1816, The Year Without a Summer

Ref: C2339939

Lord Byron's poem 'Darkness' sums up this turbulent year, but 1816 also saw the writing of 'Frankenstein', Austen's 'Persuasion', and the first published poems of John Keats. Against a background of rain, storms, August frosts and devastating famine, these and other works of art bring an era to life.

Course aim

To explore the cultural events of a year dominated by the after-effects of a volcanic eruption in Indonesia, and to extend this to consider the impact of weather and climate on the imagination of writers, thinkers and artists.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Outline the main physical and psychological effects of the weather, in the UK and central Europe, in 1816.
  • Discuss at least two creative works produced in 1816 in more detail (e.g. 'Frankenstein' , 'Kubla Khan', 'Persuasion', a Turner painting).
  • Choose an additional poem, artwork, diary or piece of music from 1816 and present an account of this to the class (optional).
  • (Optional) Research an additional aspect of the arts in 1816 such as opera or architecture, or an aspect of social history such as costume or food, and report on this to the class.

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 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?

  • All materials will be provided
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

1816, The Year Without a Summer


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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