CURATING IDENTITIES: BRITISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE, MEMORY AND MEMORIALS
During the Spring 2024 London Centre program, we will study the ways that social history, linguistic variation, and literary exploration contribute to the diverse range of British national, regional, and ethnic identities. We will visit cultural sites and study them from a curator’s point of view—how does one reflect, represent, and shape the Britain of the 21st century in light of its rich and contradictory history? We will walk in the steps of London authors who steeped their work in the vast cosmopolitanism that has defined the city for centuries, exploring the living memory of such writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, and Beatrix Potter. On a daily basis, we will engage with individuals whose varieties of spoken English testify to the reality that British identity is multiform, fluid, and vibrant.
Beyond London, we will explore these ideas as they are amplified throughout the British Isles. We will contemplate the vast network of remains from early Britons as we explore Stonehenge and other neolithic sites, learn of the history of conquest as we walk through ancient Roman ruins, discuss Jane Austen’s novels in the garden of her home, examine the poetry of Wordsworth in original manuscript form in his beloved Lake District, and study the origins and varieties of the English language in the land where it first developed. Our program will include visits to Scotland and Wales as well as several of the English provinces, including Cornwall, Yorkshire, the Lake District, and Kent.
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