A View from the Distaff Side (and a little bit more)

Ref: C3744367

Stories are often told through the lens of the male eye. We shall see how - told through the woman's eye - the story can be very different. We'll also look at men writing about women, and judge how much or little they know!

Course aim

The course will focus on two things: one is the difference that the viewpoint of a female narrator makes to a story; the other is how well male writers do in describing and characterising women.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You need to enjoy reading and talking about novels, including novels which may be relatively demanding and complex. There will be some poetry and drama in the course as well, so you will need to enjoy or at least tolerate some poetry and drama.

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

  • Appreciate the way that Pat Barker in The Silence of the Girls enables us to capture the epic power of Homer's Iliad but shorn of any glamorisation of war.
  • Appreciate the way that Helen Dunmore in Birdcage Walk depicts the private struggles of women whose lives are forged in the crucible of history.
  • Appreciate how Anne Enright in The Green Road explores the tensions between the need to retain and to shed cultural identity where siblings are making lives in places far from where they were born
  • .Form a view as to whether Anne Enright in The Green Road has woven a novel or put together a number of short stories.
  • Appreciate through reading a variety of poems and passages of drama and prose the use of imagery by male writers to describe and characterise women.

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
  • 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?

  • You need to obtain the prescribed texts: Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls Helen Dunmore's Birdcage Walk Anne Enright's The Green Road It would also assist if you obtained a copy of Homer's Iliad (in translation)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You should aim to read The Silence of the Girls before the first session.

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

A View from the Distaff Side (and a little bit more)


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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