Download current list of all courses:  CASA flyer Summer 2018

  • British Art 1700-1900: from Hogarth to Sickert

    A look at major developments from the moralistic genre paintings of Hogarth through the golden age of portraits with Gainsborough and Reynolds, the rise of landscape in the Romantic period with Constable and Turner, the industrial age of Victorian painting and the advent of Impressionism at the turn of the 20th century.

  • Reading Paintings

    Explore the links between art and literature, from the Mona Lisa to The Lady of Shalott. Discover the stories behind famous paintings; meet Holbein’s Ambassadors; and find out why Auden felt the old masters were “never wrong.”

  • The Literary Journalism of DH Lawrence and Evelyn Waugh

    Evelyn Waugh and D H Lawrence are justly famed and revered as novelists. However, Waugh’s reporting of the war in Abyssinia and Lawrence’s articles about the American Indian both deserve their place in the journalistic canon. These texts help us to understand what motivated their fiction and why they wrote what they did.

  • Childhoods: Children in Literature

    Read and discuss two novels - What Maisie Knew by Henry James and Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson - about growing up in a dysfunctional family. From the 1890s to the 1990s, what’s really changed?

  • Coleridge and his circle in Somerset

    This course will explore the emerging Romantic sensibility and the poetry and politics of the 1790s. The focus is on Coleridge, particularly the inspiration he drew from the local landscape and from his friendship with Dorothy and William Wordsworth during their shared years in Somerset.

  • Rome from the Renaissance to Mussolini

    We will look at the city of Rome as a work of art exploiting the relationship between the assertion of power, the articulation of religious faith and the changing appearance the city from late Middle Ages through to Mussolini’s failed imperial project. (more…)
  • Sociology and society

    An introduction to the world of Sociology and society in the twenty-first century and what makes us who we are.

  • Hitchcock Part 2 – the Hollywood Years

    The day will look at the films Hitchcock made following his arrival in Hollywood in 1939, with an emphasis on his output in the 1950s and 1960s. In discussion on extracts we will focus on Hitchcock's themes, style and working methods.

  • Shakespeare – his life and work

    Explore Shakespeare via his life, poems and plays. There will be a case study of Hamlet - see “To be or not to be” performed in a variety of films; compare famous paintings of Ophelia; and find out why “the owl was a baker’s daughter.”

  • The Evolution of Ballet Music 1840-2010

    Our journey will take us from the moment we first entered the world of fairies, via the political manoeuvres of the Soviet State and Balanchine's updating of Imperial Russia, to Modern Ballet.

  • Exploring the Spanish Golden Age

    What was it like to be a king, a dwarf or a slave in 16th and 17th century Spain? In this course we’ll use paintings to explore life at court and on the streets in Spain and the Spanish Netherlands.

  • The Brontës

    This course will study a range of novels by the three Brontë sisters, who wrote some of the most popular novels to emerge in the 19th century and which have had an enduring appeal to the present day.

  • Period Instrument Performance (3)

    Original instruments make their way into "modern" music. The influence of the past on the present is seen in Stravinsky, Schoenberg and composers such as Pärt and Tavener, leading to synthesis and the way forward in the 21st century.

  • ‘A Man who used to notice such things’: the poetry of Thomas Hardy

    Concentrating on Claire Tomalin’s selection (Poems of Thomas Hardy) we shall consider the themes into which Hardy’s poems are grouped and discuss individual poems in more detail.

  • Caravaggio and his legacy

    One of the masters of the Baroque, Caravaggio redefined the visual image and changed painting forever. His legacy will be examined through the work of many different painters from the Baroque to the present day - the day’s key word will be Chiaroscuro!

  • Reading Cold Comfort Farm, a journey around the fads & fancies of 1932

    Stella Gibbons attributed much of her novel’s success to ‘coming at exactly the right time.’ We’ll trace the history of ‘loam and lovechild’ novels as we read her parody.

  • Reading Paintings: the Dutch Golden Age

    The 1600s saw some remarkable developments in painting, with the rise of the portrait and the still life. This course traces the changing tastes of the day, with a special focus on the links between art and social history, including case studies of tulip mania, Dutch portraits, and Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

  • The Novels of Virginia Woolf

    This course is designed to study the writing of Virigina Woolf and will include some of her novels and essays. We will explore a range of writing by one of the most popular writers of the modernist period. Woolf produced work that was innovative and writing which has had an enduring appeal since it was first published. We will explore Woolf’s exploration of the psychological background of her characters, look at how she spoke on issues relating to class, the position of women, the role of marriage in society and documented a changing modernising society. The following texts will be considered: Night and Day, Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and A Room of One’s Own.

  • Bad Science and Bad Philosophy

    Bad science and bad philosophy is a beginners friendly look at the world of bogus science and confused philosophical thinking. The course will look at some of the contemporary debates and controversies surrounding science and its popular understanding. With guided learning in a relaxed environment this course aims to examine and explain 'bad' science and philosophy through a number of examples and historical episodes including, but not limited to: how do we tell science from non-science? The science vs. religion debate, neuromythology, scientific fraud and what is impossible?

  • “The Rhyming Peasant” John Clare

    John Clare, the ‘rhyming peasant’: poetry of dwelling and displacement in the late Romantic period. We shall explore Clare’s unique voice in English poetry through a reading of select poems about nature and his local environment in the first half of the nineteenth century. Clare is arguably England’s greatest poet of nature and the environment. ‘I kicked it out of the clods,’ he said. What were the impulses and influences which generated such a unique voice in poetry? We shall read poems and prose about what lies under a hedge, as well as about boundless vistas; about particular birds and trees, as well as the effects of loss of home and his parochial landscape. We shall consider the social and economic circumstances, in the first half of the nineteenth century, which fuelled his protest poems. And we shall look at his final displacement in madness.

  • Reading Paintings: Genre Pictures

    From Jan Steen to Johannes Vermeer, some great artists painted genre scenes (pictures of everyday life). This course analyses some of the finest examples, including tavern scenes, brothel scenes, and servants at work. These paintings tell us an enormous amount about social history and the way that people lived.

  • What’s in a name? Your family through the ages.

    What's in a name? Your family through the ages The course is intended to be a relaxed and informal introduction to genealogy - with audience participation. It is aimed at complete beginners interested in understanding the richness and depth of the topic. It will be based around a presentation in the first half of the session, followed by a ‘workshop’ carrying out simple (entirely voluntary!) exercises aimed at facilitating understanding, discussion, and mutual help amongst the group members. Tasks to carry out at home will be suggested. Access to computers at home would be helpful, but the course will not require it. Maximum benefit from the course will be obtained from those investigating their families whilst the course is running. No equipment necessary apart from brain, paper and pencil!

    Week 1
    Course overview and scope: what is genealogy, types of family tree, and the different approaches needed for different eras. The relevance of history to understanding family trees. Types of family tree. 'Tools of the Trade' - computers, computer software and applications, 'search engines' - usefulness and limitations. Using data, organising your personal data archive and recording the current generation.
    Week 2
    Working with generations since the last published census for 1911. Family graves, military and war records, birth, marriage, and death certificates. The importance of recording oral history.
    Week 3
    Working with the eight published British censuses 1841 - 1911. Differences in the censuses, the information recorded, and methodologies applied. Errors in census transcriptions, missing people. Newspapers, trade directories and gazetteers.
    Week 4
    The years before censuses - parish records, wills, bonds of administration, acts of Parliament, and court cases. The description of relationships. The National Archive, county Record Offices and other sources of information. Reading and transcribing old English script, common letter forms, punctuation, abbreviations etc.
    Week 5
    Wills (continued), inventories, old English number systems and currency. The nature of 'goods chattels and credits', farm machinery, stock, and crops. Local variations. Inferring building layout and design, furnishings, and wealth from inventories. Spellings and terminology, the use of Latin, conventions, and household items with strange names
    Week 6
    Heraldry, and checking for family 'Achievements of Arms' etc. Heraldic terms, sources of heraldic information, the main works of reference. Heraldic visitations and what they do and don't show. The College of Arms, what they do, and how to work with them
    Pedigrees, and what the College of Arms expects.
  • The History and Natural History of British Gardens

    The history and natural history of British gardens.  An introduction to gardens of the British Isles, the gardeners their plants and colourful wildlife. Some of the best gardens in the world are to be found in the British Isles, this course will study garden development in Britain from its earliest beginnings associated with Roman villas to the landscape gardens of the country estates of the rich and famous to modern family back garden. Topics will also include the history of plant introductions and the many brave plant hunters who searched the globe for new plants to bring back to Britain. Nowadays gardeners are critical places for wildlife with many gardeners keen to attract more birds, bees and butterflies to their garden, the course will suggest simple ways to design and manage garden to enhance the wildlife.

  • The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett: a novel of provincial life.

    We will discuss this novel of provincial life, and consider how it reflects its period and what it says to ours.  We shall be looking for key themes and at the impact the novel had on other writers. This novel charts the changes of the nineteenth century through the lives of Constance and Sophia Baines.  Bennett’s aim was realism and naturalism. Some critics call this novel a forgotten masterpiece, what will you think?   We will be reading at home in comfortable stages so that we can share our ideas and reactions to the story developments.  We will look in detail at selected passages, and think about the overall shape and scope of the story. Please read to the end of chapter 2, ‘The Tooth’, for discussion at the first meeting.

  • The Life and Work of Grayson Perry

    An introductory look at the work of Grayson Perry. This study day will be an examination of the multi-disciplinary artist best known for his ceramics, tapestries and cross-dressing. Along with the Julie Cope tapestries, we shall discover his pottery and textiles produced over the last two decades, including work exhibited at the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Throughout the day we will discover the narratives and ideas in Perry’s work. Including the social critic of our contemporary society, the artist’s self expressive qualities and how the artist visualises the connections we have to the modern world, all deeply infused with social satire and self depreciating humour, not forgetting Mr Alan Measles and Claire

  • The Tragical History of Dr Faustus

    The legend of Dr Faustus has inspired some of the greatest works of art ever since it first appeared in the 16th century Playwrights, poets, novelists, film directors and composers have all interpreted the story. We will consider its different treatments and meaning in the five centuries since it first appeared.

  • Looking at Old Churches

    This Study Day is designed to encourage a systematic approach when confronted with an old building which may not be familiar. It is often helpful to ask a set of questions, which when completed may help to provide a reasonable understanding of that building. Before this process can begin, it is of course necessary to spend time just simply looking! This is very much a course for those just starting out but may also be of interest to the more experienced who wish to hone their skills.

  • Spencer’s World: The Art of Stanley Spencer

    Stanley Spencer is one of the most enigmatic painters of the 20th century. He was a painter of imaginative and religious subjects, of landscapes and portraits and an official war artist of both World Wars. His phenomenal output is considered unique, diverse and complex covering many topics, ranging from religious piety to sexual obsession. With canvases focusing on the tranquillity of rural life, along with highly sexualised nudes and Bible scenes imagined in a sleepy English village, the works of Stanley Spencer mark him out as one of Britain's most distinctive and unusual artists.

  • Masters of the Northern Renaissance

    Masters of the Northern Renaissance ‘Renaissance’ conjures up images of Tuscany, but this course will focus on work from Flanders, the Spanish Netherlands and Germany. We will examine portraits, still-lifes, religious subjects and genre scenes by artists such as Jan Van Eyck and Pieter Bruegel. Janet Ravenscroft

  • The Elizabethan Theatre

    Elizabeth Theatre Between the building of the first English theatre in 1576 until the death of Elizabeth in 1603, some of the greatest plays ever written were produced and acted in London. We will consider how the theatres were built, the acting companies, the men who wrote for them, including Kyd, Marlowe and Shakespeare. Once you had put your penny in the box to enter, and the box was put in the office, what happened then? Nick Meyer

  • Introduction to Latin

    Introduction to Latin This course will use the Cambridge Latin Course Book One which, through stories about the life of a wealthy Pompeian merchant, Caecilius, will introduce you to some of the basics of Latin. There will be an opportunity to continue after the initial 6 weeks should there be sufficient interest. It would be helpful if you could obtain a copy of the text book ISBN 9780521635431 which is available on both Amazon and Bookfinder for approximately £13.50 new or £8.50 used. Please contact me on 01275 870034 if you'd like more information. Louise Johnston-Harris

  • Who is the “I” in this poem?

