Literature Summer School

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Term I: 5 – 18 July 2015
Term II: 19 July – 1 August 2015
Programme Directors: Dr Fred Parker and Dr John Lennard

The Literature Summer School, now in its 30th year, gives its participants an experience of 'Cambridge English', with its emphasis on small group teaching, close attention to the words on the page, and radical inquiry into why literature matters.

Who can apply?

Programmes are open to university students, professionals and those with other life experience; gap-year students preparing for university may also apply (students must be accompanied by a parent/guardian if under 18 when the programme commences). Participants must also meet our language requirements.

How to apply

Applications for 2015 will open in December 2014 when the new programmes go live.

For more information about other Summer School programmes please visit:

The academic programme

  • Plenary course GH0:
    Tragedy and Comedy
  • Four special subject courses
    (two for each week)
  • Evening lectures

Special subject courses

Classes allow for close and continuing discussion, and you will be expected to have done substantial preparatory reading before you arrive in Cambridge.

Term I:

Week 1:

9.15am – 10.45am

Ga1 - An introduction to James Joyce’s Ulysses: text and context
Ga2 - All’s well? Shakespeare’s 'problem plays'
Ga3 - The soul of C S Lewis
Ga4 - Three great British fantasists: Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, J R R Tolkien

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Ha1 - Guilt and the novel: from Crime and Punishment to Atonement
Ha2 - The modern novel I: one hundred years of experiments in narrative
Ha3 - Making sense of poetry
Ha4 - From Watchmen to Maus and beyond: the modern graphic novel

Week 2:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gb1 - "A lifetime burning in every moment": T S Eliot’s Four Quartets in context
Gb2 - Milton's Paradise Lost
Gb3 - Poetry, politics and pain: poets of the First World War
Gb4 - Three great American fantasists: Ursula Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, Lois McMaster Bujold

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hb1 - The tragic South: literature of the American South
Hb2 - The modern novel II: one hundred years of experiments in narrative
Hb3 - Making sense of poetry
Hb4 - A long look at Rudyard Kipling

Term II:

Week 3:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gc1 - Euripides: 'the most tragic'?
Gc2 - Reading Virginia Woolf
Gc3 - Civilising sex in Spenser's The Faerie Queene
Gc4 - King Lear and Macbeth

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hc1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction
Hc2 - The serious Jane Austen: Mansfield Park and Persuasion
Hc3 - Philip Sidney and the English Renaissance
Hc4 - Keats: The narrative poems and the odes

Week 4:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gd1 - Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit: mystery and sedition
Gd2 - Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
Gd3 - From Troy to Ithaca and Rome: classical heroes, and those who care for them
Gd4 - Major lyrics of the 17th century

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hd1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction
Hd2 - The poetry of W B Yeats
Hd3 - More's Utopia: a radical Renaissance vision
Hd4 - The lyric voice in the 19th century

Plenary lectures

Following the theme Tragedy and Comedy, the plenary lectures bring fresh perspectives to familiar masterpieces and encourage exploration in new directions.

Evening lectures

Additional general evening lectures will add to your enjoyment of the programme.


Accommodation is available for participants who want to stay in a Cambridge College. Please see the accommodation options available for this programme.

Non-residential attendance is also available if participants prefer to find their own lodgings.

Programme fees

Programme fees include tuition, bed, breakfast and evening meals unless otherwise indicated.

Pre-enrolment information

Booking terms and conditions


2014 brochure as a PDF (5.31MB)

Contact us

University of Cambridge
International Programmes
Institute of Continuing Education
Madingley Hall
United Kingdom
CB23 8AQ

Tel: +44 (0) 1223 760850
Fax: +44 (0) 1223 760848


Teaching and assessment is in English. Students for whom English is not their first language should refer to the Competence in the English Language Policy for further guidance.

Printable versions of our brochures are available to download from the Summer Schools brochure download page.