Power to the People: Street Art & Literature in London

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This Summer 2018 course--aimed at undergraduate and graduate English and Art History students--will introduce participants to the diversity of contemporary British culture, focusing on art and literature produced in London, its multicultural metropolis. “Power to the People” will allow students to explore the multiple ways in which communities across London have created their own art in their own spaces and written back to the dominant logic of Empire and Colony. This course will provide a strong grounding in postcolonial and migrant theories of art and culture, while also offering a cross-disciplinary perspective on the intersections between social change, popular resistance, and creative work.

By examining the multiple ways in which race, religion, gender, and class are shaped by colonialism and empire, students will be able to understand the connections between historical forces and contemporary realities.
Students will visit neighborhoods, museums, and artists' studios and attend lectures in order to appreciate the cultural variety of the metropolis and its residents. By interacting with artists, meeting neighborhood residents, and by creating their own art and thinking critically about their environment, students will be consistently engaged in cross cultural exchange.



Dr. Kanishka Chowdhury is Professor of English and Director of the Program in American Culture and Difference. He teaches courses in postcolonial literatures, focusing on the complex ways in which politics, history, and aesthetics intersect in these texts. He has written on globalization and its connections to emerging forms of citizenship, and is currently working on a project analyzing the language of human rights. He has traveled widely and spent a semester in Scotland, teaching at the University of Glasgow. He is currently director of the Rome Core program. During the 2017 Rome semester, he will offer an English class on contemporary immigrant and refugee narratives (with a special emphasis on Italian texts).    


Dr. Heather Shirey, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Art History, teaches courses on the visual arts in the African Diaspora. Dr. Shirey has a particular interest in British art from a post-colonial perspective. Her current research projects include a study of art in public spaces (from monumental sculpture to street art) as well as the history of museums, exhibitions, and social power. Dr. Shirey co-taught art history courses in London in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Preliminary dates:

Monday, May 21, 2018: Seminar meeting (6:00-9:00 p.m.)
We will work through foundational readings using a hybrid of lecture, discussion, and short writing exercises.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018: Seminar meeting (6:00-9:00 p.m.)
We will continue exploring some of the foundational theoretical concepts, as well as discuss some of the primary literary readings.

On-line check-in with faculty for trip/research preparation (flexible timing in days before trip)

Sunday, May 27 - Monday, June 4, 2018: London

  • Sunday, May 27: Depart for London (non-stop evening flight on Delta Airlines)
  • Monday, May 28: Arrival and orientation activity/discussion, followed by group dinner

  • Tuesday, May 29: Walking tour focusing on sculpture and power in public spaces; classroom session
  • Wednesday, May 30: Walking tour of Brixton; Studio visit with Johny Pitts; Visit to South Bank museums and art centers
  • Friday, June 1: Brick Lane mosque; Walking tour focusing on street art in East London and hands-on workshop
  • Saturday, June 2: Studio visit with Sokari Douglas-Camp; afternoon research exploration and choice of site visits; consultations with faculty
  • Sunday, June 3: Kew Botanical Gardens to consider the ways that landscape design constructed and affirmed ideas about Empire, "Otherness," and dominance; the afternoon will leave time for students to continue exploration of sites for their research project

  • Monday, June 4: Flight home
  • By appointment in the week following the trip: One-on-one discussion with faculty member regarding research paper (with additional discussion as required)

Monday, June 11, 2018: Seminar meeting (6:00-7:00 pm)

June 11-June 25, 2018: On-line peer and faculty interactions during final project preparation

Monday, June 25, 2018: Final paper submission


  • Daily reflective writing (7) completed during travel. Daily visits and course discussions will serve as a starting point for these reflections. 20% of course grade.
  • Blog posts/podcasts (2): Selected daily reflections will be expanded into blog posts and/or podcasts. Students will review and build on their daily reflective writings. 20% of course grade.
  • Research paper: In consultation with the instructors, students will develop a research project that connects with the interdisciplinary focus on the course and builds on the material offered in London. Graduate students will be expected to produce a 12 page paper; undergraduate students will write a shorter paper (5-7 pages). 40% of course grade

  • Participation and engagement: Both on campus and during travel, students are expected to be present and actively engaged in discussions and interact with one another in a professional manner. Expectations will be reviewed carefully in the first class meeting. 20% of course grade.

The program provides 4 credits for undergraduate students and 3 credits for graduate students.

For undergraduate English students, this course will be listed as ENGL 490; it also meets the English major Human Diversity distribution requirement.

For graduate English students, this course will be listed as GENG 598; it also meets the Diversity Literature distribution requirement


  • Dormitory at Richmond University, located in central London
  • Twin rooms with sinks; shared bathrooms
  • Laundry facilities
  • 24 hr. Security
  • Breakfast provided daily
  • Internet, social spaces, and computer lab

The program fee is not yet finalized, but the estimated cost is $5234 (includes tuition, airfare, housing, ground transportation, museum admissions and workshop, and some meals (daily breakfast, 2 lunches, 1 dinner)). Non-billable expenses include: 5 lunches and 6 dinners; any entrance fees not included in the course; books.

How do I apply?
Work with the UST Study Abroad office to complete your application; work with Financial Aid and Study Abroad for details about student loans and other financial aid.

When should I apply?
The program is open for applications at this date; interviews will begin in January; the final application deadline is March 1st