English Poetry from Beowulf to the Present

Ref: C2341939

The course will consider: 1.The roots of language, and the origins of literature in general and English literature in particular. The roots of poetry, and its characteristic differences from other forms of communication. The confluence of the Classical Mediterranean and the Norse Germanic worlds. Anglo- Saxon poetry. Court, Commons and Church. 2. Poetry from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer. 3 Shakespeare as poet, and the poetry of the 16th century. The emergence of modern English. 4. Faith, Reason, Satire and Style: Poetry in the 17th/18th centuries - Donne, Milton, Dryden, Pope. 5. Revolution and Romanticism: Wordsworth. Coleridge and Byron. 6. Poetry and Industrial Society -Tennyson and Tension. 7. The Pastoral tradition - John Clare to Thomas Hardy. 8. The 20th Century. Poetry and War. T S Eliot and Modernism. 9. Beyond England: Burns, Yeats, Post Imperial English. 10. Modern Poetry 1950 to 2019; Poets Laureate; Liverpool Poets; Performance Poetry. The "Canon"?

Course aim

This course will look at the development of English poetry during the past twelve hundred years, its historical, political and social context, and its influence upon the English language of today.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners
  • This course is for improvers
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers
  • Students with little or no formal knowledge of English Literature are welcome. Those who studied English at school, wishing to refresh are welcome. Overseas students who can understand and read English are also welcome. The contribution of students with some knowledge is welcome.

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

  • Understand the major developments in English poetry from Beowulf to the present.
  • Identify the contexts within which English poetry was produced.
  • Increase my knowledge of the major English poets, and increase my pleasure in reading them.

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
  • The course will be participative. The tutor will supply/suggest texts for study, but students will be encouraged to suggest poets or poetry which they would like to study. The tutor will suggest preparatory reading material.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • 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
  • During the course the tutor will encourage each student to make a short presentation about a poem of their choice set within the context of the course matter.

What else do I need to know?

  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)
  • We will use printed versions of poems as well as poetry published in online websites.

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
  • Students may wish to "take stock" of their existing experience and knowledge of and interest in English poetry, and be prepared to discuss this at the opening of the course.

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

English Poetry from Beowulf to the Present

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has been cancelled.


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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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