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Q&A with Patricia Sweeney - Literature and Culture Coordinator at City Lit

14 October 2021
Posted in: Courses

We interviewed Patricia Sweeney, Literature and Culture Coordinator at City Lit, to find out more about the Ways into Advanced Literary Study course at City Lit.

 Portrait image of Patricia Sweeney - Literature and Culture Coordinator at City Lit Portrait image of Patricia Sweeney - Literature and Culture Coordinator at City Lit
Patricia Sweeney - Literature and Culture Coordinator at City Lit

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Q: Tell us about the Ways into Advanced Literature course?

A: Ways into Advanced Literature is an online course that runs in the Spring term (January to April), for people who want the rigour of studying Literature - reading more deeply - and the opportunity to write one essay to further their understanding. The course looks at nineteenth and twentieth century fiction, poetry, and drama, and is run in a seminar style, with a combination of tutor-led informal lecture, and group discussion and debate.

We also run a shorter six-week course, Advanced Literary Study: approaching fiction, poetry and drama (HLT270), which runs in the Autumn term, that gives a taste of the longer course.

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Q: What are some of the literary works you study?

A: We have a wide range of authors and subjects, from Romantic poets including Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, American fiction, including Washington Square by Henry James to the ground breaking modern drama of Ibsen's A Doll's House. We end our studies with the Modernist writers TS Eliot and Virginia Woolf and explore the 1920's novel Quicksand, by the black American author Nella Larsen.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about teaching the course?

A:Getting to know students really well over the term! The course allows students to develop their academic skills at a deeper level, and it is fantastic to see how students grow in confidence.

Q: What experience do students need to have before they join the course — is it for me?

A: Students don't need to have a literature background, though it helps if they have some experience of writing essays — perhaps at A level or through doing a degree in a different subject. Many students have other professional qualifications but have always wanted to study Literature. It's fine not to have a background in Literature, as we support and guide students throughout the course. When students apply they have the opportunity to have an informal chat with the coordinator about the course, to ensure it is right for them.

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Q: What do students say about the course?

A: Students tell us they really enjoy the course, finding “the teachers incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic” and the course “hugely enjoyable and engaging.”

Q: What do students do after the course?

A: Many go on to do further City Lit Literature courses. We also have several students each year who go on successfully to do a BA Hons or MA in Literature. The main focus of the course is about understanding and enjoying Literature, so it fine to join for that reason alone.

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Q: If you could invite any of the writers from the course to dinner, who would you invite and why?

A: It's hard to choose — perhaps Henry James and Virginia Woolf — they would be amazing dinner companions and we would get some lively debates!


Study Literature at City Lit

 Join us in November for the short course:

Advanced Literary Study: approaching fiction, poetry and drama

Join us in January for the long course:

Ways into advanced literary study