Seminar: The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages

Ref: C3744431

Captain Cook’s fame largely rests on the three expeditions to the Pacific that he led in the 1760s and 1770s. In addition to their important role in the history of European exploration, they are notable for being the first such voyages to include professional artists among the crew. These artists played a critical role in recording the places visited and the people and flora and fauna encountered on the voyages. But how did they deal with the novel surroundings they experienced? How was their work shaped by Enlightenment ideas of the time? And how did their work go on to shape European understanding of those settings?

Additional information about this course

This course is not supported by the Education Skills Funding Agency and does not have a fee waiver but concessions may be available - contact the Branch for further details.

Course aim

To consider the art produced on Captain Cook’s voyages in its own right, and as an example of how artists from one culture engage with and shape understanding of another.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • look at examples of the art produced on Captain Cook’s voyages, and comment on the different aesthetic approaches and stereotypes underpinning them.
  • explain some of the ways in which the travelling artists shaped European understanding of the Pacific.
  • explain some of the ways in which the art from the voyages was a product of the artists’ own European background and preconceptions.

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

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • Verbally in response to questions and discussions in class.

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No preparatory reading is required. Some initial suggestions for general reading include: Nicholas Thomas, 'Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook' (2003); William Frame and Laura Walker, 'James Cook: The Voyages' (2018)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider

Download full course information sheet

Seminar: The Art of Captain Cook's Voyages


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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