Culture, history & humanities - Keeley Street

Explore Culture, History & Humanities Courses

Explore our extraordinary range of History, Culture and Writing courses and lectures. We offer both introductory and specialist in-depth courses to suit all levels of interest and experience, from ‘How to read a film’ and World literature, to Creative non-fiction writing courses and American history and Politics courses.

Our tutors are experts in their fields and experienced educators; many have published, teach in universities or share their expertise in the media. Tutors share their knowledge and passion through presentations, readings, interactive discussion and exercises, analysis, and other activities.

Many students return to take more courses, telling us they enjoy being part of our City Lit Learning community.

Our popular courses often sell out quickly, so we invite you to browse and book your place now.

Courses available both in-person and online

We offer a range of long and short courses allowing you to choose between in-person and online learning.

Learn in the centre of London with our in-person courses. Our purpose-built facilities in Covent Garden mean we are ideally located and easy to get to. 

See our guide to online learning for more information about accessing our live online courses.

All our courses are live, interactive, and taught by expert tutors. No matter how you prefer to learn, we've got the class for you.

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  1. How to read a film: a beginners' guide to cinema
    Course start date:  Mon 12 May 2025 (and 3 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton
    This course will develop your critical appreciation of the cinema by teaching you how to read and understand film texts. We will look at the elements that underpin film form – narrative, mise en scène, cinematography, editing and sound – alongside its historical development. We will consider film style by exploring classical, post-classical and art cinema and we will examine influential critical modes of analysis, such as genre, authorship and spectatorship.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £135.00 Concession £110.00
    Rating:
    87% of 100
  2. Contemporary British and international fiction
    Course start date:  Wed 18 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Aamer Hussein
    We explore a brief and careful selection of recent novels in English, considering aspects of literature and the lives of writers, examining the contemporary perspective from which we reread and reinterpret classic texts to bridge the gap between past and present. Writers include Edward St Aubyn, Kathy O’Shaughnessy, Hari Kunzru, Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng, and British-Palestinian Isabella Hammad.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
  3. City Lit reading group 2
    Last Few Places
    Course start date:  Fri 20 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Patricia Sweeney
    Share thoughts and ideas about what you are reading, with books chosen by the group. Please come to the first session with suggestions (contemporary literary fiction in paperback) and having read 'The Wren, The Wren' by Anne Enright. Monthly meetings take place on 20 Sept, 18 Oct, 29 Nov; 17 Jan, 21 Feb, 21 March, 02 May, 30 May and 27 June.
    Full fee £229.00 Senior fee £183.00 Concession £149.00
  4. 50 films from the 50s: Hollywood's last stand
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  John Wischmeyer
    The 1950s was the beginning of the end for the Hollywood studio era, a golden age in place since the 1920s. The fifties are more difficult to pin down than the 1930/40s due to explosive diversity in both subject matter and cinematic technology, the profound influence of WWII, the development of European neorealism and the first signs of the French New Wave. An emphasis on teen culture emerged, represented by the brief career of James Dean. Film stars became anti-heroes. The moguls who founded Hollywood began to disappear. The studio business model was doomed. Hollywood reacted both defensively and creatively, going for broke—and producing some of the finest and most enduring films in its history, films that transformed the culture, from Sunset Blvd. (1950) to Some Like It Hot (1959)—both by Billy Wilder. From The Asphalt Jungle (1950) to The Misfits (1961)— Marilyn Monroe’s first and final films, both directed by John Huston. From Here To Eternity (1953 Fred Zinnemann) to A Place in the Sun (1951 George Stevens, part of his American trilogy). Fifties’ films reflected a darkening America. (See related courses on Fifties Musicals, Melodrama and Film Noir).
    Full fee £289.00 Senior fee £231.00 Concession £188.00
  5. Memoir Fiction: Karl Ove Knausgaard, Martin Amis, Philip Roth
    Evening
    Course start date:  Tue 24 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Lewis Ward
    We will discuss questions of memory, history and genre through readings of three fascinating examples of ‘memoir fiction’: Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Death in the Family, Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, and Martin Amis’ Inside Story.
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £169.00 Concession £110.00
  6. It Can't Happen Here: Sinclair Lewis, Philip Roth, Muriel Spark
    Course start date:  Tue 24 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Alexander Fairbairn-Dixon
    Explore three ground-breaking works of ‘speculative’ prose fiction, each offering a highly innovative examination of C20 American political populism. From bitter satire, unnerving dystopia, to the lightly comic, we’ll see how the texts embody genuine anxieties of authoritarianism in America. Surely,- ‘it can’t happen here’?
    Full fee £169.00 Senior fee £135.00 Concession £110.00
  7. From Nonsense to the Surreal: Edward Lear to Angela Carter
    Course start date:  Wed 25 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Laurie Smith
    Surrealism is one of the great developments of 20th century literature. It’s different from the fantasies of previous centuries (fairy and folk tales, imaginative stories set in remote parts of the world, satires, science fiction) because it expresses complex bizarre experiences that many people recognise as possibly part of themselves. It may reflect desires which are difficult to admit but are sometimes expressed with wit and humour. We explore how surrealism developed from the apparent nonsense of three 19th century English writers.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
  8. Reading Shakespeare: a director's perspective - Romeo and Juliet and the Taming of the Shrew
    Course start date:  Wed 25 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Laura Baggaley
    Take a fresh look at Shakespeare, exploring selected plays in the company of an experienced theatre director. With performance in mind, we will examine the language and themes of two plays and discuss the extraordinary variety to be found within Shakespeare’s work.
    Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £129.00
  9. Cultureplex Ciné-Club: women directors and their wonderlands
    Evening
    Course start date:  Wed 25 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Katie Goss
    Come and join us at the Cultureplex Ciné-Club: Women directors and their Wonderlands, where you will have the opportunity to view and discuss the work of innovative female filmmakers whose work generates dazzling visions of alternative modes of living and spectatorship. A development from our existing Cultureplex Ciné-Club courses and taking its cue from the famous Parisian Ciné-club set up by the celebrated critic and writer, André Bazin, this incarnation of the film club will allow for the viewing of a different film each week, followed by detailed discussion and debate. The film will be introduced, and placed in both its cinematic, cultural and historic context. In sharing our viewing in City Lit’s premier screening room, the Cultureplex, we will approximate the experience of watching film in the cinema, one that is intense and fully focussed in a way that other modes of viewing often are not. After the screening we will devote the rest of the class to a collective exploration of the film, led by the tutor, but involving everyone in a participatory discussion that will allow all to express their responses, their views, their thoughts on the film screened.
    Full fee £229.00 Senior fee £229.00 Concession £149.00
  10. Get together and read
    Course start date:  Thu 26 Sep 2024 (and 2 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Claire Allen
    Enjoy talking with other people about the things you have read? Want to share great stories, poems and drama? Come along and join the conversation. The group is led by a shared reading practitioner trained by The Reader Organisation.
    Full fee £149.00 Senior fee £119.00 Concession £75.00
    Rating:
    97% of 100
  11. Full fee £149.00 Senior fee £149.00 Concession £75.00
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