Heart of Darkness - Seminar

Ref: C3746269

Heart of Darkness is one of the most infamous texts written about the history of the British empire. It has spawned numerous adaptations and sparked multiple arguments about literature’s role in perpetuating or criticising racism and imperialism. In this short course we’ll take a closer look at Conrad’s novella to learn what all the controversy is about, and why it continues to be an important touchstone for anyone thinking about race, identity and politics today. Together, we’ll read key passages from the text and relate them to wider themes from the eugenics movement to feminism, all the while keeping our eye on the unsettling details of Conrad’s story and his somewhat unique style. We’ll conclude by reflecting on current debates about how we should collectively remember the major cultural artefacts of the imperial period of Britain's history, from novels and poems to statues and buildings, while neither damning nor glorifying them.

Course aim

To provide an overview of Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, as well as its historical contexts and its contemporary adaptions.

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: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • 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: http://bit.ly/WEAonline and http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • This course is for beginners
  • You will get much more out of the course if you read the novel beforehand, but this isn't mandatory. I will be referring to the Penguin Classics edition but you can use any edition that is convenient. The novel is available free online here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm

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

  • Understand the characters, plot and style of Heart of Darkness.
  • Discuss some of the major historical contexts addressed in the novel.
  • Get a sense of the critical debates and controversies that have swelled around its reception.
  • Compare the novel with its contemporary adaptations and think about how the story has been repurposed over time.
  • Begin to think about the novel in relation to wider questions about how we relate to the history of the British empire today.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas will be used to provide resources or to support lessons, enable assessment, provide learner feedback and for other activities for individuals away from the course. If you want to understand more about our digital learning platform please visit: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • 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?

  • You will be able to keep a record of your progress and achievement using photos, audio, text or documents uploaded into the WEA’s digital learning platform, WEA Canvas.
  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor

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: http://bit.ly/ZoomSpec
  • 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: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • If you do purchase a copy of the novel then feel free to bring it to the class.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You will have access to course resources and links to wider learning through the WEA’s digital learning platform, Canvas: http://bit.ly/WEAonline
  • No pre reading is required but research on the subject on the internet or in the library may be helpful

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Progress to a course with another provider
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Become involved as a volunteer for a WEA partner or another organisation
  • You could progress to Higher Education courses. Follow link to the PEARL website for information http://pearl.open.ac.uk/
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here http://www.wea.org.uk/learn-wea/what-can-i-do-next

Download full course information sheet

Heart of Darkness - Seminar


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

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing