Novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and Industrial Fiction: North and South

Ref: C2228835

We look at a novel encapsulating some of Gaskell's own experiences of living close to a bustling industrial town during a time of enormous change in everyday life. North and South uses a protagonist from the south of England to experience and comment on life from the perspectives of mill owners and manufacturers and their workers in an industrializing city. The transition that Margaret Hale and her family experience in moving from the pleasant countryside of the rural south to the fictitious smoky city of Milton is traumatic, and she initially sees only the harshness and brutality of the Industrial Revolution. Placed firmly in the middle of their new home town's social divide, the Hales begin to admire the pride and tenacity of the working folk and the qualities of those who employ them. The book looks at relationships between workers and employers from both sides, and shows the complexity of labour relations, for which there are no easy answers.

Additional information about this course

Comfort Break for Students managed by the Tutor – approximately half way through the session

Course aim

We explore a novel considering many topical 19th century themes still important today, including class, poverty, gender restrictions and social injustice within society. Gaskell shows us a time of transition and change in almost every area of life.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • You do not need to have read this book - or any other of Gaskell's works - in order to participate. Everyone is welcome.

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

  • Have an understanding of two or more of the possible influences that Elizabeth Gaskell used when writing 'North and South'.
  • Describe one way in which 'North and South' could be said to have challenged the social constraints imposed on women of the Victorian era.
  • Summarise the background of the character of mill owner John Thornton.
  • Recall the reason(s) why Mr Hale decides to leave the Church.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

You do not need to have read any of Gaskell's work and there is nothing to bring, unless you wish to make your own notes during the session. Handouts will be provided by the tutor (through the medium of Canvas, the online learning platform), in order to recap points covered during the course.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and Industrial Fiction: North and South

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • 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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