We study 4 novels from the last 60 years: Our Man in Havanna by Graham Greene; A Perfect Spy by John le Carre; Spies by Michael Frayn; and Exposure by Helen Dunmore. We aim to discover what is special about this very popular genre. Are there elements that must be included? How formulaic are the books? Do they relate to "real life" as we experience it? Are we all in some way also spies? The selected books have all been acclaimed for their literary quality but do they deserve the praise? In class discussion we will try to answer these questions and through our discussions will hope to arrive at literary truths.

Course aim

Why does spy fiction continue to be popular? Can it ever be considered "good literature" or is it just escapist beach reading?

Who is the course for?

- No skills or experience needed

What topics will this course cover

- Participants need to have read each text before the relevant class. Classes normally start with a short tutor introduction to the topic to be discussed before all members of the class are encouraged to participate.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

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

How will I know I'm making progress?

- Continual oral feedback from the tutor

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

- Participants are expected to have read the each book before the relevant class.

Reading and information sources

- Please read Our Man in Havana before the first class

What could the course lead to?

- Progress to another WEA course

Download full course outline

Spies 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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