EN5831 Victorian London Coursebook

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  1. In Topographies (Stanford: California 1995), J Hillis Miller investigates ‘a cluster of related concepts as they gather around the central question of topography’. How do topographical descriptions or terms function in novels, poems, and philosophical texts? Just what, in a given text, is the topographical component and how does it operate?’

Write an essay on the topographical representation of London in any cultural text of the nineteenth-century.

  1. Discuss Dickens’s description and literary use of any one of the following: London Prisons; the Thames; Slums; London Bridges; graveyards.

  1. ‘London is now, effectively, the centre of the world, an omphalos for our modern age’ (Lord Derby). Discuss the representation of London in any one literary text of the period, with regard to questions of ‘centrality’ and ‘marginality’.

  1. Discuss Walter Benjamin’s concept of the ‘flâneur’ and its potential for enriching the study of representations of urban identity in nineteenth-century London.

  1. Judith Walkowitz argues that during the late nineteenth century London became a ‘contested terrain’ in which ‘new social actors’ sought to mark their presence in the city streets. Discuss the representation of such struggle and contest for urban existence in one or more nineteenth-century texts.

  1. Analyse the symbolic function of money (or its absence) in two or more nineteenth-century texts studied on the course. Discuss the influence of Dante or Durer on Thomson’s ‘City of Dreadful Night’.
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