In 1800 the Bloomsbury area of central London, where SU London is located, was little better than a swamp; a century later it had become the intellectual and cultural powerhouse of the world’s biggest empire. How had this come about? Many thousands have come to Bloomsbury from all round the world to study – just like you. These students have included Gandhi, Kwame Nkrumah (first Prime Minister of independent Ghana), Jomo Kenyatta, and Paul Robeson (the African American superstar bass, actor and political activist). Even more, Bloomsbury’s residents have included some of the most famous names in English literary and cultural history such as Dickens, Darwin, Yeats, Virginia Woolf – and Sherlock Holmes. Bloomsbury is where Karl Marx wrote Das Kapital and George Orwell set 1984. It has been the cradle of psychotherapy, of higher education and medical training for women, of education for infants and of children with ‘special needs’, as well as a crucible of feminism, pacifism, socialism, communism, fascism, vegetarianism and anti-colonialism. In this course, then, you will be walking in some very distinguished footsteps and have a chance to immerse yourself in the raw materials of history. Each week of the semester will involve a focused walk and visit to a significant site in the local area. Through field study and by working in an archive of authentic primary sources – news-clippings, maps, street directories – you will be asked to use your creative imagination to write histories that have never been written before – micro in scale and involving your own experiences as a student in London’s Bloomsbury. This pioneering, cross-disciplinary course will appeal not only to those with interests in history, literature and communications but also in fields as diverse as education, architecture, social work and social policy, medicine, politics and issues of ethnicity and gender.
Semesters: Fall, Spring