History - 'Dunkirk'

Ref: C2339092

Transformed from what Churchill described as a ‘disastrous defeat’ into a ‘miracle of deliverance’, Dunkirk holds a semi-sacred place in Britain’s collective conscience and DNA. However, given claims Nolan’s ‘Dunkirk’ lacks the usual heroic pathos and represents every defeated army, this course asks what the ‘Dunkirk spirit’ means today.

Course aim

Given German and other claims that Dunkirk is everything for the British, this course assesses its symbolic significance and what it and Nolan’s film means for the Germans and French.

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:

  • Evaluate if Nolan’s Dunkirk has changed the way we think about cinema and war
  • Understand why the Germans are abstract throughout the film
  • Explain why some French have criticised the film’s depiction of their contribution
  • Assess whether or not Dunkirk’s deliberate explanatory gaps leave open the experience of war
  • Given the sometimes contested interpretations of the event, discuss whether Nolan delivers a credible story

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

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Although optional, any of the texts recommended by the tutor would enhance group discussions and participants' personal development.

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
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information http://pearl.open.ac.uk/
  • Students could further develop their critical thinking skills and an understanding of other societies’ cultures and attitudes

Download full Course information sheet

History - 'Dunkirk'


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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