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Study Media and Culture at Goldsmith’s College, University of London

The Vassar Media and Culture Studies Program in London is open to all majors. Goldsmiths College —ranked top London university in Media and Communications, Music, and Visual Arts—is also among the most respected UK colleges in Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Cultural Studies, Drama, Economics, History, Literary Studies, Political Theory, Psychology, and Sociology.

London, England

Vassar students live in Goldsmith’s dormitories on the New Cross campus, South East London, 15 minutes from the central city, and have access to all benefits available to Goldsmiths students. These include research centers, computer labs, clubs, athletic teams, trips around the UK and Europe, counseling, and healthcare. Students are also granted  membership to the Students’ Union, library, and fitness facilities at Goldsmiths and all other University of London campuses.

The Vassar London Program balances immersion in a great global city with the security of a small program and resident Faculty Director, providing community, as  well as personal and pedagogical support.

The curriculum offers four Vassar credits:

  • A seminar taught by the Vassar Faculty Director introduces students to a literary London populated by the imagination of immigrant writers.
  • An independent project focused on theory or practice, uses London as a laboratory, an object of study, and a source of inspiration.
  • Goldsmiths Media and Communications course: students select a course from among more than two dozen multidisciplinary offerings. For course descriptions, please consult Goldsmiths Catalogue
  • Elective Goldsmith’s course: students get to choose a course in Anthropology, Art, Computing, Drama, Education Studies, Economics, English and Comparative Literature, History, Languages, Music, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, or Visual Cultures.

Please note: Spring 2022 will be the last time this program is offered as a Spring Semester program. Effective Fall 2022, this program will shift to Fall Semester on an ongoing basis.

Spring 2022 Seminar Topic:  Black London: Walking Diaries

Resident Faculty Director:  Amitava Kumar, Professor of English on the Helen D. Lockwood Chair, Vassar College.

For information on Black London: Walking Diaries, please go to the program website or contact Vassar College Professor Amitava Kumar.

Fall 2022 Seminar Topic: Endemic and Pandemic London. Media Narratives, Politics, Biopolitics

Resident Faculty Director:  Professor Giovanna Borradori, Professor of Philosophy, Vassar College.

Fall 2022 program description:  Like New York, Milan, and the Amazonian city of Manaus, London too has been brutally hit by the epidemics of Covid-19. In this course, we will examine the mediations between the pandemic and endemic registers of the epidemics, calling attention to what was already on the ground before Covid-19 struck: systemic racism; the failed promises made to oppressed groups, such as the Windrush generation; structural economic inequality; and social abandonment. We will analyze how the harrowing reality of the latest healthcare crisis has reconfigured the roles that London has played historically, and that have shaped its culture, art, and cinema as well as its civic, political, and geopolitical self-understanding: on the one hand, as the former capital of a mighty transcontinental empire (kept alive by an army of museums and revitalized by the Brexit campaign); on the other hand, as the magnet of the postcolonial diasporic experience, illuminated in novels by Zadie Smith and Bernardine Evaristo.

Inspired by Susan Sontag’s 1989 seminal study on AIDS and Its Metaphors, we will look at the encounters between the pandemic and the endemic registers, not only as a separate set of public health and medical facts -- biological, epidemiological, pharmacological, demographic, and biopolitical -- but also as a media production, which has made ample use of carefully curated metaphors, narratives, memes, and images, graphs and data visualizations, as well as operations of political rebranding that have allowed civil institutions such as the National Health Service to be rebranded as signifiers of patriotic expression.

Starting with A Journal of the Plague Year, Daniel Defoe’s 1772 report on the 1665 epidemics in London, which we will read as a foundational text of the colonial imagination about plagues, we will unspool a number of theoretical essays, fictional texts, films, and opportunities to hear from local activists. We will also explore the feeble distinction between endemic and pandemic harm through exposure to collectives and counter-institutions, though which the students will be able to broaden their knowledge of the pandemics,— as a physical reality impacting a major world-city, but also as a new powerful mass medium of its own, that, in this capacity, has repurposed the city’s own ability to imagine its possibilities and impossibilities of cohabitation.