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Dickens' Jurisdictions: Bleak House and the Social and Legal Worlds of Nineteenth-Century London

Semester and Year SU 2014
Course Number TRAVL-UG9125
Section 001
Instructor Sara Murphy
Units 4.0
Level U
Foundation Requirement HUM


This three-week course meets in London, May 31 - June 21. Permission required. Application deadline is March 1, 2014. For more information and to apply, please click on course title and link to application.


Application: http://gallatin.nyu.edu/utilities/forms/summersaapp.html For more information: http://gallatin.nyu.edu/academics/undergraduate/global/travelcourses/london--dickens--jurisdictions.html Description: Dickens' novel, Bleak House (1852-53), is an omnibus of mid Victorian society, encompassing a wide range of themes: wealth and poverty, children and parents, legacies, the place of women, illness and health, crime and punishment, tradition and reform--all against the background of the rapidly growing, foggy, filthy city that is nineteenth-century London. Often it is said that this novel is 'about the law;' the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce is a central driver of Dickens' sprawling story. Dickens also takes us into the broader world of legal London, offering some of the most memorable lawyer characters in nineteenth-century fiction. In this course, we focus intently on a slow and careful reading of Bleak House, supplemented by readings and field trips designed to help us understand nineteenth-century London and the Victorians. While locating the course in London will still not let us experience at first-hand Dickens' world, we can bring what might seem like very distant and strange locations closer through outside-the-classroom experiences that permit us to reflect on the city, which is in effect a character in the novel. We will frame our investigation with the idea of jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the expertise or command of a particular court, but we will broaden this idea--as Dickens does in his novel--to think about space, place, and time, affect and desire, and the " jurisdiction" of literature. Who gets to "say the law" where and with what authority? What is the space of the literary? And how does the space of nineteenth-century London shape Dickens' fiction?

Course Type

Travel Courses (TRAVL-UG)

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