    Who is the "I" in this poem? Explore the way poets use their own personal experience to create their work, introducing such concepts as ‘persona’ and ‘poetic voice’, but focusing primarily on the pleasure of reading poetry. What is autobiographical poetry? We will read and discuss various examples in English and American literature, ranging from seventeenth century poet, John Donne, to twenty-first century poet, Carol Ann Duffy, pausing to consider the lyric poem and dramatic monologue too! Phil Lyons  

  • The Other Brontë Girl

    The Other Brontë Girl. This course will concentrate on the often neglected Brontë sister Anne. Her two novels The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey provide fascinating accounts of the lives of women facing the challenges of a patriarchal and class driven society. Whilst ostensibly unassuming, Anne's heroines warrant the critical exploration given to their literary sisters Jane and Cathy. Greta Depledge

  • Hollywood and Politics

    Hollywood and Politics An account of how Hollywood has portrayed the world of politics and responded to political issues. Included will be reference to the Depression/New Deal and the Cold War/McCarthyism. John Raisbeck

  • Novels of 1952

    Novels of 1952 Had there been a major prize in 1952, which of these three novels would you have awarded it to? The Village by Marghanita Laski, The Far Country by Nevil Shute and Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. We'll discuss our reading experiences, and think about the criteria for winning novels. Cath Humphris

  • Climate Change

    Climate Change If you're one of the many who don't understand where our energy comes from, how we consume it, what 'two degrees of warming' means, or what climate change is about, this course is for you! A simple back-to-basics, with plenty of time for questions and discussion. Nikki Jones

  • Reading Paintings: The Victorians

    READING PAINTINGS: THE VICTORIANS Explore the links between art and literature, from The Angel in the House to The Death of Chatterton. Discover the stories behind famous paintings; meet Rossetti’s elephant; find out why Van Gogh loved the social realists. A) Rossetti, Lizzie, and Fanny. Looking at Rossetti's relationship to his models, the various ways he put them on canvas. Case study of the relationship between his poems and his paintings. B) The Death of Chatterton. Adultery on canvas and in real life, as the artist paints his best friend (the writer George Meredith) then elopes with his wife. C) The Lady of Shalott. Analyses Tennyson's poem, the Tate's most popular postcard, and the many other versions that have been painted since. D) Painting the Poor. Analyses the relationship between Dickens and the Social Realists. Considers some of the most powerful paintings of the nineteenth century, paintings that really made a difference in social attitudes--not least their inspiration for Vincent Van Gogh. Allan Phillipson

  • The Origins and Future of Britishness

    The Origins and Future of Britishness What does it mean to be British? Does the term have any meaning in a globalised world, or when the  United Kingdom is riven by rival nationalisms? This course will explore how the past has shaped our understanding of ourselves, from Henry VIII to Brexit. Richard Henderson

  • The Rise of Women Gardeners in the 20th century

    The Rise of Women Gardeners in the Twentieth Century. This course focuses on the influential garden-making of four ‘working amateurs’ – Gertrude Jekyll, Vita Sackville-West, Margery Fish and Beth Chatto - as well as the growth of professional training for women gardeners. We shall explore the relationship of each gardener to her period and culture as well as to one another. Jane Crozier

  • New Crafts: Make a Mosaic

    New Crafts: Make a Mosaic A taster day to include some of the techniques involved in creating a mosaic. An opportunity to  complete a small panel to take home. Cutting tools and all materials provided. Frankie Hudson

  • Painting the Nation: Dutch Masters

    PAINTING THE NATION - DUTCH MASTERS This dayschool will examine the Art of the Lowlands from late 16th Century to the end of the 20th Century. It will look at artistic development from the viewpoint of different themes and we will examine the ideas, narratives and histories from the viewpoint of many different painters, covering the long period of Dutch history. During the day we will see how artists from different periods of Dutch history dealt with these themes. Our time span will cover the period of Spanish rule, the birth of the Republic, the long century of the “Golden Age” through to the mini renaissance of the late 19th Century and the modernism of the Dutch in the 20th Century. Paul Chapman

  • The Beekeeper’s Daughter: The poetry of Sylvia Plath

    The Beekeeper's Daughter:  The poetry of Sylvia Plath Being a daughter, wife, mother, woman and poet are some of the themes explored by Plath in her poetry. This day school will look at some of the thoughts of this complex woman as revealed in her poems. Due in almost equal measure to her much-discussed private life as to her outstanding poetry, Plath is a well-known literary figure. However, she was far from straightforward; indeed often contradictory in her views on topics such as marriage, parenthood and the role of women. We shall be looking at a selection of her poetry and discussing some aspects of her life as revealed in those poems. I shall provide copies of all course materials. If you would like further information, please ring me on 01275 870034. Louise Johnston-Harris

  • New Crafts: Temari, Japanese Decorative Balls

    Temari, Japanese Decorative Balls. At this dayschool, learn about this ancient Japanese Art, a fascinating craft for those who like working with colour and threads.  If you do not know what a Temari looks like, try Googling "Temari Balls". Waveney Payne and Pat Halliwell  

  • Decadent Art and Literature

    This course traces the rise and fall of decadence in the 19th century.  From Baudelaire's flowers of evil to the death of Dorian Grey, we will assess symbolist painting, sample the delights of the Vienna Secession and explore Paris at its darkest.

  • Introduction to Latin – Summer Group

    Using the Cambridge Latin Course Book One, which introduces Latin through the medium of light hearted stories, this course is aimed at those with no, or long-forgotten, knowledge of the language. N.B.  This is a new group, repeating the Spring Term course.

  • American Art 1845-1945: From Ashcan to the Atom Bomb

    We look at the Hudson River Group and the Ashcan School of Painters in New York, concentrating on iconic artists that include George Bellows, Georgia O'Keefe, Edward Hopper and Grant Wood's 'American Gothic'.  Oscar winning films and photographs by Lee Miller will also feature.

  • Barchester Chronicles

    Delve into the world of Barchester: a study of the first two novels of Trollop's Barchester Chronicles:  The Warden and Barchester Towers.

  • From seed to fork: how plants evolved and humans adapted them

    This is a day school in two halves. In the morning we explore the extraordinary 450 million-year evolution of plants and the inventive ways they solved the many problems arising from the move on to dry land – gravity, nutrition, dessication and the particularly intractable and surprising issue of reproduction. In the afternoon we discover how humans adapted this bountiful heritage in the invention of agriculture, why, where and how this happened, and why this step has been described as “the biggest miscalculation in history “. The day should provide a fascinating new perspective on the plants that grow in your garden.

  • Revolution in 60’s European Cinema: Six Key Movies

    These are films that reflected and embodied the revolutions of the 20th century: political challenges to state and society;  but also cultural shifts driven by the emergence of unsettling ideas relating to the mind, body, spirituality, the language of cinema itself.

  • French New Wave Cinema

    Travel back to the late 50's/early 60's France when a group of new, young and dynamic film makers shook up the way films were made.  Their films took France by storm and had an influence on film makers around the world.  The day will focus on the work of Chabrol, Godard and Truffaut.

  • Villanelles, Sonnets and Sestinas

    Certain poetic forms have an enduring appeal for poets and readers alike.  We shall read and discuss a variety of these, exploring the ways in which metre, rhyme and repetition contribute to a poem's overall effect.

  • Pop goes the Easel – An introduction to Pop Art

    Pop brought an end to 100 yrs of modernism.  As the world was still trying to come to terms with abstraction, a new generation of artists produced a hard edged, graphic representational style.  With its mix of comic book graphics, advertising imagery, images of mass culture, irony, humour, sex and politics, the Pop Art of the 1950s and 60s is seen as a reflection of our modern day consumer society.

  • Landscapes in Literature 1

    An exploration of British landscape writing through selected texts of poetry and prose, from the discovery of wild nature as a subject for exclamation and delight in the Romantic period, including passages from Defoe (1720s), the Wordsworths and Coleridge (early 19th century) and Thomas Hardy.

  • Genetics – the role of DNA

    What is DNA?  And how is it involved in inheritance, disease, gender, gene therapy?  We will consider topics like the birth of 'three-parent' babies, and look at DNA in forensic science, viral infections and evolution.

  • The Short Stories of Elizabeth Taylor and V.S. Pritchett

    Read and discuss selected stories from two authors who have been claimed to have mapped the changes and details of everyday British life from the 1930s to the 1990s.

  • Masters of Baroque Music (1600-1750)

      Masters of the Baroque (1600-1750) :  Discover the seamless beauty of some of the most exquisite music ever written, and how the great composers of this age influenced everything since.  We will explore a wide range of works by Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Telemann, Purcell and more on a journey through a revolution of melody, harmony, structure and genre. 

  • Stained Glass from the Saxons to the 21st century

    Following the golden years of the high medieval period, stained glass suffered a major decline for some 200 years. The Victorians were responsible for a major revival, which made way for the Arts and Craft movement to take thing forward into the 20th century and today.

  • Landscapes in Literature 2

    Further exploration of British landscape writing through selected texts of poetry and prose, from industrial and post-industrial landscapes, to the "new nature writing" of the 21st century. NB It is not necessary to have attended Landscapes in Literature 1.

  • England in an Age of Reform 1815-1846

    We will consider the reform act of 1832 and the Repeal of the Corn Laws, alongside the flowering of the romantic movement in poetry, the early works of Dickens and the technological advances of the time.

  • Thomas Hardy and Gerald Finzi

    Thomas Hardy was one of the greatest of English poets, Gerald Finzi one of the subtlest and most sensitive of composers. The conjunction of the two led to a miraculous fusion - songs which are truly more than the sum of their parts. We will look at the songs in detail, revealing their unique qualities and explaining how they arose from the life stories of the two men.

  • Reading Paintings: La Belle Epoque

    From 1870 to World War 1, the French Third Republic produced some amazing art. This course focuses on key figures such as Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Toulouse-Lautrec. Explore their studios, follow them to the Moulin Rouge and discover what they discussed at the Cafe de la Nouvelle-Athenes.

  • The Story of the Blues

    Explore the social history that brought about Blues music and gain an understanding of its nature and origins.

  • Female maladies, medical and literary culture in the long 19th century

    We will look at how writers of fiction portrayed deviant and/or difficult women and how society, including the medical profession, punished, chastised or managed these transgressive characters. Texts will be Mary Wollstonecraft's unfinished novel Maria, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Arthur Conan Doyle's The Case of Lady Sannox. There will be no meeting on Friday 2 November.

  • New Crafts: Making Bags

    A beginner’s class to introduce the skills and materials required to produce a professional looking fabric tote bag that will stand up without being floppy. The bag features an interior zipped pocket, inner slip pocket, handles, adjustable and removable shoulder strap, and a magnetic snap fastening. Participants will need to be confident using a sewing machine for basic sewing.

  • Daily life in Ancient Rome

    What was life like in Ancient Rome? We shall try to find some answers through an exploration of some key aspects of life in Ancient Rome, including education, slavery and entertainment , through the eyes of those who lived there. We shall look at mosaics, frescos and sculpture together with writing from the period from the sensual to the satirical and the serious to the downright silly!

  • Women Artists of the 20th Century

    The 'art world' like most places, is a male domain. Women artists are often marginalised and overlooked. Througout the day, we will not only study the lives and work of the women who contributed to the creative output of the 20th Century but also establish the idea that many of them were producing some of the greatest, most relevant art of the modern era.

  • Villanelles, Sonnets and Sestinas

    Certain poetic forms have an enduring appeal for poets and readers alike. We shall read and discuss a variety of these, exploring the ways in which metre, rhyme and repetition contribute to a poem’s overall effect.

  • Reading Paintings: The Shock of the New

    From Van Gogh to Picasso, this course focuses on the early days of modern art. There will be a case study of Futurism and artistic reactions to the First World War. Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Wyndham Lewis and Vorticism, Surrealism, Dada: Duchamp and Man Ray — discover the shock of the new!  

  • New Crafts: Soapmaking

    An informative and practical workshop - explore the history of soap, its ingredients and make a batch to take home. This workshop will cover the history of soap and look at ingredients that go in to handmade artisan soap. We will learn about the oils and butters that make the best soaps and what essential oils add to soap. There will then be a soap making demonstration followed by the opportunity to make your own batch of artisan soap, made with the best ingredients and your choice of essential oils. Please bring with you a pair of rubber gloves, an apron and an old towel or small blanket.

  • Camden Town and the London Groups – Great British Art 1900-1925

    The Fitzroy Street group was founded by Walter Sickert in 1907, and then followed the three Camden Town Group exhibitions (1911-12), where we see the art of Sickert, Spencer Gore, Harold Gilman and Charles Ginner. Finally, the setting up of the London Group in 1913, and its exciting early years with the two factions – Camden Towners and Vorticists – vying for supremacy, before Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and the ‘Bloomsberries’ finally wrested control. Despite the period, there is very little war art, just a battle to express modern themes in a conservative British climate. Other featured artists include: Lucien Pissarro, Robert Bevan, Ethel Sands, Wyndham Lewis, Richard Nevinson, Mark Gertler, Duncan Grant, Paul Nash, John Nash, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, Jacob Epstein and Nina Hamnett.

  • North and South: Elizabeth Gaskell

    Share your responses to this classic novel. At one time, it was classified only as a 'condition of England' novel. More recently the story of Margaret Hale, and her movements between the rural south and the newly industrialised north has been re-evaluated. We'll be looking at Gaskell's role as a novelist, her portrayal of the political and social economies of mid-Victorian England and assessing the literary themes and characterisations. Please read to the end of chapter 10, for discussion at the first session.

  • The Genius of the Classical Era in Music (1750-1820)

    We will explore the evolution of the orchestra, the formalisation of the symphonic and sonata form, Mozart's operas and masses, the symphonies and string quartets of Haydn, the explosion in popularity of the fortepiano and the demise of the harpsichord. Finally we will discuss the first half of Beethoven’s life and his place as the bridge between the Classical and Romantic eras.

  • 100 years of Suffrage: Votes for Women (& Men)

    The scene is set with a run through the electoral reform acts of the 19th Century before looking at the emergence of the Suffragists and the campaign of the Suffragettes, including those in Bristol.  At the end of the day, we reflect on the 100 years since women got the vote and discuss modern feminism. Throughout her life, Carol has been keenly interested in people’s rights, particularly those of women.  It is her experience of life, supplemented by much reading, that she hopes to bring to this day’s presentation.

  • New Crafts: Mosaics

    Another opportunity to observe some of the techniques involved in creating a mosaic and to complete a small panel to take home. Cutting tools and all materials provided (small extra cost). Check out Frankie's website

  • Landscapes in Literature

    An exploration of British landscape writing through selected texts of poetry and prose, from 19th century industrial and post-industrial landscapes, to the ‘new nature writing’ of the 21st century.

  • Americans in Paris

    Paris has been a catalyst for some of America ’s finest thinkers and creators. From Thomas Jefferson to Gene Kelly, this course explores their reasons for going there and the work they produced. The main focus will be art (Sargent, Whistler, Cassatt), but we will also touch upon literature (James, Wharton, Fitzgerald), as well as a variety of films.

  • Three Imperial Cities: Rome, Constantinople and Ravenna

    An exploration of the three imperial capitals of the late Roman Empire, linking the physical appearance, the art and the architecture with the religious and ideological preoccupations of the society of Late Antiquity.

  • First Penguins: A Revolution in Reading

    What do The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Gone to Earth, by Mary Webb, and Carnival, by Compton Mackenzie have in common? They are numbers 5, 9 and 10 on Penguin's list. We will discuss characters, developments and the historical context for each of the novels. Can these books be easily classified? We'll be thinking about standards that define a novel as high, middle or low-brow. What can those first ten titles tell us about 1935, the year that Penguin was founded? Any unabridged copy of the titles will be suitable.  Please read chapters 1 - 24 ('Journey's End') of Carnival, for session one.

