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Literary London 1700 - 1900
University of Westminster
Liberal Arts and Sciences
Module Leader: Dr Juliet Rufford
Module Code: 1LIB429
Assessment: 100% Coursework
The aim of this module is to introduce students to some of the many texts - literary and non-literary - that have focussed on London in the years 1700 - 1900. We will be considering the relationship between the literary text and historical contexts, in particular those of geography and economics, and considering the relation between the rise of the city and the rise of new modes of writing and new concepts of subjectivity. We will be concerned with issues of genre and gender.
On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
• recognise and discuss some of the ways of relating literary and film texts to their historical and social context
• explain some of the social, political and spiritual fears, hopes and perceptions that inspired representations of London from the 1700s to the 1890s
• demonstrate skills of logical argument and an ability to analyse and synthesise information and critical material
• discuss how representations of London are as much fictional constructs as they are factual
• communicate effectively in good written English, using recognised academic apparatus, to a high standard
Indicative Syllabus Content
This module is based on a selection of some of the many Augustan, Romantic, Gothic and Victorian texts set in London. Although the main focus will be on literary texts, we will also look at film and architecture. We will be considering Augustan and Romantic constructions of London; the bequest of the 17th century to 18th century cultural and political life; the relation between geography and economics in 17th and early 18th century London; separate cultures of Westminster and the City; public spaces and public culture; public and private domains; London and Empire; gendered experience of the city; London as Augusta; Satire; the beginnings of Urban realism; Urban identities; the poet in the city; London as dystopia; Romantic temporalities; London as Gothic locale; the double life of London; the flâneur; detective fiction as an urban genre; reading city signs; the literary geography of the nineteenth-century novel; urban perspectives and the Victorian novel.
Teaching and Learning Methods
The module is delivered via seminars which will be discussion-based. However, when necessary seminars will include mini-lectures of no more than half an hour in order to provide key knowledge. There will also be visits to sites of interest. We will be considering representations of London in fiction, poetry and film.
Assessment is designed to allow students to demonstrate their acquired knowledge and ability to provide sustained analyses of literary (and visual) texts. It is also intended to allow students to demonstrate the key skills of literacy and ability to construct a nuanced and balanced argument.
Students will write an essay (3,500 words) on a self-selected topic, agreed in consultation with the module leader. Students are expected to demonstrate that they can:
• Choose a suitable subject for the essay
• Relate their chosen topic to wider contemporary literary developments in and about London
• Communicate in good written English, making appropriate use of recognised academic apparatus
Criteria for grading written assessed work include the following:
• the breadth and depth of demonstrated knowledge and understanding
• the coherence and persuasiveness of sustained argument
• the absence of unsubstantiated generalisation
• the extent and sophistication of use and synthesis of sources
• the accuracy, fluency and appropriateness of written English
• the clarity and consistency of use of academic apparatus
All classes take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Excerpts from films will be shown during class-based seminars.
Whole film screenings may replace a walk if the weather is particularly bad!
The essay will test the analytical skills of students and their ability to explain and discuss how London is represented in several appropriate texts. It will also test the student's ability to meet the learning outcomes of the course. The essay will be assessed in terms of the student’s ability to respond appropriately to the question and to structure their answer accordingly. Accuracy of information, the ability to articulate coherent, clear and cogent arguments that are supported by appropriate evidence and understanding of the concepts that underlie the course will also be assessed. Students are expected to be able to reflect on critical reading. A good level of grammatical expression will be expected, and correctly referenced evidence of secondary and background reading will be required.
Submission of Coursework
All coursework for this module is submitted in electronic form only. This reduces costs for students, speeds up the process of marking and return of work, and helps eradicate plagiarism. Coursework must be submitted twice: to the Blackboard digital drop-box and to the JISC Plagiarism Detection Service.
Assessment – Essay
Students must submit ONE essay of approximately 3, 500 words, chosen from the following list. Essays must be produced on a word-processor, must be formally annotated, and must contain a complete bibliography. You should look at a minimum of two texts. It is possible to write on film and literary texts but please note that at least one of your texts must be a literary text. N.B.: You are reminded that you may not present substantially the same material in any two pieces of work submitted for assessment, regardless of the form of assessment. For instance, you may not repeat substantially the same material in a formal written examination or in a dissertation if it has already formed part of an essay submitted for assessment. This does not prevent you from referring to the same text, examples or case studies as appropriate, provided you do not merely duplicate the same material.
1. Geography is an "active force that pervades the literary field and shapes it in depth." Discuss in relation to at least two texts.
