Ref: C2523771

The course will examine key texts from the nineteenth century to the present day. Alongside this, we will discuss world events, society and culture to examine the origin of these ideas. We will read and discuss extracts from plays and novels, poetry and short stories as well two complete novels, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters and Ursula Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness. Other writers include: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Virginia Woolf, Edith Wharton, Marge Piercy, Iain Banks, Ira Levin and Ali Smith.

Course aim

This course explores notions of what it means to be a man or a woman and how gender differences are reflected or challenged in literature.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • 1Confidently discuss how ideas of gender are presented in the texts.
  • 2. Give three examples of how the ‘perceived’ role of women changes through time.
  • Give three examples of how gender roles are presented in the texts.
  • Give three examples of how gender roles (or gender itself) are challenged in the texts.

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

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 will need to buy, download or borrow Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin. All other readings will be provided.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will get more out of the course if you read the novels outlined above and read and research before each session.

What can I do next?

Download full Course information sheet



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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