Scribner Seminar Fall 2007
SSP-100 (London Program) The River Thames
Tom Lewis, Professor of English
Why do the English sometimes call the Thames “Liquid History”? Is this metaphor apt? Students in this seminar will examine this characterization of the Thames, on whose banks monarchs have been crowned and beheaded, cities built and burned, and where, in 1215, on that flat but marshy plain of Runnymede, King John affixed his great red royal seal to the document that serves as the foundation of democracy, the Magna Carta. For centuries, the Thames been not only the economic and geographic heart of England, but also its spiritual center; as T.S. Eliot once wrote, the spirit of the Thames is “within us.” This seminar introduces students to the place of the River Thames in English life, through the study of the part it has played in English history, art history, literature, and the environment.