Literature: Writers in Greenwich Village

Ref: C2223547

For a hundred years and more, Greenwich Village was famous for its Bohemian ways. In this course we shall consider the work of some of the poets, playwrights and novelists who came to the Village to make their literary fortunes in the years between the Great War and the Great Depression. Was Greenwich Village truly a republic of free spirits? And how did the work of these writers reflect the life of the nation around them?

Course aim

The formal aim of the course is to give an introduction to the life and literature of Greenwich Village in the twenties and thirties of the last century.

Who is the course for?

This course has no requirements; it is for anyone who would enjoy extending his or her reading in American Literature.

What topics will this course cover

We shall begin by considering the cultural climate of Greenwich Village as the United States was on the point of entering the First World War. We shall carry on to read some poetry, fiction and drama from the war years, twenties and early thirties. The course will end with the coming of the Great Depression and the way in which it began to alter the life and purposes of writing in Greenwich Village.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

1. Appreciate the cultural climate which was the backdrop to American writing in this period. 2. Extend their own reading in American Literature. 3. Analyze the work of at least one of the authors whom we have studied 4. Assess the extent to which the work of these authors still speaks to us today.

How will I know I'm making progress?

There is no formal assessment in this course. You will measure your progress in discussion with other members of the group, but you will also set your own goals for the course and reflect on your own learning by means of the individual learning plan which is a feature of all WEA courses.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

There will be no trips or visits associated with this course. It might be useful to bring a notebook and to do some of the reading before beginning the class, but nothing is essential.

Reading and information sources

We shall be considering a range of American writing, but it might be useful to do a little reading before beginning the class. Of the longer works which we shall be reading, I would recommend that you might begin John Dos Passos's novel of 1925, Manhattan Transfer and Willa Cather's story "Coming, Aphrodite!", which can be found on the internet.

What could the course lead to?

The course might lead to other WEA literary and cultural courses; it might also lead to a course in higher education. I shall recommend further reading throughout the course and at its ending.

Download full course outline

Literature: Writers in Greenwich Village Course Outline


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  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2016
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