  • The Evolution of Film Music

    A six-session study of film music from the earliest simple film reels with live music, to the sprawling scores of modern cinema. Session 1: Music for a New Visual Age Exploring the music of the silent age - live scores that were performed by real musicians. We will look at a number of resources that pianists and orchestras would have used to accompany the earliest cinema films, and listen to some modern takes on early films (Dracula scored by Philip Glass, Metropolis scored by Georgia Moroder, Melies’ Le Voyage dans la Lune scored by French band Air). Session 2: The Movie Symphonics Composers such as William Walton, Erich Korngold, Aaron Copland and Dmitri Shostakovich wrote highly successful film scores - we listen and discuss how these pioneers combined their expertise of writing in the classical form with the new media of film. Session 3: On the Shoulders of Giants - Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Newman The 1940s and 1950s saw a coming-of-age for the movie industry - a golden age of cinema. Much of this success was due to the stunning scores of composers such as Max Steiner (King Kong) and Alfred Newman (How the West was won). Bernard Herrmann’s impact on cinema is enormous and we will spend half the session exploring his output with Alfred Hitchcock on films such as Vertigo, Psycho and North by Northwest. Session 4: A New Approach The 1960s and 1970s saw a change in film scores, with lighter jazz-influenced music putting its finger on the pulse of modern culture. We will listen to and discuss scores by Andre Previn, Henry Mancini and Duke Ellington, among others. We will also discuss music influenced by the nascent avant-garde movement with scores such as Jerry Goldsmith’s astonishing score for Planet of the Apes, and minimalist scores such as those produced by Philip Glass (The Hours). Session 5: John Williams - A Symphonic Master Beginning with his immense score for Star Wars in 1977 which returned the orchestra to its rightful place at the director’s side, John Williams has for 50 years set the tone for immaculate and bombastic music. In his 80s, Williams is still scoring today. We will explore his scores for Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Schindler’s List, Harry Potter and many more. Session 6: Innovating on screen A journey through the output of some of the more innovative and creative composers working in cinema - including Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Finding Nemo), Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Inception, The Lion King), Jonny Greenwood (There Will Be Blood), Trent Reznor (The Social Network).

  • Realism and Tinsel: The Representation of Women in British Films 1939-1945

    In 1943 Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios, contrasted the "tinsel" of "escapist" fare to the "realism" of the more down-to-earth films he advocated in time of war. The day will look at the ways in which women were represented in British films ranging from the "realism" of Millions Like Us to the "tinsel" of Gainsborough melodrama The Wicked Lady.

  • Painting and Film in the 20th Century

    Film is regarded as the main visual art form of the 20th century; it has had a close relationship to painting from its very beginning. This study day will take a look at how the influence of painting on film shaped the modern cinema and how that relationship often became a two way street. Topics covered will include - Impressionism and French film Expressionism, its influence on German cinema and beyond Constructivist art and cinema Hitchcock and Hopper

  • Medieval Craftsmen

    They were the elite of the workforce who created the great woodcarvings, wall paintings, stone carvings and stained glass. This is a journey through their works and their worlds.

  • Bohemians in Paris

    Paris is a magnet for talent, much of it existing on the margins of conventional society. Many of these bohemian figures would later become the centre of the art establishment. This course explores Modigliani, Picasso, Man Ray, and more.

  • Life in Ancient Rome: a further exploration

    This course will continue exploring aspects of life in Ancient Rome, using contemporary art and literature. It is not necessary to have attended the earlier course as the topics are 'stand alone'.

  • Trolloping along

    We will focus on Trollope’s Dr Thorne and Framley Parsonage, continuing the Barchester Chronicles series. It is not necessary to have read the earlier books to enjoy this course.

  • Merchants and Adventurers

    Merchants and Adventurers: Life in the Tudor port of Bristol and beyond. Who were some of the important people behind its rise to fame ……And how did it go on to even ‘greater’ things? Bristol has been an important sea port for hundreds of years. Situated on the west coast, close to Wales and facing Ireland, it was in the right place for trade with many and diverse countries. In this day school we will discover how the port manipulated itself into some of the most lucrative trades of the age and find out who benefitted most. Are we still enjoying the legacy…..?

  • ‘Deeds not Words’: The Suffragette Movement and my Lancashire Grandmother

    Jane Crozier will talk about the Suffragettes through the experiences of her grandmother, ‘Red Nellie’, who, as a militant from Preston, was arrested for throwing stones through windows, twice went on hunger strike and was force fed in Holloway prison. After the provocative unfurling of a ‘Votes for Women’ banner at a political meeting in Manchester’s Free Trade Hall, militant protest spread across the country, involving women of all classes. In the period of greatest militant activity, 1903 – 1914, ‘Deeds not Words’ became the rallying cry, because words alone had fallen on deaf ears. Thus, a piece of family history illuminates aspects of the bigger picture in Lancashire and across Britain in the fight for women’s suffrage.

  • Art in America

    How does America see its self and how do we see America? A study day which takes a look at American Art and questions what we see and what we are shown. Works by several artists will be looked at in detail, from the War of Independence to the present day Topics covered will include:- Landscape and Nationhood History, mythology or truth Industry and Commerce Race, integration and segregation Sense of self, how they see themselves

  • Three Great Cathedrals

    It is probably fair to say that the Medieval Cathedrals are the ultimate expression of British Architecture. A product of unshakable Christian faith, they represented for many the concept of the Heavenly Jerusalem on Earth as described in the Book of Revelation. We shall examine the concept of The Great Church and its development during the medieval period in the first session and then go on to consider three Cathedrals on the western side of the country. In addition to the religious significance of these buildings we shall also consider the wider social and political dimension. No previous knowledge is required and the course is suitable for those new to the field.

  • The I Ching

    An introduction to the I Ching as a tool for personal development. The I Ching is a 2500 year old Chinese classic. It has been developed from its original purpose as an oracle to become recognised as a work of profound wisdom. We will look at how the I Ching can be used to expand consciousness and how it is relevant to modern lives.

  • New Crafts: Needle Felting

    A Needle Felting workshop to make spring lambs and decorated Easter eggs You will be taught the basic principles of Needle Felting and shown how to organise, shape and sculpt the wool into a recognisable form.   Suitable for beginners. There will be an additional charge of £4 for materials for the day.

  • Masters of the Western: John Ford vs Howard Hawks

    John Ford and Howard Hawks were, arguably, the greatest directors in the history of the western genre. However, their themes and styles varied considerably: Ford's central concerns were the family and community while Hawks's heroes tended to be self-reliant individuals. The day will look at a range of films from Ford's My Darling Clementine and The Searchers to Hawks's Red River and Rio Bravo.

  • Bird Poems of the Romantic Poets

    The bird is traditionally an image of the poetic voice and, as such, held much appeal for poets of the Romantic period. We shall read about the nightingale and the skylark, of course, but also the snipe and the owl, always looking to discover the poet’s perspective on each bird – from the ethereal to the terrestrial, from the fanciful to the carefully observed. We shall sample a few women writers of the eighteenth century, then progress through Coleridge and Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Clare and, if time, into the Victorian age with Hardy’s ‘Darkling Thrush’.

  • Great Art – Great Literature

    How have some of the best minds responded to art? This course examines a series of great artworks—from Brueghel to French Impressionism—then analyses some of the literature written in response.

  • The other novels of Wilkie Collins

    Wilkie Collins is probably best know as the writer of The Moonstone and The Woman in White. However, he wrote many other novels and this course will study No Name and Armadale. We will consider these novels in their wider social context, look at the contemporary anxieties and issues that Collins incorporates in to these stories and consider his place as one of the leading sensation writers of the period.

  • Wild Girls in Paris

    Colette, Romaine Brooks, Gertrude Stein—this course explores Paris and some of its famous female inhabitants. It will feature a case study of the bohemian muse, including Kiki of Montparnasse and the notorious Marchesa Casati.

  • Reappraising Hannah More: a journey in local and national history

    Hannah More (1745-1833) has for a long time been a neglected figure of the Eighteenth century, except perhaps for her enduring legacy in the Mendip schools and Somerset villages. Despite being one of the most influential cultural figures of her era – as a playwright, poet, Bluestocking, novelist, abolitionist, educationalist and philanthropist – More’s unfashionable opinions have precluded her from being remembered in the same way as fellow abolitionists. This course will focus on her role as a writer, educationalist, and will appraise her role in the abolition of the slave trade. We will examine her local contribution as well as her national and international reputation; and will discuss her literary output, letters to William Wilberforce, educational methods and subsequent interpretations which have kept her, for so long, a marginalised figure.

  • Beethoven and the early Romantics

    Exploring the musical development of the 19th century Romantic era, beginning with the later compositions of Beethoven, and discussing the wonderful instrumental, vocal and piano music of Schubert, Brahms, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Chopin.

  • Looking after No 1

    A positive, constructive, practical workshop explaining the basics of good physical and mental health, what we can do and how, including:- • what is health and benefits of health • the immune system – what it does and how to look after it • the brain and how to look after it – including cognitive function, concentration, thought-processing,  memory and mood • the human body – how it works and how to look after it • overview of nutrition and eating healthily • exercise and the benefits of exercise • relaxation, breathing and posture and how all this affects • performance, concentration, energy levels, memory, mood, stress, sleep, mental health • aches and pains, including headaches and migraines Q and A

  • Painting and Film in the 20th Century

    Film is regarded as the main visual art form of the 20th Century; it has had a close relationship to painting from its very beginning. This study day will take a look at how the influence of painting on film shaped the modern cinema and how that relationship often became a two way street.

  • Women in Ancient Rome

    This day school focuses on the women in Roman society including childhood, education, marriage and motherhood. Through contemporary art and literature, we examine their status, both social and legal and also consider a few individual women and the influence they had on the people around them.

  • Positive Psychology and the Science of Human Flourishing

    Positive Psychology is the scientific examination of the sources, experience and consequences of human flourishing. This course will examine the evidence supporting the development of positive human experiences and explore what we can do individually and collectively to develop wellbeing.

  • New Crafts: Soapmaking

    An informative and practical workshop - explore the history of soap, its ingredients and make a batch to take home. This workshop will cover the history of soap and look at ingredients that go in to handmade artisan soap. We will learn about the oils and butters that make the best soaps and what essential oils add to soap. There will then be a soap making demonstration followed by the opportunity to make your own batch of artisan soap, made with the best ingredients and your choice of essential oils. Please bring with you a pair of rubber gloves, an apron and an old towel or small blanket.

  • Reading 1951: John Wyndham, Daphne du Maurier and Graham Greene

    Discuss The Day of the Triffids, My Cousin Rachel, and The End of the Affair. We'll look at characters, settings, motivations and common themes. Any unabridged copies are suitable. Please read chapters 1 - 8 of The Day of the Triffids, for discussion at the first session.

  • The Art of Spain: Faith, Love and Conflict

    A brief overview of Spain's artistic history, focusing on the paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. The focus will be on Faith and Conflict but many more ideas will surface during the day. We will explore the art of Spain and discover how the painters reveal themselves, their loves, their faith etc. Narratives from these paintings will also inform us of Spain's history through religion and the conflicts that have shaped the nation.

  • Classical Greece

    What have the Greeks done for us? In many ways, classical art and architecture form the basis of modern civilisation. This course analyses ancient Greek culture, from the Trojan war to the Elgin marbles.

  • New Crafts: Natural Skincare and Bathing Products

    This workshop will offer the opportunity of making a variety of skin care and bathing products using only the highest quality natural ingredients, organic oils and butters and pure essential oils. You will be able to make a variety of products to take home with you. Options will include body butter, bath truffles, bath bombs, bath oils, bath salts, massage oils, foot balm and hand cream.

  • Reading Paintings: Dante to Dada

    Explore the links between art and literature, from Dante to Dada. Discover the stories behind famous paintings; meet Paolo and Francesca; find out which Reynolds was “the most discussed British painting of the age.” No experience necessary.

  • Women in Ancient Rome

    This day-school focuses on the women in Roman society including childhood, education, marriage and motherhood. Through contemporary art and literature, we examine their status, both social and legal and also consider a few individual women and the influence they had on the people around them.

  • Lorna Doone

    This 1865 novel has never been out of print. We’ll discuss what makes it a compelling story; what it shows us about Victorian Britain and developments in novel-writing. Please read to the end of chapter 6, for discussion at the first session.

  • Art of Post-War Britain 1945 – 1970

    In this four week course we will consider:-

    1. St Ives school: with a focus on a new interpretations of the Romantic Landscape tradition, looking at the work of artists including Peter Lanyon, Wilhelmina Barnes-Graham, Patrick Heron and Barbara Hepworth.
    2. London School: painters living and working in the capital in the post-war period shared the same social circles, yet their painting styles vary greatly. Though most were concerned with figurative painting they came to the figurative form from many different visual and expressive viewpoints. Artists include Francis Bacon, Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff.
    3. Kitchen Sink Realists: a term used to describe a cultural theme that developed during the 1950s. The painters associated with this movement depicted the everyday, the mundane, the banal and the beauty. It depicts the rise of working class culture not only in painting but also in the literature, cinema and theatre of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Artists include John Bratby, Derrick Greaves, Edward Middleditch and Jack Smith.
    4. Pop Art: considered by many as the last school of the modern movement, a new generation of artists produced a hard-edged, graphic representational style. With its mix of comic book graphics, advertising imagery, images of mass culture, irony, humour, sex and politics, the Pop Art of the 1950s and 60s is seen as a reflection of our modern day consumer society. Artists include Peter Blake, Peter Philips, Derick Boshier and Pauline Boty. Alongside these four main artistic styles we will also look at many other painters who made major contributions to the Art of Post-War Britain such as Prunella Clough, Henry Moore, John Hoyland and Bridget Riley and many others.
  • New crafts: Quilting Techniques

    This is a machine based course designed to give students the confidence to either make a quilt or to be able to work on smaller projects. Taking place over six half-day sessions it will cover machine techniques, rotary cutting (equipment for this isn’t essential), strip piecing, quick piecing techniques, template making, foundation piecing, curved piecing, machine appliqué and basic machine quilting. It will, of course, also cover quilt construction information. It is aimed at beginners and those who wish to improve their skills

  • The Road Movie: America and Beyond

    The journey/quest plot of the road movie has allowed film makers to explore a wide range of themes: from politics to notions of freedom, from family relationships to gender issues. This study day will look at examples of the genre from America and countries across the world. Films will include, among others, 'Easy Rider', 'Little Miss Sunshine', 'The Motorcycle Diaries' and ' The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert'.

