Literature/Social History: Elizabeth Gaskell

Ref: C3840603

Elizabeth Gaskell is known for her homely stories , but does her writing have more significance than that , and is it relevant for today? We will look at a range of her work, beginning with Mary Barton, and consider whether that reputation is fair. Has she left a legacy for northern writers of the future?

Course aim

The course offers an introduction to the work of Elizabeth Gaskell for those who may have seen a tv adaptation and are curious to find out more. If you have read Cranford it will be a chance to explore further.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Group discussion is a key part of the course. If you struggle with english , or if you have social anxiety this may not be the appropriate course for you.

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

  • Describe and discuss a range of works by Elizabeth Gaskell.
  • Share a view of how significant a writer Elizabeth Gaskell was and is.
  • Share my views comfortably with a range of new friends I have met in the course.

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
  • A visit to the Elizabeth Gaskell house will be offered as part of the course.

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
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress
  • This course is for please and we hope that the understanding gained of the works studies will increase the pleasure of the student when reading other works in the future.

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.)
  • A notebook and pens would be usefull in order to take part in shared activities.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • If you are a slow reader it may be helpful for you to have made a start on the works listed before the class starts. Mary Barton Ruth

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
  • 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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course outline

Literature/Social History: Elizabeth Gaskell Course Outline


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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