Literature: The American Dream

Ref: C3675874

We will read and analyse novels by two noted American authors, examining the ideal of the American dream over 100 years of history, from the early 20th century to the present day. 1. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (pubd.1928). 2. Barbara Kingsolver, Unsheltered (pubd 2019)

Course aim

To read, analyse and discuss two works of literature. The main theme is the concept of the American Dream and how the events of history have affected American ideals.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • All students interested in discussing literature are welcome.

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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the historical, social, political and cultural backgrounds of the two novels.
  • Identify the variety of narrative techniques used by writers of prose fiction.
  • Compare the use of historical setting and plot development in the two novels.
  • Examine and evaluate the techniques used to create credible fictional characters.
  • Compare and contrast the style of writing of prose 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
  • 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
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • A file of work will be kept which will help to record your progress

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.)
  • - Students should purchase or borrow copies of the two novels. The Great Gatsby by Fi. Scott (pubd. 1928) Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver (pubd 2019(

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
  • Each novel will be divided into sections. Each section is then discussed separately, following a schedule provided by the Tutor.

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
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

Literature: The American Dream

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

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

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