Literary London

I just finalized my course description for this spring – here is the blurb for the course catalog:

This section of English 1102 will examine London as it is depicted in literature and as it functions as a center of literary production. Using texts including newspapers, diary entries, maps, poetry, and fiction we willcompare the “real” London with the fictional London and use that comparison to uncover the ideas, anxieties, and identities that the city inspires. Units will discuss issues such as urbanization, disease in the city, industrialization, immigration, and terrorism. Texts may include Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Woolf’s, Mrs. Dalloway, Eliot’s The Waste Land and McEwan’s Saturday as well as short selections from essays, poetry, and historical texts. Over the course of the semester, students will write papers and develop projects which will practice critical thinking and writing skills and which deploy all the elements of WOVEN (Written, Oral, Visual, Electronic, Non-verbal) communication.

I’m excited about the way the topic gives us the opportunity to think about the city itself as a location and a product of very particular social forces as well as considering the ways that London’s unique identity functions in literature.  I’m planning on doing a mapping project with Mrs. Dalloway and possibly a wiki-type project to “map” The Waste Land.  There are so many types of texts we can draw from– newspaper archives, early photographs, journal entries, and contemporary films such as 28 Days Later and Children of Men— come to mind.   I think I’ll organize the course around themes with each unit focusing on a type of research material and strategies for

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