Literature: Unreal City?

Ref: C2420010

We’ll survey fictional representations of London. From William Blake’s apocalpytic Lambeth to Zadie Smith’s postcolonial north-west suburbs; from Dickens’s bustling panoramas to Patrick Hamilton’s hangover-ridden 1940s haunts, our capital has inspired authors to create powerful visions of the planet’s most complex city. Among other topics, we’ll explore the birth of modern policing and detection; dystopian visions of impending urban disaster; the capital as a place where young people come to learn about themselves and about life; and London as a site of mass migration across two centuries.

Course aim

Unreal City? London in literature, from 1800 to today: a 5-week survey of fictional representations of the metropolis

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Identify key concerns expressed about London across the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Define differing artistic approaches used by the variety of authors.
  • Identify historical continuations in the city but also points of great change.
  • Pursue further reading on these subjects, with a detailed bibliography/secondary reading list.

How will I be taught?

  • Short extracts and reading lists will be provided, but we will also examine these materials in class, together

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • There is no formal feedback but the tutor will undertake informal assessment to check for progress

What else do I need to know?

  • Extracts will be provided by email and learners may wish to read outside the course, for which reading lists will be supplied.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Reading lists will be supplied but there is no obligation to read ahead of the class. This is a general survey course only

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Literature: Unreal City?


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  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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