A Portrait of Henry James in his Middle Years

Ref: C2224637

Henry James began his life a member of a renowned and gifted American family. His earliest published works were short stories and novellas. But in the middle of his life he appeared to gravitate away from his family and his country; his work became longer and more complex. It was just at this point that he wrote The Portrait of a Lady, which remains perhaps his best loved novel. In this course we shall concentrate upon this period of his life, measuring the extent to which The Portrait of a Lady represents a distinct break with the author's earlier work. Is this novel best read as a European novel with an American heroine? Or is it not?

Course aim

The formal aim of this course is to introduce the life and work of Henry James, concentrating especially on The Portrait of a Lady.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • There are no requirements for this course. It will be founded in reading and discussion.

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

  • Extend my reading in American Literature
  • Discuss Henry James's contribution to the novel in English
  • Analyse the style and structure of Portrait of a Lady

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
  • The class will be founded in reading and discussion.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • 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
  • There is no formal assessment in this course. But you will have the chance to measure your progress by means of your WEA learning plan.

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.)
  • Nothing is essential, but a copy of Portrait of a Lady and a notebook might be useful. Excerpts from the novel will be provided.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • Nothing is required, but a little background work might perhaps make the class more pleasurable right from the start. Try listening to "Love Henry James: The Master" on BBC iPlayer and begin reading The Portrait of a Lady.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

A Portrait of Henry James in his Middle Years Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online 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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