History, culture & writing

Explore History, Culture & Writing

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 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, we've got the class for you. See our guide to online learning for more information about accessing our live online courses.

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  1. The philosophy of Machiavelli
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 18 Feb 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  John Goff
    “ … in constituting and legislating for a commonwealth it must needs be taken for granted that all men are wicked and that they will always give vent to the malignity that is in their hearts when opportunity offers.”.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  2. Miriam the prophetess, Ruth the migrant and Queen Esther: stories and afterlives of biblical women
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 11 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Ann Jeffers
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  3. Literature to Film: Screening the Text
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 11 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton, Patricia Sweeney
    Read and discuss John Cheever's 1964 short story, The Swimmer', a suburban take on The Odyssey and view its 1968 cinematic transformation ('The Swimmer', Dir. Frank Perry). Develop your understanding of plot, characterisation and narrative in a film making context. We will consider and discuss what is lost or gained in translation of fiction into film through a consideration of both mediums.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  4. The myth of Faust in Goethe and Marlowe
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 18 Mar 2023

    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
  5. An Introduction to Psychoanalysis and Film
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 25 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Mary Wild
    A guide to contemporary films directed by women, examined through a psychoanalytic lens. An opportunity to discuss the ways in which cinema can continue to evolve to more authentically depict female desire, fears and subjectivity.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  6. Masters of cinema: Agnes Varda
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 1 Apr 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton
    2019 was marked by the death of a true mistress of world cinema, Agne`s Varda. We will introduce you to her oeuvre, from La pointe courte (1955) to her final work, Varda par Agnes (2019), exploring her status as a ‘feminist’ icon. The digital was central to her later career, making her, perhaps, a multi-media artist rather than just a film director.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  7. Focus on: Hopper
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 29 Apr 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Rachel Sanders
    Study Hopper’s key works, including 'Automat' and 'Nighthawks', within the context of biography, social and political events, and movements such as Regionalism, Social Realism and American Scene painting.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    97% of 100
  8. The rise and fall of the Mughal Empire
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 29 Apr 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Ellen Carpenter
    On this introductory course we will follow the fortunes of the Mughal Emperors, rulers of Northern India from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. What were their contributions to the religious, political and cultural life of northern India?
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  9. Dickens' London
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 13 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Molly Rumbelow
    'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' Enjoy this introduction to Dickens' work and the London of his time. Morning lecture at City Lit followed by a walk in the area of the city connected to his work.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    89% of 100
  10. Writing black out poetry
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 27 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Sarah Westcott
    Sometimes a poem is shaped by stripping words away. This fun day workshop explores the emerging form of black out poetry. Learn how to find hidden poems in texts such as newspaper articles, advertisements and letters.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £69.00 Concession £35.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  11. German Expressionism: From Horror to Film Noir
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 3 Jun 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  John Wischmeyer
    German Expressionism influenced Hollywood horror after itself being influenced by early Swedish Nordic noir. Along with F.W. Murnau and Robert Wiene, Fritz Lang was one of the key figures of German Expressionist cinema. Their influence crossed borders and is alive today in cinema tropes, camera techniques and narrative themes still used by filmmakers, game designers and artists. Their films changed moviemaking forever as directors and set designers created a nightmare environment of unnatural perspectives and distorted images in early films such as Nosferatu (1922 F.W. Murnau), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919 Robert Weine), and Metropolis (1927 Fritz Lang) which led to Dracula (1931 Tod Browning), Spellbound (1945 Alfred Hitchcock) and Blade Runner (1982 Ridley Scott). American pulp fiction shaded this into film noir in The Killers (1946 Robert Siodmak) and Double Indemnity (1944 Billy Wilder), films created by directors who had fled the land of German Expression. It had come full circle.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  12. The lost town of Lundenwic: mid-Saxon London 600-900 CE
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 10 Jun 2023

    Location on this date:  Blended (learn both online and in-person)

    Tutors:  Stuart Brookes
    Look at the least known episodes in London's history, Lundenwic (AD 600-900) and Lundenburh (AD 900-1000).



    Includes an introductory lecture, museum visit and guided walk.



    This course will be delivered online and in person. 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
    Rating:
    95% of 100
  13. Introduction to Film Spectatorship
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 10 Jun 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton
    This course will provide a brief introduction to the history of film spectatorship, tracing its origins in the silent era up to the present day. The course will explore a number of films in detail, includingThe Truman Show (Peter Weir 1998 US), Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore 1998 Italy), The Matrix (Wachowskis 1999 US) and others.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  14. Focus on: 19th-century fashion
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 24 Jun 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Rachel Sanders
    Explore the relationship between nineteenth-century society, from the Napoleonic era to the suffrage movement, and men’s and women’s fashions which witnessed constant change, restrictions, extremes and the start of the dress reform movement.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  15. The compulsion to repeat in cinema: From Groundhog Day to Memento
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 1 Jul 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Paul Sutton
    There are a surprising number of films that make use of repetition as a motif or as a structuring device for their narratives. Two particularly celebrated examples are Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis 1993 US) and Memento (Christopher Nolan 2000 UK/US). This course will explore this phenomenon, by referencing psychoanalytic film theory and the idea of the repetition compulsion, but also through the detailed analysis of both of these films.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    93% of 100

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