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Independent Study

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Australian Stories 1

Terra Australis was a fantasy place in the European imagination long before the voyages of Tasman and Cook. Aboriginal people have been telling dreaming stories about their country and ancestors for perhaps 50,000 years. This course explores some of the most powerful and enduring stories we tell about ourselves and our land, including the Dreaming and rainbow snakes; the Great South Land and the Inland Sea; Ned Kelly; Gallipoli; Uluru and the Azaria case; and the 2000 Olympics. Our... [More]

The Victorians: England from 1830 to 1900

This course aims to look at various aspects of Victorian life. Once scorned, the Victorian period is now seen as a one of great vitality and creativity and a time that saw changes that would prove seismic in their effect upon English political, social and cultural life. The great movements such as Romanticism, Aestheticism, Classic and Gothic Revival, The Industrial Revolution and The Rising Middle Classes with their Houses and Gardens will be studied. This is a Discussion Group... [More]

Australian Stories 2: The Outback

Robyn Davidson calls the outback Australia's "mythological crucible". From the early idea of an inland sea, through the disappointment and fear of the "dead heart" to its modern imagining as a place of beauty, mystery and renewal, the outback has been the most powerful symbol in the Australian psyche. After a historical and psychological introduction, we will explore some of the major narratives about journeys to and in the outback from literature and films of the last fifty years,... [More]

Alexander the Great

The mystique of Alexander the Great is timeless. Ideas and images about this young, handsome, Macedonian have haunted historians from both East and West for over 2000 years. Why is this so? What has been the ongoing significance of this short, violent life? During this course we will seek to discover what if any, were his lasting accomplishments. Looking at his life and death we will try to understand the broad reaching cultural ramifications of the great clash of East and Western... [More]

"All the World’s a Stage..." Quoting Shakespeare

The words of Shakespeare are alive. After 400 years people still quote from his famous speeches, for as Ben Jonson said of his friend: “he was not of an age but for all time”. This will be a hands on course where we will look at some famous speeches from a variety of Shakespeare’s plays. We will analyse why the speeches work so well within their context, and investigate just why these words and sayings continue to fascinate people today. We will look for situations that elicit... [More]

The Sacred Way: Women's Mysteries In The Ancient World

This course explores the lives of women in ancient times through their religious beliefs and rituals, many of which have survived to the present day. It examines the close association of religion with fertility and reveals that religion was often the means by which women could realize their talents and express their deepest needs, in addition to acquiring some measure of power and status in the ancient world. In the Ancient Middle East, women were considered to be more sensitive to... [More]

The Grandeur of Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian civilisation has tantalised countless generations. This course is a fascinating survey of the history and society of the world of the Pharaohs, vast in wealth, technology and intellect, yet revering death and built on the forced labour of slaves. It will take you into the lives of the Egyptian people through the remarkable finds of modern archaeology, and provides a picture of Egyptian history and culture from prehistory to the New Kingdom. Independent Study... [More]

Glories of Georgian England: Houses, Gardens, Arts and Patrons

Join our six visits to Georgian England, to see its houses and gardens, not only the houses of the grand but also those of the not-so-grand. We will look at Chippendale who made furniture and Adam who redesigned interiors. At Lady Hamilton and Wedgewood who brought Ancient Greece to the dining table. We will see how ’Capability’ Brown sculptured landscapes, and how Repton said he got it all wrong. Then there is the Duke of Burlington who loathed Versailles but inspired the Georgian... [More]

Best Of The Best: Famous Literary Characters

Of all the characters we meet in our reading lives, there are few who become very real to us – so real that we feel we actually know them. In this course we will look at how it is that writers can sometimes achieve this by the way in which they use description, conversation and interaction. This is not going to be a highly academic course, rather a collection of starting points for students to put forward their own ideas. The texts are well known, so there’s Elizabeth Bennet and... [More]

Crossing the East-West Divide

This is an historical ‘portrait’ study showing in broad outline the emergence of modern civilisation over the past 10,000 years, beginning in Mesopotamia, spreading throughout Western Asia and across to China and finally, after several millennia of development, flowing across to the West from China and Western Asia to spark the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions and the Renaissance, the forerunner of our modern civilisation. This interchange and interdependence has produced an... [More]