Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

London Calling: The Modern British Novel

ENGL 065.950

This course seeks to introduce students to the modern British novel, considering several works in the context of major social and political upheavals of the twentieth century. We will trace formal innovations in the genre against the background of colonialism, immigration, industrialization, the World Wars, racism, class conflict, and shifts in the meaning of gender and sexuality. The course focuses in particular on novels that are set in London and that explore the relationship between violence and subjectivity, the politics of architecture and urban space, policing and detection, and questions of memory, haunting, and trauma. We will use the resources that the city has to offer—we will attend films, visit galleries, museums, and archives, and explore several neighborhoods across London to consider, among other things, the impact of urban redevelopment. Readings will include: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four; Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway; George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London; Alan Hollinghurst, The Swimming-Pool Library; and Monica Ali, Brick Lane. Requirements include: full participation and engaged reading; two 5-page papers; a few short reaction papers (about the readings and also about events and sites in the city).  (1 CU)

fulfills requirements
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major