The continuing education program offers special interest and educational courses with a difference focusing on art, archaeology, culture, history, science, literature and writing, music and life skills.

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Tue 05 May 2020 - Tue 23 Jun 2020

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
16 spots remaining.

The Middle Ages are a fascinating period in our history because, more than any other era, they present us with a mixture of the familiar and the bizarre.  On the one hand, we see beliefs and behaviours in the Middle Ages that seem utterly alien to us, such as the persecution of heretics.  Yet, on the other hand, so many things emerged in the Middle Ages that we recognise as being part of ourselves and the modern world, including universities, nation-states, banks and bureaucracies, and even the idea of romantic love.

Join us in this course as we not only learn about this complex and dynamic historical period but also gain a new perspective on ourselves and our world.

Course Outline

Week One: What were the Middle Ages?

Different understandings of the Middle Ages.  How did medieval people think about themselves and their place in history?  Why did universities emerge in the Middle Ages and what did they teach? The influence of ancient Greece and Rome on the medieval world.

Week Two: Emperors and Popes.

Charlemagne and the Carolingian ‘Renaissance’. The Donation of Constantine. Monastic reform and the rise of the papacy.  The Investiture Controversy.  Pope Innocent III and the emperor Fredrick II.

Week Three: Saints and Sinners.

Saints cults and the worship of the Virgin Mary.  The letters of Abelard and Heloise.  St Bernard and the faith-versus-reason debate.  Medieval attitudes towards women.

Week Four: From Epic to Romance.

King Arthur and the quest for the Holy Grail.  Courtly Love and The Romance of the Rose.  Orality, literacy and the question of a Twelfth-Century ‘Renaissance’.  Gothic art and architecture.

Week Five: East and West.

Byzantium and the Eastern Schism. The crusades.  Why did the westerners and the Byzantines, both of whom were profoundly Christian, dislike and distrust each other?  What motivated the western crusaders?

Week Six: Sacred and Profane Literature.

The rise of vernacular literature.  Dante and Chaucer. Why have some medieval works become fixtures in the western literary canon, and others not?  Medieval spiritualism from St Francis to Meister Eckhardt.

Week Seven: The Enemy Within.

Heresy and the Albigensian Crusade.  Why were there heretics and what was heresy anyway?  What was it about heresy that provoked so much fear and animosity?

Week Eight: The Waning of the Middle Ages.

When did the Middle Ages end?  Did they?  Were the Reformation and the Renaissance proto-modern, or quintessentially medieval, phenomena?  What does how we think about the Middle Ages tell us about ourselves and our times?

Who should enrol

This course is for those interested in western history and culture in general, and those who would like to know more about the Middle Ages in particular.  The course is also designed as a foundation for other relevant CCE courses such as The Medieval Crusades, Medieval Literature and Thought, and The History of Christianity.

Mon 11 May 2020 - Mon 29 Jun 2020

18:00 - 20:00

6 Sessions
18 spots remaining.

If all roads lead to Rome, then wonder this way as we take you down the path of time to the ancient Greco-Romans. In examining the archaeology, immerse yourself in their philosophy, culture and history. Engage with writings and ideas of the ancient world, and discuss the history and society. And discover the joy of studying the classics and classical antiquity.

Course outline

Each session of the course is framed around a specific area of classics, before introducing key texts and writings highlighting the ideas, culture, and society, of the ancient world.

  • Session 1 - Ancient Greece and Rome
  • Session 2 - Approaches to Greek and Roman history
  • Session 3 - Greek and Latin literature
  • Session 4 –Greek historians and Roman historians
  • Session 5 – Homer and Virgil
  • Session 6 – Approaches to classics 

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should have:

  • a basic understanding of classics and the study of classics
  • a basic understanding of the societies and cultures of Ancient Greek and Rome
  • the ability to engage with the main forms of approaching Greek and Roman history
  • an understanding of the key forms of Greek and Roman literature
  • an appreciation of some of the key texts and authors of the ancient world
  • an introductory understanding of how to engage, read, and study classics
  • the ability to develop some of the key critical skills needed to engage with classics and the study of classics
  • the means to both enjoy and engage with classics.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone interested in learning about classics and classical antiquity.

