The Literature of the English Country House
This free online course from the University of Sheffield may be of interest to our members. It launches on Monday 27th June (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/country-house-literature/3)
The country house has fascinated writers and readers for over 450 years, attracting the attention of celebrated writers like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, and providing a setting for the performance of literature for writers such as William Shakespeare. We’ll be tracing the history of country house literature, from the sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry and drama of Thomas More and Margaret Cavendish, through the polite satire and sociability of the eighteenth-century, the Gothic terror and intrigue of Ann Radcliffe and Charles Dickens, all the way through to the dawn of the twentieth century and the wit of Oscar Wilde.
On this course, you’ll investigate and discuss the role and representation of the English country house in literature alongside academics from the University of Sheffield’s School of English, and learn how to build your own authoritative interpretation of these texts. As well as reading extracts from the novels, poetry and drama of these well-known authors, we’ll be exploring lesser known forms and less familiar authors. You’ll encounter manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals and magazines, as well as private poetry and published letters.
Week two of the course takes learners to Hardwick Hall where we explore The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Using original texts from the University’s Special Collections archive, including the first quarto and first folio, we’ll look at the multitude of versions of Shakespeare’s play, what the playwright’s presentation of travelling players tells us about potential performance spaces like Hardwick Hall’s Great Chamber, and what goes into the making of a modern Shakespeare edition.