Grinnell-in-London offers students and faculty who teach on the program the opportunity to learn as a community about this dynamic place, its history, and its people through a careful selection of courses, opportunities for cultural integration, and co-curricular activities. Program core courses are offered by a rotating pair of guest Grinnell faculty. These courses are tailored to utilize London as a site and appeal to a range of students across majors. Local staff offer a small set of other regular program courses that currently focus on history, literature, politics, and theatre. All students register for at least one core course, take another 4 to 8 credits of additional program courses, and choose one of two 4-credit program tracks intended to provide a closer experience of British culture.

The Fall 2015 guest Grinnell faculty will be Bill Ferguson and Eric McIntyre. The Fall 2016 guest Grinnell faculty will be Timothy Arner and Vida Praitis.

2016 Program Core Courses

(subject to enrollment, all students choose at least one)

BIO 295: Blue Genes: How Modern Genetics Has Changed our View of Humanity

(Vida Praitis), 4 credits, prerequisites: none. Enrollment cap: 15. Counts for Biology major advanced elective credit.

Course Description: The United Kingdom has been an epicenter of modern genetics research: Rosalind Franklin’s work on DNA structure at King’s College, John Gurdon’s cloning experiments at Oxford, John Sulston’s leadership on the International Human Genome Project at the Sanger Center in Cambridge, and Genomics England’s 100,000 Human Genomes Project at Queen Mary University. These projects have been used to shed light on topics that range from human evolution to the complex relationships between genes and the attributes that define who we are. They have also made possible new approaches to health and reproduction, including human cloning and gene therapy. The U.K. has also been the center of ethical and social issues related to the new genetics. While Darwin’s concepts of “survival of the fittest” and Francis Galton’s Eugenics have been (ab)used to justify the worst human atrocities, the Medical Research Council has been at the forefront of ethics in Genomics research. This course will use our London location to discuss human genomics research from social science, humanistic, and scientific perspectives, comparing European, British, and American views.

BIO 295: Field of Genes: a Look at Food in the Modern World

(Vida Praitis), 4 credits, prerequisites: none. Enrollment cap: 15. Counts for Biology major advanced elective credit.

Course Description: By 2050, there will be 9 billion people in the world to feed, while farmland availability will likely be stagnant or diminished. Climate change will also affect where, when and how we grow food crops.  The state of agriculture today reflects its economic and political history, starting from the beginnings of human civilization to today, when food crops are transported around the world. All food crop plants have also been changed through genetic modification over the centuries, as humans selected for specific traits they found desirable, such as higher sugar content and pest resistance.  Over the last 50 years, advances in molecular biology have given us the technology to directly manipulate single genes in these important plant crops.  Does this new technology hold the promise of better agriculture, a way to feed the hungry, or is it unsafe? The British Museum houses one of the most extensive collections of artifacts from ancient to more modern   civilizations, including those related to agriculture.  London serves a center for trade.  The U.K. stands as a world leader in preserving genetic diversity in food crops and making advances in molecular research in agriculture.  They house one of the most important collections of crop plant seeds in the world.  The first farm animal cloning experiments were in Scotland.  However, the general population remains wary of this technology, especially given their experiences with food safety related to Bovine Spongiform encephalopathy or Mad Cow disease.  We will use the London location to explore the social, economic, political and biological past, present, and future of agriculture.

ENG/GLS 195: London Literature

(Timothy Arner), 4 credits, prerequisites: none. Enrollment cap: 15

Course Description: This course will provide a survey of literature set in and around the city of London from the Middle Ages through the modern era. We will consider the city both as a physical location and an idealized space through which England promotes its national identity and determines its role on the world stage. As we read through each text, we will consider the ways in which authors construct and represent London for readers who live within or outside the city. We will visit sites around London in order to investigate how knowledge of the city space contributes to the meaning of a particular text. The course will include discussion of major moments in the life of the city, including the Peasants Revolt of 1381, the rise of the theatre in the sixteenth-century, the Great Fire of 1666, the Industrial Revolution, and the blitzkrieg of World War II. Readings will include works by medieval writers Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, city comedies of the Renaissance era, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth.

ENG/HUM 295: The Arthurian Legend

(Timothy Arner), 4 credits, prerequisites: ENG 120 or 121 or HUM 101 recommended. Enrollment cap: 15.

Course Description: The Arthurian legend has functioned as part of Britain's national mythology for over 1000 years, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. This course will provide a broad survey of Arthurian literature from early Welsh texts to modern film adaptations. We will consider how the Arthurian legend contributes to ideas of English national identity, kingship and nobility, and the ideas of courtly love throughout the centuries. We will also examine how aspects of the legend have been adapted across the centuries and by non-British cultures. Readings will include French and English medieval romances, selections from Malory’s Morte D'Arthur, Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and the 1980s comic book series Camelot 3000. The class will take field trips to sites around England, including Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle.

