How Hope Died - A literary post mortem on Liberal England 1887 to 1918

Ref: C3742287

We will be considering the literature of an extraordinary period in modern history in which the conflict of ideas came to play out in world war and revolution. We will consider the works of "imperialists" such as Kipling, liberals such as George Eliot, socialists such as Shaw and Wilde. We will consider the portrayal of women in the literature of the period, and the development of children's literature through the works of such pioneers as E. Nesbit. We will read the poignant poems which chart the journey from Hope to Futility.

Course aim

To consider the literature of "Liberal England" from 1887 to 1918, and the social and intellectual forces which shaped that literature, including imperialism, liberalism and socialism.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • Students will need to be enthusiastic readers capable of being excited by the intellectual ferment of a seminal period in modern history which generated many great works of literature.

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

  • Appreciate A.S. Byatt's "The Children's Book" as an important novel and representation of the period being studied.
  • Understand how the role of women in society was changing and how it was represented in Victorian and Edwardian novels.
  • Know more about the great dramatists of the time, such as Ibsen, Shaw and Wilde, and how intellectual and social conflict is reflected in their work.
  • Identify how the developments in children's literature led to such literature becoming much more child-centred.
  • Appreciate the way war poetry changed as World War One became a protracted period of mass destruction.

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
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Students ae requested to obtain and read "The Children's Book" by A.S. Byatt. Those who have not read it will still enjoy and benefit from the course, but not as much as those who have read it.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Successful completion of the course will be an advantage to those going on to do degrees in English Literature, History, Government and Politics, and some Combined Studies courses.

Download full Course information sheet

How Hope Died - A literary post mortem on Liberal England 1887 to 1918


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