Course Description

Course Name

Magic, Murder & Mystery in London Literature

Session: VLNU3622

Hours & Credits

10 UK Credits

Prerequisites & Language Level

Taught In English

  • There is no language prerequisite for courses at this language level.


Class Schedule
Week 1: Murder
Monday:Introduction to the module: learning to read the city from the 19th century to the present
Tuesday: Victorian murder! Key texts include Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886); Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
Wednesday: Jack the Ripper: Alan Moore, From Hell (1999); screening of The Hughes Brothers, From Hell (2001)
Friday: Excursion: Murder in London
Week 2: Magic
Monday: Magic in children?s literature: P.L Travers, Mary Poppins (1964); Extracts from Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher?s Stone (1997)
Tuesday: Excursion: Magic in London
Wednesday: Magic Realism: Angela Carter, The Magic Toyshop (1967)
Thursday: Ben Aaranovitch, Rivers of London (2011)
Week 3: Mystery
Monday: Consulting Detectives: Screening of Euros Lyn ?The Blind Banker?, Sherlock Series 1, episode 2 BBC 1 (2010)
Tuesday: Excursion: Mystery in London
Wednesday: Mysteries of London: China Mieville, Un Lun Dun (2007); Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere (1997)
Thursday: Treasure hunt
Assessment for this module will consist of:
  • a blog covering at least one text and one field-trip (2000 words - 40%), and
  • an essay on any aspect of the module which covers two of the core texts (2000 words - 60%)
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete this module will
  • Foster a curiosity about London as a setting for literary texts
  • Have secure knowledge of a range of literary texts from the late Victorian period to the present day
  • Have footfall knowledge of key locations for texts (Bloomsbury, Soho, Baker Street etc.)
  • Express themselves across a range of written forms through the academic essay and the personal blog
Core Texts: While it is recommended that you read the core texts in full, a module reader of key extracts from these texts will be provided for all students. Many of the older texts are out of copyright and available for free online!
Aaranovitch, Ben, Rivers of London (Hachette, 2011)
Carter, Angela, The Magic Toyshop (Virago, 1967)
Gaiman, Neil, Neverwhere (Hachette, 2010)
Lyn, Euros ?The Blind Banker?, Sherlock Series 1, episode 2 BBC 1 (2010)
Mieville, China, Un Lun Dun (Pan Macmillan, 2011)
Moore, Alan, From Hell (Top Shelf Productions, 2006)
Pratchett, Terry, Dodger (Random House, 2012)
Rowling, J.K., Harry Potter and the Philosopher?s Stone (Bloomsbury Children?s Books, 2004)
Stevenson, Robert Louis The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales (Oxford World Classics, 2006)
Travers, P.L., Mary Poppins (HarperCollins, 2010)
Wilde, Oscar, The Major Works including The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oxford University Press, 2000)
Secondary Material: Your tutor will direct you to key secondary and critical texts for each topic on a class-by-class basis. This list is intended to offer broad overviews of the key topics and themes for the module.
Histories of London
Ackroyd, Peter, London: The Biography (Chatto & Windus, 2000)
Ball, John Clement Imagining London (University of Toronto Press, 2004)
Hebbert, Michael, London: More by Fortune than Design (John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
Groes, Sebastian, The Making of London, (Palgrave, 2011)
Inwood, Steve, A History of London (Macmillan, 1998)
Jerrold, Blanchard and Gustave Doré, London, A Pilgrimage (Anthem Press, 1968)
Porter, Roy, London: A social History (Penguin, 1996)
Wheatley, Henry Benjamin and Peter Cunningham, London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions, (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Williams, Raymond, The Country and the City (Chatto & Windus, 1973)
Victorian London
Dickens, Charles, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings (London: Penguin, 2003)
Freeman, Nicholas, Conceiving the City London, Literature, and Art 1870-1914 (Oxford University Press, 2007)
Horn, Pamela, The Victorian Town Child (Sutton Pub Limited, 1999)
Mayhew, Henry, London Labour and the London Poor, (Oxford University Press, 2010)
