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Literature of the English Country House

The University of Sheffield via FutureLearn

62 Reviews 845 students interested

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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
4.7 Based on 62 reviews

  • 5 stars 76%
  • 4 stars 21%
  • 3 star 2%
  • 2 star 2%
  • 1 star 0%

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  • 1
Thania
5.0 5 months ago
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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Katarzyna K
5.0 5 years ago
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
5.0 3 months ago
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 me how much I revel in close reading of texts. What was new to me was the historical context. When I was a student - the days of FR Leavis - text was everything and history was basically ignored. How much better I understand and how much more intriguing literature is when this v…
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Anonymous
5.0 2 days ago
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 SU has come on, as this course embodies all that is good about online learning, and leading edge pedagogy.

Inspired, today I met with your MA student Lucinda Weston who is doing a placement at Chatsworth where I am a trustee. We were rehearsing her MuseumHack tour for Jane Austen stud…
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Anonymous
4.0 3 months ago
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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Barb A
5.0 2 months ago
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
5.0 3 months ago
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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Norman S
5.0 3 months ago
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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Anonymous
4.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A wonderful mix of interests came together in this course, covering diverse subjects and a very wide timespan. I found the social history aspects most interesting, and I really enjoyed the discussions about the literature that were shown on video between academic staff from Sheffield University. The staff conveyed their academic interests and knowledge both clearly and enthusiastically. The course stimulated interest in other areas, (such as brewing!). The one area I found a little disappointing was the discussion of the literature outside the video discussions referred to above - the questions set for participants seemed very dull and school level type of questions. But overall, a very stimulating course.
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Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
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
4.0 2 months ago
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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Christine R
5.0 2 months ago
Christine completed this course.
A first rate course. Well structure, a very good choice of texts, meaningful and occasionally innovative tasks, and extremely well presented.

I can understand the motivation behind aiming to develop close-reading skills in those who are new to this approach to literature, however I felt it was perhaps a little naive to imagine that people new to studying literature at this level could get up to speed quite so fast. However, perhaps you have succeeded in bring new students on board.

Congratulations on developing such a fascinating course. I look forward to studying more from the University of Sheffield!
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Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The title does not fully indicate the range and depth of this course. It ranges across literature from the fifteenth to nineteenth century and touches on the relationship of different types of writing, social and economic history and techniques for close reading. If this sounds rather daunting - don't be put off! The tutors provide a fascinating introduction to many aspects of literature with the country house - including Gothic castles - a linking theme. But be warned, you will be left with a long Must Read list and probably some Must Visits as well.
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Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous is taking this course right now.
This is very good English Literature Course. I have never learned the history of English Literature before this, and I have found this is what I need to learn. For I am a foreign student, sometimes I feel difficult to express my interpretation in English. Or, some authors are not well-known, so I feel difficult to find books about them. It takes much more days to understand how I should read literatures in this course. I would like to take this course again. Thank you very much for the teachers and students.
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Elisabetta N
5.0 2 months ago
Elisabetta completed this course.
I enjoyed and appreciated the quality and the way of communicating and, in addition, I learnt a lot about topics I ignored before (as the presence of breweries in country houses).

E-learning has to be developed properly or it amounts to nothing; therefore I think you have found the right balance between technology / learning at a distance and quality of information. Next, you have been able to involve the learners in interesting tasks, and the chat room was more then the icing on the cake!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I enjoyed and appreciated the quality and the way of communicating and, in addition, I learnt a lot about topics I ignored before (as the presence of breweries in country houses).

E-learning has to be developed properly or it amounts to nothing; therefore I think you have found the right balance between technology / learning at a distance and quality of information. Next, you have been able to involve the learners in interesting tasks, and the chat room was more then the icing on the cake!
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 5 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
An informative and interesting course covering a wide range of literary styles and authors. Not only are well known authors studied,but you are also exposed to interesting lesser known figures,who deserve more attention. At times it seems like you have strayed from the topic (such is the depth and variety of ideas discussed ),but everything is cleverly tied in together,and is neatly drawn back into relevance. Much enjoyment to be had,and I was sad to end the course.
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Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
A short survey of literature connected to English country houses, over 4 centuries.

Interesting from the point of view of introducing me to literature I haven't read, but also giving a new perspective on works that I already know.

It introduced close reading of short extracts from various texts, which gave us a chance to consider aspects of the works which we may not have noticed when reading the whole text.

Well balanced and constructed by the course team.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I just completed this course and I really enjoyed it. There were some works/authors that I was familiar with, but I learned to look at those in a new way. I was also introduced to quite a bit of literature that was new to me. It helped to get some of the history and context of those pieces of literature and to learn some techniques of literary analysis that I hadn't learned before.

Definitely a worthwhile course for people interested in literature.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes
Anonymous
5.0 2 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
I thought the educations, professors, scholars were knowledgeable and very polished in their presentations. All the videos were enjoyable to watch and informative.

As an educator, the hope is that students will be inspired to continue their learning beyond the classroom. I think the educators at FutureLearn have achieved this with The Literature of the English Country House.

I recommend this course to anyone who loves literature and its discussion.

Was this review helpful to you? Yes
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