The Past We Remember: History in Fact and Fiction

Ref: C3675859

This course will look at the interaction between history, fiction and memory. How does the historical fiction we read, or watch, influence our understanding and perception of past events? Do people always judge the past by the standards and expectations of the present? And, as the authors of "1066 And All that" said, is history what we can remember? As well as looking at how key events in history are shown in fact and fiction, we will explore historical fiction in the widest sense and in a variety of media, from plays and poetry to modern film and TV series, such as "The Crown", and discuss its ongoing popularity and success. Students may be asked to read or watch extracts between classes in preparation for the following session.

Course aim

A look at how history has been presented in fiction of all types, from Shakespeare to contemporary representations. What impact does reading fictionalised history have on our understanding of history and our remembrance of the past?

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • List five works of historical fiction that have influenced the popular understanding of history
  • Explain two reasons for the commerical success of historical fiction
  • Describe three strengths and/or weaknesses of historical fiction
  • Discuss, with examples, how their own historical understanding has been influenced by historical fiction

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
  • Students may find it helpful to read complete books or watch films and TV programmes referred to in class sessions at home between classes.

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

What else do I need to know?

  • 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

  • It would be useful for students to read "1066 And All That" by Sellars and Yeatman before the course. If possible, students should attend a performance of Shakespeare's Henry V at the pop-up Rose Theatre in York during the summer of 2019, as we will be discussing the play during the course.

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
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here

Download full course information sheet

The Past We Remember: History in Fact and Fiction

Enrolment 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 standard terms and conditions

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