(Fall 2015) ECN 295: London as a Global Economic Centre-before and after the Financial Crisis (4 cr.) 

Prof. Bill Ferguson

Course Description: For centuries London has served as a hub for innovation, international trade, and global finance as well as the location for a vibrant urban economy.  The 2008-10 financial crisis disrupted London’s economy, but it has recovered somewhat. This course will investigate how London operates as a large urban economy that also serves as a center for international trade and finance; how London’s economic dynamism has also generated enormous inequities in the distribution of income and wealth; and how the financial crisis affected all of these interactions. Using economic location theory, this class will investigate how London became such a vibrant economic hub of innovation, trade, and finance. With attention to distinctions by class, race, ethnicity, nationality, and immigration status, this class will investigate London’s contemporary disparities in income, wealth, and access to opportunity. With attention to all of these matters, this course will address changes in the London economy since the 2008-2010 financial crisis. To what degree has the London economy recovered, and to what degree has the crisis caused lasting damage?

(Fall 2015) MUS 201: Topics in Music and Culture: From Das land ohne Musik to the British Invasion (and Beyond) (4 cr.)

Prof. Eric McIntyre

Course Description: German critic Oscar Adolf Hermann Schmitz's 1914 essay, Das Land ohne Musik The Land Without Music), was yet another stinging barb aimed at England's apparent deficit of "great" composers since the death of Henry Purcell in 1695.  Yet, by the middle of the twentieth century music by Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, and Britten was being performed with great regularity around the world, and by the end of that century English popular musicians had taken rock and roll by storm.  Today London is often touted as the "world's greatest musical city."  In this course we examine the remarkable rise of British music in the twentieth century with a focus on how London's unique position as an international crossroads, center of economic, colonial, and political power, and locus of national identity led it to its current position as a major hub of and primary exporter of music for the world.

Other Program Courses

ENG/THE 275: The London Stage (4 cr.) 

Prof. Donna Vinter

Course Description: This course will explore professional British theatre in all its variety, taking advantage of the unrivalled richness and diversity of the London stage. At its heart will be careful consideration of productions in the current London repertory, with plays ranging from classical to contemporary, and venues including subsidized, commercial and fringe theatres. We’ll think about theatre as a live performance art taking place in real time and space and, in those terms, all the different ways that theatre can be theatre. Course work will also include reading a selection of the plays we see, so as to cultivate students’ facility in analyzing dramatic texts of different styles and genres as they present human beings in significant action. Finally, since drama holds the mirror up to nature, we’ll have the opportunity to discuss the larger social, moral and political themes with which the plays are concerned – windows onto contemporary Britain and the wider world.

HIST 231: History of London: The Making of Modern London

(Katy Layton-Jones), 2 credits, prerequisite:  none.  Enrollment cap:  15.

Course Description: The course proceeds chronologically through the history of London, from its Roman foundations to the impact of the Blitz and the ‘Swinging Sixties’. Using an array of primary and secondary sources, ranging from diaries to court proceedings, maps, newspaper journalism and paintings, we will trace the physical, social, cultural and political evolution of this historic city and the people who have populated it. Although we will begin with the origins of London, we will focus on the modern era, particularly the long nineteenth century. This will provide you with the opportunity to locate and observe evidence of the city’s history in the buildings and streets that surround you today.

HUM 195: Sites and Sounds of Contemporary London

(Donna Vinter and staff), 2 credits, prerequisite: none. Enrollment cap: 15

Course Description: The goal of this course is to familiarize students with topics that unite and divide residents of contemporary London.  These might include, for example, gentrification & redevelopment; the benefits of multiculturalism; the effects of immigration; poverty and inequality; traffic, congestion, and environmental quality; food, fashion, and both high and popular culture.  In what ways does the fact of London being a global city – through whose streets and networks flow information, capital, labor, financial services, and so much more - impact the lives of the ordinary Londoners who live here? To what extent is London a good place to live? How are these questions treated in the media, in museums, and elsewhere that London is represented and discussed? How are they thought about by the person on the street, in the pub, etc? How might they be they illustrated in different London neighborhoods?

Through reading, discussion, getting out to London sites, and talking to ordinary Londoners, this course will engage students in examining the realities of life in London 2015.

POL 295 Governing Britain and its Regions: The Politics of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

(Julianna Fuzesi), 4 credits, prerequisite: none. Enrollment cap: 15.

Course description: This course introduces students to the institutions and politics of the United Kingdom and its regions. We will seek to understand the historical processes that shaped UK politics, and establish the basic components of the Westminster system. Building on this we will delve deeply into the history and resurgent politics of its regions: Scotland, which is on the brink of a referendum for independence; Wales, which is finding new assertiveness towards London; and Northern Ireland, which still recovers from conflict through its ongoing Peace Process. In order to bring readings and theory alive we will visit some of London’s many relevant sites, among them the House of Commons, the offices of a Member of Parliament, the Royal Courts of Justice. We may even visit Scotland’s capital Edinburgh around the time of its historic vote for independence in October 2014. With Britain at such a crucial juncture there has rarely been a more exciting time to study British politics. This course has no prerequisites except your curiosity and desire to develop your critical thinking skills. The course counts as cognate credit toward the Political Science major.

