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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience in London

Scribner Seminar, London FYE 2018

Imagined LondonBarbara Black Photo

Barbara Black, Ph.D.
Professor of English                      

This seminar focuses on reading, writing, and seeing the cityscape. What better place in which to investigate the richness of the urban imaginary than London itself? Situated in London, we will learn about London through the stories the metropolis has inspired and generated. Working together, we will construct a genealogy of modern London, as we become attuned to the ghostly echoes of Victorian London still audible today in its streets, its buildings, its ways of life. We will study the new technologies, the new ways of arranging private and public spaces, that (literally) electrified the nineteenth-century capital city. How does one experience time and space in the city? We will be interested in London “above ground”—its monuments, its civic architecture, its streets, its squares—as well as subterranean London, as we journey there both phantasmically (through a study of urban noir and detective fiction) and literally, when we tour the Underground. Some of our concerns will be urban development, the individual and the crowd, loneliness and urban density as we study England’s greatest metropolis, then and now.

Barbara Black is Professor in the English Department at Skidmore College. She is currently finishing a book titled Hotel London, which she sees as the final installment in a trilogy—a work in conversation with her earlier books, On Exhibit (Virginia 2000) and A Room of His Own (Ohio 2012; paperback 2013). In addition to her teaching at Skidmore, she is the Book Review editor for the international journal Nineteenth-Century Contexts, and is on the graduate faculty of the Sewanee School of Letters. Though much of her teaching focuses on nineteenth-century England, a list of her recent courses shows her wide-ranging interests: "Imagining the Future," "Secrets, Shame, and Privacy," "Tribe" (a course on social belonging), and "The Wild(e) Nineties." Professor Black is looking forward to walking the city streets with her London FYE students and sharing with them her single favorite neighborhood in the entire capital city.