Although the organiser and session leaders of this course are university lecturers, this course is privately run and receives no university subsidies. The course, which meets from 7:00 to 9:00 on Friday evenings, is meant for adults in work or retirement. It is unique in several ways:
- it is challenging but accessible, requiring no previous knowledge
- session leaders are enthusiastic and are experts in their particular topic
- although each session speaks to the course’s overall theme, lecturers come from a wide variety of fields, including literature, history, art history, and philosophy
- participants enjoy the background reading provided and discussing the primary sources (usually some 20-30 pages per week) with each other and the session leaders
- the course meets in a cozy setting (currently the Elizabeth Room of the Parochial Church Hall of St Nicholas Church, Kenilworth) and strongly facilitates a common bond between the participants
- numbers usually range between 12 and 16, so as to foster discussion and personal interaction
- the course offers no qualification and requires no written work: people join just for the fun of learning!
Each session consists of two hours: usually a lecture, followed by a tea break and discussion of the topic and predistributed materials.
The theme for Winter/Spring 2017 was ‘Representations of Power in the West’: over two terms of 9 weeks each, we looked at how rulers, and theories or systems of power, have been represented in the western world from the time of Plato and Aristotle to the present. Examples were drawn from history, material culture (e.g., coins), architecture, art, philosophical writings, fiction, and film. (For details, see the individual outlines of the two terms.)
In 2018 we are looking at ‘Philosophy and Religion in the Christian West’, from the time of St Augustine up to Nietzsche. This course lasts 10 weeks and deals with some challenging material on how various thinkers have conceptualised the relationship and tensions between human thought and religious thought or practice.
About the course leader: David Lines received his PhD in History from Harvard University. He has extensive experience of teaching topics in literature and history from the ancient world to the present to adults and university students. He is a well-recognised scholar in the field of Renaissance Studies and believes that learning should be both challenging and fun.
Page photo: Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s, ‘Good and Bad Government’ in the Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, c. 1340.