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 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. Anthropology of space, place and the cultural landscape
    Evening
    Course start date:  Wed 29 May 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Yasmin Hales
    This is an introductory and interdisciplinary course which ranges beyond social anthropology to explore aspects of cultural geography, philosophy, psychology, art and architectural history, enriching your theoretical and ethnographic understanding of the cross cultural meaning of space within the built environment.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £229.00 Senior fee £183.00 Concession £149.00
  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 Kunzri, 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
    Course start date:  Fri 22 Sep 2023 (and 1 other date)

    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 fiction in paperback) and having read 'Trust' by Hernan Diaz. Monthly meetings take place on 22 Sept, 27 Oct, 01 Dec; 19 Jan, 23 Feb, 22 March, 26 April, 24 May and 28 June.
    Full fee £199.00 Senior fee £159.00 Concession £129.00
  4. What makes a masterpiece
    Evening
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Leslie Primo
    Look at works of art in the Western canon and ask why we consider them to be masterpieces. What formal qualities do they all share, if any, or is our interpretation of a masterpiece largely subjective?



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £249.00 Concession £162.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  5. 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
  6. The Book of Love: great novels of love and passion
    Course start date:  Mon 23 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Julian Birkett
    Many of the world's greatest books – as well as many of the worst - have taken romantic love as their theme. Take this opportunity to read some of the very best - novels which explore the complexity, heartbreak and frustration as well as the ecstasy of this most powerful human emotion.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
  7. Great European Short Stories
    Course start date:  Tue 24 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Julian Birkett
    The short story in Europe has characteristics all of its own. While British, Irish and American stories are rooted in psychological realism, many European writers have tended towards a more philosophical approach, reflecting the concerns of the modern age as experienced by the sensibilities of individual writers. Authors such as Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka and Albert Camus are masters of the kinds of tale which ask profound question about the nature of our existence. They are also supreme stylists capable of sustaining a gripping narrative.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
    Rating:
    100% of 100
  8. 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
  9. The Dutch and Flemish Golden Age
    Course start date:  Fri 27 Sep 2024

    Location on this date:  Online

    Tutors:  Leslie Primo
    From the grandeur of Rubens to the soul-searching of Rembrandt, we explore the many masters of one of the most influential eras of artistic production, in a region of tremendous diversity and innovation.



    This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
    Rating:
    98% of 100
  10. City Lit reading group 1
    Course start date:  Fri 29 Sep 2023 (and 1 other date)

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Kate Wilkinson
    Share thoughts and ideas about what you are reading, with books chosen by the group. Please come to the first session on Friday 29 September with suggestions (English-language contemporary fiction in paperback) and having read 'Unsettled Ground', by Clare Fuller. Meetings take place on 29 September, 10 November, 2 February, 1 March, 10 May and 14 June.
    Full fee £149.00 Senior fee £119.00 Concession £97.00
  11. London 1979-2020
    Course start date:  Tue 6 May 2025

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Mike Berlin
    Explore the transformation of London from the onset of Thatcherism in 1979 to its status as a global metropolis in the 21st century.
    Full fee £249.00 Senior fee £199.00 Concession £162.00
  12. Classic drama: Antigone, Measure for Measure, The Country Wife
    Course start date:  Mon 13 May 2024

    Location on this date:  Keeley Street

    Tutors:  Jenny Stevens
    We will read and discuss three classic plays: Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare's Measure for Measure and William Wycherley’s The Country Wife. Focusing closely on structure, language and tone, we will consider how dramatists across time have explored themes such as sexual politics, family relationships and state power through their plays, as well as considering the social, cultural and historical contexts in which they were produced.
    Full fee £229.00 Senior fee £183.00 Concession £149.00
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