Rhys Williams is a graduate of the Australian National University (ANU) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He is a PhD candidate in the School of History, ANU, working towards a thesis on British Socialism and Australia: 1880-1914. He is a Tutor in History and Political Science.

Wed 12 Feb 2020 - Wed 01 Apr 2020

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
17 spots remaining.

Pop music is more than just the soundtrack to our lives; it has moved our emotions, stimulated our minds, formed our attitudes, and shaped our experiences. Covering subjects ranging from Bubblegum Music to Britpop, this course will examine the dynamic history and the multi-faceted nature of pop music. It will also use rock and pop music to help us understand the modern cultural environment, and to illustrate various philosophical issues.

Course outline

Week One - Beginnings

  • Rock Around the Clock, Elvis, Rhythm and Blues
  • Defining Rock and Pop.
  • Modernity and Postmodernity
  • To think or to feel?

Week Two - Tycoons of Teen

  • Profit and Popularity
  • Phil Spector, the girl groups, and Motown
  • The Beach Boys
  • The early Beatles, the British Invasion, and the Mersey Sound

Week Three - Changing Times

  • The Gates of Eden.
  • Poetry and Protest: Bob Dylan and the grown-up Beatles.
  • The Blues in Britain: the emergence of the guitar god, and the beginnings of hard rock.

Week Four -  Lucy in the Sky

  • Psychedelia. From Acid Rock to Bubblegum Music.
  • America Strikes Back: the Monkees, the Byrds, and Country Rock.
  • The Band, Roots Rock, and the origins of Heartland Rock.

Week Five - Parody and Postmodernity

  • Glitter and Art Rock: Roxy Music, Brian Eno, and David Bowie.
  • Progressive Rock: Yes, Genesis, and King Crimson.
  • Heavy Metal and stadium rock.

Week Six -  No Future

  • Punk Rock and New Wave Music.
  • Television, Blondie, and the New Wave in New York.
  • Reggae and the Ska revival.
  • New Order, Manchester, and Techno Pop.

Week Seven - Looking Backwards

  • From Big Star to the Paisley Underground movement.
  • New alternatives: REM and The Smiths.
  • Grunge and the birth of Indie.

Week Eight - Culture Wars

  • Britpop, Bristol, and Shoegazing.
  • A new Psychedelia?
  • Contemporary ‘R&B’ and the legacy of Soul.
  • What is the future of rock and pop music?

Learning outcomes

At the completion of this course you should have:

  • A greater appreciation of modern and contemporary culture.
  • Increased ability to analyze the social and creative forces that have shaped us.
  • Increased awareness of the ways in which our lived experiences and our sense of self have been constructed.

Who should enrol

The course is for those interested in pop and rock music, modern culture, music history, and the history of ideas.

Thu 13 Feb 2020 - Thu 09 Apr 2020

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
12 spots remaining.

Teacher: Professor Beatrice Bodart-Bailey

As an island nation, Japan’s culture is fascinatingly different from its Asian neighbours.

During two and a half centuries of self-imposed isolation in the pre-modern period, Japan developed cultural traditions so strong that they still intrigue the foreign visitor today. 

Using an abundance of visual material, this course will survey Japanese history and culture from its beginnings to the end of the 20th century, with due consideration of how Japan’s geographical position next to the Asian Continent and some hundred active volcanoes dotting the islands, frequent earthquakes, tsunamis, heavy monsoon rains and typhoons shaped the ethos and lifestyle of its people.

