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. Picture book writing
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 21 Jan 2023 (and 6 other dates)

    Location on this date:  Online (other locations are available)

    Tutors:  Lou Kuenzler
    Would you like to write a picture book text for young children? This course is designed for children's writers and for illustrators wishing to write their own stories; a starter course to develop both your ideas and your technique.



    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 £65.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  2. The Exorcist at 50
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 18 Feb 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Jon Wisbey
    A landmark film, The Exorcist brought a new level of terror to the big screen; nothing like it had been seen before in mainstream cinema - and nor has it since. This course offers a detailed analysis of the film and its key themes, its production, critical and popular reception, and its influence on the development of the demonic possession film, and horror cinema and popular culture in general.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  3. Velázquez, painter to the King
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 25 Feb 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Mark Stuart-Smith
    Investigate the work of the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez, including enigmatic paintings such as Las Meninas (1656), and learn about how his art relates to his political role as court painter to Philip IV.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  4. A Star is Born: The birth of Hollywood stardom
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 4 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Ann-Marie Fleming
    Once cinema began to develop, Hollywood began to promote stardom. Starting with Florence Lawrence, the industry began to capitalise on star personalities and encourage fandom. This course will examine how the Hollywood star system began and evolved. The course will begin by examining the ‘picture personality’ in 1912 through to the collapse of the traditional star system in the 1960s.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  5. An Introduction to American Film Criticism
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 11 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Mick McAloon
    Why do we read film critics? What makes a great film critic? Is film criticism an art form in itself?



    This online film studies course explores the work of two of America’s greatest film critics - Manny Farber and Pauline Kael – and provides an overview of American film criticism, its history and rich literary tradition, and shows how film critics wrote about the medium of cinema as it evolved in the 20th century.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  6. Borderlines of Madness in 19th century fiction
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 18 Mar 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Sarah Wise
    We will explore various themes related to insanity and altered states of consciousness by examining a number of 19th-century works of fiction. Novelists and poets often had the greatest insights into the workings of the mind, and many Victorian psychiatrists cited works of fiction in their case studies. Among the authors we will cover are Charlotte Bronte, Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, Gogol, Herman Melville and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £55.00 Concession £45.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  7. Strange tales and dark dreams: Fantasy, horror and surrealism in European cinema
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 29 Apr 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Jon Wisbey
    Explore a selection of films from the early days of European cinema, and later, that draw on a range of key genre traditions, but which have also acquired significant critical reputations, with their memorable visual qualities and unsettling narratives lending them an enduring place in both cinema and popular culture. Strange tales and dark dreams to fascinate, horrify and astound you.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  8. Poetry of the 30s: T.S. Eliot to Dylan Thomas
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 6 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Phoebe Braithwaite
    Wedged between the two wars, the poets of the 1930s were drawn to forces larger than themselves. For poets such as W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice, war, revolution and the allure of communism dwarfed mere personal anxieties. Others – such as William Empson, Kathleen Raine and Dylan Thomas – found a seam of spiritualism in other, more mystical, even Romantic antecedents. Our course traces these discrepant paths through the decade.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    87% of 100
  9. Women behind the camera: in Hollywood and beyond
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 13 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Ellen Cheshire
    Did you know that the first fiction film was directed by a woman? That there were more women working behind the camera in the first 30 years of cinema, than in the last 30? That only one woman has won the top prize at the Cannes Film Festival? In this Study Day we will explore the careers of women directors from the past, those working today, and those whose careers are in their early stages.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  10. Developing your fairytale
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 13 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Nicole Acquah
    Already devised a cunning plan for your own fairytale? This fun workshop coaches students on how to add an extra dash of magic into the cauldron while writing in the fairytale genre.



    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 £35.00
    Rating:
    95% of 100
  11. Masterworks of Japanese Horror cinema
    ONLINE, Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 20 May 2023

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Jon Wisbey
    Ring (1998) established a 'J' horror phenomenon but the genre really began with Gojira/Godzilla (1954) and evolved through a series of popular, cult, and art house works featuring monsters, evil spirits, haunted videotapes and psychological terrors. This course explores a selection of key works in Japanese horror cinema, past and present, their critical reputation and impact on the horror genre.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £59.00 Senior fee £47.00 Concession £38.00
  12. Not drowning but waving: Edith Sitwell, Stevie Smith and Lorraine Mariner
    Weekend
    Course start date:  Sat 17 Jun 2023

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Laurie Smith
    We explore poems written by three highly original English women poets. Their styles of writing are unique as they respond to the stresses of their lives, and to their position as women, with wit and humour. Their resilience shows them as the reverse of Smith’s famous line ‘Not waving but drowning’.
    Full fee £69.00 Senior fee £55.00 Concession £45.00

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