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We offer an exceptional range of history and culture courses, including; family history and genealogy, art and music appreciation, literature, architecture, religion and philosophy. Our tutors are experts both in their subjects and in drawing parallels with our lives today. Our history and culture classes are active, and you will have opportunities to get involved and develop your research skills. We also offer trips and day schools. (See also – languages and writing)

Literature: The World of Georgette Heyer - with Alison Warren View details

Before BRIDGERTON, there was Georgette Heyer. It was Heyer's novels, which set the template for the vast range of Regency romances, which fill our Kindles and bookshelves. Heyer loathed being thought of as a frothy, “feminine” writer and it is a shame that all too often she is labelled as one. She is shamefully, not celebrated, because she wrote about women in drawing rooms, not men at war. Heyer’s novels are delicious: meticulously researched, deftly plotted and hugely romantic, but never sentimental and very often funny. Also part of the Golden Age of detective fiction, we will look at her life; the worlds she created and read together some of her work.

Art in the Streets with Colin Lomas View details

The route from Trafalgar Square to the London Eye is dotted with sculptures and interesting buildings from all periods. We will look at art works and architectural features of the buildings, learning about the artists and designers and the political and historical significances. We will meet outside the Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery.

Seminar: How to Read a Painting (Part 2) View details

Art can be elusive, made up of concepts, codes and signs not always easily read or made sense of. Indeed, paintings are often impenetrable, even intimidating things; but, by taking the time to look, they can become much less so. Understanding art does, in fact, have as much to do with looking as it does with art historical study. So, for the viewer time is your friend. Paintings are usually made to be experienced on an intuitive level, so even if you are clueless about where to start, just looking at a work of art will tell you a lot about it. Artists work intuitively and the viewer too can gain much from this approach. Following on from How to Read a painting, this part two class will consider a select range of art historical methodologies to come to some understanding of the meanings and motivations behind some masterpieces and, therefore, perhaps, uncover why they are valued artifacts that people travel the world to see 'in the flesh'. Let the journey begin!

Discussing ‘Flush’, a Fictional Biography with Cath Humphris View details

Virginia Woolf's novel, Flush, published in 1933, is a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's spaniel, who lived from 1840-54. Its direct inspiration was a new edition, in 1930, of the Brownings' love letters in which 'the figure of their dog made me laugh so I couldn't resist making him a Life.' We'll be thinking about the way this fictional biography combines fact and fiction, and considering the significance of breeding, classification and status. If you've never read Virginia Woolf before, this is an accessible introduction. If you're planning to join me in discussing AS Byatt's, 'Possession' in the Autumn term, you might like to be introduced to Elizabeth Barrett Browning in advance. On the other hand, you might just like an opportunity to discuss a novel in which a dog takes the central role. It would be useful to have read the novel before the session.

An Introduction to American Women and the Short Story View details

This free class aims to provide students with an introduction to four key American women engaged in short story writing in the immediate aftermath of 1945. Students can expect to gain a brief overview of the lives and works of Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, and Joyce Carol Oates, and understand how their contribution to literature helped to shape the cultural output of the latter half of the twentieth-century. In the second half of the session, we will look more closely at 'A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud' (1942) by Carson McCullers and the tutor will guide students through the short story, illustrating key methods and techniques you can use to approach and analyse short stories independently. This free taster class is a pre-cursor to a three week course (C2228297) in which students can expect to read short stories by Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, and Joyce Carol Oates, offer their own analyses and interpretations, and discuss their thoughts with their peers.

Art in the Streets with Colin Lomas View details

The route from Trafalgar Square to the London Eye is dotted with sculptures and interesting buildings from all periods. We will look at art works and architectural features of the buildings, learning about the artists and designers and the political and historical significances. We will meet outside the Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery at 11.00 am on Tues 3 August 2021.

Summer School: The Language Philosophers Use with Bettina Lange View details

The language of Philosophy, like the language of any specialism, can be obscure and unexpected and therefore a barrier to learning more about philosophical thinking and philosophers. This course tries to lower the barrier by explaining key terms used in Philosophy and giving students the opportunity to practise them. It will cover terminology used in logic, ethics, political philosophy, the theory of knowledge, and metaphysics. There will be opportunities for students to ask for clarification of other philosophical terms they find confusing.

History: Lady Astor's Plymouth with Alison Jones View details

This free taster course explores the life and influence Lady Astor made as the first women to take her seat in the Houses of Parliament. We will look at the impact she had on Plymouth and how her strong and often controversial opinions and beliefs shaped her political life . We will look a little behind her relationship with Churchill and how their caustic exchanges are still remembered to this day. We will discuss the legacies she left behind in Plymouth and how what was supposed to be a stop gap candidate while her husband , the previous Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton from 1910 10 1919 took his seat in the House of Lords, saw her remaining as one of Plymouth's MP until 1945. Like marmite - love her or hate her she was undeniably a force to be reckoned with and shared a true connection to her constituents - the people of Plymouth.

The Glasgow Boys: Art, Empire and Culture - continued View details

The Glasgow Boys' foundation of French outdoor painting became the springboard for their distinctly individual obsessions in oil and pastel and water colour. The pre occupations with modern life, Japanese culture and symbolism led to their uniquely individual expressions. Artists covered in the course - James Guthrie, John Lavery, the watercolours of Arthur Melville and Joseph Crawhall, E.A. Hornell, George Henry, E.A. Walton.

The Language Philosophers Use View details

The language of Philosophy, like the language of any specialism, can be obscure and unexpected and therefore a barrier to learning more about philosophical thinking and philosophers. This course tries to lower the barrier by explaining key terms used in Philosophy and giving students the opportunity to practice them. It will cover terminology used in logic, ethics, political philosophy, the theory of knowledge and metaphysics. There will be opportunities for students to ask for clarification of other philosophical terms they find confusing.