Course outline

  1. Introduction: the geographic and climatic features shaping Japanese history and culture. Where did the first people on the island chain come from? Jômon culture with its fantastic pottery and masked statues followed by a new wave of immigrants bringing rice cultivation, mega tombs, mirrors, swords and the governance of a female ruler. 
  2. The religion of Shinto and the sanctuary of the sun goddess Amaterasu, the progenitor of the imperial line. The introduction of Buddhism in the 6th century, the architecture of its temples that withstood earthquakes for well over a thousand years, the imagery of Buddhist statues.
  3. The founding of the imperial capital of Kyoto. The refined culture of the aristocracy. The rise of the samurai: recruited to serve the emperor, they usurped his political authority and created their own warrior culture. The attempted invasion of Kublai Khan and the divine winds (kami kaze) that saved the country.
  4. The Christian Century: from missionary success to persecution and martyrdom. Artistic and cultural gains from the encounter between East and West. The three great unifiers of Japan and the politics of the tea ceremony.
  5. The Tokugawa military rulers (shogun) and 250 years of peace and closure of the country.  The much-maligned “Dog Shogun” and the eye-witness account of a foreign visitor. 
  6. The growth of the mega city of Edo (Tokyo), and the flowering of what is celebrated as traditional Japanese culture today, such as haiku, kabuki, the art of the geisha and the woodblock print. The passion for travel: the Japanese inns and the cultural life on the busy highways.
  7. Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in the 18th and 19th century, the arrival of the Americans, the restoration of imperial rule.  
  8. The 20th century: The strive for emancipation as a world power: rapid Westernisation and the role of the military. Victory and defeat and the post-war commercial boom.

Learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should:

  • appreciate how the environment has shaped the culture and history of Japan
  • understand to what extent China, Korea and the West impacted on the culture and history of Japan
  • be aware how frequent natural disasters shaped religious believes and philosophical tenets in Japan, differing from those of other countries
  • know the difference between Buddhism and Shinto and the political role played by these two religions
  • have some appreciation of the role of Christianity in Japan
  • know about the origins of samurai culture and the role it played over the course of Japanese history
  • be aware of how the position of Japanese women changed over the course of Japanese history
  • understand how even after the so-called closure of Japan, cultural exchange led to advances in science and the arts in Japan and the West
  • appreciate how under the infamous Dog Shogun, laws were promulgated some of which appeared in the West only 200 years later
  • have learned about the life in Edo/Tokyo, perhaps the largest and most densely populated city in the world, twice the size of London in the pre-modern period.

Who Should Enrol

Anyone desiring to understand and appreciate the history and culture of Japan.

Tue 11 Feb 2020 - Tue 31 Mar 2020

18:00 - 20:00

8 Sessions
16 spots remaining.

The Crusades are among the most important events in world history. As well as discussing themes of religion, society, warfare, and culture; meet outstanding historical individuals such as Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Peter the Hermit, and Baldwin the leper king of Jerusalem.

Course outline

  • Topic 1: An introduction to and overview of the Crusades.
  • Topic 2: The first Crusade.
  • Topic 3: The Holy Land and the crusader states. Crusading memoirs and primary sources.
  • Topic 4: The third Crusade: Richard and Saladin.
  • Topic 5: The fourth Crusade: the sack of Constantinople.
  • Topic 6: Crusading in the Thirteenth Century: Saint Louis and the emperor Frederick II.
  • Topic 7: The Knights Templar and the military orders.
  • Topic 8: The Crusades in literature and in the western consciousness: Walter Scott's the Talisman. The Crusades and popular culture: Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course, you should:

  • have a greater appreciation of historical and cultural differences, and of human nature
  • have an increased understanding of the complex relationship between the past and the present
  • have a greater awareness of how we moderns see ourselves in relation to the past.

Who should enrol

This course is open to anyone with an interest in history.

What past participants had to say

"An exciting introduction on how to approach historical documents."

"Very enjoyable course and great class interaction."

"The presenter, Walter Kudrycz, is incredibly knowledgeable on the subject. He was able to present the information in a very easy to learn way. He was always open to questions and discussion. Very enjoyable."