2. How helpful is genre as a tool for analysing London’s literary production?
3. Discuss the gendering of city or city space(s) in at least two texts.
4. What is the relationship between fact and fiction in writing about London? What is gained by viewing a work of fiction alongside journalism, art and/or photography in addressing this question? (Demonstrate)
5. Discuss one of the following in relation to at least two literary texts: theatricality; luxury; excess; London as palimpsest; London as mother and/or whore; criminality; intertextuality; unreal city; the rambler or flâneur.
6. Discuss the production of urban subjectivities in at least two texts.
7. "Romantic texts about London attempt to express a sense of being in London rather than to represent the city." Compare and contrast modes of writing about London in Romantic literature, art and poetry.
8. “London is a city of duplicity.” To what extent is literature about London comprised of productive tensions?
9. Consider the treatment of race AND/OR class in literature about London.
10. Discuss the relation between history, geography and temporality in at least two texts.
11. “London survives as a series of figures. It is an illegible city begging to be read.” Discuss at least two constructions of London as a city of signs.
12. How successfully have London’s writers and artists captured a sense of growth, movement and change in their works? What negotiation is there in their texts between the images they create and the socio-economic conditions underpinning the aspect/s of London they represent?
• Fanny Burney, Evalina AND/OR:
• Pierce Egan, Life in London; or: the day and night scenes of Jerry Hawthorn
Esq., and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom…
• Charles Dickens, any ONE of the following: Great Expectations, Bleak House,
Dombey & Son, David Copperfield
• Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
• Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet AND/OR The Sign of Four
• Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray AND/OR:
• George Gissing, New Grub Street
In addition to the texts listed above, it would be extremely helpful if you could get hold
of a copy of:
• Rick Allen, The Moving Pageant: A Sourcebook on London Street-life, 1700-
1914 (Routledge, London & New York, 1998)
This contains many of the poems and short prose pieces that we shall be looking at
(e.g., Ned Ward, 1700; Richard Steele, 1712; John Gay, 1716; James Boswell, 1763;
William Blake, 1794; Wordsworth, 1804; Thomas de Quincey, 1821; Flora Tristan,
1840; Charlotte Brontë, 1853) together with an introductory essay and comments by
Allen on individual excerpts. Selections of poetry and short prose pieces will be
available as photocopies for students who do not possess a copy of this book.
Finally, it is highly recommended that students read chapters 5-14 (if not the whole)
• Roy Porter, London: A Social History (Penguin, London, 2000)
Ackroyd, P., Dickens’ London: An Imaginative Vision (Headline, London, 1987)
Anderson, A., Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in
Victorian Culture (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1993)
Anderson, P., The Printed Image and the Transformation of Popular Culture 1790-
1860 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1994)
Arnold, D., The Metropolis and Its Image: Constructing Identities for London, c.1750-
1950: Constructing Identities for London, 1750-1950 (Blackwell Publishers, Oxford,
_ Re-presenting the Metropolis: Architecture, Urban Experience and Social Life in London, 1800-1840 (Ashgate, 2000)
_ Rural Urbanism: London Landscapes in the Early Nineteenth Century (Manchester
University Press, 2006)
_ Shaping London, Shaping Lives: Hospitals as Agents of Change in the Metropolis,
1700-1840 (Routledge, London, 2008)
Backsheider, P. R., Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and their Poetry: Inventing
Agency, Inventing Genre (Johns Hopkins University Press, London & Baltimore,
Bond, E., Reading London: Urban Speculation and Imaginative Government in
Eighteenth-Century Literature (Ohio State University Press, 2007)
Borden, I., Rendell, J., Kerr, J. with Pivaro, A., eds., The Unknown City: Contesting
Architecture and Social Space (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2001)
Boyer, M. C., The City and Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and
Architectural Entertainments (MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. & London, 1994)
Burford, E. J. & Wootton, J., Private Vices and Public Virtues: Bawdry in London from
Elizabethan Times to the Regency (Robert Hale, London, 1995)
Burney, F., Dr Johnson and Fanny Burney / with an introduction and notes by Nigel
Wood (Bristol Classical Press, Bristol, 1989)
Clingham, G., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Samuel Johnson (Cambridge
University Press, New York, 1997)
