London: British Literature and Culture

Photo of 2013 group at Stratford-upon-Avon
Final App Deadline: 
Monday, February 25, 2019
Language Requirement: 
Dana Currier

The London program is designed to provide students with the unique opportunity to study British literature and culture in London, the lively capital of modern England and a city of great beauty and historical richness. In the course of this intensive, ten-week program, students take four courses. Three of these courses, devoted to British literature and culture, are each compressed into approximately three weeks and taught in succession by Chicago faculty. The fourth course runs throughout the term at a less intensive pace and allows for independent study of a London-based topic. London itself, once the metropolitan hub of the British Empire with a history dating from Roman times, is central to the mission of this program and students are expected to make a serious project of exploring its corners. Toward this end, the program includes a number of field trips within and around London, aimed at connecting texts with living monuments.


English Renaissance Verse and the Poetics of Place (Josh Scodel)

This course will explore sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English poetry by focusing on the poetic treatments of diverse places, including commercial, legal, and theatrical London venues, courtly palaces, aristocratic country houses and rural estates, churches, prisons, and imaginary landscapes.  Poets might include Wyatt, Spenser, Sidney, Shakespeare, Donne, Jonson, Herbert, Herrick, Lovelace, Milton, Marvell, Philips, and Cowley. Genres might include sonnet, epithalamion, satire, pastoral, georgic, epistle, epigram, country-house poem, and ode.  Trips within and close to London might include the Tower of London, the Whitehall Banqueting House, the Globe Theater, Hampton Court, and Penshurst Place.

Literature and the Environment in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Heather Keenleyside)

This course will focus on eighteenth-century literature that engages us with the nonhuman environment—with the plants, animals, and elements, the landscapes and the climates that surround and shape human life. We will range widely in genres from nature poetry and travel writing to natural history and the novel, reflecting throughout on the ways in which nature may be cultivated, improved, or imported from elsewhere – not something opposed to human culture but wholly tied up with it. Together, we will ask: how do ideas of nature look different in the city, the country, or the colonies? And crucially, what might eighteenth century understandings of the relationship between human beings and the natural world have to tell us our own moment of ecological entanglement and crisis? The course will draw on the resources of London and its environs, likely to include Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum, the Sloane House, and Tate Britain.

The Golden Bough (Edgar Garcia)

This course is a study of literary modernism by way of its debt to Scottish anthropologist J.G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough, a foundational work in the anthropology of magic, religion, purity, pollution, sacrifice, fertility, and the death and reincarnation of gods. Reading Frazer’s work alongside works by William Butler Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Robert Graves, Sigmund Freud, and Jane Harrison, we will examine the widespread impact of Frazer’s tome, its resonance in the tumultuous war years, and the ways in which it participated in the creation of pagan, heretical, outsider, country, rural, and ethnic values in modernist London. Inasmuch as Frazer’s work possessed a literary life, we will examine how its anthropology possessed by literature lives on in the works of such anthropologists as Mary Douglas and Michael Taussig. Course field trips are likely to include the newly reconstructed London Mithraeum, Greenwich, and the Stonehenge monument.


London program participants occupy furnished two-bedroom apartments with shared bathrooms and full kitchens in the Farringdon neighborhood in London. The apartments include wireless internet access, laundry facilities, and televisions. The Farringdon neighborhood is home to many restaurants, cafes, grocery stores, and other amenities. Access to public transportation, including buses and the tube, is nearby.

Credits and Registration

Participants in the London program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They take and receive credit for four courses: the three courses in the “British Literature and Culture” sequence and the fourth independent study course. Literature courses taught by Chicago English faculty may be used in their respective majors without special approval. Their use, partial or total, in other majors must be approved by the undergraduate chair of that department. Courses not used to meet major requirements may fill elective slots. Course titles, units of credit and grades are placed on the College transcript.


Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee and a non-refundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the non-refundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the London program during the 2019-20 year are listed below:

Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

London program fee: $4,900

Program fee includes: Out-of-pocket expenses include:
accommodation with kitchen round-trip airfare to and from the program site
instruction transportation on site
student support meals
program excursions course materials
emergency travel insurance (ISOS) personal entertainment and travel
  communications (most students bring or buy a cell phone)
  health insurance and upfront payments for care
  other miscellaneous expenses

Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in London is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

Eligibility and Application

The London program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

The Chicago London program is designed for third- and fourth-year University of Chicago undergraduates in good standing with a strong interest in British literature and culture and with some coursework in this area. It is not required that English be a student’s major subject at Chicago, though students concentrating in those fields will likely find the program to be especially attractive and profitable. In general students should present a solid academic record and demonstrate the kind of maturity that is necessary to participate successfully in a program abroad.

Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record, personal statement and academic recommendation. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

Further Information

To discuss the London: British Literature and Culture program and the possibility of participating in it, please contact Dana Currier.

What you’ll see: 

“Bubbles Across the Thames” by Jen Xue, ’18Photo of 2013 group at Stratford-upon-AvonPhoto of 2015 group touring a Thameside Victorian sewage stationPhoto of 2015 group visiting the Hope Coal PitPhoto of The British Museum