American Literature - The American Dream

Ref: C2224536

The first part of this two-part course on the American Dream refers to three novels -The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850); The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (1939); Go Tell It on the Mountain, James Baldwin (1953). We shall start by considering what the American Dream means and follow this by analysis of the novels. The publication dates of the novels cover roughly a century, so we expect to refer to cultural changes during the period. These are likely to include changes in attitudes regarding politics, religion, gender and race. While wide ranging cultural matters are important, the course is also concerned with literary criticism in terms of understanding narrative structure, characterisation and theme. Through group discussion, the aim is to gain a better understanding of American literature.

Course aim

The course comprises the study three novels, published between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries, in terms of the American Dream.

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:

  • Discuss the American Dream
  • Discuss the work of Hawthorne
  • Discuss the work of Steinbeck
  • Discuss the work of Baldwin
  • Discuss American history 1850-1950

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 have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • 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?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • You need to have a copy and to have read the selected novels

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Best to have read and made notes about the three selected novels

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information

Download full Course information sheet

American Literature - The American Dream


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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