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Institute of Continuing Education (ICE)


Adrian Barlow, former Director of Public and Professional Programmes here at ICE, has written a new book about continuing education and his time teaching literature at Madingley Hall.

In Extramural, published this month by Lutterworth Press, Barlow argues for the continued relevance of adult education in the face of funding cuts and the closure of many continuing education departments. His inspiration is ICE’s founder, James Stuart, who had a bold and idealistic vision of broadening education from the (then) elite confines of the Oxbridge colleges to all of society. Specialising in literature, Barlow built his career on this radical principle, taking up the founder’s mantle of acting as a guide and mentor to all those hungry for knowledge and understanding.

Barlow presents the study of literature – as thoughts expressed in language – as key to education. He draws on his own vast knowledge of literature, from Tom Paine and John Ruskin to Alan Bennett and E M Forster, to illustrate the depth that the study of literature can bring to one’s personal and intellectual development.

Extramural is more than a personal account of a career in education, but an argument for an idea, and for the lifelong pursuit of knowledge.

What the reviewers say

"Extramural is nothing less than a first-hand, definitive celebration of the importance of lifelong learning by a gifted teacher and administrator who wears his own scholarship lightly, delighting, as the best teachers always do, in the fact that 'you are likely to learn as much from your students as they will learn from you.' Nobody who reads Adrian Barlow's wonderfully alert account of [continuing] education courses taught mainly at Cambridge's Madingley Hall could fail to envy those who have participated in them, and no institution could have a better advertisement.

"This, though, is only part of the book's value. Containing the texts of various commissioned lectures on Barlow's twin loves of literature and architecture, plus occasional reviews and a selection of lively, sometimes engagingly forthright items from his blog … Extramural combines polemic, literary criticism and autobiography in what amounts to a vivid memoir of his life in education. As an occasional Madingley Hall tutor myself, I found the book ringing true on every page."

-- John Mole, poet, author and tutor

About the author

Adrian Barlow began teaching for ICE in 1998, becoming Staff Tutor in English in 2005, University Lecturer in English and Director of Public Programmes in 2007 and Director of Public and Professional Programmes in 2009. Recently retired, he is a senior member of Wolfson College, Cambridge and National Chair of the English Association.

While at Madingley, Barlow wrote a regular blog, 'World and Time', in which he discussed a range of subjects including English literature, architecture and the history of Madingley Hall. His blog is quoted extensively in his new book.

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