Courses

Yale in London, spring 2014, West Kennet Longbarrow, photograph courtesy of Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Summer 2018

Session One: June 4–July 13, 2018

London Theatre: The Contemporary Scene (BRST 180)

Paul Walsh, Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism, Yale University

Theater in London is a hot bed of innovation and imagination. It is also an agent of cultural definition and change, as well as the site of ongoing explorations of personal and social identifies. The public nature of theatrical performance in London, its history of engagement with the city itself, and its shifting population makes theater a unique site and subject of study. Taking advantage of plays and performances in London in a variety of venues and formats, this course examines theater and drama as aesthetic objects, social events, and cultural practices. It introduces methods for reading plays and reading performances and investigates the various uses and functions that the theatrical mode of production serves within the contemporary cultural scene. As an introduction to the study of drama in performance, this course presents key methodological questions and approaches for interrogating dramatic and theatrical performance, and encourages personal exploration of performance strategies and functions. The course combines lecture, discussion, reading assignments, frequent writing assignments, and regular theater attendance.
 

Monuments and Memory 16002018 (BRST 156)

Roger Bowdler, historian & expert in historic buildings

History is made manifest through monuments. Through art and architecture, patrons sought to perpetuate memories and keep the dead in mind. In so doing, they created some of the highest achievements of English art. This broad survey course looks at ways of remembering, from the emergence of modern modes of public honor in the seventeenth century to the assertive memorials of the empire at its zenith under Queen Victoria. We go back to prehistory, look at the medieval cult of death, and bring the story up to date with the issues of memorials to women. And we consider how modern values are starting to question the monuments of yesteryear, and ask questions of how we engage with the tributes of distant generations.

This course looks at the rise of the public statue, the face of royal commemoration, the ways of honoring military and naval losses, and the rise of private memorials. Visits range from ancient places of sepulture in Wessex to the great shrines of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral, the finest depositories of sculpture in Britain. We look at the cult of the churchyards, and include a visit to Stoke Poges, scene of Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1750). Some of the grandest baroque ensembles like Greenwich Hospital, and Blenheim Palace, created imposing theaters of honor. Landscapes of memory arose in Georgian England, heralding the emergence of the garden cemetery, while in towns the public realm began to be peopled with tributes to the great men of ages past. The year 2018, the centenary of the end of the First World War, is a good time to consider war memorials too.

Session Two: July 2–August 10, 2018

Mapping Multicultural London (BRST 155)

Amy Hungerford, Professor of English and American Studies, Yale University

London is a city remade by its immigrants in the aftermath of British colonialism and the Second World War. 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 longer political and social past.

Students will discover the multicultural city in real time, as well, with visits to a variety of neighborhoods 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.

Exhibiting History: British Art & Culture at the Royal Academy 1769–2018 (BRST 201)

Sarah Victoria Turner, Deputy Director of Research, Paul Mellon Centre

This course will use the exhibition The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition (Royal Academy of Arts, London, May–August 2018), which is co-curated by Sarah Victoria Turner (this course’s leader) and Mark Hallett (Director of Studies at the Paul Mellon Centre), as a springboard to explore British art over the 250-year history of the Royal Academy of Arts. Ever since 1769, and at a succession of locations ranging from Pall Mall to Piccadilly, the Academy’s exhibition rooms have been crowded for some two months each year with hundreds of paintings and sculptures produced by many of Britain’s leading artists. As a result, the Summer Exhibition is the world’s longest running exhibition of contemporary art in the world.

 

Past Courses

Each year new courses are added to the curriculum, and some may be repeated in upcoming sessions. Samples of recent Yale in London courses, including syllabi, are available for review in past courses.