Ref: C2524764

Alongside our examination of a selection short stories from the John Updike edited collection. We will explore place, society, politics, culture, etc that helped shaped the stories and America itself over the 20th century.

Course aim

The course examines some of the best American short stories written during the twentieth century.

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 over the 20th Century
  • Name at least three stories that explore what is America and/or what it means to be American
  • Provide at least two examples of how the stories in the collection depict binary approaches such as good and evil, rich and poor and men and women.

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, The Best American Short Stories of the Century edited by John Updike and Katrina Kenison (2004)

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
  • There will be a weekly reading/research task. This is not compulsory, but it will enhance your learning.

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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