Courses

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

Spring 2019

January 14-May 3, 2019

The Tudors and the English Renaissance, 1509-1603 (BRST 182)

John GuyUniversity of Cambridge, Fellow in History, Clare College

This course focuses on English history between the accession of Henry VIII in 1509 and the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. The period is set into the larger context of the “Renaissance,” through examination of artistic and literary works and their role in the transformation of politics and political ideas, and into a “British” (or “Anglo-British”) context, through examination of developments on the frontiers of the Tudor state, particularly in relation to Scotland in the second half of the century. The emphasis is on politics, political culture, and the Reformation: personalities, political and religious structures, and ideas as disseminated in print, literature and art, and on the conceptualization of politics, including its expression in public ceremonial, the image of the ruler, and the political significance of magnificent royal buildings, ceremonies, and iconography.

Monuments and Memory, 16002018 (BRST 157)

Roger Bowdler, historian and 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.

Shakespeare In London Today (BRST 207–ENGL 309)

Cynthia Zarin, Senior Lecturer in English, Yale University

This course focuses on contemporary theater productions in London, with an emphasis on Shakespeare-on-the-stage. We use London as our classroom; going to the theater each week of the term, attending traditional productions of Shakespeare, reinterpretations, new plays, and revivals. We also travel to Stratford and to other venues. Students read and discuss the plays both before and after the performances; we meet with actors and directors to discuss some of the productions that we will visit. If possible, students will attend a rehearsal. We watch film versions of plays as appropriate. Questions to be considered include: What does the theater mean to us, today? How has the theater—and theater going—changed over time? How are decisions made about what plays to produce? How do current productions—of Shakespeare and other contemporary plays we will read and see—address political questions, including questions about race, nationalism, gender identity, and class divisions?

Discovering Literary London (BRST 208–ENGL 310)

Cynthia Zarin, Senior Lecturer in English, Yale University 

Students explore London and write a series of guided themes, four days a week, of about 350 to 400 words. The prompts include visits to historical and architectural sites, among them Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tower of London, the Imperial War Museum, Bloomsbury, and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as streets and places referred to in British literature, such as the Old Curiosity Shop, Baker Street, Charing Cross and Kings’ Cross Stations, and Brick Lane. The readings are drawn from diverse sources and include poetry, novels, plays, and works of nonfiction: the exemplary readings encourage students to experiment with and engage with tone, style, and subject matter. The writers considered include John Keats, Charles Dickens, Conan Doyle, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, P. L. Travers, Monica Ali, Zadie Smith, and Hanif Kureishi. When possible, there will be visits from British writers, who will discuss how the city figures in their work. Readings are discussed in seminar; students also read and comment on each other’s work in both workshop and peer-editing sessions.

 

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.