The Complete Ishiguro Part Two: 2000-2021
Time: 19:45 - 21:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HLT167
Duration: 10 sessions (over 10 weeks)
What is the course about?
This online literature course is a retrospective of the second twenty years of Ishiguro’s writing career. After the puzzlement and controversy caused by The Unconsoled (1995), his next novel, When We Were Orphans (2000) proved more accessible. It introduced elements of the detective novel while returning to the 1930s of earlier books like Remains of the Day and An Artist, but this time set in Shanghai, where Ishiguro’s real-life grandfather lived at that time. His next novel Never Let Me Go (2005) surprised readers again with its sci-fi leanings (the narrator is a clone in a near-future setting) but proved a huge success and was adapted into an equally popular film. In the same year, The White Countess appeared, a film in whose screenplay Ishiguro had a hand; once again he drew on his family knowledge of 1930s Shanghai but with less success than his earlier novel.
It was ten years before another novel appeared; The Buried Giant once again confounded expectations by incorporating aspects of fantasy literature. Although in some ways a new departure – it is set in a vague period of the Dark Ages in Britain – this novel continues Ishiguro’s abiding theme of memory in its central storyline. Meanwhile the author, by his own admission a failed singer-songwriter, was quietly writing lyrics for the American jazz singer Stacy Kent on albums such as The Changing Lights (2013).
Ishiguro’s central place in contemporary literature was confirmed by his Nobel Prize in 2017, followed in 2018 by the Order of the Rising Sun in Japan and a British knighthood in 2019. His novel Klara in the Sun, another new departure, this time narrated by an AI robot, appeared in 2021 to great acclaim.
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.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Detecting the past through family memory: When We Were Orphans, The White Countess
• Fears for the future? Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun
• Lyrics, literature and the Nobel Prize
• Fantastic journeys of the mind, emotions and perception: The Buried Giant, Klara and the Sun.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Identify the personal background and social context that have shaped Kazuo Ishiguro in his latter career
• Discuss the common themes and preoccupations that link his lyrics, screenplays and novels
• Analyse the second four of Ishiguro’s acclaimed novels in terms of form, genre, style and narrative voice.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
For those who enjoy reading and discussing literature and are interested in sharing ideas and listening to the views of others.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The classes will be highly participatory and interactive, with a combination of tutor presentation, pair and group work, close reading exercises and class discussion. We will make use of mixed media including podcasts, film and TV clips. While the tutor will provide specialist guidance and knowledge, you and your classmates’ responses and ideas will be to the fore.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please buy or borrow a copy of each of the novels, all published by Faber:
• When We Were Orphans (2000)
• Never Let Me Go (2005)
• The Buried Giant (2015)
• Klara and the Sun (2021)
Copies of interviews, speeches, lyrics etc will be provided by the tutor.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other Literature courses under History, Culture and Writing/Literature on our website, www.citylit.ac.uk/courses.
Lewis Ward is a London-based teacher and editor. His PhD (University of Exeter) focused on history, memory and trauma in contemporary narratives. He has taught at four UK universities, covering most literary periods and genres along the way.
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.