Academic Courses & Programs

London Study Abroad

This series of courses was created for the University of Denver and City College-London, UK

London in the American Imagination
In this course, we will study stories about the city of London made popular in the United States through children's literature, pub rock, pop and punk music, as well notorious rumors about the British Royal Family. Emphasis will be placed upon interrogating cultural representations of the city and then finding evidence of these representations in London's physical topography and architecture. Each week, class time will be divided into cartography labs and urban hikes through the city of London, as well as a few sites outside of London's city limits. Students will prepare for labs by completing a set of literary, critical, and sociological readings, as well as weekly film screenings. Lab time will be used for lecture, group discussion, and turning the readings students prepare into sketch maps of the city of London, which we will then follow during our urban hikes. Students will be required to record these hikes using words and photographs in a personal documentary journal. At the end of the course, students will have created two very different kinds of urban cartographies. First, a set of sketch maps created out of their readings, or in many cases, re-readings of famous stories about London, perhaps some of the stories that made them want to travel to this city in the first place; and then second, a set of narrative and photographic maps created out of their early, and in some cases, first impressions of the city's actual, geographic terrain. Doing this will not only allow students to consider and interrogate their personal ideas about the city, but learn how to recognize the cultural links between the United Kingdom and United States, which has been reified over the last hundred years through literature and music, the news and tabloid press, as well as historical biographies. In addition, as students work through the reading list and mapping assignments, they will also develop a keen theoretical understanding of what culture means and how it's meaning changes over time and in different geographical contexts. • University of Denver • City College-London, UK

London in Reverse
In this course we will explore the city of London, England on-site focusing specifically on the interaction or, in many cases, lack of interaction, between those urban dwellers who identify themselves as "native" to the city versus those who identify themselves as a "Londoners who comes from someplace else." During the first week of class, students will be introduced to Peter Ackroyd's urban ethnography, London: The Biography (2003) and Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth (2000), two very different texts about this city, which offer keen anthropological and sociological insights into the London's migrant, immigrant, ex-patriot and tourist populations. Ackroyd's work will be supplemented with some selected readings from other authors and thinkers who have written on London's working class and bohemian cultures, such as Karl Marx, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and Rabindranath Tagore; Smith's work will be supplemented with some selected readings from cultural critics and geographers who have written about London's immigrant populations, such as Homi Bhabha, Vron Ware, and Salman Rushdie. After the first week of the course, each class period will take place in a different part of London or its immediate environs. Students will prepare for the class by attending a film screening which will preview the parts of the city we will be studying that week (such as Dirty Pretty Things, My Beautiful Laundrette, Bend It Like Beckham, Secrets and Lies, and Prick Up Your Ears), as well as by completing selections from Ackroyd's and Smith's work and any supplementary readings. During class time we will survey the part of the city we are studying for that day as a group, then students will have time to make their own individual audio recordings of the setting, documenting its sounds, as well as their own personal observations of what they see. At the end of the course, as well as their stay in London, students will have the chance to listen to each other's audio journals and discuss the similarities and differences between their observations and personal interpretations of them. In addition, I will compile selections of the students' recordings into a single audio journal to summarize the findings and reflections of the entire class. • University of Denver • City College-London, UK

Bangla Town Laid Bare
In London's East End there's a small neighborhood of narrow alleyways and courts bound by a brick road called Brick Lane. In medieval times there were brick factories there and in the 17th century Huguenot silk factories and the Black Eagle Brewery. But by the 19th century it was mostly a slum, home to all the people who found work there, including a small population of Jews who opened up a few kosher butcher shops and a few bakeries. On the cusp of the 20th century, Brick Lane was where many of Jack the Ripper's victims lived and where a few of them were actually murdered, and in the early 1920s came the first of three waves of Bangladeshi immigrants, mostly seamen, who in time would open up so many curry shops that today Brick Lane seems permanently steeped in the strong fragrant smells of fresh coriander and cumin. This is where this course starts, in the curry shops along Brick Lane, where students literally map all of the miles its Bangladeshi residents traveled to get there by eating and learning how to cook Bangladeshi cuisine. While familiarizing themselves with the route between Dhaka, Bangladesh and London, England they will supplement these maps by reading Brick Lane by British novelist and Bangladeshi born Monica Ali, using the fictional characters and storylines she creates to try and understand what its like for a person to live very far away from the country where they were born. Following our reading of Brick Lane, we will then shift to some very brief selections from the writings of novelists Zadie Smith, Rehana Ahmed, Hari Kunzru, Adeline Yen Mah, and Marian Keyes to draw us away from Brick Lane and into other parts of the city of London, namely its South Asian, West Indian, African, Chinese and Irish neighborhoods, where we will again draw maps and eat. Doing this will allow us to figure out which parts of the city come from some place else and which parts were always there, knowledge which we will take back to Brick Lane to try and figure out what parts of this neighborhood were there before the Bangladeshi sailors came. • University of Denver • City College-London, UK