Program Tracks

(all students choose only one)

A. Internship (limited to 15 students): 

  • SST 195: Parliament Internship (4 cr., limited to 3 students)
  • SST 295: Internship (4 cr., limited to 12 students)

B. Course at Queen Mary, University of London:

Students choose one 4 credit “module” (course) from the full range of academic departments at Queen Mary, University of London. Advising assistance will be provided by IES Abroad. Taking a course at Queen Mary avails a GIL student of all the student organizations and clubs at the London University with the most active student campus. This track presents a great opportunity to meet British students and learn about a different part of London --the East End-- at a British university well-regarded for the quality of its teaching. Prerequisite: 3.0 GPA.

A sample of academic opportunities at Queen Mary

Theatre, Film, & Opera
DRA234    Costume Drama: The Past Performed
DRA304    Culture, Performance and Globalisation
DRA201    Experimenters of the Twentieth Century
DRA307    Feeling It: Emotion and Sensation in the Theatre
DRA112    Languages of the Body
DRA109    London/Culture/Performance
FLM004    Auteurism: The European Tradition
FLM300    French Film after Auschwitz: Testimony, Memory, Mourning
FLM005    Introduction to British Cinema
HST5305    British Horror: Film, Television and Literature

Environment, Development, & Sustainability
ECN370    Development Economics
ESH356    Literature and Ecology in the Postcolonial World
GEG4102    Environment, Nature and Society
GEG6101    Gender and Development
GEG6208    Geodiversity and Geoconservation
GEG4205    Global Environmental Issues
GEG5111A    Spaces of Uneven Development
GEG6111    The Politics of Development
POL244A    The International Politics of the Developing World I
POL245A    Theories of State, Economy and Society

Gender & Sexuality
DRA112    Languages of the Body
ESH381    DH Lawrence: Controversy and Legacy
ESH389    Feminist Thought: History, Criticism and Theory
GEG6101    Gender and Development
HST5340    Gender and Politics in Britain since 1870
HST5332A    Victorian Values: Religion, Sex, Race and Deviance in Nineteenth
Century Britain
HST5100    Women and Gender in Medieval Islam
LIN602    Sex, Gender and Language

Peace & Conflict Studies
ESH256    Writing the First World War
FLM300    French Film after Auschwitz: Testimony, Memory, Mourning
HST5308    Disraeli, Democracy and Empire
HST4306A    The Road From 1945: Britain since the Second World War
POL322    Case Studies in Ethnic Conflict: Northern Ireland
POL351    European Politics: National Identity and Ethnicity
POL365    The Politics of the Post-Colonial Middle East
POL241A    War and Security in World Politics

European Union & the Global Economy
ECN231    Economics of Social Issues
ECN367    Experimental Economics
ECN222    Financial Markets and Institutions
ECN102    World Economy
GEG6115    Cultures of Regulation: The Globalisation of Environmental Governance
GEG6108    Regional Economics and Policy
POL243A    British Politics
POL330A    European Integration and the European Union as a Political System

History & Literature of Europe
ESH383    Fin De Siecle London
ESH314    James Joyce’s Ulysses
ESH315    Late Victorian Literature
ESH264    Terror, Transgression and Astonishment: the Gothic in the Long Nineteenth Century
ESH270    The Crisis of Culture: Literature and Politics 1918-1948
GEG6117    Victorian London: Economy, Society and Culture
HST4300    An Age of Revolution: Europe 1750-1820
HST5200    Architecture in London 1 1600-1837
HST5308    Disraeli, Democracy and Empire
HST5309    Early Modern Art in the Twentieth Century, 1900-1950
HST5330A    The Left in Western Europe since 1945
HST5332A    Victorian Values: Religion, Sex, Race and Deviance in Nineteenth Century Britain
COM401    The Romantic Experience in Europe (1800 - 1840)

Science, Health, & Society
SBS726U    Aquatic Systems: Science, Policy and Management
SBC141    Brain and Behaviour
SBS118        Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics
ECN369    Health Economics
ESH356    Literature and Ecology in the Postcolonial World
GEG6115    Cultures of Regulation: The Globalisation of Environmental Governance
GEG4102    Environment, Nature and Society
HST5101    The Black Death
COM210    Madness, Past and Present
LIN602    Sex, Gender and Language
PHY116    From Newton to Einstein

Students interested in the Queen Mary track need to be as sure as they can of a 3.0 GPA by the end of their fourth semester. Each of the fifteen internship slots is awarded on a competitive basis. See the “Internship” tab and GIL Application for more information.