Living Literature is an annual series of events from the School of Advanced Study, University of London, bringing an iconic literary work to life by using research expertise to create an immersive and theatrical world for audiences to explore.

Based on the model of immersive theatre, these immersive lectures will break down the barriers between audience and lecturer, and between audience and work of art, by creating dynamic, participatory avenues for audiences to discover key ideas, themes, histories, and contexts.

Moving beyond the idea of an audience passively listening to a single expert, these multidisciplinary, experiential, dynamic, educational experiences will immerse audiences in the world and ideas of an iconic work of art, breaking down perceived barriers between study and enjoyment.


Living Proust and the belle époque

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes.”
         - Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

This year, Living Literature invites you to explore Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Learn about how taste, smell and memory are linked through sensory experiments with the Centre for the Study of the Senses, immerse yourself in a labyrinthine universe where erotic desire and scientific method combine.

Surrounded by the scents, fashions and music of the belle époque, you can feast on food inspired by ‘In Search of Lost Time’ and sip linden tea cocktails while learning about Paris at the turn of the century. Listen to readings and pop-up talks, learn about love, jealousy, queer identity, art, society and politics during the French fin de siècle, view our literary exhibition and enjoy a magic lantern show.

There will also be an intimate performance of Proust’s fictional Vinteuil sonata, as well as other classical composers from the era. Plus a few surprises on the night…

Ticket pricing: Standard – £40 | Concession – £20




The Great Gatsby


“Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!”
                   -Jay Gatsby


In 2016, Living Literature launched with a celebration of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Audiences were invited to travel back in time to 1922, exploring the tastes, sights, smells and sounds of Gatsby’s lost world, with guidance from experts in the history of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Prohibition-era New York. 

See more on the Living Literature website