Literature: The London Lowlife in Fiction (1889 - 1907)

Ref: C2420008

Learners will read selected passages from 5 novels/short stories that feature the themes of poverty, politics and gender in London at the end of the 19th century/start of the 20th century. Learners will read 5 novels (or designated chapters of these novels) and we will discuss the themes each week, and the novelists’ approach to the subject matter.

Course aim

Exploring 19th-century/early 20th-century London working-class London life by examining various works of fiction

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • No previous skills or knowledge are required, but an appetite for reading, plus a willingness to engage with occasionally challenging subject matter, will be very helpful.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Identify key concerns expressed about London at the end of the 19th century.
  • Explain the major ideas for ending poverty as put forward in these years.
  • Define significant attitudes towards 'welfare' payments and charitable help for the poor.
  • Identify elements in the contemporary debates about immigration and labour; and gender and labour.
  • Pursue further reading on these subjects, with a detailed bibliography/secondary reading list.

How will I be taught?

  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning
  • Teaching will be by lecture and seminar/group discussion.Readings are to be done in the learner's own time: reading lists will be supplied well in advance

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • There is no formal assessment. However, to monitor your learning and progress, the tutor will assess your participation in classroom activities. 

What else do I need to know?

  • You'll need to source the books/extracts. All are available as inexpensive reprints or second-hand editions or from your local library. Most are also available to download free. Apart from that, notepad and pen — an an inquiring mind!

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • A provisional reading list will be made available well in advance, though learners may prefer to read the extracts in between weekly sessions, so they are fresh in the mind.

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Literature: The London Lowlife in Fiction (1889 - 1907)


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  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
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