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Charles Dickens' Victorian London: Fictions of Urbanization

Semester and Year SP 2016
Course Number IDSEM-UG1874
Section 001
Instructor Sara Murphy
Days MW
Time 2:00 PM - 3:15 PM
12:00 AM - 12:00 AM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM


This course includes travel to London, England during the week of Spring Recess, March 13-20. Permission required: Application deadline is October 26, 2015. For more information and to apply, please click on course title and then link to application.


London is a Victorian city. That is to say, the years during which Queen Victoria reigned marked its growth and development as a truly modern and global metropolis--and, in fact, as these years saw the expansion and affirmation of the British Empire, an imperial city. Charles Dickens is perhaps the most important novelistic voice of that city, producing unforgettable images of its streets, its people, and its institutions throughout his writing career. In this course, we bring them together to engage a study of a writer and his works through the exploration of the development of London as a modern urban space. We'll begin the course with Dickens' journalism and shorter fiction, setting it in the context of the rise and expansion of the periodical press, and focus our attention on some of the major urban issues that arose in the mid-century: slum clearance, education, the rise of the middle class, and environmental issues that bear on a rapidly expanding urban space, such as the need for a modern sewage system. Then, to further investigate Dickens as novelist, we will center our attention on  Bleak House  (1852-53) and Little Dorrit (1855-1857). Punctuating our reading and discussion of this novel, we will travel to London over spring break.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)