Significant Muses

Ref: C3744486

This course will explore the role and function of geographical, human and animal muses in eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth-century literature and art. We will analyse diverse sources of inspiration and their contribution to creative practice; particularly the writing of lyric poetry. We will also consider the complex power dynamics between subject and objects in literary and visual works. Additionally the programme will consider the foundations of the muse role in Greek and Roman periods, and its importance to neo-classical appropriation in later periods. Course texts to include works by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Virginia Woolf, Adelaide Anne Procter, and Michael Field. Potential gallery and Archive visits.

Course aim

A brief introduction to the function of muses in eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century literature and art

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for improvers
  • Students need a level 2 qualification in English to join this course
  • This course requires a good level of written and spoken English for full participation.

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

  • Demonstrate knowledge of and insight into the texts and art work covered on the course
  • Show an understanding of the lives and contexts of selected writers and artists
  • Exercise skills of close reading, textual, visual and discourse analysis
  • Use creative learning methodologies and exercises to provide innovative perspectives
  • Identity authors, artists and aesthetic movements of interest for potential future study

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?

  • 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
  • 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 will also need access to the internet outside of your sessions. You could do this using a smart phone, tablet, laptop or a desktop computer (at home or through a library etc.).
  • A selection of materials and basic equipment will be provided but you are welcome to bring additional materials with you
  • Would be helpful for students to have hard copies of selected texts for study purposes

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Pre-course reading is required: resources will be made available to you using the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas:
  • Short extracts and images will be provide via the digital learning platform before the course start date.

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • This course would be useful for those considering further study of literature, art history and philosophy at advanced or degree level.

Download full course information sheet

Significant Muses

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This course has been cancelled.


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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