors, minors, and concentrators.

Please contact David Kaplin, Shannon McRae, or Katrina Hamilton-Kraft for additional information. 


Course Dates: TBA

Eligible Participants: Students in good academic standing and community members are welcome to apply.

Application and $150.00 Fee

Cost: TBA

Payment: Full payment of the Course Fee is due to the International Education Center by April 15, 2015

Application: Apply Now- notification of acceptance into the program will be sent to students on a rolling basis. Payment of the course fee will guarantee your place in the program.

*A nonrefundable application fee of $150.00 is due to the International Education Center with the submission of your application. This fee secures your spot in the program. Late applications will be considered on an individual basis. 


Page modified 11/26/14