Exploring Contemporary Fiction

Ref: C3840616

Explore a range of exciting contemporary fiction starting off at the first monthly class with John Burnside's remarkable novel The Summer of Drowning. We shall discuss a novel at each class: other works to be discussed will be novels by Sarah Hall (How to Paint a Dead Man), Colm Toibin (Brooklyn), Julian Barnes (The Sense of an Ending), Elena Ferrante (My Brilliant Friend) and Bernard MacLaverty (Midwinter Break).

Course aim

To introduce six contemporary novels and provide an opportunity for critical discussion of them

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • An ability to read the novels to be discussed

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

  • Identify and discuss aspects of the six contemporary novels being considered.
  • Develop and analyse critical approaches to the texts being discussed.
  • Undertake and report on individual background research on the authors and texts being considered.
  • Begin to evaluate the texts being considered within the wider literary, cultural and contemporary context.

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
  • You will be expected to carry out a range of activities in your own time
  • Each text should be read before the class at which it is being discussed.

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
  • There will be a number of tasks appropriate to your course such as written work, creating art or craft, video, photography or small projects. Some of these may be marked to help you progress
  • You will be encouraged to share your background research on the authors and texts being considered and will receive feedback from the tutor and the group.

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.)
  • You are asked to obtain copies of the texts before they are discussed either through purchasing them or borrowing them from a local library. Please note that the MacLaverty text won't be available as a paperback before the New Year 2018.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Please read the John Burnside text - A Summer of Drowning - before the first class and, if possible, do some background research about the author and text.

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 http://pearl.open.ac.uk/
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course outline

Exploring Contemporary Fiction Course Outline

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


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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