module specification

SJ6056 - Literary London (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Literary London
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   1500 word written assignment
Coursework 60%   2500 word written assignment
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Monday Morning

Module summary

Literary London is a 15 credit English Literature option module which examines the literary representation of London from the 17th century to the present day. Through the study of literature, criticism, journalism, and social & economic history, and through reflection on creative and literary critical work, students will develop their understanding of London’s literary history. The module is taught in weekly sessions of a lecture followed by a seminar and supported by online and face-to-face tutorials, and assessed by a critical essays.

Module aims

Literary London aims to:

● illustrate significant moments in the development of London’s literary history
● provide case studies of seminal London literary figures
● situate the study of London literature in its social, cultural, professional and historical contexts
● provide a critical framework for understanding the role of the imaginative writer in the periods under discussion
● develop students’ critical responses to the culture and environment of London


This module will present historically separate but determining moments in the history of literary London through case studies of Renaissance, Restoration and Victorian literature, for example, and will discuss seminal figures from London’s literary past such as William Shakespeare, Samuel Pepys, William Blake and Charles Dickens. In addition, the module will discuss the literature of early to mid-20th century London, and writers such as Virginia Woolf and Sam Selvon. Contemporary writers of the last 30 years also figure, such as Iain Sinclair, Bernardine Evaristo and Zadie Smith. Students will be able to explore a range of critical and creative responses to London’s literary heritage, and to the figures and historical developments suggested above.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught in weekly sessions. A lecture focussing on single authors, literary movements and works, or historically significant developments in the history of London literature, will be followed by seminar discussion and small group activities, supported by online and face-to-face tutorials. Lecture summaries will be available on weblearn along with other electronic resources that support the course. Students will have weekly set reading that will include novels, literary extracts, poetry, literary and cultural criticism, periodical journalism, memoirs and collected letters, in addition to critical and creative tasks based on academic, textual, biographical or field research. Set topics for seminar and online discussion will be provided, along with tutorial help. Students will be encouraged to visit the Globe Theatre, Deptford and Greenwich, and the houses of Dr Johnson, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Dickens and John Keats, for example. Visits to special collections and archives - the Museum of London, Guildhall Library, and the London Metropolitan Archives - form part of the course and contribute to students’ professional development either as researchers or professional writers.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:

1. Respond through critical, documentary and/or creative work to London’s literary heritage
2. review aspects of London’s critical and creative literary history
3. compare literary creative representations of London
4. critically evaluate literary texts at an advanced level
5. present research and critical reflection across various genres – essay, creative work, journalism

Assessment strategy

Formative assessment:

● staff feedback on seminar discussions
● staff feedback on written assignments

Students will be required to submit one essay during the academic year as formative assessments in week 6 and a final summative assessment in week 14. For each assignment students may choose from several assessment options available. A model of the assessment pattern is as follows:

1. Write a short essay about an episode from a London writer's life, historical, contemporary or speculative.
2. Write an introduction to/review of a recent or historical publication about a London cultural figure or phenomenon.
3. Write a critical account of a text, exploring the representation of London in relation to other aspects of the text.
4. Write a short piece of prose, script or poetry about past, present, future and/or imaginary London.
5. Write a guide to a London walk or cycle ride that will last an hour, noting locations, features and period details concerning London literary, journalistic and publication history.
6. Write an account of a specific London location connected to literary history, e.g. library, archive, newspaper office, theatre, neighbourhood, house or street. This can be poetry, prose, or critical essay.
7. Write a critical essay about two of the texts studied, comparing their representation of London.

Assessment total = 4000 words.


Peter Ackroyd, London: The Biography (London: Vintage, 2001)
Paul Bailey, The Oxford Book of London (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
Matthew Beaumont & Gregory Dart (ed.s), Restless Cities (London: Verso, 2010)
Clive Bloom, Violent London: 2000 years of riots, rebels and revolts (London: Pan, 2004)
Ian Cunningham, A Reader’s guide to Writers’ London (London: Andre Deutsch Ltd, 2005)
Ed Glinert, The London Compendium: a street-by-street exploration of the hidden metropolis (London: Penguin, 2004)
Sebastian Groes, The Making of London: London in Contemporary Literature (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
Lawrence Manley, The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Roy Porter, London: A Social History (London: Penguin, 1996)
Iain Sinclair, London: City of Disappearances (London: Penguin, 2007)
Peter Whitfield, London: A Life in Maps (London: British Library Publishing, 2006)
A.N. Wilson, The Faber Book of London (London: Faber & Faber, 1995)

The London Journal (Leeds: Maney) – e-journal
Connected Histories (
Literary London: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Representation of London (Northampton) – e-journal