History: Enquire Within - What the Victoriains needed to know and why

Ref: C2337895

The Victorian middle classes were never short of advice, from bringing up children to preparing botanical specimens and negotiating the challenges of foreign holidays. We will look at some of the 'works of reference' available to them, to explore what they felt they needed to know - and why. We will learn much about the wider world in which they lived in the process, including the roots of their anxiety to behave 'correctly', and the technological advances that offered new opportunities for leisure and entertainment. We will also explore their relationships with the Victorian working classes, who were often on the receiving end of their advice in turn. As well as 'Enquire Within' itself - a 'vast congregation of useful hints' - we will look at Mrs Beeton's 'Book of Household Management', Bradshaw's 'Railway Guides', advice to young husbands and gardeners, guidance on elocution, and street directories - for 'No one, being a stranger to London, would run about asking for "Mr. Smith"...'.

Course aim

The Victorians were never short of advice. By exploring a range of handbooks, manuals and 'works of reference' we will learn much about the wider world in which they lived.

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 Victorian middle classes were the main audience for manuals and handbooks of advice.
  • Give examples of what this advice tells us about Victorian middle class lifestyles, both in the home and further afield.
  • Give examples of what this advice tells us about relationships between men and women, and differing expectations of their roles in Victorian society.
  • Explain why the Victorian middle classes felt the need to advise the working classes about their own lifestyles and behaviour, and how they did so.
  • Know where to access further information on these subjects for independent research, if required.

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
  • In particular, we will use a range of original documents to explore each subject and encourage discussion.

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?

  • Nothing else is needed
  • All materials will be provided

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
  • 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

Download full course outline

History: Enquire Within - What the Victoriains needed to know and why Course Outline

Enrolment Conditions

You can enrol online 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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