Literary London: from Shakespeare to Sherlock

Dr George Yeats

Literary‘Literary London: from Shakespeare to Sherlock’ guides students through a body of writings as stimulating, diverse, and complex as the city that inspired them.

We will encounter landmark texts from three centuries of London’s literary history from the culture clashes between the Puritans and cut-purses (ie: thieves) of Shakespeare’s day to the mysterious metropolis of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. The course thus explores the myriad of ways in which London has been perceived, documented and imagined: as a den of vice, a triumph of civilization, and a theatre of dreams.

Alongside consideration of the unique qualities of specific authors and works, students will be encouraged to consider how London has inspired entire narrative media, genres and styles: the rise of journalism; City comedy; the ‘Condition of England’ novel; the detective story; modernist stream of consciousness narration.

Our literary critical discussions will also have an interdisciplinary dimension in being illuminated by concepts from a variety of neighbouring domains including the history of medicine, urban theory and psycho-geography.

Intended Audience

This course is aimed at those who enjoy reading and discussing narratives and dramas. While the course may be of special interest to English Literature specialists, our discussions will incorporate elements of politics, sociology, psychology, history and economics.

Previous Knowledge

Fluency in reading English is the essential pre-requisite. Prior academic study of the specific authors and texts is not a requirement.

Transferable Knowledge and Skills

Students will acquire the following skills: the ability to appreciate and analyse the works; to read not only for plot but also for more complex political, ethical and psychological implications; the capacity to argue your critical perspective.