  • Remembering Vaughan Williams

    The life-story of this great composer is a chronicle of changing times. His music is the soundtrack of the century – by turns dynamic, reflective, challenging and just plain gorgeous.

  • Daphne du Maurier

    During this course we will study three novels by the Daphne du Maurier. Often under-rated because of her popular appeal we will look at the skill of her narrative style, consider her ability to write to a variety of sub-genres and also consider her use of setting as a narrative tool. We will read: The Loving Spirit (du Maurier's first novel), Jamaica Inn and Rebecca.

  • 1959: the year that changed Jazz

    A course for both beginners and experienced jazz fans - we will explore the origins and development of The Blues and Jazz, with a particular focus on 1959 when some of the most essential albums in the genre were recorded, including: A Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet Mingus Ah Um by Charles Mingus Giant Steps by John Coltrane The Shape of Jazz to Come by Ornette Coleman

  • Nature’s other Minstrels

    Bird song has long been associated with British poetry, especially in the Romantic period, 1780s to 1820s. This may explain why the nightingale became the most celebrated bird in English verse. The course will focus on poems by Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Clare and Shelley - not only about nightingales, but also the skylark, the cuckoo, the snipe and the owl. How successfully did the poets enter the natural world of these birds? We shall explore their perspective on each bird – from the ethereal to the terrestrial, from the fanciful to the carefully observed.

  • Coming in from the cold – more on church interiors

    During the Looking at Old Churches Day School held a few years ago, there simply wasn’t time to explore interiors in any depth. In this little course we aim to put things right and shall turn our attention to Monuments, Pulpits, Fonts, Lecterns, Screens and other fittings of interest inside churches. Many are beautiful but some are ugly. Others are just plain odd. We are under no pressure, so we can rummage around inside lots of churches at a leisurely pace in comfortable warm surroundings.

  • Making Peace – Keeping Peace

    It is of course simplistic to say that history repeats itself. But writing and performing two Great War centenary events for my home community (Axbridge) kept ringing bells and raising questions about our current predicament. In particular, the 2018 Remembrance Day rituals made me question the validity of remembrance without some further analysis of why peacemaking and peacekeeping are such complex and fragile activities. “History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” (James Joyce, Ulysses) It was certainly the worst taught subject in my schooling, but having survived the most war-torn century in history I am keen to explore ways of waking from the nightmare. That sounds like a tall order for a day school. Rather than getting lost in generalisations, we will split the day into six sessions based on specific points from the 1919 to 1925 period and their modern resonances. 1. Peace: The Paris Peace Conferences, success or failure of subsequent peace efforts, e.g. in Ireland and South Africa. Peace Studies. 2. Mass Media: Radio, TV, advertising, literacy, education, ownership and control of media. 3. Breakdown of “aristocratic” government: The Russian Revolution, challenges to government in the new Europe (and globally). 4. The Role of Women: Suffrage, the hidden history of social work, peace campaigns and work outside the home. 5. The Arts: Some key elements of modernism in literature, painting, music. 6. Where are we now? Populism, democracy . . . ? We will work with a seminar structure. I will bring various images, sounds and handouts to share, but it will not be a one-man show! Plenty of discussion please.

  • New Crafts: Festive Needle Felting

    Ever fancied learning to needle felt? It’s a wonderfully fun, relaxing and rewarding craft form. Learn how to make these wonderfully Festive Tree Decorations. You will be shown how to organise, shape and sculpt the wool using a specialist barbed needle. No experience necessary, all materials will supplied. (please add £4.50 to cover materials including a felting pad to take home, £3.50 if you bring your own pad).

  • New Crafts: Fabric Stained Glass for Christmas

      Learn a Bondaweb technique, using fusible bias to give the effect of a stained glass window. Choice of designs. The final stitching is done at home and can be done either by hand or machine.

  • Free verse or playing tennis without a net?

    The great American poet Robert Frost said he would ‘as soon write free verse as play tennis with the net down’, and yet much of modern poetry could be described as free verse, so how does it work and does it have anything in common with more traditional forms of poetry? And what is the difference between free verse and blank verse? A course for anyone curious about what makes a poem. Poems provided.

  • Reading Paintings: the Restoration

    The return of Charles II in 1660 changed English history, literature, and society. This course traces the changing tastes of the day, with a special focus on the links between art and social history. Contains a case study of Sir Peter Lely’s portraits of the great and the (not so) good.

  • The Tudors

    The Tudor monarchs are a perennial favourite in film and popular fiction – but sometimes this distorts our understanding. This course will cover the key elements and events of each reign, discussing new scholarship and research, and discussing the local issues of note. How important were events in the South West to each monarch; either strengthening or destabilising their reigns? We will cover Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth over a five week course, discussing representations of each and how interpretations of them have changed over time.

  • Reading 1968: Muriel Spark, Barry Hines and Elizabeth Taylor

    Discuss The Public Image, by Muriel Spark, A Kestrel for a Knave, by Barry Hines, and The Wedding Group, by Elizabeth Taylor. We will be looking at each novel in turn, and thinking about the worlds they project, and the characters who move through them. Please read to the end of chapter 4 of The Public Image, for discussion at the first session.

  • Constable, Turner and Joseph Wright of Derby

    John Constable, Joseph Wright, and J. M. W. Turner are three giants of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British art. Each possessed special qualities in their painting that set them apart from their contemporaries. We analyse the qualities of their major works exemplified by The Haywain, Rain, Steam and Speed and An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, but also many other fascinating examples of the artists' pictures. We examine the lives and motivations of the artists, and obtain a comprehensive understanding of why these works have become so iconic. This is a five week course, with no session on 23 January 2020.

  • Still Life – a bigger picture

    A study day examining the genre of Still Life painting. The emphasis of the day will be allegory, metaphor and narrative. We will follow the development of the Still Life from the Renaissance to the 21st Century and try to uncover the stories they tell. Are the objects depicted in Still Life paintings more than just a representation? Perhaps we can find the bigger pictures. A journey from Mary's lily to Andy's soup can with plenty of places on route.

  • Ted Hughes: the early years

    After a writing career which spanned over 40 years, Hughes' literary heritage is not only vast, but covers most genres, including not only poetry, but translations of the works of other poets and prose writers, short stories for children and adults, plays, letters and journals and numerous anthologies This day school focuses on the poetry that he created in the early years of that prodigious career and concentrates on the three collections; The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal and Wodwo. By necessity there will be some consideration of his marriage to the American poet Sylvia Plath, but this will not be the main focus of the day. If there is sufficient interest, it is hoped to have another day school looking at his later poetry, particularly Birthday Letters, not simply as his own, very personal account of his marriage to Plath, but also as poetic masterpieces in their own right.

  • Maths for the Terrified

    Were you bored by maths at school? Did you ever have an interesting maths lesson? Does algebra make you anxious? Are you puzzled by probability? Did you never get the measure of geometry? Do prime numbers perplex you? How can some people find mathematics exciting while most of us are turned off? This day school will try to show that maths can be intriguing, interesting and enjoyable. There is more to maths than hard sums and you will not be doing any of those. This is not a lecture. There will be hands-on activities and you will be working with other people. Of course in the spirit of CASA we shall be trying to get rusty brains working but it should also be a stimulating day’s ramble across the varied landscape of mathematics.

  • Craft: Making fabric boxes

    We will be learning how to design and make fabric covered boxes using a simple technique based on 19th Century French Cartonnage. No sewing is required and it is suitable for absolute beginners. During the class you will be able to make a notepad cover, a small lidded box and a lidded box with divided sections and a drawer. Kits of pre-cut card will be available but we will discuss how to design and cut your own boxes at home. You will bring your own fabric choices to cover the boxes. There will be a small charge on the day of £8-£10 for the kits, bookbinders glue, brushes and rollers.

  • Craft: Bead and Wire Jewellery

    Learn how to make a necklace and a pair of earrings. Some examples are shown below.  We will look at different ideas and techniques for you to create your own unique pieces. No experience needed. All materials provided. Approx £5 extra to pay tutor on the day.    

  • Reading Paintings: Great Collections

    This course explores some of the great collections in art history, from the Stuart kings to the Hugh Lane Collection of impressionist paintings. Contains a case study of Evelyn Waugh – his art collection as well as his taste in architecture and design (both real and imagined in novels such as Brideshead Revisited).

  • Craft: Quilt-as-you-go

    Learn many different P&Q techniques while making this Sampler lap quilt. Taught using a Quilt-As-You-Go method so that each of the blocks is ‘finished’ by the time they are joined together. Relaxing hand sewing (but can be machined at home!). Week 1 - introduction and a block Week 2 - explaining sashing, squaring up, layering up and a block Week 3 - sample hand quilting and a block Weeks 4, 5 - a block each week This is a five week course, with no session on 9 March 2020. A future 5 week course is planned to cover the following remaining techniques and to complete the quilt. Weeks 6 and 7 - a block each week Week 8 - how to join the blocks and a block Week 9 - adding borders and last block Week 10 - binding, labels, hanging sleeves and anything else!

  • The Enthralling Chamber Music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

    Schubert’s contribution to the 19th century is unparalleled, with many of his works revered as absolute masterpieces. This six week course will explore Schubert’s huge contribution to chamber music, including his Lieder (secular songs for solo voice), his solo piano works and his string quartets. Despite his short lifetime (31 years), Schubert left behind a vast body of works, including more than 600 secular vocal works, seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. Essential works to include: 'Death and the Maiden' Quartet, 'The Trout' Quartet, 'Winterreise' (song cycle), Piano impromptus op 142, Moments Musicaux Op 94, Octet in F Major, plus some hidden gems.

  • The Small House at Allington: Trollope

    The fifth novel of the Barchester Chronicles is The Small House at Allington. This novel introduces us to a new range of characters whilst still maintaining contacts with established favourites. The story concentrates around Lily Dale a character about whom Trollope said he 'loved' but who, later in his life said was a 'prig'. Whatever you may decide on the question of Lily Dale, The Small House is a hugely enjoyable fifth instalment to the series but works equally well as a stand alone novel that can be enjoyed with no prior knowledge of the rest of the series.

  • The Coen Brothers: from Blood Simple to Buster Scruggs

    From their 1984 debut, Blood Simple, to their latest film, the Netflix funded The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Joel and Ethan Coen have established themselves as a unique creative force in modern cinema. The day will examine how, with films like Fargo, True Grit and cult favourite The Big Lebowski, they have reworked and reimagined established genres to cast an ironic eye on the American Dream.  

  • Discussing Burmese Days by George Orwell

      Join us on this day course to share your thoughts about Orwell's depiction of Colonial Burma, in general and by looking closely at the characters, settings and scenes. There will be some background on the author and his legacy, and thoughts about what Empire meant in the 1920's and how we view it now.  

  • An Introduction to Latin

      This 5 week 'taster' using the Cambridge Latin course, gently introduces some of the fundamentals of the language together with aspects of Roman life as seen through the eyes of Caecilius and his family in Pompeii. Participants will need a copy of Cambridge Latin course, Book one 4th Edition (ISBN 978 0521 635 431) There may be an opportunity to continue beyond the five weeks if there is sufficient interest.  

  • Beginners Patchwork and Quilting

    This is the first half of a hand sewing course.  Starting with a basic Nine Patch Block then adding and building on skills each week, including applique, curved piecing, creating a three D effect, inset seams and hand quilting. The resulting blocks will be made into a hand quilt using a quilt as you go method.  You may have a definite colour scheme in mind but it works equally well made as a 'scrappy look' quilt which gives you an opportunity to play with fabric colours and patterns.

  • What is a Revolution?

    Join Dr Jo Edwards for an exploration of historical revolutions.   What is a revolution compared to a rebellion or a revolt?   What do we mean by the term, and when is it misused?  Was there an 'Age of Revolution' or is this merely a construct of hIstorians? Over 5 weeks we will explore the nature of revolutions and examine the causes and consequences of the English Revolution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution, alongside a discussion of the political, economic, social, religious, and cultural revolutions of the past.  We will discuss the political theorists who inspired and were inspired by revolutions, revolutionary leadership and the role of the crowd in a revolution.

  • Two Novels by Kazuo Ishiguro

      Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017, Kazuo Ishiguro has written many fine novels. We shall be looking at two of these, The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, exploring their distinctive styles and discussing some of the questions they both raise about what it is to be human.

  • A Century of Irish Poetry

    Over the last hundred years, Ireland has produced an astonishingly rich range of poets from Yeats to Seamus Heaney and up to the present day.  In this day course we will explore the works of men and women poets and the political and social context in which they write.

  • The Messiah G.F. Handel

    Handel's Messiah is a work that transcends, genre, and even time - it is the greatest choral work ever created and a piece that to this day brings joy to the world. Our day course will explore the origins of this incredible work, the frenzied creation of the score and the developments that lead to it becoming a global sensation.  We will also explore the music in a completely unique way, as through the magic of technology we will be able to hear the Messiah as we have never heard it before - part by part, instrument by instrument played by the finest Baroque musicians in the world.

  • More Patchwork and Quilting

    Make a lap-sized Sampler quilt whilst learning many different hand sewing patchwork techniques. Then quilt and assemble using a Quilt-As-You-Go method. Ideal for beginner and experienced sewers alike. Although a continuation of the previous 5 week course, all the basics will be covered for those starting from scratch.

  • Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicle of Barset

    The sixth and final novel in Trollope's Barsetshire Chronicles reunites us with a cast of characters we have come to know over the previous novels in the series and introduces us to a few new ones. The novel moves between the worlds of Barsetshire and London. At its centre is an impoverished clergyman and in this novel Trollope presents us with a moving and realistic portrait of the degrading effects of poverty. This course will take place over six weeks. It is not essential to have read the previous five books as a recap of key people and incidents will be offered in the first week. The reading schedule is as follows: Week 1: Chapters 1 - 14 Week 2: Chapters 15 - 28 Week 3: Chapters 29 - 42 Week 4: Chapters 43 - 56 Week 5: Chapters 57 - 70 Week 6: Chapters 71 - 84

  • Reading 1936 part 2: Discussing The Weather in the Streets, by Rosamond Lehmann

    Virago Modern Classics described this novel as 'years ahead of its time'. It was an instant best-seller, in Britain and France. Is it still a satisfying read? Lehmann presents us with characters who inhabit a different sphere of society to Sherriff's. Who are they? How do these people fit with our idea of the era? Do they fit our era? We'll discuss the writing style, the situations, and think about the themes. Please read the whole novel prior to the session, as we will be thinking about and discussing the overall shape of the story.

