The Penn English Program in London for 2016-2017
Welcome to the Penn English Program in London (PEPL). I'm looking forward to meeting up with you in mid-September. If you are planning to arrive earlier to explore London or the United Kingdom, let me know, since I'll likely be around. You'll be living in a terrific, global city -- full of history yet unapologetically modern -- and you'll be arriving at a time when most of the summer crowds will be gone. This is a city with more than seven million residents speaking 300 languages, making it an ideal place to study most of the world's literatures. Nearly everywhere you go -- from the East End to Richmond, from Camden Town to Brixton, from Hampstead Heath to Clapham Common -- you'll find literary and cultural history looking back at you. You can walk the novels you'll be reading, visiting the same neighborhoods the characters do. You can visit the sites of renaissance theaters by day and see modern performances by night. You can haunt the landscapes of poems. And, if you wish it, you can work in superb archives and libraries.
We are especiallly fortunate to have Daniel Davies, a Ph.D student in English at Penn, as part of our PEPL group. Daniel grew up in the United Kingdom; he knows London intimately and will have an insider's knowledge of the country and its culture, whether you're interested in medieval Britain or Tottenham Hotspurs football. He and I will take you on excursions both in London and outside of it. We have already planned walks in Kent (Ann Boleyn and Sir Philip Sidney country) and Hampshire (Jane Austen country). We are also planning a trip to Bath, a spa town famous for both its ancient Roman founders and its golden stone buildings. Depending on the group's preferences, we might make visits to Hampstead Heath or Hampton Court, Winchester Cathedral or Westminster Abbey. Much will be up to you - but I expect we'll take walking tours through vibrant parts of the city, visit art exhibitions and auctions, travel to historic towns like Oxford, and take in as much as we can of what London has to offer.
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. Sometimes after class we'll meet somewhere for a pub dinner.
Daniel and I are looking forward to this autumn immensely.
Best wishes, Michael Gamer