- 2 July to 10 August 2018
- Paul Mellon Centre
London is a city remade by its immigrants in the aftermath of British colonialism and World War II. This seminar surveys the changing London we find in influential works of British fiction since 1945, with an emphasis on this immigrant energy, though we will also consider contemporary imaginings of the iconic city of the past. Starting with the Trinidadian author Samuel Selvon’s 1956 novel, The Lonely Londoners, stopping in 1970’s London in Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, detouring through the reimagined Tudor city of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (we’ll visit Hampton Court), and ending with Zadie Smith’s NW, students will discover how class, language, and ethnicity interact with London’s long political and social past.
Students will discover the multicultural city in real time, as well, with visits to a variety of neighbourhoods and landmarks related to the novels. Field trips will be framed by short readings on walking and imaginative mapping by Rebecca Solnit; Charles Baudelaire on the flâneur and the art of observing city life; excerpts from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities; and a portfolio of classic London scenes from across two centuries of literature. In-class instruction on writing (both academic and creative) will build technical skills and inspire students to rethink how we experience and describe cities, their cultures, and the individual lives within them.