Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Assigned Reading

July 8th, 2009 · 11 Comments

As I think we’re supposed to blog a bit about our assigned reading, I thought I’d start us all off while the first book is fresh in my mind.

I just finished reading Salaam Brick Lane and I enjoyed it more than any other summer reading books in recent memory. I liked both Hall’s colloquial writing style and the book’s format and approach to the topic, since I’m more partial to personal, first-hand accounts. I’ve always been interested in South Asian culture, and reading about the UK immigrant experience of Bangladeshis was an interesting, new perspective from what I’m used to reading.

However,  I most enjoyed reading about a side of London that many foreigners rarely hear about or see. Based on my visits there as a tourist and the pictures of London we get from films, TV, and other forms of media, I have always had a vision of London as a quieter, more civilized, cleaner-cut big sister to New York City. I live about an hour outside of Manhattan and it has always seemed to be a chaotic jumble of people living on top of each other in a small area, but I enjoy London because it often seemed a little more prim and proper and orderly, both in person and in the media. I now realize that London does indeed have these areas, and that I know next to nothing about the areas outside of the main tourist circuit. I was always looking forward to scratching below the tourist surface of London, but after reading Salaam Brick Lane, I’m even more excited for learning about the many faces of the city, specifically the different immigrant cultures and experiences.

Since no one else has blogged about reading yet, I’m not sure if this is the sort of response we were supposed to come back with, but I thought I might as well get going with something before it becomes hazy when I move on to the next book. I also was a bit confused about all the reading that’s expected of us before we arrive in England: Are we supposed to have read the fictional account of life in the East End and Ms. Dalloway in addition to Hall, Schama, Wilson and Shakespeare before the London course starts, or will we be reading them there? I assume it would be best for us to have read them beforehand, but I wanted to make sure to leave time for them in my reading list this summer if we’re expected to have read them by the time we arrive.

Tags: readings