United Kingdom, Cambridge

Literature Summer Programme

when 8 July 2018 - 4 August 2018
duration 4 weeks

Join a mix of students of all ages, from the widely read to keen beginners, to study world-renowned poets, playwrights and novelists. Paying particularly close attention to the words on the page, enthusiastic lecturers draw on writings of many different kinds and periods to offer a rich variety of voices and approaches.

The academic programme
• Four courses (two per week)
• Series of plenary lectures: Another Country
• Evening talks

Programme description
This programme gives you an experience of 'Cambridge English', with its emphasis on small group teaching, close attention to the actual text, and radical inquiry into why literature matters. Our lecturers are chosen for their expertise and their enthusiasm for the subject. Participants include the widely read and keen beginners, the young and the young at heart, from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds. Their sharing of views makes the programme a stimulating and rewarding experience for all. Classes allow for close and continuing discussion, and you will be expected to have done substantial preparatory reading before you arrive.

"The Literature Summer Programme allows us to enjoy the experience of reading and thinking together as we immerse ourselves in inspiring words and powerful ideas."
Dr Jenny Bavidge, Joint Programme Director, Literature Summer Programme

'Cambridge English’ has, since the 1930s, been distinguished by detailed attention to the text and students should expect the discipline of close reading to be the foundation of all work in the classes. However widely discussion ranges during classes, lecturers and students will normally have texts open for continual reference, illustration and analysis.

Details of our 2017 courses can be found below and are for information only. Our 2018 course list will be available in December.


You choose one morning and one afternoon course per week, each has five sessions. The maximum class size is 25 participants.

TERM I (9 – 22 July)

Week 1:
9.15am – 10.45am
Ga1 - Shakespeare and love
Ga2 - Great short stories I
Ga3 - A journey through James Joyce’s Ulysses
Ga4 - From Baker Street to Bible John: British crime writing, 1890-2000

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Ha1 - An introduction to The Canterbury Tales
Ha2 - Matters of life and death: 21st-century fiction
Ha3 - An introduction to the Bloomsbury Group
Ha4 - The dramatic monologue: from Browning to the present

Week 2:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gb1 - Medieval Romance: chivalry, courtly love and Christian values
Gb2 - Great short stories II
Gb3 - Reading Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse and A Room of One's Own
Gb4 - Three great British fantasists: Lewis Carroll, Mervyn Peake, J R R Tolkien

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hb1 - Variations on the tragic in modern drama
Hb2 - "Reading too much into it?": current debates in literary theory
Hb3 - Poems and the unconscious: Coleridge, Eliot and Heaney
Hb4 - Fictions of Empire: Kipling, Conrad, Scott

TERM II (23 July – 5 August)

Week 1:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gc1 - Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
Gc2 - Ancient Greek drama from Aeschylus to Menander: poetry, spectacle and plot
Gc3 - Hardy's Wessex in an age of transition: Far from the Madding Crowd and Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Gc4 - Romantic madness

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hc1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction (This is a double course which can only be taken with Hd1)
Hc2 - From Pan to Potter: 20th-century British children's literature
Hc3 - Revenge tragedy in the age of Shakespeare
Hc4 - Visions of Eden: Milton and his contemporaries

Week 2:
9.15am – 10.45am
Gd1 - Jane Austen: Emma and Persuasion
Gd2 - From Homer to Vergil: the texts and contexts of Greek and Roman epic
Gd3 - Decadence and dread: three novels of the fin de siècle
Gd4 - Two great novellas by Henry James: The Aspern Papers and The Turn of the Screw

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Hd1 - Philosophy of literature: understanding other minds through fiction (This is a double course which can only be taken with Hc1)
Hd2 - Reading Virginia Woolf: Orlando and Between the Acts
Hd3 - Shakespearean justice: The Merchant of Venice and Measure for Measure
Hd4 - The Waste Land and other poems

Plenary lectures
"But that was in another country" (Christopher Marlowe). We explore literature with an international theme, addressing 'other countries'
in a figurative sense - those remote in time, culture or life assumptions - which offer different imaginative worlds from our own. By understanding others we understand ourselves - isn't that one of the great motives for reading literature?

Evening talks
Eminent speakers will present a variety of general interest talks. These are shared with students on our other programmes.

Course leader

Dr Fred Parker

Target group

We welcome applications from all adult learners including university students, professionals and those with other experience who have an interest in the subject, regardless of educational background.

Course aim


Credits info

The University of Cambridge does not use a credit system for the awarding of its internal degrees, and cannot award credit directly for its International Summer Programmes. Students wishing to obtain credit as a result of our evaluation should consult their own institutions in advance about the acceptability of the Summer Programmes evaluation for credit purposes.

Fee info

GBP 0: See official website