  • Reading 1936 part 3: Discussing South Riding, by Winifred Holtby

    This much-loved novel has been adapted for screen four times. The first was completed in 1938. It's also been dramatised for radio several times. What is it about this story that keeps writers and directors returning to it? Published posthumously, it has a large cast of characters who intersect on personal, professional and political levels. We'll be thinking about the themes and ideas at play, and how these fit our ideas of the era. We'll consider the writing style. It's a novel that has never been out of print, so we'll be thinking about the implications of that, as well as asking 'who reads it now?' and 'why?' Please read the whole novel prior to the session, as we will be thinking about the overall shape of the story as well as what kind of novel this is.

  • The Life and Art of Edvard Munch

    Edvard Munch is known throughout the world for his iconic picture ‘The Scream’, but this great artist produced art of the highest quality for some sixty years.  He depicted all stages of life in a colourful, varied and expressive way, and was influential on generations of future artists.  I will show in excess of eighty pictures (plus film clips) of life, death, joy and despair.  This day-school coincides with an exhibition of 18 Munch masterpieces at The Courtauld in London. This course is now fully booked.  Contact us if you wish to be placed on the waiting list in case of cancellations.

  • Reading 1936 part 1: Discussing Greengates, by RC Sherriff

    Has this novel been undervalued in the past? RC Sherriff's name is more commonly linked to his 1928 play, Journey's End, a WWI drama, or with some of the Hollywood film scripts he wrote. He opens this novel on the day Mr Baldwin, a white-collar worker, retires from his job as Chief Cashier at an insurance company. We'll think about the characters, their situations, our own ideas about late 1920s and early 1930s Britain, and ask questions about this story. It was reprinted by Persephone Books in 2015 & 2017. In her preface, Juliet Gardiner calls it 'timeless'. We'll think about what that means. Please read the whole novel prior to the session, as we will be thinking about the overall shape of the story as well as the style of narrative.

  • Reading 1960: Barstow, Reid-Banks & Amis

    Join us in discussing three short novels published in 1960. We'll begin with The L-Shaped Room by Lynne Reid-Banks, a novel that looks back to the 1950s. For the second session we'll consider Take a Girl Like You, by Kingsley Amis. For the third and fourth sessions we'll focus on A Kind of Loving, by Stan Barstow. Are these three novels markers of changing attitudes? What do they say to the twenty-first century reader, are they modern classics? We will be thinking about how each of these books works, and asking, what is good fiction? Please read The L-Shaped Room for discussion at the first session.

  • Liberalism to Fascism: Mussolini’s Italy 1922-43

    This course is fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list for any cancellations. In this course we will be looking at the history and politics surrounding Mussolini's fascist regime from 1922 to 1943. How did Mussolini seize power? What were the characteristics of this 'fascist' regime? What similarities and connections are there between Hitler's Nazi regime, Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy? We will look at a number of different events and elements of Fascist Italy including the attempt at economic autarky, propaganda and repressive measures, the relationship with the Roman Catholic Church and an exploration of Mussolini's foreign policy. We will particularly look at cultural history - the art, architecture and literature of the regime (and what remains today) and the cult of the individual. There will be no session on Wednesday 26 October. Reading and listening lists will be available after every week, but are for additional information and not compulsory. Week 1 Liberal Italy and the roots of Fascism Week 2 The nature of Italian Fascism and the Fascist 'March on Rome' Week 3 'A nation of loyal fascists?'  Propaganda and Repression under Mussolini Week 4 Building Fascist Italy - economics and infrastructure in Fascist Italy Week 5 Education, Social policy and the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Fascist Italy Week 6 Fascist Foreign policy and the Pact of Steel; Nazi Germany, Franco's Spain and Fascist Italy  

  • Philip Larkin, The Early Years (A Centenary Celebration)

    2022 marks the centenary of Philip Larkin’s birth. This dayschool offers a chance to explore and possibly reassess some of his earlier poetry, most notably in the volume that brought him to the attention of a wider audience, The Less Deceived, first published in 1955 and available as part of Collected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2003).

  • The Creation: JF Haydn

    Spend a day with some of the most joyous and delightful music in the classical repertoire - Haydn’s beautiful Creation.  Composed as a response to Handel’s Messiah, this great work is rightly considered an essential piece for all lovers of choral music.  Come and find out how it was composed and explore extracts of this stunning work with Ben England BEM, Musical Director of the Choir of the Earth. The day will unfold as follows:- Part 1. Eisenstadt to Esterhazys Follow Haydn from his childhood singing as a chorister in Vienna to his first musical roles as a professional, all leading to Eisenstadt and the Esterházy family. Haydn's time as kapellmeister for the Esterházys was one of the most fruitful and productive periods in any composer's life.  Haydn's effective isolation from society for decades as part of the Esterházy household meant that he was writing music away from the influences of the rest of the musical world - this led to his developing his own style, which itself became the de facto shape of the classical era. BREAK Part 2. The English Period and the Creation of the Creation Following the death of Prince Nikolaus, Haydn was afforded the opportunity to travel and went almost immediately to England where he found fame, wealth and new musical genres to stretch his imagination.  Haydn's choral writing had always been strong, but it was on hearing Handel's Messiah (along with Israel in Egypt) whilst living in London that Haydn was moved to compose his grand oratorio, The Creation. LUNCH Part 3.  The Creation - A Masterpiece Dive into an astonishing work, full of theatrical gestures, orchestration marvels and perhaps the greatest orchestral piece of the 18th century - the overture.  Illustrated with stunning examples taken from professional recordings and Ben’s own performance with Choir of the Earth. BREAK Part 4. The Late Esterhazy and Viennese Period, Haydn’s death and legacy On returning from London, Haydn found himself working once again for the Esterházys on a part-time basis, whilst enjoying considerable fame and success as the greatest living composer in Europe.  Haydn found himself surrounded by composers such as Beethoven, Salieri, Gluck and many more. Ultimately, with his home in Vienna surrounded by Napoleon's troops, Haydn's death in 1809 marked the end of the classical era.  He left behind a world forever changed musically and a roster of musicians influenced by his genius - Beethoven, Schubert, Gluck, Salieri and many more.  We will explore his musical legacy and follow the fascinating and rather grisly story of his skull which was stolen from his tomb...

  • History of Architecture in Britain – Medieval to Neoclassical

    This Study Day will examine the development of architecture in England during a period of great change. The gothic style of the medieval period was beginning to be superseded by Renaissance ideas, which although not fully understood at the time were applied enthusiastically by the Tudors and Stuarts. In spite of this some of the most extraordinary buildings ever created in these islands are products of this period. It was not until the arrival of Inigo Jones that true classical architecture began to be understood and applied in an appropriate manner and we shall squeeze in a short mini-tutorial on classical architecture, which I hope will clarify matters and be of some help. The course requires no previous knowledge but attendance at previous sessions on medieval architecture will inevitably provide useful background.

  • 1922 – a year of challenge and change

    A hundred years ago saw the publication of Ulysses by James Joyce, and T S Eliot’s The Waste Land. It was also a year when modernist poets such as Rilke, Paul Valery and Wallace Stevens produced important works. Both among novelists, from Virginia Woolf to Hermann Hesse and playwrights from Brecht to Pirandello, there was an explosion of innovation. We will look at what these writers had in common and how they responded creatively to the sense of a civilisation in decline.

  • Christmas Card Workshop

    Prepare for Christmas by designing and making your own unique cards. There will be ribbons, textured papers, fabric, sequins etc for you to choose from. Envelopes will be provided for your finished pieces. No stitching required, just scissors, glue and a bit of patience! There will be a small charge of approx £3 for materials payable to the tutor on the day.  Here you’ll see just a few ideas of previous card designs.

  • Edith Wharton – selected novels

    This six week course will look at two novels by the American novelist Edith Wharton.   We will start with her 1913 novel The Custom of the Country (1913) with its depiction of the social climbing Undine Spragg (weeks 1 – 3).  We will then move on to Wharton's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Age of Innocence (1920) set in upper-class New York of the 1870s   (weeks 4 – 6). This course is fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be put on a waiting list for cancellations. Reading schedule: The Custom of the Country Week 1 – general introduction and chapters 1-15. Week 2 – chapters 16 – 31 Week 3 – chapters 32 -  end  The Age of Innocence Week 4 – general introduction and chapters 1 – 12 Week 5 – chapters 13 – 24 Week 6 – chapters 25 – end

  • Money: A Global History

    We all use money, many of us struggle to find enough of it, whereas a few seem to have more than they will ever be able to spend. But do we really understand what it is? This day school sets out to explain. The course is not a history of coinage, still less an introduction to Economics; rather it explores how world history has been shaped by the changing nature of money. We’ll discover how the Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians managed without it and how coins were then simultaneously invented in China, India and the Mediterranean.  We’ll learn how inflation in China, the greed of the Conquistadores and the reimagining of money in England conspired together to change the world. Finally, we’ll explore what caused the Global Financial Crisis and discover why it’s still surprisingly easy to pay for the transition to a Zero Carbon future despite there being ‘no money left’.

  • Fabric stained glass

    Use fabric and a pre-fused bias binding to make a wall-hanging that gives the effect of a Christmas stained glass window. The picture will be finished by hand or machine at home. Choose from these four designs and let us know before the day which one you would like to create.  

  • Eric Ravilious: His Life and Art

    The art of Eric Ravilious is increasingly popular. Subject of a new film "Drawn to War", he produced beautiful and evocative landscapes of the England of the 1930s. His disappearance in 1942 adds to the legend. This course is fully booked but due to the demand, we are re-running it on 21 January 2023.  

  • The Mature Larkin: The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974)

    This dayschool will focus on the two volumes that cemented Philip Larkin’s reputation as a poet whose work would continue to be read for years to come. Starting with the title poem from The Whitsun Weddings, we shall discuss how his seemingly parochial vision may have a more universal appeal. Both volumes are included in Collected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2003).

  • Naivety in the novel: discussing The Go-Between & Atonement

    Starting with Hartley's 1953 novel, then moving on to McEwan's 2001 novel we'll be thinking about the way society is presented and the way the story is told. In each session we will discuss our reactions to a section from one of the novels. We'll be thinking about the way the stories unfold and looking for writerly techniques. Is the past 'a foreign country'? How do writers present the past? Do they also show us something of the times in which they were written? Please read to the end of Chapter 6 of The Go-Between for discussion at the first session.  

  • Six Spanish Cities: their history, art & architecture

    The six cities covered in this course are: Córdoba, Santiago de Compostela, Granada, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Using a variety of images, we will begin with a potted history of Spain. This will be followed by a survey of the historical events that shaped each city in turn. We will examine some of the art and architecture associated with each city. No previous knowledge of Spanish history art or architecture assumed! 1 The history, art and architecture of Córdoba In the first talk, we will have a potted history of Spain from neolithic times to the present day. In the second talk we will survey the history of Córdoba, with our focus on Roman and Islamic architecture in particular the Mezquita. 2 The history, art and architecture of Santiago de Compostela In these talks, we will consider the phenomenon of the Camino in the early middle ages and the development of Santiago de Compostela as a destination for pilgrims. Our architectural focus will be the great cathedral of Santiago and in particular its sculptural decoration. 3 The history, art and architecture of Granada These talks will present a survey of Granada’s history with our focus on the late middle ages. This period saw the construction of the Alhambra followed by the fall of Granada to the Catholic kings in 1492 and the subsequent building of the palace of Charles V and the cathedral. 4 The history, art and architecture of Seville In this session, our first talk will present a survey of the history of Seville with explanation of how the city’s significant architecture such as the Alcazar and cathedral fit into its story. Our second talk will focus on the early work of Sevillano, Diego Velázquez and other painters who lived and worked in Seville in the 1600s including Murillo. 5 The history, art and architecture of Madrid We will trace the history of Madrid from Roman times to the present day over the course of both talks. We will focus on the development of Madrid as the capital of Spain under the Habsburgs and consider El Escorial, their huge palace cum dynastic mausoleum. We will also examine in detail some of the paintings by Goya who lived in Madrid and who commemorated some of the key events in the city’s history in his work. 6 The history, art and architecture of Barcelona Our course will conclude with two talks focussing on Barcelona. We will begin by surveying its history from Roman times through to the present day, and we will follow this with a talk on the architect Antoni Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia.

  • Eric Ravilious: his art and life

    The art of Eric Ravilious is increasingly popular. Subject of a new film "Drawn to War", he produced beautiful and evocative landscapes of the England of the 1930s. His disappearance in 1942 adds to the legend. This is a repeat of the day course offered in November 2022, which was so quickly fully booked. This course is now fully booked, but please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations.

  • Russia and its soviet borders

    Russia has long been a mystery to outsiders. Straddling two continents with the longest land border of any country, Russia has by turn looked East, West and inwards. Raising more questions than answers. On this day course we will cover the following:- Session 1 - Looking East - The formation of Russia and spread of Russian Empire (Urals, Siberia through to Alaska/California) Session 2 - The Soviet Union and Russia's relations with Central Asia and Mongolia. Session 3 - Looking West - Russia's borders within Europe - South Caucasus and Baltic States. Session 4 - The formation of Ukraine and Moldova (Belarus'?) and their relations with Russia. This course is now fully booked, but please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations.

  • Sylvia Townsend Warner: Writer, Feminist, Musicologist and Political Activist

      This day course will look at Warner’s life, loves and affiliations. She was a writer of great imaginative scope and variety, encompassing fiction, poetry, journalism, biography and an excellent, still very readable, guidebook to Somerset (1946). We shall pay particular attention to some of her poems and to the novel, Lolly Willowes, which established her name in 1926 as an original, witty and sometimes subversive writer. She lived most of her adult life with her partner, Valentine Ackland, near the Dorset coast where she combined a rural existence with an unorthodox public presence. The Tutor will provide texts for reading on the day, but if you have the time, please read the novel Lolly Willowes in advance (Penguin Modern Classics, pub. 2020 or any other copy).  

