United Kingdom, Cambridge

Literature Summer Programme

when 8 July 2018 - 4 August 2018
duration 4 weeks

This programme gives you an experience of 'Cambridge English', with its emphasis on small group teaching, close attention to the actual text, and radical inquiry into why literature matters. Enthusiastic lecturers draw on writings of many different kinds and periods to offer a rich variety of voices and approaches. The programme attracts a mix of students of all ages, from the widely read to keen beginners, to study world-renowned poets, playwrights and novelists.

The academic programme
• Four courses (two per week)
• Series of plenary lectures: Influences
• Evening talks

Programme description
Our lecturers are chosen for their expertise and their enthusiasm for the subject. Participants from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds sharing views makes the programme a stimulating and rewarding experience for all.

"The Literature Summer Programme allows us to enjoy the experience of reading and thinking together as we immerse ourselves in inspiring words and powerful ideas."
Dr Jenny Bavidge, Joint Programme Director, Literature Summer Programme


You choose one morning and one afternoon course per week, each has five sessions. The maximum class size is 25 participants.

TERM I (8 – 21 July)

Week 1:
9.15am – 10.45am
Ga1 - Reading Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
Ga2 - Henry James and the subjective adventure: In The Cage and The Turn of the Screw
Ga3 - 21st-century fiction and the return of Modernism
Ga4 - James Joyce's 'scrupulous meanness': style, text and context in Dubliners

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Ha1 - Guilt and the novel: Crime and Punishment, The Trial and Atonement
Ha2 - An introduction to the Bloomsbury Group
Ha3 - Contemporary American literature and the spiritual quest
Ha4 - Three great British fantasists: Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, J R R Tolkien

Week 2:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gb1 - Two sides of Jane Austen: Mansfield Park and Emma
Gb2 - Disruptive Comedies: Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Gb3 - The double in Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov and other writings
Gb4 - The dramatic monologue in poetry: from Browning to the present

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hb1 - The tragic South: literature of the American South
Hb2 - Reading Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse and A Room of One's Own
Hb3 - Cambridge writers and Cambridge readers, 1798-2018
Hb4 - Three great Young Adult fantasists: Pullman, Rowling, Nix

TERM II (22 July – 4 August)

Week 1:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gc1 - Reading Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway and The Years
Gc2 - An introduction to Homer: the Iliad and the Odyssey
Gc3 - Dangerous books for girls? Fairy tales past and present
Gc4 - The unconventional heroines of Brontë's Jane Eyre and Gaskell's North and South

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hc1 - Issues in the philosophy of literature I
Hc2 - Romantic Lyric poetry: Wordsworth and Keats
Hc3 - Milton and the idea of freedom: Paradise Lost in context
Hc4 - Representing the Raj: Kim, A Passage to India, The Jewel in the Crown and The Siege of Krishnapur

Week 2:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gd1 - Female perspectives on the First World War: Vera Brittain and Winifred Holtby
Gd2 - Ancient Greek lyric poetry from Sappho to Pindar
Gd3 - Decadence and dread: three novels of the fin de siècle
Gd4 - The Waste Land and other poems

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hd1 - Issues in the philosophy of literature II
Hd2 - Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
Hd3 - Shakespeare and the English Sonnet
Hd4 - Charles Dickens: Oliver Twist

Plenary lectures
Our speakers will explore the factors - social, biographical, and intellectual - that go into the making of literary works, including how writers respond to works by predecessors and contemporaries. We shall also investigate how characters in fiction work upon one another, and how literature influences its readers' behaviour and ideas.

Evening talks
Eminent speakers will present a variety of general interest talks. These are shared with students on our other programmes.

Course leader

Dr Fred Parker
Dr Jenny Bavidge

Target group

We welcome applications from all adult learners including university students, professionals and those with other experience who have an interest in the subject, regardless of educational background.

Credits info

The University of Cambridge does not use a credit system for the awarding of its internal degrees, and cannot award credit directly for its International Summer Programmes. Students wishing to obtain credit as a result of our evaluation should consult their own institutions in advance about the acceptability of the Summer Programmes evaluation for credit purposes.

Fee info

GBP 0: See official website