Monday, 2.00 – 4.00 (Dr Simon Dowling)

19 Sept – 5 Dec 2022,

Half Term 24 Oct & 21 Nov

The best-known war poets – Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Rupert Brooke, John McCrae – wrote of the mud, blood, despair and terror of the Great War. Tremendously powerful and accomplished as it is, this poetry has for many of us become the dominant form of literary response to war.  But there have been many other conflicts and, even as war rages in Europe today, there is a much wider range of brilliant writing than might be apparent in the “school syllabus”. This course will explore how war’s ferociously intense experiences are conveyed in poetry, prose and drama by men and women, at the front and at home, from the 16th century up to the present.


Tuesday, 10.00-12.00 (John Carpenter)

20 Sept – 29 Nov 2022,

Half Term 25 Oct

Join us for a close look at Hitchcock’s two late flawed masterpieces, ‘The Birds’ (1963) and ‘Marnie’ (1964). We will watch the films in class and consider what led Hitchcock to make the pair of movies that are generally considered to be the last of his truly great work. We will also analyse key sequences and discuss the continually changing critical response to these rich and strange works.

GEOFFREY CHAUCER – A Selection of his Writings:

Wednesday, 2.00-4.00 (Dr Graham Platts)

28 Sept – 7 Dec 2022,

Half Term 26 Oct

This course provides an opportunity to read and discuss a selection of Chaucer’s writings of different types in the context of his life and some of the literary influences on him. We shall read some of the texts, or extracts from them, in Chaucer’s own language (with plenty of support) and others in modern English, with an emphasis on the content and the ideas as well as how he developed as a writer, rather than on the details of his medieval dialect. Sometimes we shall listen to his writing to give us a different experience of his work. (The majority of the texts and extracts will be provided, but students are recommended to acquire their own copies of three books in the Penguin Classics series: Nevil Coghill’s modern English versions of The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde plus Brian Stone’s modern version of Chaucer’s four Love Visions). 

*This is a new course and students need not have attended Dr Platts previous courses on Chaucer.

THOMAS HARDY – The Last Two Novels:

Thursday, 10.15-12.15 (Dr Stephen Palmer)

In his lifetime (1840-1928), Hardy achieved fame through his novels and short stories. In the 1890s, however, he gave up prose to focus on poetry, which he considered to be the superior literary form. This decision was at least partly based on the scandalised response which met his last two novels, Tess of the D’urbevilles (1892) and Jude the Obscure (1895). In both these books Hardy addresses issues of sex, gender and class which run throughout his work, the troublesome character of which is often obscured (pun intended!) by the later, touristic focus on ‘Hardy’s Wessex’. On this course, we will spend five weeks reading and exploring each novel, starting with Tess, in the hope of making each text new and strange again. 

Suggested Editions: 

Tess of the D’Urbevilles (Penguin, 2003) ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9780141439594 

Jude The Obscure (Vintage, 2010) ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0099518996 

Other useful books: 

Robert Gittings, The Older Hardy (1978) –

Claire Tomalin, Thomas Hardy: The Time-torn Man (2006) 

DENISE LEVERTOV – From Ilford to California:

Thursday 13.15-15.15 (Dr Stephen Palmer),

22 Sept – 1 Dec 2022,

Half Term 27 Oct

I first read a poem by Levertov on a train from Coventry to Southampton in 1998. It must have struck me as interesting, because when I moved to Ilford in Essex the following year, I quickly picked up on the fact that this is where she came from and lived for the first 20 years of her life. The poem had been about the western part of Essex and her origins there and elsewhere. Living in that area myself for a few years, I found out that it featured in quite a few of her poems and that she had left London after the war and gone on to become a celebrated poet in the US. DL was aligned with the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 60s and went on in later life to write poems which might be described as religious, or spiritual, at least. DL died in 1997, and by then she had achieved the status of an established member of the US literary canon. On this course we will be looking at poems (and some of her prose writings) written across the length of her life, exploring how these changed, perhaps, but also their continuities. By the end of the ten weeks, I hope you will have gained a greater appreciation of DL’s work and of the world(s) in which it developed and to which it related. 

Edition: New Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2003) ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1852246537


Friday, 10.15-12.15 (Janet Dann)

16 Sept – 9 Dec 2022,

Half Term 28 Oct

As usual this term we will seek out poems on a variety of themes and share them by reading to the group. In January 1922 T S Eliot and Ezra Pound were in Paris, where for ten days they worked on ‘The Waste Land’. It was published in book form in December of that year, so we will also take a closer look at ‘The Waste Land’ in its centenary year.


Alternate Wednesdays, 1.30 – 3.30 (Peppy Barlow)

14 Sept, 28 Sept, 12 Oct, 26 Oct, 9 Nov, 23 Nov, 7 Dec 2022

Half Term N/A

We all have stories to tell.  It’s how you tell them that matters. A course for anyone interested in writing at any level and in any style. The classes are informal and there is a lot of discussion. It is a place for exploring and developing your own talent with support and advice from the tutor. Most of the writing is done at home between classes.


Friday, 10.15-12.15 (Sally Wilden)

23 Sept – 2 Dec 2022,

Half Term 28 Oct

The aim of the creative writing session will be to use imagination and experience to explore impressions, ideas and images.  We will experiment with story form, dialogue and poetry to see how these forms can stimulate different approaches to the work. The theme for autumn is “Less Is More”. Each week we’ll take an aspect of this theme to inspire a piece of creative writing.  Writing will take place in the class and sometimes at home.  Members of the class will read out their work and take part in constructive feedback. All comments will be given in a supportive environment. 

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