1816 - The Year without Summer

Ref: C2339027

Lord Byron's poem 'Darkness' sums up the turbulent atmosphere of 1816, but the year also saw the creation of Frankenstein's monster, Austen's 'Persuasion', masterpieces by Constable and Turner, and the first published poems of John Keats. Against a background of rain, storms, August frosts and devastating famine, these and other works make a fascinating focus for study.

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:

  • Give a brief account of the historical and cultural background to 1816.
  • Form and express an opinion as to the effect of 'The Year without a Summer' on at least two of the works studied.
  • Choose an additional poem, diary entry or novel extract from the era and prsent this to the class OR undertake research into another aspect such as costume, music, drama, science.
  • Express an informed view of contemporary parallels concening climate change, global warming, extreme weather events.

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

What else do I need to know?

  • All materials will be provided

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 Summer


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  • 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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