Far from the Madding Crowd – Pastoral Literature

Ref: C3743156

An exploration of the development of Pastoral literature in England, starting with Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale'. We'll then discuss pastoral poetry of the c17 & c18 centuries, focusing on Milton, Gray, Cowper, Clare & Wordsworth and then examine Hardy's pastoral poetry and his novel 'Far From The Madding Crowd', which borrows its title from Gray's 'Elegy'. 'Lark Rise to Candleford' is another classic in this genre, whilst 'Cold Comfort Farm' delightfully send the genre up. Edna O'Brien's 'The Country Girls' and Jim Crace's 'Harvest' give more modern interpretations and will be balanced by some Charles Causley poems.

Course aim

This course explores the development of pastoral literature in England from the Elizabethan period to the present day, through poetry, plays and novels.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • explain the genre pastoral
  • show the influence of older concepts of pastoral on Shakespeare
  • explain the use of the pastoral form in leading poets of c17 & c18
  • explain Hardy's use of pastoral for an urban audience in novels & poems
  • evaluate the early c20 influence of primitivism and how it was satirised

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

What else do I need to know?

  • Please bring (and read in advance!) the relevant texts for each week. The tutor will provide copies of the shorter poems and will give advance warning of longer poems students may need to provide.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • It would be very helpful to read the texts in advance and bring them along for the relevant weeks.

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

Far from the Madding Crowd – Pastoral Literature


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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