Love, Power and Evil in Elizabethan Literature with Karen Hewitt

Ref: C2226858

Read and discuss in detail two plays, Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Both plays are concerned with the corruptions of evil; both must lead us to consider controversies about providence, fate and knowledge in the later sixteenth century. You will also read great love poetry of the period by Spenser, Sidney, Donne and by Shakespeare and Marlowe. The poems – pastoral, erotic and beautiful – celebrate the joys of love and mourn the depredations of time. You will discuss how to respond to this literature of more than four hundred years ago, and how to enjoy its rich, metaphorical language.

Additional information about this course

This course is run in co-operation with University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE). Students enrolled on OUDCE are expected to undertake some course work. Please Phone the OUDCE Student Advisor on 01865280900 to book. Fee: £10 addition for CATS points.

Course aim

Read and discuss in detail two plays, Dr Faustus by Christopher Marlowe and Macbeth by William Shakespeare, assorted love poetry, and debates about knowledge and fate in the 1590s and 1600s.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • Identify how to read Elizabethan and Jacobean poetic drama
  • Examine and discuss poems which appeal to sixteenth century notions of love and mortality
  • Explore difficult questions about knowledge, providence and evil as they appear in this literature

How will I be taught?

  • The class will mostly learn by focused and serious discussion of the plays and poems. The tutor will provide historical and cultural information to help with our understanding of the literature.

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
  • There will be a number of tasks appropriate to your course such as written work, creating art or craft, video, photography or small projects. Some of these may be marked to help you progress

What else do I need to know?

  • The main requirement is that you read the chosen plays and poems before we come to discuss each one. The course is arranged to give you plenty of time to do that. Then class discussion and the tutor’s contextual information will help you to go further and to understand and enjoy much more.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • The book box will have copies of everything, but if you can, buy/borrow. Christopher Marlowe - Dr Faustus. Poems by Sidney, Spencer and Marlowe. William Shakespeare - Macbeth. Sonnets by Shakespeare, poems by John Donne, reflections on knowledge by Francis Bacon. Elizabethan Lyrics by Norman Ault

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
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

Love, Power and Evil in Elizabethan Literature with Karen Hewitt

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This course is not available for online enrolment.


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 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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