Art and Society in 19th century Britain

Ref: C3744708

The nineteenth century was marked by huge social, political and technological changes. This course considers how artists, designers and architects engaged with key issues of the time such as urbanisation and industrialisation, gender and class, and modernity and tradition. It encompasses study of a wide range of material including paintings, buildings, photographs, printed material, and the applied arts. Amongst those whose work we consider are J M W Turner, John Constable, A W N Pugin, John Everett Millais, Frederic Leighton, J A M Whistler, William Morris, George Frederic Watts and Edward Burne-Jones.

Course aim

To consider a range of works of art from the period, linking them to their social, political and historical contexts, and investigating their role in recording and shaping contemporary debates.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

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

  • critically examine and discuss cultural artefacts from the period within a broader historical context.
  • give three examples of some of the ways in which art objects shed light on and shaped social attitudes of the period.
  • evaluate examples of art from this period and be able to explain them in discussion.

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, but some suggestions for general reading include: Lionel Lambourne, 'Victorian Painting' (2003); Julian Treuherz, 'Victorian Painting' (1993)

What can I do next?

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

Download full course information sheet

Art and Society in 19th century Britain


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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