Contemporary and world literature courses

Explore our exciting new programme of online Literature courses in Contemporary and World Literature. From ‘The Contemporary African novel’ to ‘Japanese Crime Literature’, or ‘Migration and the Literary Imagination’ to ‘Environment and Ecology in contemporary fiction’, we offer a broad range of courses to spark your curiosity and enthusiasm.

Our online courses are taught through group discussion and short tutor presentations, in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. For more information about our live online courses, please see our guide to online learning

We are also delighted to welcome some new tutors to our programme, who bring with them a wealth of expertise and passion for their subjects. You can find out more about them here.


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  1. Novels and Letters in the 21st Century
    Course Date: Tue 4 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    When did you last write someone a letter? Few of us write many letters today, but novelists do – contemporary fiction is full of them. So what are letters doing, in stories about our present world and even stories about the future? This course reads a selection of twenty-first-century novels to delve into the uses, intricacies and attractions of fictional letters.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00
  2. Fictionalising Childhood: an introduction to children's literature
    Course Date: Mon 10 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    This course will introduce and examine a range of fictional texts in an exploration of representations of childhood and pertinent themes like journeys, home, and identity. Reading books from the First Golden Age (Victorian to Early Twentieth Century), including Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to contemporary works (Harry Potter), we will consider how literary narratives respond to cultural debates that construct childhood identity as a site of innocence.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00
  3. Japanese Crime Literature
    Course Date: Wed 12 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    Japanese crime literature is reaching new audiences, with many classics being translated into English for the first time. This course explores a range of Japanese mysteries, detectives and their recurring themes, from ‘locked room’ classics to the dark side of human nature – with many murders along the way.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £103.00 Concession £79.00
  4. Beastly Writing in the modern age
    Course Date: Fri 14 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    Animals leap, crawl, hop, and gallop across the pages of modern fiction and poetry. Why do authors write about animals? What effect does it have on us as readers when we encounter animals in novels and short stories? From Beatrix Potter and Black Beauty to the contemporary novel, this course explores the role of the animal in modern literature. Themes that we will think about together include: animal suffering, animals in depictions of childhood, and animal transformations and dehumanisation.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £159.00 Senior fee £127.00 Concession £97.00
  5. Migration and the Literary Imagination
    Course Date: Tue 18 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    This course explores literature that has emerged from the colonial and postcolonial migration of people from different cultures to Britain and the US. We will be discussing how literature provides a creative space for reflecting on experiences of migration, how fiction attends to legacies of colonialism, racism and xenophobia and how ‘migrant aesthetics’ have created new transcultural forms of literature.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £60.00
  6. Environment and Ecology in contemporary fiction
    Course Date: Wed 19 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    As the ongoing climate crisis deepens and the impact of human activity on the natural world becomes increasingly stark, environment and ecology have become central concerns in contemporary culture and society. This course explores how recent fiction has responded to these concerns, focusing on three novels from the last decade. We will discuss themes including contemporary nature writing, environmental justice, and the future impact of climate change. Authors include Melissa Harrison, Jesmyn Ward and James Bradley.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £103.00 Concession £79.00
  7. The International Booker Prize
    Evening
    Course Date: Wed 26 May 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    Since 2016 the International Booker Prize has been awarded to five novels from around the world. We will read three (Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights and Jokha Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies) to assess the literary value and cultural impact of the prize so far.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £129.00 Senior fee £129.00 Concession £79.00
  8. Black Women's Writing
    Evening
    Course Date: Mon 7 Jun 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    Black Women’s Writing is a course that seeks to highlight and celebrate the literature of Black British and American women writers from the early twenty-first century to today. We will explore the writing: the style, structure and form, and the myriad themes at the heart of these texts, including feminism, race, family, and love. Writers include: Bernardine Evaristo, Audre Lorde, Natasha Gordon, Christina Sharpe, Warsan Shire and bell hooks.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £89.00 Senior fee £89.00 Concession £54.00
  9. The Contemporary African Novel
    Course Date: Mon 7 Jun 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    This course examines a selection of African novels from the late 20th to the early 21st century and some of the concepts, issues and ideas that inform them. In works from Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, we will explore how gender, sexuality, class, and race are portrayed in the contemporary context and how these depictions are influenced by past understandings from these respective countries. Authors include Buchi Emecheta, J.M. Coetzee and Yaa Gyasi.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £60.00
  10. Spies in Modern Literature: John Le Carre, Javier Marias & Graham Greene
    Evening
    Course Date: Thu 8 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    How relevant is spy literature in the 21st century? How has it evolved? This course will consider the complex narrative enticements of two acclaimed masters of the genre operating at the high end between popular entertainment and serious art form, and revisit a classic text from the 1970s whose psychological realism and moral questioning still resonate with us today.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £42.00
  11. Animals in 20th and 21st century fiction
    Course Date: Mon 19 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    Why do authors write about animals? What effect does it have on us as readers when we encounter animals in novels and short stories? From Beatrix Potter to the contemporary novel, this course explores the role of the animal in modern literature. Themes that we will think about together include: animal suffering, animals in depictions of childhood, and animal transformations and dehumanisation.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £55.00 Concession £42.00
  12. Introduction to Graphic Novels
    Evening
    Course Date: Tue 20 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    In 2018, Nick Drnaso’s graphic novel Sabrina was long listed for the Man Booker Prize leading to renewed discussion about the graphic novel and its relationship to the novel form. In this course, we will discuss how graphic novels, or ‘narratives of sequential art’, have developed into a literary and cultural form over the latter half of the twentieth century and into the current day.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £42.00
  13. Writing the World: the international art of the short story
    Course Date: Tue 20 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    This online four session course provides an opportunity to read and celebrate the breadth, history and diversity of the short story form across the world. The course covers stories by writers from Turkey, Czech Republic, Russia, America, Guatemala, Columbia, Finland, Ireland, Scotland and India.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £79.00 Senior fee £63.00 Concession £48.00
  14. The Witches; wicked women and the myths that make them
    Course Date: Tue 20 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    “I understood that legends weren’t lies but were ways of telling history,” says author Fernanda Melchor. Witches have been coming out of the literal and fictional woodwork in recent years, as a resurgence of interest in occultism and sorcery registers its centrality as a site of subversion. We investigate the different formal strategies artists have used to approach the witch as a cultural trope.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £79.00 Senior fee £63.00 Concession £48.00
  15. Historical Novels: reimagining and rewriting
    Course Date: Thu 22 Jul 2021

    Location on this date: Online

    What’s the unique appeal of historical fiction? Why do we read so much of it, and what are we looking for? This course investigates historical fiction written in the twenty-first century and how it reimagines the past for us as contemporary readers. Reading fiction set in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, we will explore historical fiction’s strategies, challenges and pleasures: how it can bring unknown stories into view and rewrite what we think we know.

    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £79.00 Senior fee £63.00 Concession £48.00

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