From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

Ref: C3741551

This course will show how the English landscape garden developed from its origins in the early eighteenth century, as a reaction to the structure and formality of what went before, to emerge eventually as one of the most distinctively English and widely recognised art forms in the western world. The relevance of "Sublime" and "Ridiculous" in the title will become clear to anyone who chooses to study the course! We shall look at the key personalities involved, such as William Kent and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, and evaluate and assess their particular contributions; but we shall also consider the wider cultural, political and artistic context in which the landscape garden flourished. The arts are often inter-related, and nowhere more so than in this period, so we shall be looking at writers, poets, artists and architects, as well as landscape gardeners, to see how different ideas were infiltrating and influencing the development of the English landscape garden.

Course aim

To enable students to understand how the landscape garden developed to become such a distinctive English art form, within the wider context of eighteenth century art, society and culture.

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:

  • Explain why the English landscape garden happened
  • Recognise its key features
  • Identify the key personalities involved in its development
  • Define the different stages in its development
  • Understand how it fits into the wider eighteenth century cultural context

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

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring paper and pen or other device, to make notes.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full Course information sheet

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous


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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