EGH349 : Darkest London

Convenor(s): Professor Danny Karlin and Dr Samantha Matthews


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

London has been visited by disaster many times, both in real and fictional forms. Plague, fire, war, crime, terrorism, hardship and homelessness are recurring motifs in representations of the city, whether as responses to historical events or fantasies of destruction and renewal. Yet perversely even when the city is prosperous, powerful and secure, it condemns and destroys many of its citizens. Ranging from Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year (1722), one of the first works of ‘docu-fiction’, to John MacKenzie’s apocalyptic gangster film The Long Good Friday (1981), the course studies works by writers, film-makers, and artists who have created some of the most powerful and imaginative responses to life, death and disaster in the ‘Great Wen’ since the Plague (1665) and Great Fire of London (1666).


The module is taught as a fifty minute group session followed by two fifty minute seminars. The group session is a forum for lecturing on texts and contexts by tutors and short student presentations in groups. The seminar promotes detailed discussion and analysis of texts. However the style of both occasions is informal, and students are encouraged to take the initiative. The first and last seminars are co-taught by both convenors; each convenor will teach approximately half of the remaining seminars. Students will carry out a research task in small groups (assigned in week 3), and present their findings to the cohort in brief presentations during weeks 6 to 11. An optional field-trip to London, including a guided walk or visit to relevant landmarks, will be scheduled.


Assessment 1 (2,000 words, 40% weighting) will require candidates to write two detailed critical commentaries on passages taken from works studied in the course, developing their skills of textual and contextual analysis within a clearly defined task. Assessment 2 (3,000 words, 60% weighting) will require candidates to write a critical essay on a topic chosen from a list supplied by the course convenors; they must discuss at least two texts not covered by their work in Assessment 1. The list of topics will enable candidates to engage in independent research and study.

Contact Details

Professor Danny Karlin or Dr Samantha Matthews or

Information last changed: Monday 10th of August 2015 :: 12:39:48 PM (BST)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK