Literature Summer Programme

2016 Literature BR 200x155 72dpi

Term I: 3 – 16 July 2016
Term II: 17 – 30 July 2016
Programme Directors: Dr Fred Parker and Dr Jenny Bavidge

This programme gives you an experience of 'Cambridge English', with an emphasis on small group teaching, close attention to the words on the page, and radical inquiry into why literature matters.

The academic programme

  • Four special subject courses
    (two for each week)
  • Plenary course GH0:
    Connections and Conflicts
  • Evening talks

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 - Blake and Wordsworth
Ga2 - Loves in literature
Ga3 - "A lifetime burning in every moment": T S Eliot’s Four Quartets in context
Ga4 - From Watchmen to Maus and beyond: the modern graphic novel

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Ha1 - Religion and contemporary literature - Cancelled
Ha2 - The modern novel I: one hundred years of experiments in narrative
Ha3 - Making sense of poetry
Ha4 - Three great British fantasists: Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, J R R Tolkien 

Week 2:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gb1 - An introduction to the Bloomsbury Group
Gb2 - Charlotte Brontë: restraint and rebellion
Gb3 - James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and other early writings
Gb4 - From Baker Street to Bible John: British crime writing, 1890-2000

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hb1 - The serious Jane Austen: Mansfield Park and Persuasion
Hb2 - The modern novel II: one hundred years of experiments in narrative
Hb3 - Making sense of poetry
Hb4 - Three great American fantasists: Ursula Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, Lois McMaster Bujold

Term II:

Week 1:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gc1 - King Lear and Macbeth
Gc2 - Reading Virginia Woolf
Gc3 - Dickens and the Victorian underworld: Great Expectations
Gc4 - Romantic madness

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hc1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction
Hc2 - Dystopian visions on page and screen: 'Imagine a boot…'
Hc3 - Elizabethan love poetry
Hc4 - The soul of C S Lewis

Week 2:

9.15am – 10.45am

Gd1 - Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
Gd2 - Classical heroes from Troy to Ithaca and Rome: the Iliad, Odyssey and Aeneid
Gd3 - From Pan to Potter: 20th-century British children's literature
Gd4 - Selected English poems, 1870-1915

2.00pm – 3.30pm

Hd1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction
Hd2 - “If that which is lost be not found”: restoration and romance in Shakespeare
Hd3 - Reinventing heroism: the epic poem in English
Hd4 - Three tales by Henry James

Plenary lectures

Following the theme Connections and Conflicts, the plenary lectures bring fresh perspectives to familiar masterpieces and encourage exploration in new directions. Invited speakers include:

Dr Kate Kennedy: Appealing for release: Ivor Gurney’s ‘mad’ asylum letters
Dr Sarah Haggarty: Blake and Newton
Clive Wilmer: Italy and the Victorians
Dr Louise Joy: Connection and conflicts in the rise of the novel
Dr Christine van-Ruymbeke: Connecting East and West: how the Persian Fables conquered the world
Dr Laura Moretti: Japanese book illustrations: connecting picture scrolls to manga
Dr Jenny Mander: Hospitality, conflict and cross-cultural communication: the French Huguenots and the British book trade
Dr Charlie Weiss: Mythical connections in Ancient Greek and Roman literature: why do multiple versions of myths exist and what can a poet do with them?
Dr Fred Parker: Laurence Sterne's Sentimental Journey: connecting with strangers
Dr Andy Wimbush: The influence of Samuel Beckett on the autobiographical fiction of B S Johnson
Dr Jacqueline Tasioulas: Conflict in Late Medieval literature
Dr Sarah Houghton-Walker: Romantic conjunctions: the quiet work of 'and' and 'or'
Dr Fred Parker: Keeping body and soul together: Andrew Marvell
Dr Jenny Bavidge: Sex wars: feminist literary criticism since 1969
Dr Joe Moshenska: Poet and pirate, courtier and cook: the life and work of Sir Kenelm Digby (1603-65)
Dr Mary Newbould: Lord Burlington, Apollo of the Arts: building relations between the Sister Arts in 18th century England
Dr Corinna Russell: "Antithetical mind": Byron, Wordsworth and Keats read Robert Burns
Dr Alex Lindsay: 'What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things': Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock
Dr Edward Allen: Only connect? E M Forster and the problems of modernist colonial dialogue
Dr Jenny Bavidge: Great minds of the past: reading for connection and recuperation

Evening talks

Additional general evening and occasional afternoon talks will add to your enjoyment of the programme. Invited speakers include:

Professor Lord Rowan Williams: Antigone, Ancient and Modern: from Sophocles to Anouilh and beyond
Professor Paul Cartledge: The roots of democracy
Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: New light on Rome
Michael Wood: Travels on the Silk Road
Dr James Grime: The Enigma code-breaking machine
Dr Lucilla Burn: Celebrating 200 years: the Fitzwilliam Museum, 1816-2016
Dr John Leigh: Demanding satisfaction: the duel in literature
Dr John Lennard: Fantasists and Realists - a misleading opposition
Dr Fred Parker: Introduction to Macbeth
Professor Chris Lintott: I want to believe: an astronomer's view of aliens
Dr Karen Ottewell: How English works
Dr John Lennard: Introduction to A Midsummer Night's Dream
Dr Mark Goldie: Lottery and democracy: choosing by lot - a scheme for real democracy
John Jackson: The impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on her neighbours

A typical day

On each weekday morning you attend a class from your Ga, Gb, Gc or Gd special subject course, followed by a plenary lecture. In the afternoons you attend a class from your Ha, Hb, Hc or Hd special subject course. Subject specific and joint lectures are offered in the evenings.

College accommodation

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

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

Information for applicants

Programme calendar (pdf version, 32KB)
Who can apply
How to apply (pdf version, 90KB)
What happens next?
Tuition and accommodation fees (pdf versions, 46KB and 42KB)
Language requirements
Visa guidance
Booking terms and conditions


The quickest way to apply is by using our secure online booking system. You can also apply by downloading an application form (pdf) and sending it by post or fax.

An Introduction to Macbeth

An Introduction to A Midsummer Night’s Dream