Ref: C2524440

Alongside our examination of novels, plays, poetry and short stories, we will explore society and culture, in particular, the changes in the U.S. during and following the war. To help us with this, we will explore social, cultural and political ideas to inform our reading. We will also discuss art, architecture and the music of the era to underpin our readings. Novels (and extracts of novels) will include: Eudora Welting's 'The Robber bridegroom', John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath and Ernest Hemmingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea'. We will also examine two plays: Eugine O'Neill's 'Long Day's Journey into Night' and Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman'. We will also analyse and discuss writing by Katherine Anne Porter, William Faulkner, Philip Roth, Shirley Jackson, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Frost, Adrienne Rich, and others.

Course aim

The course examines American literature written between 1938 and 1959. In particular, we will examine the aftermath of World War II.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • The course is for anyone who enjoys reading and analysing texts and discussing their thoughts with other people.

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

  • Give at least three examples of how cultural, social and/or political influences changed during and after WWII.
  • Name at least three texts that explore either: gender, masculinity, race, religion or class.
  • Provide at least two examples of how the texts examine the differences between the City and the Wilderness.

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
  • You will need to read the texts before each session and also research details of the writer, culture and politics in the US.

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

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.)
  • You will need to buy, borrow, or download, Eudora Welty's 'The Robber Bridegroom, John Steinbeck's 'The Grapes of Wrath', and Ernest Hemmingway's 'The Old Man and the Sea. All other texts will be provided in a reader.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • It would be helpful if you could read the novels above. You may find it helpful to read about pre-and-post War America. There will also be a weekly reading/research task.

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet



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

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