Art History: Myths, Legends and Romance in Art and Music

Ref: C2419115

Have you ever looked at the painted ceilings in historical houses and struggled to understand the stories they show, or wondered why Orpheus went into the underworld? Myths, legends and romances have been the lifeblood of art and music throughout history. Enjoy this journey though the landscape of literature from ancient to modern times. Hear the tales behind the sculptures and pictures, from the flood stories of ancient Iraq and the bible to Beatrix Potter and Wind in the Willows. Listen to the music, from folk tunes to the symphony orchestra and the operas, music inspired by the stories of the ancient heroes in Greek mythology and the intrigues of the devious gods. Enjoy the golden braid of literature, art and music from different epochs: Babylonian and Egyptian myths. Greek and Roman stories. Bible stories. Dark Ages literature. Arthurian legends. Medieval Romances. Shakespearean tales. Middle Eastern tales. Victorian and 20th century stories in art.

Course aim

To explore the enriching links between stories, art and music, from ancient to modern times. Each week examples from a different epoch will be examined. Musical excepts will be included.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • No particular qualifications are required but a level 2 (i.e. GCSE) standard of English will be assumed.

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

  • To enjoy and understand paintings with greater confidence through a greater knowledge of the stories they illustrate.
  • To be more aware of the influences of literature in art and music.
  • To apprecate the cross-cultural links in the arts.

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
  • Full illustrated notes will be provided in all the lectures.

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?

  • All materials will be provided

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • As a preparation, students are encouraged to visit galleries and note how many paintings have a literary background, knowledge of which will enhance enjoyment of the works.

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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • Information will provided about becoming a volunteer at an art gallery, museum or historical house.

Download full Course information sheet

Art History: Myths, Legends and Romance in Art and Music


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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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