This course will take place online, for a reduced rate of Full £76 / Conc. £57
Fiction writers are often the first to identify and analyse a social phenomenon. We will examine two centuries of London history through the eyes of novelists and poets, from William Blake to Zadie Smith. In this way, London’s social and economic history will be revealed through imaginative writers’ eyes.
Who is this course for?
Anyone with an interest in London history. No previous skills or knowledge required, but curiosity and an appetite for reading will be helpful. No advance reading is required as this is a general survey course, with reading lists and recommendations supplied for future exploration in the student’s free time.
How will the course be taught?
Teaching will be by illustrated lecture and seminar/group discussion.
Will I need any equipment or materials?
This course will be held via Zoom. You need a computer/laptop or mobile phone to access the Zoom website, and a reliable internet connection. For further information on how to join a Zoom meeting, you can watch the joining video here.
Extracts to be considered in class will be provided in advance by email. The full reading list will also be supplied in advance, though you are not expected to have read these ahead of classes. Much of the earlier works on the suggested "further reading" is available online as it is out of copyright.
Will I be assessed?
There is no formal assessment for courses at Bishopsgate Institute. However, to monitor your learning and progress, tutors will assess your participation in classroom activities.
You will learn
By the end of this course, you will be able to:
- Identify the major fictional portraits of London from 200 years of history
- Define key moments in London’s social history
- Identify some of the literary trends / shifts in style across 200 years of fiction writing
- Pursue further reading on these subjects, with a detailed bibliography/secondary reading list for each session.
Meet the Tutor
Sarah is an award-winning writer and historian. She teaches literature and nineteenth-century social history and literature at the University of California’s London Outreach Center. She has been teaching a variety of courses at the Bishopsgate Institute since 2014.
Her interests are London/urban history, working-class history, medical history, psychogeography, and nineteenth-century literature and reportage.
Her books include Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England; The Italian Boy: Murder and Grave Robbery in 1830s London; and The Blackest Streets: The Life and Death of a Victorian Slum.
She contributed a chapter to "Charles Booth's Poverty Maps" - last autumn's best-selling illustrated book by Thames & Hudson/London School of Economics.
Her TV work includes providing background material on BBC1’s "Secret History of Our Streets", and BBC2’s "The Victorian Slum", and she has twice been the history expert on "Who Do You Think You Are?"
The late-18th century to the mid-1830s
Romantic London – Wordsworth, Blake, Thomas De Quincey.
Regency London – bucks, bruisers, dandies, men-about-town.
The Newgate Novel – amoral tales of villains. The "silver fork novel" of High Society.
The mid-19th century
Dickens, crime, policing, and detection.
The slums of St Giles.
Edgar Allan Poe.
Dostoevsky in Haymarket.
London’s first time-travel fantasy.
The late 19th century
Slum fiction, disaster/dystopian fiction, science fiction.
The Inter-War Years
The Roaring Twenties, Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf.
The Depression of the Thirties, Patrick Hamilton, Simon Blumenfeld, Pamela Hansford Johnson.
War and postwar
Horror, science fiction, post-modernism, social upheaval and mass migration.
Colin MacInnes, Nigel Kneal, Nell Dunn, Sam Selvon, Margaret Drabble, BS Johnson.
1980 to Today
London during the Thatcher years, multiculturalism, new-Victorianism, thrillers, crime writing.
Need to Know
- 19:00 - 20:30
- Full £76 / Conc. £57
- Bishopsgate Institute
- Sarah Wise
- Max Students
- No. of Sessions
- Course Code