Dames, N., Amnesiac Selves: Nostalgia, Forgetting, and British Fiction 1810-1870
(Oxford University Press, 2001)
Davis, M., Dead Cities (The New Press, New York, 2002)
Davis, P., Memory and Writing: From Wordsworth to Lawrence (Liverpool University
During, S., ed., The Cultural Studies Reader (Routledge, London & New York, 1999)
Ellis, M., The Politics of Sensibility: Race, Gender and Commerce in the Sentimental
Novel (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
Fox, C., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Jonathan Swift (Cambridge University
Gatrell, V., City of Laughter: Sex and Satire in Eighteenth-Century London (Atlantic,
Gilbert, P., ed., Imagined Londons (State University of New York Press, Albany,
Glinert, E. The London Compendium: A Street by Street Exploration of the Hidden
Metropolis (Penguin, London, 2004)
_ East End Chronicles (Allen Lane, London, 2005)
_ Literary London: A Street by Street Exploration of the Capital’s Literary Heritage
(Penguin, London, 2007)
Harris, C. M., What’s in a Name? The Origins of Station Names on the London
Underground (Midas Book/London Transport, London, 1979)
Heaney, P., ed. & intro., An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Satire: Grub Street
(Edwin Mellen, Lewiston, N.Y. & Lampeter, 1995)
Jaye, M. C. & Watts, A. C., eds., Literature and the Urban Experience
(Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1981)
Jenks, C., ed., Visual Culture (Routledge, London, 1995)
Lehan, R., The City in Literature (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1998)
Lonsdale, P., ed., The Oxford Book of Eighteenth-Century Verse (Oxford University
Mander, R. & Mitchenson, J., The Theatres of London (Rupert Hart-Davis, London,
_ The Lost Theatres of London (Rupert Hart-Davis, London, 1968)
Mancoff, D. & Trela, D. J., Victorian Urban Settings: Essays on the Nineteenth
Century City and Its Contexts (Garland, New York, 1996)
Marshall, A., The Strange Death of Edmund Godfrey: Plots and Politics in
Restoration London (Sutton, Stroud, 1999)
Maxwell, R., Mysteries of Paris and London (University Press of Virginia,
McKellar, E., The Birth of Modern London: The Development and Design of the City,
1660-1720 (Manchester University Press, 1999)
McLaughlin, J., Writing the Urban Jungle (University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville,
Myers, N., Reconstructing the Black Past: Blacks in Britain c. 1780-1830 (Frank
Cass, London & Portland, Oregon, 1996)
Nead, L., Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-Century
London (Yale University Press, London & New Haven, 2000)
Parsons, D., Streewalking the Metropolis (Oxford University Press, 2000)
Rawson, C., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Henry Fielding (Cambridge
University Press, 2007)
Rendell, J., Women in an Industrializing Society: England 1750-1800 (Basil
Blackwell, Oxford, 1990)
_ The Pursuit of Pleasure: Gender, Space and Architecture in Regency London
(The Athlone Press, London, 2002)
Richardson, J., The Annals of London (Cassell, London, 2001)
Robbins, R. & Wolfreys, J., eds., Victorian Gothic: Literary and Cultural
Manifestations in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2000)
Roth, M. S., ed., Rediscovering History, Culture, Politics, and the Psyche (Stanford,
Rudé, G. F. E., Paris and London in the Eighteenth-Century: Studies in Popular
Protest (Collins, London, 1970)
Sherman, S., Telling Time: Clocks, Diaries, and English Diurnal Form, 1660-1785
(University of Chicago Press, Chicago & London, 1996)
Smith, D., Bevington, D. & Strier, R., eds., The Theatrical City (Cambridge University
Spiers, J., ed., Gissing and the City: Cultural Crisis and the Making of Books in Late
Victorian England (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2006)
Surridge, L., Bleak Houses: Marital Violence in Victorian Fiction (Ohio University Press,
Athens, Ohio, 2005)
Tames, R., London: A Literary and Cultural History (Signal, Oxford, 2006)
Tester, K., ed., The Flâneur (Routledge, London and New York, 1994)
Walkowitz, J., City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian
London (Virago, London, 1998)
Westwood, S. & Williams, J., eds., Imagining Cities: Scripts, Signs, Memory
(Routledge, London, 1997)
Wilson, E., The Sphinx in the City: Urban Life, the Control of Disorder, and Women
(Virago, London, 1991)
Wolfreys, J., Writing London Volume 1: The Trace of the Urban Text from Blake to
Dickens (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1998)
_ Writing London Volume 2: Materiality, Memory, Spectrality (Palgrave Macmillan,
_ Writing London 3: Inventions of the City (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke,
_ Dickens to Hardy 1837-1884: The Novel, the Past and Cultural Memory in the
Nineteenth Century (July, 2007)
Wordsworth, J. & Wordsworth, J., eds., The New Penguin Book of Romantic Verse
(Penguin, London, 2001)