Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

The Penn English Program in London for 2013-2014

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 outside the country. 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; world-class theaters, museums, and other cultural sites; 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, history, and culture, by exposing you to a diversity of views of the United States from outside its boundaries. You will, I'm certain, return to Penn with a more cosmopolitan sense of the trans-Atlantic world and its myriad cultures. And you will also have a great deal of fun!

I am directing the program during the Fall of 2013, with the assistance of Christine Woody, a Ph.D. student in English at Penn. Christine and I will take the program’s students on day-trips in and beyond London to see sites of cultural and historic consequence, including a walking tour through the hidden sites of Shakespeare’s and Dickens’s London; Bath, where we’ll follow in the path of visitors to this spa town from the Romans to Jane Austen; Oxford, where we’ll see first-hand how students live at this historic university, explore the Bodleian Library (founded 1602), and tour Harry Potter’s stomping grounds in Christ Church; and other fascinating neighborhoods in and near London. As part of the Penn Theatre Seminar convened by Michael Billington, the drama critic at The Guardian, we will also accompany you to weekly performances of plays including classics such as Macbeth at the reconstructed Globe Theatre, Marlowe’s Edward II at the National Theatre, and new drama written by Britain’s leading playwrights in venues in the West End and the Fringe.

If you’ll be joining us this semester, we can’t wait to welcome you at the end of September. If you are considering applying for next year, we encourage you to do so!

Best wishes,

Zachary Lesser