American Literature - The American Dream

Ref: C2224540

The second part of this two-part course on the American Dream refers to three novels - Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates (1961), The Plot Against America, Philip Roth (2004), The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout (2013). We shall continue our discussion, started in Part one of the course, on what the American Dream means. The publication dates of the selected novels cover a little over 60 years, so we expect to refer to cultural changes during the period from 1960 to the early 21st century. These are likely to include changes in attitudes regarding politics, religion, gender and race. While wide ranging cultural matters are important, the course is also concerned with literary criticism in terms of understanding narrative structure, characterisation and theme. Through group discussion, the aim is to gain a better understanding of American literature.

Course aim

The course comprises the study three novels, published between 1961 and 2013, in terms of the American Dream.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Discuss the American Dream
  • Discuss the work of Yates
  • Discuss the work of Roth
  • Discuss the work of Strout
  • Discuss American history 1960 - present

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • You need to have a copy of each novel and to have read them

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Best to have read and made notes on the three selected novels

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

American Literature - The American Dream


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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