  • Republicanism, Civil War and Francoism in Spain

    This course will focus on Spain in the years 1930–45, a dramatic period for Spaniards which spanned years of democracy and dictatorship. We will cover the changing politics, culture and society of a nation that underwent the turbulence of the Second Republic and civil war, followed by a period of right-wing dictatorship.  We will cover key areas such as the creation of the Second Republic, the failure of the Popular Front, the Nationalist and Republican leadership during the Spanish Civil War, and the establishment of Franco's dictatorship: repression, censorship, the role of the church, economic approaches including autarky and neutrality during the Second World War. We will explore whether Franco's Spain was a fascist regime and how modern Spain has reconciled with the legacy of dictatorship. This course is fully booked, but please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations.

  • Poetry Matters

    In 2002 Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books published Staying Alive, the first in a series of international poetry anthologies, giving it the subtitle ‘real poems for unreal times’. With 500 poems to choose from, this makes an excellent source for exploring a range of twentieth-century work, including poems by W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, James Fenton, Seamus Heaney, Anne Sexton, and Richard Wilbur. Please buy or borrow a copy of the anthology if you can.  

  • Elizabeth Gaskell

    This course will study two novels by Elizabeth Gaskell. Gaskell was a hugely successful and popular nineteenth-century novelist who used her fiction to explore issues surrounding industrialisation, Chartism, the condition of England, position of women, class barriers and prejudice and provincial town life. We will be studying Gaskell's 1853 novel Ruth in which the author provides a compassionate exploration of the plight of a fallen woman and Gaskell's final, unfinished novel Wives and Daughters (1864-1866) which considers, amongst other things, the position of women, provincial life and issues of class

  • Tragedy and Triumph: The story of polar exploration

    Few stories in exploration are as fascinating as the early attempts to find a way through the North-West Passage and the expeditions to be first at the North and South Poles. In the most hostile environments on earth, men perished, survived and occasionally triumphed.  This is their story. The day school will focus on three areas: The search for the North West Passage, from Frobisher and Davis in the 16th century to Roald Amundsen in the early 20th century. This search was to overlap with various attempts, some as desperate as they were imaginative, to reach the North Pole.  These expeditions culminated in the Englishman, Wally Herbert’s remarkable journey at the end of the 1960s. Robert Scott, Roald Amundsen and the Race to the South Pole. With the help of the evocative photographs of Scott’s photographer, Herbert Ponting, this session focuses on the so-called Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration, in particular the journeys by Robert Scott and his rival, Roald Amundsen to be first at the South Pole. Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition. This session focuses on one of the most dramatic escapes from disaster in polar history.  Shackleton’s ship, the Endurance, got trapped and eventually crushed in the pack ice.  With the help of the expedition’s photographs by Frank Hurley, we will follow the saga of this escape against the odds. The aim of the day is that it should be interesting, enjoyable and thought-provoking.  I hope it will also stimulate further reading of an endlessly fascinating subject.

  • Fascist art and architecture in Europe: exponents and opponents

    A study day that will weave together the story of Fascist art and architecture in Italy, Germany and Spain in the first half of the 20th century. We will examine examples of architecture, sculpture, poster art and paintings and will consider the propagandistic purposes to which they were put. We will also consider art produced by the opponents of Fascism such as Miró’s Aidez Espagne and Picasso’s Guernica.

  • The Architecture of the Country House

    No other country has such a variety of country houses, from the Tudor splendour of Montacute to the Baroque grandeur of Blenheim Palace. But their design can often be baffling. Why have such large houses so many interconnected rooms and so few corridors? Why is the kitchen often such a long way from the dining room? How was the bewildering variety of spaces – drawing rooms, closets, 'saloons', smoking rooms – actually used. This day school traces the history of country house architecture in the light of the lives of the owners, showing how well designed the houses were for the changing lives and habits of those who lived there.

  • Religion and Ritual in Ancient Rome

    We shall be looking at Roman state religion, including the Olympian gods "imported" from the Greeks and also the "home-grown" deities with the rituals and ceremonies enacted by the Romans to both honour and placate their gods. If time permits, we shall also consider the "problem" of the Christians as discussed by Pliny the Younger in his letters to the emperor Trajan and possibly the foreign cults of Mithras and Isis.

  • Doris Hatt and Evelyn Dunbar

    Doris Hatt spent most of her life in Clevedon. A fine artist who kept apart from the establishment, she engaged with European Modernism and the use of strong colour. Her life story is equally fascinating including her politics, life partner and the building of "Littlemead", an Art Deco house. Reproductions of her works are currently on display on the side of Clevedon Baptist Church near the Triangle and in the bus shelter next to the sorting office at Six Ways. Evelyn Dunbar was contemporary with Doris Hatt. She was the only woman to be given a full-time contract in WW2 by the War Artists Advisory Committee, portraying with honesty and humour the lives of nurses, land girls and women on the home front. She came to national prominence a decade ago when one of her paintings featured on the "Antiques Roadshow", leading to the discovery of a whole repository of lost works.

  • Three Thomases: politics, faith and power in the Tudor court

    This course will focus on the lives of three men with immense power in 16th century England which has been retained in their legacies and memories through the centuries. Thomas Wolsey, the Alter Rex; Thomas More, canonised by the Catholic Church as a martyr; and Thomas Cromwell, the architect of the Break from Rome; were titans of the Tudor political world. What does a study of these men tell us about the changing nature of England in the Tudor period? We will look at religious change and humanism, social mobility in Tudor society, the tenuous nature of political power at court, and the downfalls of each. We will consider major interpretations about the importance of these key individuals, and consider how historians' views have changed over time. No pre-reading required, but a reading (and listening!) list will be provided to explore after each session.

  • Objects of wonder

    In the Renaissance, kings and dukes, wealthy merchants and rich scholars developed a passion for collecting and studying exotic objects, animals and - sometimes - human beings. Prepare to be amazed as we unlock cabinets of curiosities and study prints and paintings that capture Europeans’ fascination for magical things from the ‘age of discovery’. Be they animal, vegetable or mineral, rare and beautiful items from Africa and South America were valuable commodities as well as objects of wonder. The commercial aspects of this passion for unicorn horns, coral amulets, mermaid skeletons, mysterious fossils, and such like, will be included alongside close examination of the photographs, maps, prints and paintings that record them.

  • Mozart: a life in choral music

    Mozart is a legendary composer whose legacy and influence continues to impact on our lives today. Join us as we take a unique look at Mozart’s life through the lens of his writing for choir, from his earliest works to his final masterpiece.  We will enjoy listening to and exploring Mozart’s choral music before diving in and hearing different parts and combinations as never before. PROGRAMME Morning: The young Mozart and his early masses (Orphanage Mass and Sparrow Mass) Exploring Mozart’s earliest works written when he was still a child along with discussing his greatest influences in these formative years. BREAK Coronation Mass and The Great Mass in C Minor Examining Mozart’s choral works as a young man, and his life on returning to Salzburg following his extensive touring, followed by the history of the Great Mass in C minor, along with looking at Mozart’s unprecedented move to Vienna as a freelancer with his new wife Constanze. LUNCH Afternoon: Late works: Kyrie in D minor, Masonic Funeral Music, Ave Verum Corpus Mozart’s late period produced some of the most innovative and forward-thinking choral works of the 18th century. We shall explore these works and discuss Mozart’s struggles at the end of the 1780s. BREAK The Requiem in D Minor Mozart’s final year was also one of his most productive. We shall look at this great composer’s last works with a focus on his most famous choral work - the Requiem in D minor.

  • Discussing short stories

    Are these stories a form of armchair time-travel? We begin our journey in 1706, with Daniel Defoe, and finish it with Anthony Trollope, in 1864, discussing one, possibly two, stories per session from The Penguin Book of the British Short Story Volume 1. Selected by Philip Hensher. In his General Introduction to the anthology Hensher asks a question that will be key for us too, 'What is a short story'? More importantly, we'll be thinking about the way these stories work for 21st century readers. The anthology provides us with an interesting range of writers. Some may be familiar because their novels continue to be published. How will their short fiction compare? Does it provide a good introduction to their work? What about the writers in the collection who have largely disappeared from view? Hensher says that the stories we'll study 'are not, in the modern sense, short stories. But they bear in a vital, animating way on the short story's historical development'. Will we agree? How close is the connection between our world and theirs? Details for the anthology - Hardback: ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0141395990 ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0141395999    Paperback: ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 014139600 ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0141396002

  • How big is infinity and other questions

    Many people approach mathematics with fear and trembling. They remember it as a subject from school that was boring, pointless and difficult to understand. This course will take you down some mathematically less travelled roads. In particular, we shall look at some ideas about numbers that I hope are stimulating and interesting. There will be no sums to do but I shall try to get your brain engaged in some subtle thinking. I hope to show you that mathematics can be a source of awe and wonder, and that, as Hamlet almost said, "There are more numbers in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy".

  • Modern European Poetry

    Since the second World War a number of poets have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. These include the Polish poets, Czesław Miłosz and Wisława Szymborska, the Italian poets, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Eugenio Montale. And many European poets have been translated into the English by men and women who are very considerable poets in their own right, for example Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes. In this course we will look at the work of poets who have translated their own work into English, at poems which lose very little in translation but which deserve to be better known, and at some which have been translated again and again because they are so powerful, but can be read in a number of ways. The Serbian/American poet, Charles Simič, said that poems are ’translations from the silence.’ Although poets are writing in exile from the Communist bloc, or from cultures which are apparently different from our own, their quality can speak very directly to our own experience. We will look at the work of both men and women poets whose translators add to the richness of modern poetry in English.

  • Ukraine: understanding the country and its people

    This short course will focus on the way that history, social history and geography have determined the Ukrainian experience. The 2 half days will look at the constituent parts of today's Ukraine, their different histories and how this complicates the current situation. From being the breadbasket of Europe in 1913, through starvation in 1930s, to being a country only now enacting post Soviet land reform, this fertile plain of glorious black earth the size of France has been much prized by neighbouring tribes and countries throughout history. The course will also look at life and perspectives of those living on either side of the "Iron Curtain" as well as the unique position of "Ukraina", which literally translated means "on the edge".

  • Everyone can draw

    Learn to draw with line and shading to capture form and texture. Get depth into your drawings by using perspective and a range of different marks and materials. Build your confidence and develop drawing skills in a relaxed and supportive environment. Study how to ‘look’ and to handle materials, and how to select a subject.  Topics such as line, tone and composition will be covered. Suitable for beginners or those returning to drawing. Basic materials will be provided and there will be a charge of £5 payable to the tutor on the day for these.  But do also bring something you particularly like to work with. This course is currently fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be on a waiting list for any cancellations nearer the time.

  • David Copperfield – The Personal History of… Charles Dickens

    This five week course will study Dickens's most autobiographical novel - The Personal History of David Copperfield.  Serialised between 1849 - 1850, it only emerged much later that so much of David's life has its roots in Dickens's own early life.   This novel is a firm favourite in the Dickens canon and brings us memorable characters such as Peggotty, Betsy Trotwood, the sinister Murdstones, the feckless Mr Micawber and the oh so very 'umble Uriah Heep.    We will consider the novel's place in Dickens's wider canon as well as exploring its literary merits and the social context of the period. The five week reading schedule will be as follows: Week 1 - Chapters 1-12 Week 2 - Chapters 13-24 Week 3 - Chapters 25-37 Week 4 - Chapters 38-50 Week 5  - Chapters 51 - end  

  • From Kaiser to Führer

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be put on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. An exploration of the history and politics surrounding the creation of the Weimar Republic, the rise of the Nazis and the Nazi state. We will cover:

    • The end of the war, Weimar's political crisis and the years of stability 1924-9.
    • The Early years of the NSDAP and the rise of Nazism.
    • The Road to Nazi Dictatorship
    • The Political and Economic structure of the Third Reich 1933-9
    • Nazi Society 1933-9
    • Germany at War 1939-45
      We will be covering some key debates in history as part of this course including the role of the allies in creating discord in Europe through the terms of the Treaty of Versailles; the nature of the Nazi state - was it a chaotic polyocracy or an efficient state?; did Germany have a war economy in peacetime?; how popular was the Nazi regime in Germany 1933-9; why did the Holocaust happen? This course will compare and contrast the Nazi State to other Fascist states in Europe, and will consider their key similarities and differences. There will be no session on 25 October to allow for the half-term break.
  • Music from the Movies

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list for any cancellations. Join Ben England, award-winning conductor and educator for a day exploring the origins of film music, presented in 3D and glorious technicolor! The day will include the following sessions: The Silent Era: how classical music directly influenced the very first music to accompany the films of the silent era, from the first pianists in the Nickleodeons of the early 20th century to the mighty Wurlitzer rising up from the floor! Talkies and the first soundtracks: discussing the very first composed soundtracks and how the debut of talkies changed the shape of live music forever. The Golden Age: Exploring some of the soundtracks by the true masters of movie music, including Max Steiner, Alfred Newman and Erich Wolfgang Korngold. British Cinema and Light Music: Discussing some of the key advancements in cinema on this side of the pond, and how (and why!) the Light programme started on British Radio. Soundtracks referenced will include: Gone With The Wind, Robin Hood and His Merry Men, The Devil’s Galop, The 47th Parallel by Vaughan-Williams, the Twentieth Century Fox Theme and many, many more.  Book your cinema seat today for a musical movie encounter you will never forget.

  • Poetry and the Passage of Time

    The passage of time is a theme explored by many poets. In this three-week course we’ll read and discuss poems from the Bloodaxe anthology, Being Human (2011), which includes a wide variety of poetry from this and the previous century, including work by Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Samuel Menashe, Elaine Feinstein and Sharon Olds. Please buy or borrow a copy of the anthology if you can.

  • Brahms: Inspiration or perspiration?

