1816, The Year without a Summer

Ref: C2343387

This course is currently full.
Join the waiting list to be notified if any places become available.

As the Napoleonic wars came to an end, a catastrophic volcanic eruption in Indonesia threw clouds of dust and ash into the atmosphere, affecting the world's weather patterns such that the summer of 1816 was one of the wettest and coldest ever recorded. Famine and suffering were rife, yet these grim conditions inspired some of the greatest literature and art of the Romantic period, including Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', the publication of Coleridge's 'Kubla Khan', and some of the finest paintings Turner and Constable ever produced. Sharing the highs and lows of such a momentous year will be a rewarding experience, likely to evoke some thought-provoking parallels with our own time.

Course aim

This course looks in detail at the social history and cultural life of the year 1816, and relates the events of the year both to the eruption of Mount Tambora and to global disasters in our own time.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Explain in broad terms why the weather was so wet and cold in 1816.
  • Give some examples of the effects of the 1816 weather on society, literature and art.
  • Read, research or view one of the works discussed in more detail and report on your findings.
  • Join in a discussion of contemporary parallels in terms of climate change or global disaster.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • 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?

  • Your tutor will provide written, text and audio feedback recorded in WEA Canvas, WEA’s digital learning platform.
  • 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
  • This is an interactive course where any interest you may have in other aspects of the time (e.g. in music, social history, meteorology or the history of science) will be valued and your contributions built into the course through Canvas.

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • You will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful
  • You will be directed to reading choices via Canvas, but a great introduction is Melvyn Bragg's 'In Our Time' on '1816, the Year without a Summer', available on BBC Sounds.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

1816, The Year without a Summer

Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course is currently full.
Join the waiting list to be notified if any places become available.

Waiting List Conditions

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 student privacy notice

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

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