Notes from Underground

In Autumn 2015, the London students took part in fascinating excursions related to Prof. Zach Samalin’s course, Notes from Underground: Sanitation, Sewers, and the 19th Century Literary Imagination. See the photos!

A quarter of a mile beneath the rolling countryside of Yorkshire lies a world far removed from the windswept moors of Wuthering Heights. At the bottom of the Hope Coal Pit, one of the last working coal mines in the United Kingdom, the students on our London Autumn program could shimmy through narrow mining passages in the pitch dark, experiencing for themselves the cramped, dark, and dangerous working conditions of Victorian coal miners.

Photo of 2015 group touring a Thameside Victorian sewage stationTheir course, Notes from Underground, took the students far off the beaten path to learn more about sanitation, sewers, mines, and how these generally out of sight spaces were presented in the Victorian literary imagination. From touring a Thameside Victorian sewage station to visiting the mine and viewing original notebooks documenting the struggles of London’s poorest inhabitants in the filthy East End, the course challenged students to think about the ways in which literature and society mutually influence and affect each other.

Submitted by Samantha Budde, on-site coordinator for the UChicago faculty-led London program

Posted on December 8, 2015

Photo of 2015 group visiting the Hope Coal Pit