Banned Books of the 20th Century

Ref: C3746137

This six week course looks at a selection of mid 20th century texts which have at some time been banned in one or more countries. We will explore themes and ideas considered controversial either in the times and countries when they were published, or subsequently and elsewhere. These themes will include, but not be limited to: gender, sexuality, politics, race, class and science. Authors studied will be: Radclyffe Hall, D H Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Vladimir Nabokov, James Baldwin and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Course aim

This course looks at a selection of books that have been banned during the 20th century, locating them in their sociological and historical contexts.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • You will need your own personal email address so that you’re able to login to the WEA’s digital learning platform: WEA Canvas. You will need to be able to understand how to follow URL links to pages on the internet. If you want to understand more about Canvas please visit:
  • You will need to be able to follow links to join our WEA live video learning platform: WEA Zoom. If you’d like to understand more about our video learning platform, Zoom please visit: and
  • This course is for a group of around 15 students studying in a live video-learning platform conference and an online digital learning environment platform from the comfort of your own home.
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

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

  • Respond to literary texts in a critical way and share my findings with my fellow students.
  • Identify key themes and ideas considered taboo in literature and examine their treatment by a selection of writers.
  • Locate these texts in the sociological, political and historical contexts, both of the times when they were written and in relation to the times and countries where they were banned.
  • Analyse reasons why different socio-historical conditions alter our responses to literary texts

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

What else do I need to know?

  • What you need: You will need an internet connection, speakers, a microphone and a webcam so that you can use our video learning platform, Zoom. If you’d like to understand more Zoom please visit:
  • 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.).
  • You will need a personal email address to join the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas so that you can receive resources, record your progress and achievement and to work with others and share ideas. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit:

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Week 1: Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness Week 2: D H Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover Week 3: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World HALF TERM: 1 April Week 4: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita Week 5: James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room Week 6: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Banned Books of the 20th Century


As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • 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 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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