Course Title: ‘Treasure of a Great Metropolis’: London and Literature in the Nineteenth Century

Course Leader: Professor David Skilton.

Academic Year: 2003–04 (MA in English Literature scheme).

Catalogue Entry: This course analyses the way a variety of texts relate to the city, and the relationships of fictional and historical individuals to their urban environment are presented. There will be a concentration on the techniques, analytical assumptions and ideologies involved. The course will make use of an anthology of prose and verse works and passages, which is available on the Cardiff University Information Server at

Duration of Course: One term (19 January – 26 March 2004).

Aims of the Course: The growth of modern London was accompanied by new ways of presenting the complexity of the urban scene, new expressions of moral and religious concern, and new myths and fantasies about the city. The ancient literary subject of the relation between the country and the city is given new forms, and the city labyrinth becomes the site of mystery, crime, misery and despair, and of detective work, wealth, invention and political and sociological awareness. Complex cities also invite deliberate cultivation of new modes of aesthetic appreciation, new ways of experiencing vestiges of the past, and new ways of comparing this city with other imperial cities, past and present. All these phenomena are exemplified in the set anthology.

Objective of the Course: Having examined examples of the treatment of London in nineteenth-century texts, as well as some earlier examples, students gain a better understanding of the ‘London’ which appears in the literature of the period, and are better equipped to respond to appropriate aspects of many texts which they study in other courses, and build a foundation for research into urban literature.

Method of Teaching: Teaching will be by one two-hour seminar per week.

Assessment: One written essay of 4,000 words, to be submitted in word-processed format by 26 April 2002.

Set Texts: An anthology of well-known and less familiar items is on the file server. Students are expected to cross-refer to any other relevant literature they may already know.

Further Reading: Click on the Bibliography link at the top of this page for a full reading list.

Last modified, 19-Jan-2004 .
This site is maintained by Anthony Mandal.