London: British Literature and Culture

Final App Deadline: 
Monday, April 20, 2020
Language Requirement: 
Dana Currier
Core Credits: 
Arts Core

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.


Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group (Bill Brown)
A controversial art exhibition organized by Roger Fry, “Manet and the Post-Impressionists,” provoked Virginia Woolf to write that “on or about December 1910 human character changed.” The Bloomsbury Group, renowned for its role in vilifying Victorian culture and promoting English modernism, was no less famous for its own efforts to change human character: for its unprecedented understanding of aesthetics, economics, social politics, and sexuality. Taking advantage of our particular location in London (the neighborhood in which the group lived, met, wrote, and painted), this course will provide the opportunity to engage a broad spectrum of Bloomsbury work: the essays and fiction of Virginia Woolf; the art of Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and Roger Fry; the macroeconomics of John Maynard Keynes. This engagement will unfold through different analytics (formalist, psychoanalytic, materialist), and with sustained recognition of two Bloomsbury institutions—the short-lived Omega Workshops, and the enduring Hogarth Press. The British Library and the Tate Modern will provide us with intimate access to literary and visual texts, and we will talk with contemporary writers about the cultural legacy of this coterie. (1830-1940; criticism/theory).

Gothic Fiction and Architecture (Benjamin Morgan)
Gothic fiction exploits our strange delight in fearful tales of mystery and suspense. In this course, we will study the development of gothic fiction since the eighteenth century, paying particular attention to architectural spaces such as castles, abbeys, churches, and ruins that contribute to the distinctive atmosphere of the gothic. How do authors use these imagined places to provoke terror in readers? Our study of fictional gothic architecture will draw us into the real spaces of London, where we will visit and study renowned Gothic Revival buildings such as the Houses of Parliament and St. Pancras railway station. Readings may include Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto; Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey; Bram Stoker, Dracula; Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray; and Henry James, The Turn of the Screw. (1650-1830; Fiction. Fulfills Creative Writing Literary Genre (Fiction) requirement).

Curiouser and Curiouser: Adaptation and the Lives of Alice (Jennifer Scappettone)
In Fall 2020, the Victoria & Albert Museum will be hosting a major exhibition on the evolution of Alice in Wonderland from manuscript form to the book’s elaboration by figures such as Salvador Dali. We will spend time in “the rabbit hole” of Alice’s adventures underground and Through the Looking Glass, studying Carroll’s influences, from logic to dream theory; his collaboration with graphic artist John Tenniel as a prime example of the art of the illustrated book; interpretations of Alice by contemporary poets such as Tan Lin; and adaptations from Disney to Czech surrealist filmmaker Jan Švankmajer. Having studied many variations of the text in concert with theories of adaptation, students will be invited to produce their own micro-adaptations of a chosen literary work (by Carroll or another author encountered during the London quarter). Fulfills Arts Core requirement.


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 nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the London program during the 2020-21 year are listed below:

Autumn tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

Study abroad administrative fee: $675

London program fee: $4,950

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 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.

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