Literary history

Literary History
Courses Online & in London

From Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to commedia dell’arte to the ‘modern medieval’, revisit or discover the writers that shaped English language and literature, through expert tuition and lively classroom discussion.

Courses available both in-person and online

We offer a range of courses allowing you to choose between online and in-person learning. All our courses are live, interactive, and taught by expert tutors. No matter how you prefer to learn, you’ll receive the same great City Lit experience. See our guide to online learning for more information about accessing our live online courses.

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  1. Exploring Medieval Literature: The Canterbury Tales
    Evening, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Mon 26 Sep 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Steven Breeze
    Pilgrimage, religion, social mores and foibles, exuberant women, and a drunk miller with a penchant for bashing down doors with his head! Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are excellent examples of Middle English writing. The range of characters, diverse plotlines, energy and playfulness all offer a fine insight into 14th Century England. It’s medieval England’s most famous work; this is because Chaucer’s multi-layered writing style is varied, subtle, and brilliant.



    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 £64.00
    Rating:
    80% of 100
  2. Happy Ever After?: reading fairytales
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sun 30 Oct 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Fiona McCulloch
    This online course will introduce and discuss a selection of fairy tales. We will focus upon Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Bluebeard. We will explore how fairy tales evolve by reading different versions of these stories, including Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’. Key themes and issues will be considered, such as the role of the hero, the role of the heroine, rags to riches, mother/stepmother figures, and deception. We will also think about how these tales were not just entertainment, but conveyed important social and pedagogical ideas. “And they all lived happily ever after” is associated with fairy tale endings, but is that necessarily accurate when we read these tales?



    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 £45.00
  3. The myth of Faust in Goethe and Marlowe
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 5 Nov 2022

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Francesco Bucciol
    The myth of the Medieval scholar exchanging his life to satisfy his thirst for knowledge features in several European plays and novels. We will look at two interpretations of this story, Goethe’s Faust (Part I) and Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  4. Exploring Medieval Literature: Shakespeare and the Medieval Age
    Evening, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Mon 7 Nov 2022

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Steven Breeze
    Shakespeare is seen as the great writer of the Renaissance period in England, yet he was influenced by the literature and culture of preceding centuries. On this course we will consider several of Shakespeare’s plays, including Hamlet, King Lear, The Tempest, and various history plays, exploring various aspects of his writing to discover just how influential the medieval world was on his thought, language, and subject matter.



    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 £64.00
  5. Beowulf and the challenges of translation
    Evening, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Mon 9 Jan 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Beowulf is one of the foundational works in the history of English literature. It is at once familiar and strange: its story is well-known, but critics continue to debate its origins and its language and form have long challenged modern readers and translators. This course will explore the poem and its original language, and recent attempts to render that language into modern English.



    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 £64.00
  6. Beyond Commedia dell'Arte: two masterpieces by Carlo Goldoni
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 11 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Francesco Bucciol
    Commedia dell’Arte originated in Italy in the 16th century, establishing a lasting legacy on many playwrights. Carlo Goldoni, a sharp observer of Venetian society, took this tradition and moved it forward, paving the way for Italian theatre. Discover more about Goldoni's characters, themes and how he staged the plays. We will also read from two of Carlo Goldoni’s most famous works: Servant of Two Masters and The Mistress of the Inn.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  7. Exploring medieval literature: late medieval drama
    Evening, ONLINE
    Course start date:  Mon 8 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre loom large in the history of drama in England. But what came before the Bard? What is the history of drama in the period before named playwrights were producing scripts for professional actors to perform in front of paying audiences? This course will cover the dramatic works of the late medieval period (c. 1350-1550), their fascinating cultural, social, and political contexts, and their influence on the development of drama in England.



    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 £64.00

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