ENGL 344/ENGL 444: London's Contemporary Theater (5 credits) VLPA
NB: This will be slightly amended once circumstances stabilize to make plain how the plays we book will conform both to the UK government's health and safety rules and those of UWSA. London is one of the theatre capitals of the world; more than ten million people attend performances in the West End alone, and in addition are dozens of smaller "fringe" venues throughout the city. We shall be seeing at least one play a week, and read some of them in order to appreciate the decisions that have been made in turning a text into a live production, looking at some of the essential elements of production and stagecraft. In addition to a production at the government-subsidised Royal National Theatre, and a production at the reproduction of Shakespeare's Globe where we shall be standing as "groundlings," just as the Elizabethan audience did, we shall be attending a commercial West End production and a fringe production. Backstage tours may include the National Theatre and the Globe in order to deepen your understanding of how theatre works; the class also takes a trip to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, where we shall be seeing two plays, one of them at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. You will be asked to take notes on each of the productions we see and to use these notes to write a critical review of each of the productions, bearing in mind the class discussion.
Learning goals include:
Acquaintance with stagecraft and socio-cultural history of different types of theatre. The student will emerge versed in critical spectatorship--watching carefully, as well as reading critically. Written reviews of theater productions and a self-reflective essay lend themselves to increased writing capacity. Writing on deadline, as do journalists for theatre reviews, is a skill that will also serve the student well.
ENGL 395: Writing London (5 credits) VLPA
This course takes London as both site and subject for creative writing. You walk the city as a flâneuse , observing the spectacle of everyday life in order to awaken your aesthetic senses. We visit writers' houses and historical sites in order to spark imagination: urban spaces that provide insight into the city, markets (Borough Market, Portobello Market), and green spaces such as Bloomsbury Garden Squares, commemoration to possibly the greatest novelist of the early 20th century, Virginia Woolf. We will visit museums and street art (Brick Lane) in order to think about interarts connections, and read some London texts to consider writerly styles and techniques. The course is conducted as a workshop, with students sharing writing for critique and revision. In addition to producing original creative writing, students will keep and turn in a "Commonplace Book" in which they record bits of the city, overheard conversations (the Tube is a great space for this) and self-selected quotations from readings that jump out to them as worthy, wonderful, and/or peculiar; turn in a portfolio. Students give readings of their work at the program's culmination. Prose (short stories and creative nonfiction in particular), short scripts, and poetry are all welcome. No previous experience in creative writing or performance is required.
Learning goals include:
Art is about paying attention (according to Laurie Anderson) and being alive to the diversity of everyday life is a crucial component to ethical creativity. Students will improve their critical thinking and writing skills, gain exposure to other writers' techniques, and increase their capacity for paying attention to detail.
ENGL 295: Contemporary London (2 credits) *VLPA
"Contemporary London" introduces students to political, cultural, social life in Britain through local experience and urban history. There is a major emphasis on direct contact with the people of contemporary Britain, and individual research projects which encourage students to follow up their own interests by recording and editing a written oral history of a Londoner. By visiting different areas of the city, the course engages diversity in multiple modes: race, religion, socioecomic relations; borough vs. city politics; crime and the police; and the problems and delights of being young in London today. Students will be assessed based on active and informed participation, and the completion of an oral history of a Londoner.
Learning goals include:
The course enables students to gain a deeper understanding of contemporary London, as well as the nation, and equips them better to understand their own society. Direct contact with the people and institutions of contemporary Britain provides students with the awareness of the complex interrelations of people and place. Active engagement allows focus and exposure to the history and diverse culture of the present moment; student projects foster a creative and grounded approach to education. Students will also become acquainted with how to research and assemble an oral history.
*This course does not count towards an English major because it is a Contemporary History course. This course counts as a VLPA.