    Poor old Brahms sometimes finds himself facing undue criticism. Despite being widely recognized as one of the greatest composers in history, some people encounter challenges when trying to connect with his music. Is it due to its complexity? Or perhaps a perceived lack of emotional resonance? Unlike Tchaikovsky, who wears his heart openly in his compositions, Brahms, though a romantic, maintains a certain emotional restraint. He refrains from composing music that adheres to a storyline or consistently conveys a specific mood or sentiment. Why was he so cautious about revealing his inner thoughts? In this day course, our objective is to reveal the authentic Brahms—the man concealed behind the mysterious beard. We'll experience some of his most famous compositions, as well as a selection of lesser-known treasures and we'll use all of them to illustrate the narrative of his life and the era he lived in. We'll uncover his human vulnerabilities and trace the twisting paths of his love life, a tale that could easily rival a Hollywood plot. Be prepared to encounter a complex yet endearing individual who dedicated everything to his craft. Approach the music of this imperfect genius with a fresh perspective, and in doing so, unlock the brilliance embedded within these magnificent works. Musical examples will include the German Requiem, the Violin Concerto, the First Piano Concerto, the Hungarian Dances, the Symphonies and various piano solos, lieder and chamber works.  

  • When England had barely begun

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations. Sutton Hoo and the Lindisfarne Gospels provide remarkable insights into the England of the 7th century. Early in the century, a great ship was dragged ashore from the river Deben in Suffolk.  It became the burial place of a powerful Anglo-Saxon warlord, buried with a mound of treasures from all over the known world. Fine weaponry, gold coins and exquisitely crafted jewellery reflected levels of sophistication which were a revelation. At the end of the 7th century, after its conversion to Christianity, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria enjoyed a brief golden age – a result of which was the Lindisfarne Gospels, one of the most impressive works of art of the whole medieval period. With reference to the Staffordshire Hoard, the day will focus on this cultural achievement of an early ‘Dark Age’ century.

  • Marsden Hartley and Robert Indiana, a conversation through time

    There will be three sessions making up this slightly shorter day course 1  In the first session we will study the life and work of Marsden Hartley (1877-1943). Hartley was an American Modernist, a painter, a poet and essayist. After studying in New York, he travelled to Europe where he was influenced by the Parisian Avant-Garde. Hartley later lived in Berlin, here he developed his personal style of creating paintings. His works contain symbolic images that reflect his personal emotions. He returned to the USA at the outbreak of WW1 and continued to create many works until his death in 1943 2  Robert Indiana (1928-2018) will be the subject of the second session. Indiana was associated with the Pop Art movement in New York.  His work was centred on the use of signs, symbols and words. These paintings hide their true meanings, Indiana produced works that are landscapes and portraits filled with personal story telling. His hard edged, brightly coloured paintings are made to be scrutinised and decoded. 3  The conversation through time. Indiana moved in 1978 to Vinalhaven, a town in Maine where Hartley had spent the final years of his career. He became deeply inspired by the work of Hartley and felt an affinity to the personal stories in Hartley’s work. Between 1989 to 1994 Indiana produced a series of paintings and prints inspired by the work Hartley had created in Berlin in 1913-14. We will conclude the study day by comparing these two artists and examine their conversation through their art.

  • Written out of history? Women artists, 1400-1900

    This course aims to introduce you to some of the many women who enjoyed successful careers as painters and sculptors in countries across Europe down the centuries. We will begin in the early Renaissance and will consider some of the difficulties women artists faced and end our survey as the situation for women began to improve. Some artists including Elisabeth Vigee Lebrun and Artemisa Gentileschi will be familiar.

  • Baubles and beads for Christmas

    Make some unique decorations to hang on the tree or to give as gifts. No stitching required and there will be lots of ribbons, threads, beads and wire to choose from.  See below for examples of what you could make. There will be a small charge on the day of £2-£3 for materials.        

  • Three Comedy of Manners novels from the early Twentieth Century

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. EM Forster's, A Room with a View provides a glimpse into Edwardian times.  Jump forward to 1922, and Elizabeth Von Arnim's, Enchanted April places four women in a shared accommodation in the Italian Riviera for a month.  W Somerset Maugham's, Cakes and Ale, was published in 1930, and subtitled A Skeleton in the Cupboard. In later life, Maugham named this as his favourite of his novels. Do they confirm our ideas of society at their time? We will take the novels in order of publication, looking at a manageable section in each session, as we consider the characters, events, and tone of telling. Do these novels still earn the accolade of 'a good read'? How did you find them? What works, or doesn't work? What is their relevance today? Please read Part 1 of A Room with a View for discussion at the first session.    

  • The colourful life of Cleopatra and her times

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations. As with all the best stories, the truth is stranger than fiction, so come along and learn about the colourful, romantic and often violent life of the last of the pharaohs. Everyone has heard of Cleopatra, but how much of her extraordinary life do you know? This one-day course sets this famous queen firmly into her historical context as we look at her struggles, plots, love affairs and legacy. No previous knowledge of the ancient world is expected, merely a sense of curiosity for a deeply human story.

  • ‘The World’s Wife’: Carol Ann Duffy

    'The World's Wife' is a collection of 30 dramatic monologues in which Carol Ann Duffy pursues one of her major concerns: to give voice to those in society who are not usually heard. Many of the wives portrayed may be long-suffering, but they are certainly not victims. They can be sardonic, angry, cruel or impatient - and occasionally joyful. We shall explore how the poet seeks to both debunk the male persona and to highlight the way in which women in general have been ignored, or even silenced, down the ages.

  • Empires: Part 1 – The Classical Era

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations. This day school will explore the history of Eurasian Empires up to the end of the Classical Age. We will cover a vast expanse of time and space, beginning with the World’s first Empires in Mesopotamia, such as Babylonia and Assyria; these were eventually incorporated into the huge Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great, and then conquered in turn by Alexander (also ‘the Great’!). We will learn about the Phoenicians who traded both goods and ideas around the Mediterranean, and how their decline ushered in the rise of the Roman Empire; concurrently, thousands of miles to the east, the Han Chinese were building an Empire of comparable size and power. We will explore how all these Empires rose, interacted, functioned, and fell, and how they laid the basis for the modern day. Part 2 - The Modern Era will follow next term as a second stand alone day course.

  • Vincent Van Gogh: From Arles to Auvers

    Van Gogh arrived in Arles in February 1888 with the idea of founding a studio of the south. His time there was exceptionally productive, producing many dozens of paintings, drawings and watercolours (Night Cafe, Starry Night, Sunflowers). A very broke Gauguin joined him for two months in October. During this period some great art was produced but their turbulent relationship culminated in Van Gogh cutting off his own ear. A period in an asylum at Saint-Rémy produced many pictures of both clinic and garden. In May 1890 Van Gogh moved to Auvers-sur-Oise, home town of the famous Dr. Gachet. It was here in July that he died aged ........and was laid to rest. His brother Theo did not survive for long and was eventually laid to rest next to him.

  • Lancastrians and Yorkists: Instability, chaos and the outbreak of the ‘Wars of the Roses’

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on a waiting list in case of any cancellations. Over six weeks, we will discover 15th century England and the roots of instability which started with the deposition and murder of Richard II. We will investigate the life of Henry Bolingbroke who seized the throne as Henry IV. We will explore the Lancastrian wars in France under the leadership of Henry V, including the successful siege of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt and uncover whether Henry V truly deserves the description of 'the greatest man that ever ruled England'. Finally, we will cover the disastrous reign of Henry VI, the outbreak of factional fighting and civil war. The course will cover: The Peasants Revolt and its aftermath. The reign of Richard II, his favourites, the Lords Appellant and the 'Merciless Parliament'. The deposition of Richard II and the coronation of Henry IV. The reign of Henry IV, 'Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown' , the founder of the House of Lancaster. The rebellion of Owain Glyndŵr; Mortimer, Scrope and the Tripartite Indenture. Henry V, war with France and the claim to the French crown. Henry V, Charles VI of France and the Treaty of Troyes. The reign of Henry VI - marriage to Margaret of Anjou - instability, chaos and the outbreak of civil war. We will explore this political and military history of England with contemporary written sources and with reference to the art and architecture which defines each reign. We will assess different interpretations by historians and refer to Shakespeare's reasons for his own interpretation of events in his historical plays

  • Women of the Classical World

    By using a range of sources from the ancient world including grave markers, legal disputes and letters, it is possible to bring to life a range of Greek and Roman women. What we can learn about their lives tells us an immense amount about the society in which they lived. Some of the women we look at are famous, some almost unknown, some are rich, some poor. Their lives can inform us about a huge range of issues in the societies in which they lived including family life, the relationship between the sexes, politics and business. It is often assumed that we know little about ordinary women in the ancient world, but this course hopes to correct that assumption.

  • Calling all Trollopes!

    The first two weeks of the course will be spent looking at Miss Mackenzie (1865) who is described as 'neither beautiful nor clever' and is plagued by unsuitable suitors when she inherits a sizeable sum of money.  This novel is one of Trollope's most incisive portraits of the plight of the unmarried woman in nineteenth-century England.  The following four weeks will be spent studying Trollope’s  He Knew He Was Right.  This novel explores a number of themes including the psychology of jealousy; class; marriage; infidelity; position of women; and the concept of work ethic.

  • Glories of the Musical Baroque

    Classical music is usually divided into discrete periods which aim to capture something of a prevailing style and approach of composers in Europe at a given time. But what do we really mean by these labels? In this day-course, we will attempt to define and explore the Baroque era. How and why did music change following the Renaissance period? What innovations did the Baroque composers bring and why have the biggest names remained such favourites, hundreds of years later? We'll explore the emergent forms of sonata, concerto and opera along with the musical techniques that enabled such beauty and vitality to take shape in the great works. And along the way, we'll listen to gorgeous music by Monteverdi, Strozzi, Vivaldi, Handel, JS Bach and many others.

  • Venice: history, art & architecture

    A little history of Venice through its art and architecture. This study day begins with a survey of Venetian history from its beginnings to the present day. We will then move on to examine Venetian painting from the 1300s to about 1800, with a focus on several well known artists including Titian and Canaletto.

  • Empires: Part 2 – the Post-Classical Age

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on a waiting list in case of any cancellations. This day school will explore the history of Empire in the Post-Classical Age from about 600 to 1450 CE.  We will learn about the re-emergence of China under the Sui, Tang and Song dynasties; explore Empires centred around faith (such as the Byzantines, Arabs, and Mughals), and watch the Mongols thundering out from the Eurasian Steppe to conquer the biggest Empire of all.  We will also venture further afield to discover the isolated Empires of Africa and the Americas – Mali, the Aztecs and the Incas. We will explore how all these Empires rose, interacted, functioned, and fell, and how they laid the basis for the emergence of the Modern World.

  • Great English Song Cycles

    European Art Song emerged primarily in Germany and Austria in the nineteenth century and soon captured the imagination of composers across Europe. English composers took a while to catch on, but when they did, the results were truly wonderful. Today we will embark on a musical voyage through late 19th and early 20th-century England as we delve into some exquisite examples of English song cycles. Immerse yourself in the evocative notes of Elgar's Sea Pictures, Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings, and emotionally-charged works by Finzi and Vaughan Williams. From pastoral idylls to the sound of roaring seas and from years of peace to scenes of wartime desolation, discover how these visionary composers translated poetry into compelling and haunting musical reflections, shaping the landscape of English music.

  • Art Nouveau: a modern style for a new millennium

      This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. Although going by various names, Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany and the Baltic states, Modernisme in Barcelona and Secession in Munich and Vienna, the artists, designers and architects who embraced the concept of ‘new art’ all pursued the same goal, which was to create a style that reflected an age marked by rapid change. The fashion for reworking previous styles, Classicism, Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque, was swept aside.  Not only did artists explore new stylistic expressions based on natural forms, but they also experimented with new materials - concrete, ceramics, metalwork and ceramics. Cities such as Barcelona, Paris and Helsinki were transformed. In some cases, such as Helsinki and Barcelona, the mission to create new art forms was linked to a desire to establish a national identity. This helps to explain the marked stylistic differences that occurred across Europe.  Often the new art is exemplified by the work of a leading avant-garde architect: Gaudi in Barcelona, Mackintosh in Glasgow and Wagner in Vienna.  These men all shared a vision to create visually stunning buildings bound together by the concept of the ‘Gestamtkunstwerk’; they were to be total works of art with all aspects of a building, both exterior and interior, unified through style.

  • Managing Mixed Media

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. Experiment with drawing materials. Try out various media to enrich your artwork such as collage, mono-prints, stencils and frottage. Surprise yourself with the images you can make by mixing it up. Drawing from a variety of subjects (such as landscapes, trees, flowers, buildings, still life and portraits) each week we shall try out using at least 2 different materials to make exciting artworks. Through trial and error you can learn to make choices of different colours, textures and shapes that please you.

  • A view of the 40s: Green, Euphan Todd & Taylor. Comedies of manners?

    Henry Green's Loving was published in 1945; for 1946 we have Miss Ranskill comes Home, by an author who most people probably think of as a children's author, Barbara Euphon Todd. Elizabeth Taylor's A View of the Harbour was published in 1947. Each deals with war, but is it the backdrop, or the foreground? Do they show us how war is experienced by those not directly involved in the battles? We will discuss each of these books in order, and consider how they connect with our own ideas of the period. The tutor will supply a reading schedule at the first session. We will begin with Loving. Please read to the end of the letter Raunce writes to his mother at around the mid-point of the book. This is a book without chapters or 'parts', but there are some line-breaks - one follows the paragraph after the letter is written, when Raunce drops off to sleep.

  • On Extended Wings – Six modern American poets

    Over the last hundred years American poets have assimilated a huge range of influences including jazz and blues, the new psychologies, advertising, film, and a variety of landscapes from Boston to the Rockies. And while recognising the importance of the great traditions in British and European poetry, for most poets it was essential to develop an original voice which was both individual and American. In this course we will consider the range of responses to what it means to be human, from the contemplative poems of Wallace Stevens and his search for meaning in a world without God, to the startlingly direct work of Sharon Olds. For Elizabeth Bishop, travel, both literally and metaphorically, is central to her work and for John Berryman, forging poetry out of frustrated desire. Louise Glück, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 2020, was praised for the way her poetry’s  ‘austere beauty makes individual existence universal.’ Each of these poets brings a unique vision that enable us to see the world afresh.

