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Online Course

Literature of the English Country House

All-Time Top 100

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

(103)
  • Provider FutureLearn
  • Cost Free Online Course (Audit)
  • Session Upcoming
  • Language English
  • Certificate $54 Certificate Available
  • Duration 8 weeks long
  • Learn more about MOOCs

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Overview

Trace the history and context of country house literature

For over 450 years, country houses have attracted the attention of celebrated writers like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. On this course we’ll trace this history with experts from the University of Sheffield’s School of English who will share with us the approaches that they take in their own research.

Through the course you will investigate and discuss the role and representation of the English country house in literature, and learn how to build your own authoritative interpretation of these texts.

This course is suitable for anyone who enjoys reading and discussing literary texts in English. It may also help those who are preparing for further study in English Literature, as it gives a good foundation in analysing texts. If you are already at degree level in English or another subject, this course could be a good supplement to your studies. Ultimately though, this course is suitable for anyone who loves country houses and great literature.

Taught by

Jim Fitzmaurice

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Reviews for FutureLearn's Literature of the English Country House Based on 103 reviews

  • 5 stars 79%
  • 4 stars 19%
  • 3 star 1%
  • 2 star 1%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Katarzyna K
Katarzyna completed this course, spending 5 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
The course was very interesting and engaging, I learnt quite a lot on it and it motivated me to read literature which I have not tried before. The course uses the technique of close reading - short fragments of literary works are close-read (analysed); you do not have to read them in their entirety, but it definitely helps. I enjoyed the lectures which analyse the excerpts in detail and provide new ways of understanding them.
4 people found
this review helpful
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Diana R
by Diana completed this course.
This course has been quite a revelation to me in several ways. I had never considered the English country house in relation to literature before, so as I have loved both for years, making a connection between them was very enriching. Decades ago I did a degree in English literature, and this reminded...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Having just stopped work at the age of 70, I decided that I needed to keep the brain ticking. Having read English and taught it for many years it was good to have the chance to share and be taught again. Sometimes I found the presentations a little distracting if the lecturers fidgeted too much and chose to read the transcripts. However wht they said was always interesting helping to make connections that I had not made before. As a keen reader it was good to have new suggestions made by others although I am pleased that I have read most of what was advised. On reflection the country house is less of a focus in serious modern novels although they continue to provide super film sets! I would welcome other courses along these lines which explore different aspects of literature. What about something on American literature and how much it has influenced our knowledge of the US? Thanks for the challenges and interest.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Thank you so much Susan, Amber and Adam. I have been just thrilled with this course. In 1964 I started my UG degree in English at the University of Sheffield. William Empson was Dean of English. The course was utterly dire and I quickly switched to Psychology. How happy I am to see now how Englsh at...
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Thania
Thania completed this course.
Interesting,one can learn many new things about Literature and the country house,fantastic mentoring.

The country house travel through centuries gives you the opportunity to see how it evolved,flourished and declined in time and how it is still present in films,TV series,books etc.

The course has to do with the country house but has also got many interesting aspects-social,historical,literary.There's poetry and there's Shakespeare;there's the press of the time and there's politeness and society.There is the coffee house and there is Romanticism.I think that anyone interested in literature can find at least one aspect they'd like to study and learn more about.

The course gives you an openness you can apply to reading any literary genre.
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Norman S
Norman completed this course.
I have taken several hundred on-line courses from a huge variety of institutions. I would rate this course among the very top of those courses. In terms of depth, linkage to further study, quality of the video presentations, and providing a motivation to the learner to go further in the learning process it was just an excellent effort by the faculty, the School of English, and the University! There is lots that could be added to the course, like a recommendation of films and play productions that would further engage the learner in the English country house, or the house as portrayed in the mystery genre (particularly the historical mystery)...but that is, perhaps, for another day....Again, my hats off to the people who developed this course!
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Barb A
Barb completed this course.
This course allowed me to look at the literature of the period through a different lens. I was exposed to new authors, re-familiarized myself with old favourites and developed a new appreciation for the Gothic Novel. I will never read a piece of literature again without considering the value of close reading. The educators are first rate, the videos of a very high quality and the mentor made thoughtful and respectful comments to learner thoughts on a variety of topics. Take the time to read the texts and the extra readings, it is well worth it. I would highly recommend this course - I took it primarily because it contained readings of Austen and I have come out with more of an appreciation for Austen's writing, but also for Ann Radcliffe, Samuel Richardson, Ben Jonson and Oscar Wilde, to highlight but a few.
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Dave R
by Dave completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.
This course is primarily a literature course that introduces and discusses various ways of improving an understanding of literature one reads. It uses the country house as a theme for applying those approaches, although the link is somewhat tenuous on some occasions. It uses a range of academic presenters and is well put together. The mentor is very active on the discussion forums, which adds significantly to the value of the discussions.

