History of English Literature

Ref: C2340646

Do you enjoy reading [book or Kindle]? Would you like to share that with others? Did you miss out at school? Would you like to refresh your knowledge and interest? Would you like to find out about the "greats" of English Literature? Would you like to have a deeper understanding of what you are reading? These "personal enjoyment" elements are themselves all good reasons to join this course. There is also a bigger picture: The production and consumption of literature in the English language is moving beyond the physical confines of the book. The scope of English literature has long been beyond those writers and readers born or living in the United Kingdom [to say nothing of England itself]. The role of literature in personal and public education is rapidly changing [witness the closure of libraries]. We will review the major historical themes and producers of English literature since the Middle Ages to identify its strengths and challenges at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Course aim

To consider and discuss the broad sweep of English Literature from Beowulf to the 21st Century. To introduce new and existing readers of literature in English to the contexts within which that literature was produced and consumed.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is for improvers
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students need a Level 1 qualification in English to join this course
  • If you studied Literature at school or you have never studied or read English literature before or you speak English as a second language, your perspectives will be welcome.

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

  • Identify the main producers of literature in English between 800 AD and 2000 AD and the factors influencing the development of techniques and themes within English Literature.
  • Identify the relationship between language, society, prose and poetry in the context the British Isles.. This will include the impact of the Church, the State, literacy and education, philosophy and social ideas
  • Relate my own reading interests and experiences to those of other course members.
  • To relate my own reading interests and experiences to wider aspects of English literature. I will be able to deepen my exisitng experience of English Literature, and identify new experiences in literature which I intend to explore outside 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
  • We will study a sample of texts, poetry and prose. The texts will in part be determined by the interests and experience of course members.

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

  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information http://pearl.open.ac.uk/

Download full course information sheet

History of English Literature

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


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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