1816-The Year without Summer

Ref: C2339529

Lord Byron's poem 'Darkness' sums up this turbulent year, but 1816 also saw the writing of 'Frankenstein', Austen's 'Persuasion', and the first published poems of John Keats. Against a background of rain, storms, August frosts and devastating famine, these and other works of art bring an era to life.

Course aim

The purpose of this course is to discuss and celebrate, 202 years on, the literary events of a year dominated by the after-effects of an erupting Indonesian volcano, and so explore the effects of weather on the imagination of great writers.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Outline the main physical and psychological effects of the weather, in the UK and central Europe, in 1816.
  • Discuss at least two creative works produced in 1816 in more detail (e.g. 'Frankenstein' , 'Kubla Khan', 'Persuasion', a Turner painting).
  • (Optional) Research an additional aspect of the arts in 1816 such as opera or architecture, or an aspect of social history such as costume or food, and report on this to the class.
  • Relate the weather of 1816, and its richness in the arts, to questions of climate change and creativity today.

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 consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • A pamphlet will be provided each week containing background information, extracts from relevant works, and critical comments.

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
  • "1816 and the Volcano that Darkened the World and Changed History" by Klingman and Klingman - available online and worth reading.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

1816-The Year without Summer


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2018
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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