Dark Women: Daphne du Maurier, Patricia Highsmith and Elizabeth Bowen
Time: 10:15 - 12:15
Location: Keeley Street
This course has now finished
What is the course about?
The course will focus on selected stories by these three remarkable writers. All were unusual - in the drab world of pre- and post-war Britain they found intrigue, mystery and tension. All three were bisexual (Bowen, du Maurier) or lesbian (Highsmith). Bowen was fascinated by "life with the lid on and what happens when the lid comes off", and the betrayal and secrets that lie beneath a veneer of respectability. Du Maurier has been called “a mistress of calculated irresolution” who “did not want to put her readers' minds at rest.” Highsmith was described by one who knew her as “a mean, cruel, hard, unlovable, unloving human being ... But her books? Brilliant." She once attended a London cocktail party with a gigantic handbag containing "a head of lettuce and a hundred snails" which she said were her "companions for the evening”.
What will we cover?
We will look at the social and literary context in which they wrote and the world of post war fiction which they did so much to energise and in some cases upset; we’ll discuss their individual contributions to the short story form; and we’ll look in detail at their literary style and subject matter.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Recognise recurring themes in 20thC fiction
• Relate these to the wider world of British culture
• Feel confident enough to explore further study of related fiction on your own.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is for all levels. An enthusiasm for reading and discussion is all that is required.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course is an interactive mixture of tutor exposition and class discussion. Videos and clips will also be shown and discussed. You will asked to read the texts before the class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Students should buy or borrow
-Under a Dark Angel’s Eye: Selected stories of Patricia Highsmith (2021ed Machado)
-Don’t Look Now and Other Stories by Daphne du Maurier (Penguin Classics 2006)
-Selected Stories by Elizabeth Bowen( 2021 ed Tessa Hadley)
Apart from the reading material, you should bring with pens, notepaper and file in which to store handouts and other course materials.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other literature courses at www.citylit.ac.uk/courses under History, Culture and Writing/literature/fiction.
Julian Birkett is a teacher and writer specialising in modern literature. He previously worked in the Arts department at the BBC as a producer of series such as The Late Show, Modern Poets in their Own Words, The Victorians and The Culture Show. He has taught in London and at the University of Mumbai.He aims to create a friendly but thoughtful atmosphere in his City Lit classes and to provide a stimulating variety of activities from tutor input to discussion to group work and video clips.
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.