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Honors: Victorian London - Charles Dickens, Jack the Ripper, and the Many Faces of Modernity


London, England

Program Description

What do Charles Dickens and Jack the Ripper have in common? More than one might think! They both occupied the city of London and became the obsession of every-day Londoners during the Victorian period. Indeed, both the world-famous author and the infamous murderer were signs of the many faces of modernity at work in the Victorian world. The creator of books and the taker of lives reflected the changing realities of the English-speaking world from the urban center of the British Empire. This course will take students to explore firsthand the sites of modernity’s multiple personalities.

Throughout this course, and especially as we wander the streets of London—tracing the footsteps of Dickens, Jack the Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, and other Victorian personae—we will analyze the promise and the problems that attend “progress” in modern times. Victorian London was the first modern city in the world, and contemporary London is the product of the social, economic, artistic, and cultural transformations that characterized the Victorian period. What better place than London to study the many sides of such ideas as class, gender, childhood, work, leisure, and personal and national identity?

We will be based in Bloomsbury, just steps from the British Museum and other London sites of historical and cultural significance. Students will have the opportunity to research ideas of interest to them as they experience the many faces of modernity firsthand in the streets, buildings, and institutions of Victorian London. Come explore ground-zero of the contemporary world: the city spaces where modernity was born!

This program is designed for Honors College students in good standing, who will be rising Sophomores or rising Juniors in the summer 2018 term.

Location Description

Students and the instructors will stay in a hotel in the Bloomsbury district of London. Classes will be held every day as outings to Victorian sites or paths of Victorian writers and well-known figures (such as the fictional David Copperfield or the infamous Jack the Ripper). The hotel is within walking distance of central London and offers easy access to the city’s excellent subway and bus system.

The program includes a day in Oxford to see the University, most of which is Victorian in Gothic garb. A second day trip visits Greenwich to see the classical architecture and to view the site of London’s launching into the British Empire. Several group dinners, high tea, and an evening at a London theater will be provided. The schedule will include free time for personal explorations of London as well as a three-day weekend giving students the opportunity to travel around the British Isles, to Europe, or elsewhere in and around the London area.


John J. Butt | | History

Heidi Pennington | | English


Students will stay at the Ridgemount Hotel, a small hotel located in London's Bloomsbury District and within walking distance of many of the city's prime attractions. The hotel provides daily breakfast and classroom space.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend to cover lunch and dinner on their own.

Breakfast will be provided daily by the hotel.

Additional Items to Consider

Victorian London Seminar will complete the Honors Seminar requirement for (Track I and Track II) Honors Scholars.

Students will arrange and pay for their own air travel to and from London. They are responsible for their own passports. Several books will need to be purchased in the Spring semester before the program. Program fees will cover hotel lodging (including daily full breakfast), weekly meal stipends, bus/subway passes, costs and fees related to required events and venues including two day trips out of London, and group dinners, high tea, and a London theater performance.

This program is only for first and second year Honors students.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must be:

  • First- or second-year Honors College students
    (rising Sophomores or rising Juniors in the summer of 2018).
  • Honors College students (Track I or Track II) in good standing.
  • All majors are welcome.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Interview with Program Director

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


HON 200: Special Topics in Honors: Victorian London- Charles Dickens, Jack the Ripper, and the Many Faces of Modernity (6 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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