  • “I paint life”: Laura Knight, 1877 -1970

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations. The life and work of artist Laura Knight. Associated with art colonies on the Yorkshire coast and in Cornwall in her early years, Laura Knight became a popular and acclaimed artist. She was the first woman artist to be elected to full membership of the Royal Academy of Arts. This study day focuses in detail on Knight, her paintings, drawings and designs over the course of her long life, her dealings with other artists and friends across the arts.

  • Expressionists: Kandinsky, Münter and The Blue Rider

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. The German Expressionists brought dazzling colours to the art world in the years surrounding the First World War. Ahead of a major 2024 exhibition at Tate Modern, we look at the art of 'The Blue Rider' featuring Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Gabrielle Münter. We will examine the other Expressionist group 'The Bridge' as well as photographs by Münter,  and discover the fate of the art after the Nazis took power. A day of vibrant art, colour and history.

  • National Treasures: Iconic paintings from the National Gallery

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be added to the waiting list in case of any cancellations. In this study day we will investigate some of the greatest paintings in our national collection. Come and explore and discover the wonderful paintings and their narratives and the stories of the great artists that created them. Works by Rubens, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Turner, Degas, Seurat and others will be examined and celebrated in this introductory look at the iconic paintings and the great artists housed at the National Gallery.

  • The ‘Wars of the Roses’: civil war in England and the ascent of the Tudors

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. Over six weeks, we will explore the exciting and chaotic world of Fifteenth century England and its dramatic events and changes. We will investigate the lives of the warring factions of the Houses of Lancaster, Beaufort, Stafford, York and Tudor; following the trials and tribulations of Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII together with their consorts, including members of the great families of late medieval England. The course will cover: The origin of the Wars of the Roses, the rise of Richard, Duke of York, the fall of the House of Lancaster, Edward IV and the consolidation of Yorkist power, the King and the Kingmaker - Edward and the Earl of Warwick.  Warwick's rebellion and the readeption of Henry VI, the politics of rivalry - Clarence and Gloucester, Richard of Gloucester and the overthrow of Edward V, the Battle of Bosworth and the rise of Henry Tudor, and the 'New Monarchy' of Henry VII.

  • Astronomy

    Chris Sperring MBE may be known to some for his work in Wildlife Conservation for which he was awarded the M.B.E by the Queen in 2001. Chris also presents on TV and Radio bringing his enthusiasm for the natural world to audiences. Chris also writes many articles, and lectures to many groups on natural history and astronomy. In his spare times, he writes and records his own music. Chris has had a lifelong passion for the night sky as well and has delivered his easy guide to the night sky for many years, obviously as new information comes to light this is added into his course and these are indeed exciting times for new discoveries in Astronomy. The course is like a trip through the cosmos, we start in week one in our solar system (our back garden) as Chris calls it. Week 2 we explore our near stellar neighbourhood, in week three we look in detail at the lifestyle of the stars themselves going into detail about life and death, and in week four we look at our Galaxy and beyond into the universe and stare back at the beginning of time. During these sessions, Chris will provide the guide to the night sky and each week your own knowledge will increase of how to identify the constellations and planets that fill the night sky above us. As Chris says "you will get homework with this course" but don't worry its fun homework you will be asked to go out in the evening look up and put into practice some of your new skills.

  • Selected novels of Jane Austen

    Austen's use of irony, social commentary, humour and realism are some of the reasons why her novels have remained popular over the last 200 years. This course will look at Sense and Sensibility (1811) which an early review described as having 'a very pleasing and entertaining narrative.' We will then move on to Emma (1816) which was the last of Austen’s novels to be published in her lifetime and details the story of Emma’s well intentioned but ultimately meddlesome match-making.

  • From the Bayeux Tapestry to the Wilton Diptych

    After a brief survey of the period from the eleventh century to the fifteenth, we will focus firstly on the Bayeux Tapestry - "one of the most enchanting pieces of narrative art in existence" ( Talbot Rice). It is a unique and magnificent survivor from a time when wall hangings of all kinds were common among the wealthy and powerful. We will then move on to illuminated manuscripts, concentrating on the Romanesque eg the Winchester Bible and moving on to the Gothic eg the Luttrell Psalter. Illuminated manuscripts are one of the great artistic achievements of the whole period. Over a time-span of some five hundred years the great cathedrals of Medieval England were built. From Durham to Gloucester we will follow the evolution of cathedral building with reference to structural and aesthetic details together with some of the figures and events behind them. Finally, we will look at the Wilton Diptych from late in Richard II's reign. It remains one of the most beautiful yet enigmatic paintings in our history. This will include reference to other forms of artistic expression from the late medieval period, in particular angel hammer beam roofs.

  • Empires: Part 3 – the rise of Europe

    This day school focuses on the history and interaction of Empires in the Modern Era from about 1450 CE to the present day. The main theme is the rise of Europe, but we will not forget the formidable adversaries European powers faced from the Ming and Qin dynasties in China, through the Mughals in India, and the Safavids in Persia to the Ottomans whose Empire spanned three continents. We will also learn about the rise of new Empires in the twentieth century such as Nazi Germany, Japan, the USSR and the USA. We will explore how all these Empires rose, interacted, functioned, and fell, and how they laid the basis for the emergence of the Modern World. Finally, we’ll examine the legacy of Empire in our own times.

  • Vaughan Williams – Renaissance Man

    The composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was fascinated by the ancient music of his homeland and as his explorations widened, he led a generation of English composers in a new renaissance of national music. Renowned for his quintessentially English compositions, Vaughan Williams navigated an eclectic career deeply engaged with diverse musical traditions and approaches. In contrast to many European composers of the same era who sometimes left their audience bemused, Vaughan Williams steadfastly maintained an unwavering commitment to accessibility. Emerging as one of the most cherished composers in the nation, his works, spanning multiple genres, have firmly established themselves in the canon as integral components of the finest musical offerings this country has produced.

  • Against the Odds: how women writers found their voices and got published

    Virginia Woolf said that 'Intellectual freedom depends upon material things.'  We shall explore this concept as it applies to women writers in Britain from the 17th to the early 19th century. Using a mix of literary texts we shall focus on the outspoken feminism of Mary Wollstonecraft and the more subtle female perspectives of Jane Austen in Persuasion and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley in Frankenstein, asking questions about the gender barriers to success and to what extent these were transcended. This is the first of two linked day courses exploring this topic, which can also easily be taken independently.  The second will follow in the Autumn Term

  • Birds on a String

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on a waiting list in case of any cancellations. Traditionally, these strings of embellished textile birds were found in homes throughout India. It was believed that they would bring good fortune to the household. Originally made with silk fabric they look just as good made with modern patchwork/dress weight cotton. This is a hand sewing project suitable for all abilities.                                      

  • National Treasures: More Iconic Paintings from the National Gallery

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on a waiting list in case of any cancellations. In this study day we will continue to investigate some of the greatest paintings in our national collection. Come and explore and discover the wonderful paintings and their narratives and the stories of the great artists that created them. Works by Rubens, Caravaggio, Velazquez, Turner, Degas, Seurat and others will be examined and celebrated in this further look at the iconic paintings and the great artists housed at the National Gallery.    

  • Introduction to Greek Theatre

    This one-day course is designed as an entertaining introduction to the subject, rather than a heavy-weight academic course for experts. Students who have no knowledge whatsoever of the ancient world will be made just as welcome as those with previous knowledge who want a refresher course. We will look at the history and evolution of ancient Greek theatre – how it emerged from a religious ritual, as well as its later links to democracy. Examples will be selected from a range of tragedies and comedies to illustrate the main plots and themes. There will be plenty of pictures to help bring the ancient world alive.

  • Goodbye Mutti? German politics during the Merkel years and beyond

    After the upheaval of the social and economic reforms enacted by the Schröder government, Angela Merkel seemed the voice of reason, and Germans didn't mind her wooden demeanour. Her handling of the financial and migration crises as well as the pandemic was marked by an unusual mixture of shrewdness and incrementalism. After sixteen years, Germany's political landscape is fractured, and while the person most like her is now her successor, many Germans feel that their nation, social security system, infrastructure, and industrial policy need a new lease of life. We will examine crises and characters that shaped Europe's biggest polity over the past couple of decades, and we might even draw some comparisons with the United Kingdom. German language skills are not required. For each topic we’ll start with op-ed cartoons (yes, German humour!) and photos, and by the end you’ll know at least a few key (long!) words – think “Germany in 5 Words.”

  • ‘Moon Tiger’ by Penelope Lively – the shaping of history in fictional worlds

    Penelope Lively's seventh novel was published in 1987. Ostensibly a novel about one woman’s extraordinary life, the story is complex, playing with time and view-points. It raises questions about history that provide us with a starting point for exploring our responses to the characters, the world represented, and the world we know... or think we do. We'll spend the day considering a variety of approaches to the writing. In 1987, one dissenting voice amongst the many positive reviews thought it 'too sheltered... tidy and appealing'. In 2018 it was shortlisted to represent the 1980s in the Golden Man Booker Prize.

  • Caspar David Friedrich – Humanity and Nature

    2024 sees the 250th anniversary of the birth of Caspar David Friedrich, the father of German Romanticism. He transformed landscape painting into 'art for a new age', examining the relationship between man and the natural world. Key pictures by Friedrich are 'The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog' (1818), 'The Sea of Ice' (1824), and the beautiful 'Chalk Cliffs on Rügen' (1818). Man's insignificance in the face of the grandeur of the sublimity of nature is a recurring theme. His paintings are haunting, spiritual and full of fascinating detail.

  • Better than Nothing

    We find it so easy to write down any number using our ten digit system that we do not realise how long it took to invent or appreciate how difficult it was. In this day school we shall look at number systems devised by different civilisations around the world. Among other things we shall investigate Babylonian cuneiform, find out why we have 60 minutes in an hour, watch Archimedes counting grains of sand and visit both India and the Yucatan peninsula in Central America. However we shall not dwell entirely in the past and we shall see why computers prefer to do things differently. There will be some practical activities to help you engage with the ideas.

  • From Power to Prodigy House: the country house in Tudor England

    This study day will survey the development of the country house in Tudor England. We will begin with discussion of “power houses” including Sutton Place and Hampton Court, with consideration of their architectural features as well as their internal fixtures. Our second session will consider the impact that the Dissolution of the Monasteries had upon the development of the country house. In our afternoon session we will survey some of the great Elizabethan properties such as Burghley House and Montacute which are known as prodigy houses.

  • Mozart – The Soul of a Genius

    Mozart stands as the epitome of musical genius, revered and cherished by scholars, critics, performers and listeners alike. The universal allure of his compositions begs the question: what elements make his music so universally captivating? Our exploration today aims to decode the innovations Mozart introduced to the repertoire and examine how he developed existing musical ideas, crafting numerous timeless classics. Join us on this journey as we delve into these questions and, of course, immerse ourselves in his many masterpieces through extensive listening sessions.

  • ‘Life after Life’ by Kate Atkinson – the shaping of history in fictional worlds

    This was Kate Atkinson's ninth novel. A tricky narrative, playing games with story and reader. Is it a family saga? Is it a historical novel? A war novel? Do we need to categorise a work of fiction? As well as asking questions about the nature of history, we will be thinking about how story works, and the nature of fiction. The novel asks, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were an infinite number of chances to live your life?' We'll discuss how effectively history and character are presented, how thoroughly the reader is engaged by the story.

  • Shakespeare and History: the real Wars of the Roses

    Shakespeare’s earliest plays deal with the most turbulent period in English history, from the loss of France through to the Battle of Bosworth. Along the way he addresses the burning of Joan of Arc, the murder of a king, and 28,000 dead at Towton (probably the largest and bloodiest battle on English soil). This day-school shows how Shakespeare used history: what he kept, what he left out, and how he melded events into drama.

  • Film Music in the Modern Era

    An exploration of movie scoring from the 1970s to the present day. Following on from Ben’s Film Music course last year, this day course will look at the art of writing music for movies and TV, including examples of music by John Barry (James Bond, Born Free, Out of Africa), Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther), Ennio Morricone (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly) and Hans Zimmer (Interstellar, The Lion King, Gladiator). Using the latest music technology, Ben will deconstruct a film score live on screen, showing the parts that are combined to create the magic of the silver screen.

  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four

    This course is now fully booked.  Please contact us if you would like to be placed on the waiting list in case of any cancellations. Charles Rennie Mackintosh is now lauded as Scotland’s greatest modern architect but sadly his potential was never fully realised during his lifetime. He ended his days in obscurity. The role played by his equally talented wife, Margaret Macdonald, and his collaborators, her sister Francis Macdonald and Herbert MacNair, has only recently been fully appreciated. Margaret played a central role in the creation of those wonderful white rooms designed for Vienna in 1900 and Turin 1902, as well as the interior décor of Hill House, Helensburgh. Margaret contributed her distinctive pewter panels with ‘spooky’ maidens and ionic plaster panels inspired by fairy tales or poems. The Macdonald girls, who drew on Japanese prints, the Arts and Crafts movement and the graphics of Aubrey Beardsley, helped to create the inimitable Glasgow style. As well as looking at the Four’s work in Glasgow, the Glasgow School of Art, the Hill House, and Miss Cranston’s Tea Rooms, the impact of their design ethos on the emergence of European modernism is also assessed.                                                                            

  • ‘Answering Back’

    Contemporary poets were invited to select a poem from our literary heritage and respond to it in any way they wished. "Answering Back" is the resulting anthology. In this day school, we shall be discussing a selection from the anthology, both the original poem and the new 'answer' and considering how the latter responds to the former. Does it, for example, echo, transform, tease, pay homage or subvert? Most of the contemporary poets chose to respond to 19th or 20th century poems, and the plan is to look at approximately 10 pairings, including poets such as Edward Thomas/Gillian Clarke, Edna St. Vincent Millay/Roger McGough, Philip Larkin/Vicki Feaver,  Elizabeth Bishop/Ruth Fainlight and WB Yeats/Billy Collins. John Donne may also make a guest appearance! Copies of the poems will be provided.

Download current list of all courses: CASA flyer Summer 2018