Exile, a sense of loss, of problematic identity is a powerful experience and ts representation in literature has been central through the ages. The earliest creation myths and the classical canon offer us stories of exile from Paradise and the quest of the wanderer seeking for a new home or return to the old home. The loss may be of a place or a community or a history. The exile may react with anger or despair or resignation and adaptation. The course will explore the meanings of exile through a range of fictional exiles from Virgil's Aeneas looking to found a new Troy, through earlier twentieth-century seekers for work in a new world to the stories of contemporary asylum seekers in Europe. And although there is pain there is hope and joy too. in

Course aim

The experience of exile and dislocation is a potent one and the course will explore ways in which in has been represented in literature, from myth and the classics to contemporary fiction.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • The course is suitable for anyone with an interest in literature

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

  • Define the technical meaning of 'exile' and its historical context
  • Identify ways in which writers have represented the variety of experiences which may be understood as exile
  • Demonstrate through close reading an understanding of the literary techniques (including imagery, narrative structures) used in each text
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the importnce of the cultural context in which texts are produced.

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 will need to read the chosen texts in your own time

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • 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
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

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.)
  • Some background reading on-line (of book reviews, for example) can be helpful but is not essentail

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You may find it useful to begin reading some of the texts, but the fortnightly programme allows you reading time between classes. There is no reading requirement for the first class. We shall then read Colm Toibin "Brooklyn."

What can I do next?

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

Download full course information sheet


Is this course right for me? Request more information

This course has started and there are no online enrolment places available.


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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