An Interview with Faculty Director Nancy Cho

12 February 2024
Petticoat Lane

Faculty Director Nancy Cho, who will lead Living London: Literature, Performance, Culture, discusses the multicultural highlights and opportunities for literary exploration that this Winter 2025 program offers.

Nancy Cho

What inspired you to plan Living London: Literature, Performance, Culture? What did you hope to accomplish?
This time around, I hope to make the study of literature more immersive—to bring it off the page, so to speak. I also have the specific goal of placing London in comparative context with two other cities in the UK: Liverpool and York. The nature of London as a multicultural metropolis will be highlighted through our course readings, excursions, and theater trips.

What makes this program different from other study abroad programs?
For lovers of arts and performance, the theater program is amazing:  a chance to see over twenty productions in London’s unparalleled theater scene.  And London itself is the focus of the Urban Field Studies course.  While London can be overwhelming in terms of its deep history, constant flux, and dense weave of communities, we will bring the city closer through humanistic and literary engagement.  In our neighborhood walks, observational journal entries, photographs and sketches, and site-based research activities, we will practice being readers of London itself.

What does a typical day look like on your program?
Typical days might include a walking tour–led by a local professor–through one of London’s neighborhoods, a class discussion about a novel, and a structured activity linking the literary work to the city itself. Other typical days (and nights!) would include outings to the theater throughout the city—from large West End venues to smaller playhouses in Islington and Kilburn—as well as visits to museums from the grand to the quirky.

What does the housing situation look like, and what are the benefits of this living arrangement to students?
Students will live together in small groups, in apartments (with kitchens) located in South Kensington. This arrangement will provide support while also fostering independence. You’ll have proximity to classrooms, the V&A Museum, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, the neighborhood of Chelsea, and multiple tube stations and bus lines.

What are you most looking forward to?
I can’t wait to walk in the city.  For all that I love the efficiency of the Tube and bus systems, traversing London on foot is endlessly interesting.  I also look forward to seeing plays together and discussing them afterwards; the repeated exposure to live performance is transformative.  And finally, I’m eager to witness what sparks curiosity amongst the group, in a city where we know the language but may be surprised by what we discover.

What advice would you give to students to encourage them to study abroad during their Carleton career? What benefits do you see to the experience in general?
One of my biggest regrets is that I never studied abroad as an undergraduate. Two years after college, I managed to fund my own two-week trip to Italy and the experience made me realize how incredible it would have been to live abroad for an entire academic term. Learning independence, navigating the unexpected, being challenged by differences large and small—such opportunities are not to be missed.

Nancy Cho is a Professor of English. She has been at Carleton since 1995.