George Eliot: The Voice of Victorian England

Ref: C3126064

Novels to be studied will be 'Silas Marner'and 'The Mill on the Floss', which are among George Eliot's earliest works.. The course will examine these in the contexts of their historical and rural settings. The life of Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot, will be discussed in relation to 'The Mill on the Floss' in particular, as this novel references some details of the writer's own life. The nineteenth century was an era of huge social, industrial, scientific and intellectual upheaval. George Eliot's writing is imbued with the important arguments of the day. Wealth and poverty; education and ignorance; men and women; belief and free-thinking; industry and agriculture are all juxtaposed in these highly enjoyable books. The aim of the course is to enrich the texts with background knowledge and so assist a deeper understanding of the writer and her work as she voiced some of England's dilemmas.

Course aim

We will examine two of George Eliot's early novels with specific reference to their social and intellectual contexts. We will celebrate the achievement of this Midlands born and bred writer in her centenary year.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The two novels can either be read in advance or as the course progresses. The course is open to anyone with an interest in nineteenth century history and literature.

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

  • Evaluate the relationship between an author's biography and her work.
  • Analyse the structure of the nineteenth century novel.
  • Engage with other class members in evaluative critical discussion of the literary works.
  • Develop and improve research skills
  • Organise reading lists and lines of research to be pursued after 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
  • The tutor may suggest some lines of research that could be undertaken to aid class discussion.

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?

  • Copies of the two novels will be needed for use in class. Writing materials for note taking should be brought.

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
  • While it is not necessary to read the novels in advance, students may find it useful although they can be read as the course progresses.

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

Download full course information sheet

George Eliot: The Voice of Victorian England


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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