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:  Sun 22 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. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. 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
  13. The 60 minute writer
    Evening
    Course start date:  Tue 10 Jan 2023 (and 7 other dates)

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

    Tutors:  Tasha Kavanagh
    Fit creative writing into your busy day: a relaxed, informal rolling programme for writers of all levels of experience who enjoy being thrown new ideas and experimenting with poetry and prose.



    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 £50.00
    Rating:
    96% of 100
  14. 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
  15. 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

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