Curriculum

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. Local staff offer a small set of regular program core courses that currently focuses on history, literature, politics, and theatre. The program curriculum is complemented by a rotating selection of courses offered by each year’s two guest Grinnell faculty, courses tailored to utilize London as a site and appeal to a range of students across disciplines. Students take 8 to 12 credits of program core courses, and choose one of two program tracks intended to provide a closer experience of British culture.

The Fall 2014 guest Grinnell faculty are Monty Roper and Timothy Dobe. The Fall 2015 guest Grinnell faculty will be Bill Ferguson and Eric McIntyre.

Program core courses: 

HIST 231: History of London: The Making of Modern London (2 cr.) 

Dr. Katy Layton-Jones 

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.

POL 295: Governing Britain and its Regions: The Politics of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (4 cr.)

Dr. Julianna C. E. Füzesi

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.

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.

(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.

(Fall 2015) MUS 295: Special Topics: Music and the British Crown (4 cr.)

Prof. Eric McIntyre

Course Description: Henry V was a great lover of music and a composer in his own right. Queen Elizabeth was regarded as a virtuoso keyboardist credited with saving music from purges of the Reformation. Queen Elizabeth II was famously invited by John Lennon to "rattle your jewelry" rather than clap at a Beatles performance.  The Sex Pistols provided their own take on "God Save the Queen." And Elton John performed at the funeral of Princess Diana.  In this course we examine the rich history of the British monarchy and the ways musicians and musical ideals have reflected the shifting values and struggles of the nation itself.  Students will explore 600 years of British history through the ears of musicians and monarchs and examine the music with which they surrounded themselves (or chose to banish) and what that music reveals about their priorities and the state of the nation. 

(Fall 2014) REL 295 Living Indian Religions in London (4 cr.) 

(Fall 2014) GDS 295 Maintaining the Empire: Foreign Aid or Imperialism? (4 cr.) 

(Fall 2014) HUM 295 British Identity and Religious Diversity (4 cr.) 

Program tracks (all students choose only one): 

Internship (limited to 15 students): 
SST 195: The British Parliament (2 cr., limited to 3 students, paired with SST 300) 
SST 295: Understanding Work in the UK (2 cr., limited to 12 students, paired with SST 300) 
SST 300: Internship (4 cr., limited to 15 students, paired with SST 195 or SST 295) 

Course at Queen Mary, University of London: 

A.    Internship (limited to 15 students): 

SST 195: The British Parliament (2 cr., limited to 3 students, paired with SST 300) 
SST 295: Understanding Work in the UK (2 cr., limited to 12 students, paired with SST 300) 
SST 300: Internship (4 cr., limited to 15 students, paired with SST 195 or SST 295) 

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. For some ideas on what you might take, consider our suggestions below. 

Themed suggestions for courses ("modules") at Queen Mary

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.