Excursions

Courses will be based in large part on two dozen excursions around London. Some excursions are required for all students; some are required only for students in certain classes.  Our calendar, however, is arranged so that (almost always) all students can go to all excursions. Here are some examples.

spitalfieldsEast End Gentrification Tour
Urban revitalization to some and class warfare to others, gentrification can transform neighborhoods dramatically as long time working class residents move out and more affluent residents move in. London’s East End has gentrified markedly in recent years and represents an important example of the patterns of economic and cultural innovation, change, and conflict that come with the process. Maybe we’ll go to Cereal Killer Cafe for lunch, if it’s still there in 2018, and if we can afford it. The picture shows a trendy cafe in Spitalfields Market in the formerly run down East End of London.  (This excursion required for students in Food, Urban, Consumption; optional for all others.)

 

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London Underground and Tube Tour
This tour will cover some of the history of the planning, design, and construction of the world’s oldest (from 1863!) underground subway system. Students will hop on and off trains in tube stops all around central London as they learn about the architecture of stations, the politics of forcing separate private lines to cooperate, the multi-million pound business of selling the brand of the Underground, and more. Plus the guides know all sorts of interesting tidbits about the Underground and its relationship to the city. And at one point, Dr. Price will excitedly point out to students a pipe crossing over the tracks at Sloane Square Station that carries what is left of the now buried River Westbourne. The picture above shows Notting Hill Gate Station. (This excursion required for students in Urban, Technology; optional for all others.)

 

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The Galton Collection
The polymath Francis Galton (d. 1911) helped to develop some of the foundations of social statistics, including the understanding of normal distributions. He was also a racist and eugenicist. So, a mixed bag, as it were, but a profoundly interesting character for sociologists studying how nineteenth century English morality and technology informed the purview and techniques of then-nascent social science. The Galton Collection at the University College London is the repository of his papers and the artifacts of his work. Collection curator Subhadra Das will describe the tools and techniques Galton used in elaborating his theories about human biology and biometrics. Students will have the opportunity to examine some  of these artifacts, which are not on display to the general public. (This excursion required for students in Technology, optional for all others.)

 

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 Tower of London
Apart from its enormous role in the history of England, the Tower of London is interesting to our students in a couple of ways. First, it is a world-class tourist destination, and tourism is an important part of the identity work people do via their patterns of consumption. Second, the torture chamber museum on the grounds will be relevant to our discussions of technologies of surveillance, coercion, and governmentality. (This excursion required for all students.)

 

crossnessCrossness Pumping Station
City size is limited by technology. At the very least, urban dwellers need the wherewithal to get food in and waste out. By the mid 1800s, the population of London had reached two million souls, and there was no sanitary sewer. Hoo boy was that nasty and dangerous. The innovation of industrial era technology such as giant steam driven pumps capable of pushing millions of gallons of sewage daily out of town and to the sea contributed to the sociotechnical state of affairs that now lets London thrive with a population over eight million. The picture shows Dr. Price talking to students about the marvels of Victorian-era sewage management at the veritable cathedral of steam punk, the Crossness Pumping Station in east London. The flywheel behind him is 27 feet in diameter and weighs 52 tons. (This excursion required for students in Urban, Technology; optional for all others.)

 

DD 1991-247 Beck map 1933London Transport Museum
This is a well thought out facility with great exhibits relating to the London bus and Underground systems and their histories. They have lots of old stock (rail cars, buses, etc.) for visitors to see up close. The displays work nicely with themes from the Urban class, especially sprawl and suburbanization, and with themes form the Technology class, especially industrialization and rationalism. You can indulge your inner child as you climb on and off century-old omnibuses. We will have a custom guided tour with a docent directing our attention to some of the displays most relevant to us. The picture shows Harry Beck’s revolutionary 1933 map of the London Underground in the schematic style that has since become typical of subway maps all over the world. (This excursion required for students in Urban, Technology, Consumption; optional for all others.)

(Watch this space for more excursions.)