The London Semester.


The London Semester

The London Semester is offered every fall semester. It starts in late August with an orientation program in London. There is a week long mid-term break, and the program ends in early December.

Applications are due by March 10.

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In London, politics as usual has disappeared. You witness the changes from a seat in Parliament when the prime minister is challenged by the opposition. Gone too are the stuffy British arts. When you talk with painters, catch a band in a pub, or question writers, composers, actors, and directors in your classroom, you detect a new artistic generation emerging. The spit-and-polish at Buckingham Palace still dazzles, but a few blocks away a market’s aromas and accented opinions expose the new British identity being fashioned by immigrants with little concern for royal traditions. Nothing in London is usual anymore. The modern mixes with the medieval as the global grapples with the provincial.

The Academic Program

The London Semester allows students to explore political and social change in Great Britain. Participants enroll in a total of sixteen credits, including a required colloquium, taught by the program’s resident director, a Drew faculty member. The other classes are taught by a continuing staff of distinguished British faculty. Courses focus on the interplay of British history and politics, and literary and theatrical portrayals of social and political themes. Field trips to political meetings, party conferences, theaters, and museums, along with guest speakers from British political, literary and theatrical life are a regular feature of the academic program.

Did you know that with an additional course taken on campus, London Semester participants can complete a European Studies minor? Interested students should visit the European Studies web page for details.

Course Descriptions

Required Courses:

ARTH380/ENGL 380/PSCI 380/THEA 380/HIST 380 London Semester Interdisciplinary Colloquium (4 credits)
The Colloquium, taught by the program director, offers both a collective interdisciplinary exploration of a London topic and an opportunity for each student to complete an individual research project. The project asks students to make use of the resources of London to explore a topic they have chosen in consultation with the program director and perhaps also a campus adviser. Students develop their topics through interviews, site visits, participant/observation, and the use of London libraries.

Elective Courses:

ARTH 383 Art and Architecture in London (4 credits)
This course will present a broad chronological survey of the art and architectural histories provided by London museums, galleries, and monuments. By studying works of art on site in such museums as the British Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Tate Britain, and Tate Modern and experiencing architectural landmarks such as Westminster Cathedral and the Tower of London, students will become familiar with both the general history of art and architecture and the specific significance of these histories in London.

PSCI 381/HIST 381 Contemporary British Politics (4 credits)
A discussion and analysis of current issues in British politics, with emphasis on the impact these issues have on the functioning and development of the British political system. Such topics as the roles of Parliament, cabinet government, the Prime Minister, political parties and interest groups are explored within the context of the modern, developed political system. Outside speakers and field trips are an integral part of this course.

MCOM Media in the United Kingdom (4 credits)
An overview of the evolution of British media and its relationship with society in the U.K. The course explores how political, cultural, commercial, regulatory, and editorial issues shape the media manufactured and consumed in Britain. Will include study of the BBC, other broadcasting and entertainment entities, British newspapers and magazines, advertising, and British cinema. Guest speakers from these industries and several field trips will be part of the course.

THEA 383/ENGL 383 British Political Drama (4 credits)
Under the premise that all theatre has a political dimension and works its influence on audiences both overtly and subversively, this course is designed to take advantage of the huge variety of productions available in London venues (not necessarily conventional theatre spaces), with a focus on the political questions they raise for twenty-first century audiences. Because the 1960s saw big changes on the theatrical scene in Britain it is taken as a starting point, and we see what we can of the playwrights who helped form our present day theatre through the twentieth century. Because it does not operate in a vacuum, appropriate plays may be chosen from other periods and cultures that address crucial global, social and political issues.

ENGL 384 Studies in British Literature: London Literature (4 credits)
For this course, we shall become London flaneurs, walking the street and interpreting the signs of the city as if it were text. We shall read a range of 19th and 20th century writing, including classics such as Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend, and lesser known works. Through Amy Levy (Reuben Sachs), Virginia Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway) and Jean Rhys (Good Morning, Midnight) we can explore the changing role of women in the metropolis. In Alexander Baron’s The Lowlife we can glimpse the East End’s historic importance as a home to refugees and see how it turned into Bangla Town in Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. In Conrad we find London as the center of Empire and in the work of Sam Selvon and Monica Ali we have examples of how the Empire has written back. By paying close attention to both text and context, we shall achieve a lively appreciation of the works in and of themselves and as part of the cultural life of London.