It is helpful if you have a general idea of the outline of each of the books/plays used in the course, not least because some contributors to the forum go beyond what is asked for and introduce other aspects of the works concerned. Overall worth taking if you're interested in getting more out of the literature you enjoy.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I strongly recommend this amazing course to all fellow learners! What a remarkable time I had learning about Country House Literature. This course taught me so many new things that have added to my enjoyment of reading. The wonderful videos filmed at various beautiful country houses taught by terrific teachers was a highlight. The novels and other readings were all so interesting and I got a fresh perspective on different genres and periods of literature that I have never been exposed to. A particularly fun aspect of the course is reading through co-learner's comments. You can interact with these students from all over the world and gain new insights from them. I hope my enthusiasm leads you to taking this terrific course- it is a rare treat!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Many thanks to the University of Sheffield’s School of English for a most enjoyable e-course. I learned a lot. I very much liked the enthusiasm of the various presenters which is very engaging. I also appreciated interacting with my fellow learners. I will never look at a country house anymore as just a pile of bricks and stones (never did that anyway). Now I know it stands for much more than just the home of an aristocratic family and their servants and of 'nouveau riche' Americans (I mean that ironically) and a ghost or two. Plus of course of tragic heroines. This course is a much a history of English literature as it is of the English country house. Many thanks again.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A scholarly and interesting review of the Country House and Literature across 400 years-- I really enjoyed the excellent contributions made by different members of the English Faculty at Sheffield- and their obvious interest, levels of knowledge and expertise in specific areas and themes.

The videos on location added to the visual connections between the authors and the associated houses and these stirred my memory and imagination on many occasions.

A very extensive course with much to complete in 6 weeks but it sustained my interest and next time I visit Chatsworth, near where I grew up, I'll never just see the deer or the fountains in the same vein again.

Thank you to all

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Sue B
Sue completed this course.
This course took me to some unexpected places and was all the more interesting because of it. The variety of authors and types of writing as well as the input from a variety of teachers kept the learning lively, introduced me to some new skills when reading and and some authors and works previously unknown to me. The Country House was the linking theme but this course has provided a much more diverse range of topics as well and for me is a jumping off point to all sorts of other avenues of learning. I also appreciated the constant presence of a Mentor who responded to the discussions and comments from students. I very much recommend it.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
The course spans the lives of several country houses associated with specific authors, poets and playwrights, from Ben Jonson to Oscar Wilde and looks at the way Country House developed, declined and found a new purpose over the centuries. It is presented by a variety of lecturers and professors from the University of Sheffield and without exception they are passionate , engaging and informative about their speciality. I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in literature and social history.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A very interesting course that covered a wide range of literature as well as teaching techniques for close analysis. The first week or two were challenging and would have benefitted from a more detailed explanation of what was expected as it felt like being plunged into the deep end. Some of the links...
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Glen W
Glen completed this course.
I am a retired engineer and never respected the liberal arts until recently. I have taken several courses in literature and collected over a hundred books in my library. I live in Yuma, Arizona USA.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
I can’t thank and praise team ‘Sheffield’ highly enough! I have always enjoyed reading but have felt a gap in what I refer to as my ‘classic literary novels.’ To be exposed to 450 years of great literature, set within the context of the English country house and represented by renowned authors, has been...
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
It was Brilliant! I have read many of the novels offered, but these professors gave me much more insight and depth to the pieces that I had not considered. They brought interesting History to the Novels, what people were thinking, reading, wearing and basically life in those times. That gave me a new perspective and interest into the writings that we studied.

I also want to say that having the videos of the professors giving us the talks was so enjoyable and easy to watch. I was delightfully surprised that I didn't have to read the entire novel or play, but just concentrate on the selection they gave us and work on those.

The professors selected good pieces from the novels, poems and plays for us to work on with not too much text to deal with.

All in all it was a very enjoyable experience and I look forward to looking at more like this.

Thank you so much

Janet
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
This course had more input from teaching staff than you normally get, input from a PhD student,

and it really helped as she both provided information and expanded our approach to topics.

This course benefited from good input from Course members.

I enjoyed the content too and learnt more about writers that I thought I had reasonable knowledge of. The approach of the Course Tutors in providing video discussion of the social and political background of some of the writers to provide a context to the books was useful. Also information on the social and economic factors which influenced writers and readers over the large time span was useful too.

As always I am left with a reading list plus recommendations from other students for films and links to

appropriate articles. A very good 6 weeks tuition, thank you.
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
A great way to learn and some thoughtfully curated texts and teaching material. I have both enjoyed and benefited from this.

A couple of pieces of constructive criticism: could learners be given a clearer overview of the structure of the course and teaching in advance, so we know what to expect? It would also help if it were suggested that the 2-3 hours a week course time were an advised minimum, and that the more effort one put in the more one would get out of it!

And on a technical note, would it be possible to have more navigation options between comment screens? At the moment, one has to scroll to the bottom of each to find the second and any subsequent pages, whereas buttons at the top or sides would be useful.

But I must reiterate how much I have enjoyed this course and the way it was taught!
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Anonymous
Anonymous completed this course.
Brilliant course! Extremely well-structured for content and building skills across the six weeks. I was worried beforehand about the amount of reading that might be required, but the educators keep this manageable. It helps if you’ve already read books like Pride and Prejudice & Great Expectations beforehand, but if not, no worry, you can still learn from provided passages, and complete the exercises. About half of the books/poems I hadn’t known before. Some parts of the course were a bit challenging, but in hindsight I think I enjoyed those most. Highly recommend this course to anyone with interest in English literature. . . And of course loved the video visits to different country houses which tied in quite well to the literary works.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
  • 1

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