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The Penn English Program in London for 2015-2016


Welcome to the Penn English Program in London (PEPL). I’m pleased to be the faculty Director for Fall 2015. Soon we’ll meet in in this exciting global city for four months of exploration, study, and fun. London has both a storied history and modern multicultural vibrancy. The city has more than seven million residents, a third of whom were born outside the country. Currently there are more than 300 languages spoken in the city. But this thriving modern capital is also home to historic palaces, theaters, colleges and buildings that have survived for centuries. This mix of contemporary and historical culture makes London a distinctive place to learn about the world. British literature and history will come alive in unexpected ways. American literary culture (my own area of expertise) is deeply rooted in London, too. If you immerse yourself in the city, the next months will change and deepen your education—not just your study of literature but also your understanding of contemporary global politics and art.

We are lucky to have Sarah Townsend, a Ph.D. student in English at Penn, as part of our PEPL group. Having lived and studied in London herself, Sarah is brimming with ideas about how to make the most of your time in this city. Sarah and I will take you on excursions both in London and places beyond. We have planned a trip to Bath, a spa town famous for both its ancient Roman founders and its Jane Austen settings; a visit to the gorgeous Hampton heath; trips to palaces like Hampton Court; walking tours through vibrant parts of the city; and visits to historic towns like Oxford among other possibilities. A highlight of your semester will be the theater seminar we will take as a group. We have a rich menu of plays lined up; most of your Tuesday evenings will be spent in the superb theaters of London. On Wednesdays we will meet in a classroom at King’s College where Michael Billington, the renowned drama critic, will lead us in discussions of these plays and performances.

I hope you are as excited as Sarah and I are for the semester to come. If you are thinking of applying for next year, please do!

Best wishes, Nancy Bentley