GoAbroad Interview

Dr. Richard Maguire - Instructor, London Center

Dr. Richard Maguire - Instructor, London Center

Richard received his PhD from King’s College London, focusing his thesis on unresolved grief from the AIDS crisis in the West at the end of the twentieth-century. His course instruction for Arcadia University in London primarily focuses on sexuality, feminism, and queer theory in nineteenth and twentieth-century literature. More specifically, Richard teaches Sex and Gender in the City, The London Novel, and The Original Youth Culture. He is especially interested in autobiographies and the construction of the self through art.

How do your own international, academic, and professional experiences help you in your current role?

As an academic, I employ new methods to allow students to navigate the city and its neighbourhoods. As an expert on street art, I encourage students not to just look in front of them, but up and down. And the best street art is always behind you.

Study abroad students in Brighton, England
With students exploring Brighton

Why do you think London is a great place for international experience?

London is the most diverse city in the world and more languages are spoken here than anywhere else. In many ways, to experience London is to experience the world.

In what ways do you help students stay engaged throughout the course of their program, both in and out of their classroom?

The courses I teach (Sex and Gender in the City, The London Novel, and The First Youth Culture) all make use of the city. By attending these classes, I ensure that the students view the city differently, so even out of the classroom, they are learning. With my Sex and Gender students, we venture out at night to see cutting-edge plays and urgent performances that will never be shown in the West End. These events almost take place underground or off-the-radar, in secret spaces above pubs or under railway bridges. I show students places that tourists will never visit.

What supplemental activities does Arcadia offer to help encourage student learning?

There are many ways that students can learn “outside” of the classroom. These are a few:

  1. Talk of the Town: A series of interesting and topical talks which take place in a pub. The relaxed pub atmosphere enables discussion. Previous guests have been authors, poets, film directors, and activists.
  2. Faculty-Led Tours: I take students on a tour of the best Street Art in London. We even take in a couple of pieces by Banksy. Other tours offered are of the poet Keats’ House and of the Olympic Park.
  3. Co-Curricular Learning Certificate (CLC): Students can write a short essay focussing on one aspect London life to gain an extra certificate, which looks impressive on a CV. Previous reports have been on London churches, London theatres, and firefighters in the city!
Man posing with The Beatles Penny Lane in Liverpool for the Youth Culture Class
With The Beatles’ Penny Lane in Liverpool for the Youth Culture Class

How do you help ensure students make the most of their time studying abroad in London?

There is always plenty of activities run by the Student Life Team. Go hiking in Wales or take a weekend break in Poland. Or, closer to home, there is a creative writing club, and even a pub club taking students to the capital’s oldest inns.

What surprises students most about London?

Students are always surprised by the city’s diversity. Hollywood films suggest that London is stuck in the past, which is aristocratic and white, but London is vibrant and modern. The city embraces the new and new arrivals.

Students are also shocked at how quiet the Tube is. We don’t talk much on public transport, and especially not to strangers. It’s not that we are being rude; it’s that we value this short respite before we re-enter the city’s busy, hectic streets. While students may find the quiet eerie at first, in a few weeks they too will conform to London’s rituals.

Do you have any words of advice for student contemplating study abroad?

Do some research about the country you want to visit; don’t rely on the American media’s representation of the UK.

What is the most rewarding part about working for Arcadia University?

Seeing the progression of the students

Richard Maguire at the Arcadia University London Center
At Work with a tidy-ish desk

What changes lie ahead for students planning on studying abroad with Arcadia in London?

With Brexit, London will undoubtedly change. It will be interesting for the students to experience and witness this transformation, whether it be good or bad, first hand.

Currently, London is almost besieged by the effects of gentrification. The city was once full of very distinct neighbourhoods, but now these areas are in danger of becoming homogenised.  Any difference is being erased, and instead we will have only the familiar and the global. While it is too late for areas like Shoreditch and Brixton, future students could join in the battle to save Soho and Camden from the ravages of gentrification.