London Program Fall 2011
Welcome to the Penn English Program in London (PEPL), and to a semester of studying and living abroad in one of the most vibrant, multicultural cities in the world. London is a huge metropolis, home to more than seven million people, a third of whom were born elsewhere. The last sixty years have brought extraordinary change to London, and today, by some estimates, more than 300 languages are spoken in the city. But London also retains its historic charms, and the city features wonderful parks, stunning architecture, and of course the winding and ubiquitous Thames. Your experiences in the UK will change your understanding of contemporary Britain (and Europe) and will also add considerably to your study of British literature and history. It will also shift your understanding of American literature and history. You will, I'm certain, return to Penn with a more cosmopolitan sense of the world and its myriad cultures. And you will also have much fun, so if you have not yet considered applying, please do so now!
I am the current Faculty Director of the PEPL this year and am assisted by Marina Bilbija, an advanced Ph.D. student in the English Department at Penn. Marina and I have already been conducting excursions and outings to theaters, museums, restaurants, pubs, lively neighborhoods, and other sites in and around London. As part of the Penn Theatre Seminar convened by Michael Billington, the drama critic of The Guardian, we will see eleven plays this semester, including a Shakespeare Comedy of Errors at the National Theatre, Edward Bond's modern classic Saved, and cutting-edge fringe theatre such as The Riots, a bold reflection on the riots that shook London last summer. Alongside these non-stop theatre experiences, we began the semester with a grand welcoming party attended by Michael Billington and Professor Josephine McDonagh, head of the King's English Department; we wandered Hampstead Heath, visiting the magnificent 18th-century Kenwood Estate, lunching at the notorious 16th-century pub, The Spaniards Inn, and finishing the day at the home where John Keats wrote his most celebrated odes. In the weeks ahead we will tour Cambridge, visit Jane Austen's Bath, and explore Henry VIII's Hampton Court.These are only some of the highlights in a semester that offers new experiences, new ideas, and new friends every day
Come to London where, as Samuel Johnson once pointed out, you'll never be tired of life.
PEPL Faculty Director