Philip Larkin & His Contemporaries

Course Dates: 23/02/22 - 23/03/22
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Online
‘The shit in the shuttered château / Who does his five hundred words / Then parts out the rest of the day / Between bathing and booze and birds / Is far off as ever, but so / Is that spectacled schoolteaching sod…,” wrote Larkin in his poem, ‘The Life with a Hole in it.’ Who is the real Philip Larkin? Our course slices the bard of Coventry, Larkin loved and Larkin reviled, into four periods during the second half of the twentieth century to set him in context, with a view to unravelling some of his guises and understanding how he came to have such a hold on the British reading public.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Book your place
In stock
Full fee £79.00 Senior fee £79.00 Concession £48.00

Course Code: HLT182

Wed, eve, 23 Feb - 23 Mar '22

Duration: 5 sessions (over 5 weeks)

Or call to enrol:020 7831 7831

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

Running from the Forties up to the Seventies, this course considers Larkin in relation to anti-Modernist influences and contemporaries like John Betjeman, Movement poets such as Donald Davie, Elizabeth Jennings and Kingsley Amis, and earlier (proto-)Modernist inheritances, including Eliot, Yeats and Hardy. Since his death in 1985, major critical reappraisals and successive biographies have given Larkin many different faces. "I can't believe I am so much more unpleasant than everyone else,” he wrote in his letters. We look back at the work in context, getting behind the self-mythologised misery, in all its “glum accuracy” – “one of those old-type natural fouled up guys,” as he obliquely called himself – to inspect the racist, misogynist, Little Englander type he is famed to be, and to meet the man afresh.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

We will look at excerpts from: Larkin’s early novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, his jazz reviews for the Daily Telegraph, his correspondence and his juvenilia. We will look at chunks of work and poems by contemporaries such as Davie, Amis, Betjeman, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Jennings and John Wain. Our main focus will be poems by Larkin himself, including but not limited to: ‘Going,’ ‘At Grass,’ ‘Deceptions,’ ‘Coming,’ ‘If, My Darling,’ ‘Latest Face,’ ‘Absences,’ ‘Triple Time,’ ‘Days,’ ‘Church Going,’ ‘Toads,’ ‘Love Songs in Age,’ ‘Home is so Sad,’ ‘Faith Healing,’ ‘An Arundel Tomb,’ ‘Whitsun Weddings,’ ‘Reference Back,’ ‘Self’s the Man,’ Mr. Bleaney,’ ‘Breadfruit,’ ‘Broadcast,’ Toads Revisited,’ Sunny Prestatyn,’ Dockery and Son,’ ‘Talking in Bed,’ ‘Ambulances,’ ‘Here,’ ‘Going, Going,’ ‘Money,’ ‘Aubade,’ ‘The Mower,’ and ‘Love Again.’.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

-Be more conversant in the themes and ideas that concerned Larkin and the generation of which he was a part.
-Be more comfortable discussing the poems encountered, and be able to distinguish and articulate different kinds of poetic composition.
-Have an understanding and sense of the sweep of Larkin’s poems.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This course is for anyone with an interest in the subject matter, for people who have read poetry before or those who have always wanted to but not known where to start. We will read things together, strew them open and ravel them back up.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Classes will consist in a mixture of short lectures aided by Powerpoint presentations, large and small group discussions and group exercises. Solitary reading and thinking prior to class will help with class discussions.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Philip Larkin, Collected Poems (Faber & Faber).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other other Poetry courses at under History, Culture and Writing/Literature/Poetry.

Phoebe Braithwaite

Phoebe Braithwaite is a PhD student in English at Harvard University and her work focuses on the influence of the intellectual Stuart Hall and the tradition of British Cultural Studies. She has taught courses on nonfiction, contemporary literature, and poetry.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.