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Loyola University Chicago Libraries

HIST 318C: London Life and Culture 1550-1715

Robert Bucholz

An Introduction from Professor Bucholz

“The man who is tired of London is tired of life”
 --Samuel Johnson

Welcome to a course on the greatest city of the Western World.  That is, admittedly, a bold claim, but New York never fought the Nazis; Paris did not burn to the ground and rebuild itself in six years; and Rome had no Samuel Pepys.  It could be argued that no city on earth has had so profound an impact on world-wide culture for so long in so many areas of life:  as a center of  political significance, trade, finance, media and the arts, etc.  It was in London that constitutional monarchy; participatory democracy, a free press, the first public concerts of music; and the first viable commercial theater since ancient times first flourished (though Amsterdam is a serious competitor in some of these areas). In fact, one of the arguments of this course (soon to be a major book from Cambridge University Press) will be that it was London, more than any other city on the planet, that catalyzed modernity.

History 318C is an interdisciplinary introduction to the history of London during that period when (it will be argued) the metropolis dominated the economic, political, social and cultural life of England as never before or since.  Through lectures, classroom discussion and student papers we will assess the extent of that domination and the nature of London's contribution in each of these areas (see Syllabus).  Over the course of the semester we will confront the best recent work in urban history; accounts by contemporary Londoners and tourists; and fictional works in which the city figures.  These sources will expose us to the full range of London life, from the splendid galleries of Whitehall and St. James's to the damp and sooty alleyways of the East End.  Along the way we shall brave the dangers of plague and fire; witness the diverse spectacles of the Lord Mayor's Pageant and the hangings at Tyburn; and take refreshment in the city's pleasure-gardens, coffee-houses and taverns.  So, in the words of Samuel Johnson, “Let's to London - for there's variety.”

This course will require students to get to know early modern London as if they lived there.  That means that when a primary source refers to Fleet Street or Cheapside, you will be expected to know where that is.  Moreover, each student will write a travel guide to a district of London chosen by the Professor.  The purpose of this assignment is two-fold.  First, it is intended to familiarize you with a London neighborhood in far greater depth than is possible in class.  Secondly, it is intended to give you experience in the research and writing of history.  Specifically, you will be required to balance primary against secondary sources or, at the very least, secondary sources against each other; to construct a history of your neighborhood–or of some aspect of it--and to offer an interpretation of its significance for the history of Early-modern London as a whole. 

Use the tabs across the top of this guide to discover some of the principal tools for the study of early modern London.

Robert Bucholz, D.Phil., F.R.Hist.S.

Note to Students

Dear Students of History 318C,

I hope that you will find this guide useful as you explore the history of London this semester.  Let me know of any inaccuracies or broken links.  If you find a wonderful source or site that you would like me to include, please tell me about it! 

Many of the resources listed on this guide are books.  As is true of all libraries, our copy of book you want may be checked out or in another location.  To request a book from another location, use the request option in the catalog record and the book will be delivered to the service desk of your choice for pick-up.  We encourage you to place a recall on books which are checked out or request another copy through interlibrary loan.

If you have any questions or need assistance, please take a look at the Need Help? options described under the final tab on this guide.

Robert Bucholz, Professor