Existentialism and the arts

Course Dates: 29/04/19 - 22/07/19
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
Location: KS - Keeley Street
Tutor: John Goff

Existentialist themes of anxiety, anguish, dread, freedom, melancholy, loneliness, death and absurdity pervade the arts from the era of Romanticism onwards. What is the cultural significance and consequence of giving expression to such concerns?

NB: no classes on 6th and 27th May.


What is the course about?

‘Existentialism’ is the attempt to think about and give expression to the 'human condition' from the supposition that human existence has no intrinsic meaning, purpose or value. That we exist is a fact, the significance of that existence, if any, is up to us to determine.
Given this brief characterisation, existentialist themes often take cultural expression through art, cinema, literature, theatre and in popular culture. We will examine what such works tell us about the human condition.

What will we cover?

• Works in painting, cinema & TV, literature and theatre and will be related to the thinking of existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Sartre.
• A list of the main works to be covered will be given in the schedule at the opening session (but will include Kafka, Bacon, Ballard, Beckett, Antonioni) – participants are welcome to suggest relevant works to be shown/discussed with the agreement of the other participants.
• Some key themes will be ‘crisis’, ‘machination’, ‘time’, ‘despair/anguish’.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Explain, simply and with some examples, how several artists have given expression to their view of the 'human condition’.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

No prior knowledge is assumed. A willingness to critically examine concepts and some basic familiarity with
discussion/debate, argument and evaluation will be beneficial.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will run in a seminar format with short slide presentation including Q&A and group discussion. No
outside work is required.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

No special equipment is required, other than for note-taking as preferred.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details


Book your place

Course Code: HP112

Mon, day, 29 Apr - 22 Jul '19

Duration: 11 sessions (over 13 weeks)

Full fee: £189.00
Senior fee: £151.00
Concession: £83.00

Or call to enrol: 020 7831 7831

Download form & post

Any questions? humanities@citylit.ac.uk
or call 020 7492 2652

Please note: we offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. For more information visit our online Help Center. You can also visit the Information, Advice and Guidance drop-in service, open from 12 – 6.45, Monday to Friday.