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The London English Study Group

Director Spring 2015: Professor Jennifer Brice, Department of English
Emerson has famously observed that “The soul is no traveler; the body, of course, is. In this study group focused on the art and craft of travel writing, students will live and study for a semester in one of the world’s great cities. In fact, London—and Britain as a whole—will constitute the central “text” of this study group. In a course titled “Americans Abroad,” students will read 19th- and 20th-century texts by American travelers to England. A companion course, “Travel Writing,” will be a creative writing workshop drawing on students’ own experiences abroad. For their third course, students will study with an acclaimed playwright and attend once-weekly theater productions. A fourth course in London history—with a weekly walking tour component--will complement students’ literary studies, giving them a sense of how geography, architecture, politics and history have shaped a culture. Taken as a whole, this palette of literature, creative writing, history and theater is meant to stimulate students’ minds while igniting their imaginations.

Required Courses

In Fall 2014, accepted students will enroll in a 0.25-credit course to prepare them for the study abroad program. Except for a required two-day orientation before classes begin in January, the program will hew to the Colgate academic calendar—including the start of classes, spring break, end of classes, and final exams—for Spring ’15. Students will take four courses in London. Three will offer credit in the English department: Engl. 364Y and Engl. 374Y, both taught by the director; and Engl. 332Y, taught by a London-based theater scholar and playwright. The fourth course will be Hist. 349Y, also taught by a London-based theater scholar and playwright. In addition to the required courses, students will go on one multi-day group excursion to the Lake District and Scotland, and will travel in small groups, led by the professor, to sites around England and Wales.

Engl. 364Y: Americans Abroad (J. Brice)
When Americans look at Britain or the “Mother Country,” they tend to see a place that is simultaneously familiar and strange. This paradox is at the heart of the course. Students will read such classics of travel literature such as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s English Traits as well as more recent works such as Janet Malcolm’s The Silent Woman, Paul Theroux’s The Kingdom by the Sea, and Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island. Students will acquaint themselves with the genre of American travel writing and get a sense of shifting attitudes toward England. They will study how various authors go about creating a narrative persona, establishing authority, using point of view, and navigating the gap between subject and self. They will become familiar with theories of “the gaze,” “the other,” and “the uncanny.” Above all, they will gain a sense of the rich literary and historical tradition in which contemporary travel writing—their own included—is grounded.

Engl. 374Y: Travel Writing (J. Brice)
This course will be version of the intermediate nonfiction prose workshop, centered on travel writing. Here, students will read works by an array of writers: George Orwell on shooting an elephant, Bruce Chatwin on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in Patagonia, Jamaica Kincaid on the white cliffs of Dover, Salman Rushdie on Bombay, Patricia Hampl on a Palestinian market, Cynthia Ozick on the shock of teapots. They will write memoirs and essays about their own experiences abroad. The course will take the form of a workshop, with roughly half the sessions devoted to student writing.

Engl. 332Y: Contemporary London Theater and Culture (M. Punter)
A study of drama, both classic and modern, as represented by plays in production in London during the spring of 2010. All students will see 10-12 plays, focusing on theoretical and technical aspects of drama, as well as on what specific productions reveal about British culture and contemporary London.

Hist. 349Y: History of the City of London (K. Layton-Jones)
A course in the social and cultural history of England’s greatest city. Every week, students will meet for one session in the classroom and one session in the form of a London walking tour.

Field Trips

There will be one multi-day group trip to Scotland, as well as several day trips to sites and towns in England. There will be many opportunities for small groups of students, accompanied by the director, to explore cultural, natural and archeological sites around London. Toward the end of exam week, there will be a semi-formal dinner cruise on the Thames River.

Classrooms, Libraries, and Other Facilities

Classes will be held at Florida State University’s London Study Centre, an academic complex in the heart of Bloomsbury just a couple of blocks west of the British Museum. Privileges at other archives or libraries will be arranged as needed for history and literature projects. Students will become members of the University College London Student Union, which will entitle them to a range of opportunities.

Living Arrangements

Students will reside in five- to six-person flats in Bloomsbury, about a five-minute walk from the FSU Centre. Each flat has a bathroom, kitchen, and common room.


For details of student expenses on this study group, please see Student Cost Estimate Sheets.

Prerequisites and Selection Criteria

Any Colgate student who has completed or plans to complete at least two English courses at the 200 level by the end of the academic year 2013-14 may apply. Preference will go to students who have completed Engl. 200 and Engl. 217. Priority will go to declared English/Creative Writing concentrators in the class of 2013.

Calendar and Deadlines

The deadline for applications to the Spring 2015 London English Study Group is Friday November 8, 2013. All applications on the Off-Campus Study/International Programs website and are submitted online. Only finalists in the selection process will be interviewed and this will be arranged by e-mail. Student notification of selections will take place before December 23. Written confirmation of participation is due January 13, 2014.

Passports and Visas

You must confirm that your passport is valid through December 2015. All students participating on the Spring 2014 London English Study Group will be required to obtain a U.K. student visa. With participation on this study group comes the responsibility of understanding and complying with U.K. visa requirements. If you will not be traveling on a U.S. passport it is imperative that you contact an adviser in Off-Campus Study/International Programs, 101 Lathrop, and International Student Services, 119 McGregory, to learn as much as you can about the visa requirements. For some students there are significant requirements to be met that take time, advance planning, and incur extra costs.

Program Dates

January 16th - May 9th, 2015

Informational Sessions

Thursday, October 17th at 11:30 am

Wednesday, October 23rd at 12 noon

Both informational sessions will be held in Fager Lounge, Lathrop Hall

More Information

For more information, contact Jennifer Brice by e-mail at