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 Frankenstein

In a year celebrating Leading Women, 2018's Living Literature transformed Senate House into a late-night epic thriller bringing to life the world of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Participants were treated to chilling ghost stories by candlelight as our experts set the scene of that night in the ‘year without a summer’ at the Villa Diodati, where the first version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was created, walked through Victor Frankenstein’s rooms in Ingolstadt, got to relive the birth of the monster, and learnt about the scientific and medical innovations of the period that provided inspiration for Shelley through talks and activities led by gothic experts.

“The atmosphere of the space, from the decor and layout, was very effective. The ghost stories in the court room were particularly brilliant, due to a combination of the space itself, the lighting and the sheer quality of the storytelling. I'd have happily spent my entrance fee on this element alone. The range and variety of other events/exhibits was also very successful, and shed a range of new and inspiring lights on the novel, its reception, and its significance today.”

Supported by the Convocation Fund, the Hilde Hume Fund and the University of London’s Leading Women Campaign

 

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

In 2017, Living Literature welcomed audiences to explore Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Senate House was transformed labyrinthine universe where erotic desire and scientific method combine, with attendees surrounded by the scents, fashions and music of the belle époque, feasting on food inspired by In Search of Lost Time and sipping linden tea cocktails.

See more on the Living Literature website

 

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