Ridenhour, Jamieson, In Darkest London: The Gothic Cityscape in Victorian Literature (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012)
Thomas, Donald, The Victorian Underworld (John Murray, 2003)
Winter, James, London's Teeming Streets, 1830-1914, (Routledge, 2013)
Modern London
Head, Dominic, The Cambridge Introduction to Modern British Fiction, 1950-2000 (Cambridge UP, 2002).
Kerr, Joe and Andrew Gibson (Eds), London: from Punk to Blair, (Reaktion Books, 2004)
White, Jerry, London in the Twentieth Century: A City and its People (Viking, 2001)
Detectives and Criminals
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Adventures and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Penguin, 2001)
Duckworth, Jeannie, Fagin's Children: Criminal Children in Victorian England, (Continuum, 2002)
Lauterbach, Edward S., "Murder Will Out": The Detective in Fiction, and: Sherlock Holmes in London: A Photographic Record of Conan Doyle's Stories, and: On the Scent with Sherlock Holmes (review)? MFS Modern Fiction Studies Volume 36, Number 2, Summer 1990 pp. 285-28
Porter, Lynnette R. (ed), Sherlock Holmes for the 21st Century: Essays on New Adaptations, (McFarland, 2012)
Shpayer-Makov, Haja, The Ascent of the Detective: Police Sleuths in Victorian and Edwardian England (Oxford University Press, 2011)
Walking and mapping the city
Allinson, Kenneth, London's Contemporary Architecture: A Map-based Guide (Routledge, 2006)
de Certeau, Michel, ?Walking in the City? in The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. (1925) by Steven Rendall (U of California P, 1984)
Dickens, Charles, Night Walks (Penguin, 2010)
Deborah Parsons, Streetwalking the Metropolis (Oxford UP, 2000) pp. 188-208
Gay, John, Trivia: Or, The Art of Walking the Streets of London: a Descriptive Poem (Ballintine & Law, 1807)
Jacks, Ben. ?Reimagining Walking: Four Practices? Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 57, No. 3 (Feb., 2004), pp. 5-9 Stable URL:
Whitfield, Peter, London: a life in maps (British Library, 2006)
Fantasy and Magic
Bowers, Maggie Anne, Magic(al) Realism (Routledge, 2013)
Butler, Andrew M. ?The Tain and the Tain: China Miéville?s Gift of Uncanny London?, CR: The New Centennial Review Volume 13, Number 2, Fall 2013 pp. 133-153
Cantrell , Sarah K., "I solemnly swear I am up to no good": Foucault's Heterotopias and Deleuze's Any-Spaces-Whatever in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter Series, Children's Literature Volume 39, 2011 pp. 195-212
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Through the Magic Door (The Floating Press, 2012)
During, Simon, Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic (Harvard University Press, 2009)
Ho, Elizabeth, ?Postimperial Landscapes: "Psychogeography" and Englishness in Alan Moore's Graphic Novel From Hell: A Melodrama in Sixteen Parts?, Cultural Critique 63, Spring 2006 , pp. 99-121
Rankin, Sandra K., China Mieville and the Misbegot: Monsters, Magic, and Marxism (Proquest, 2009)
Tranter, Kirsten, China Miéville, ?An Interview with China Miéville?, Contemporary Literature Volume 53, Number 3, Fall 2012 pp. 417-436
Lysack, Krista, Come Buy, Come Buy: Shopping and the Culture of Consumption in Victorian Women's Writing (Ohio University Press, 2009)
Fiction and the City
Guignery, Vanessa and François Gallix, (Re-)mapping London: Visions of the Metropolis in the Contemporary Novel in English (Publibook, 2008)
Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space, trans. by Donald Nicholson-Smith, (Blackwell, 1991)
Lefebvre, Henri, Writings on Cities trans. by Elenore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas, (Blackwell, 1996)
Lehan, Richard, The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History (U of California, 1998)
McHale, Brian, Postmodernist Fiction (Routledge, 1999)
Manley, Lawrence, The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of London (Cambridge University Press, 2011)
Todd, Richard, ?Fantasies of London: Past and Present?, in Consuming Fictions (Bloomsbury, 1996), pp. 164-198.
Wolf Levy, Diane, ?City Signs: Toward a Definition of Urban Literature?, Modern Fiction Studies, 24 (1978), 70-81
Wolfreys, Julian, Writing London: The Trace of the Urban Text from Blake to Dickens (St. Martin?s Press, 1998)
Useful websites

*Course content subject to change