Fictions of Home: Jane Austen to the Present Day
Literature Summer Course 2019


This course explores ideas of home in literature, from the early nineteenth century until today, from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, through Charles Dickens, Katherine Mansfield, and Virginia Woolf, and ending with contemporary refugee writers.

How does the modern idea of 'home' emerge in the writings of Jane Austen; when does a house become a home? What does 'home' mean in Dickens’s great autobiographical novel, David Copperfield (1850)? In the early twentieth century, how does Katherine Mansfield understand 'home' in her innovative and moving short stories; and what does it mean in Virginia Woolf's great novel, Mrs Dalloway (1925)? And finally, we explore how writers in our own time discuss the terrible loss of home faced by refugees. We will study Vietnamese-American Viet Nguyen’s story collection, The Refugees (2017) as well as recent anthologies of British and international refugee writers. Our teachers include Oliver Goldstein, Alison Hennegan, Isobel Maddison, Corinna Russell, Clare Walker Gore, and Trudi Tate. 

The course aims to give us new insights into great writers of the past 200 years. And it seeks to understand how literature bears witness to one of the great themes of our time: the meanings of home.


Reading list

 Summer course, July 2018

Summer course, July 2018

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey (written 1798; published 1817)
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Katherine Mansfield, Collected Short Stories (mainly 1920s)
Viet Nguyen, The Refugees (2017)
Viet Nguyen, ed., The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives (2018)
David Herd and Anna Pincus, eds., Refugee Tales II (2017)

 Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Dates and Venue

21-26 July 2019, Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Take the opportunity to live for a week like a Cambridge student in the relaxed environment of Wolfson College, Cambridge. Immerse yourself in literature, with, lectures and discussions, and time to read and think. There will be visits to places of literary interest in Cambridge, a welcome dinner, a formal closing dinner, and a traditional English afternoon tea. 


From our 2018 students:

• 'The week I spent in your Women Writers course at Cambridge was the ultimate reward to myself for years of self-study on Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. The immersion with like-minded literature-lovers was bliss. The mix of lectures and trips was the perfect blend. 

• ‘I loved sitting outside under the trees and reading aloud from the works.'

• ‘I loved the wonderful mix of academics, graduate students and common readers, like myself, who made up our group.’

• ‘I enjoyed the amazing sensation of being with a group of people who needed absolutely no explanation of why I love Woolf and would want to spend my holidays with her (and them!). I think this really hit me when we were all huddled in a white room in the basement of the Fitzwilliam Museum, poring over the original manuscript of A Room of One’s Own with magnifying glasses and feeling SO happy!’

• Julia Salmeron writes about her time on our 2018 Women Writers course on our Blog page.

The course

Laura, Ragavi, Alexander outside Wren*.jpg

Each day starts with a lecture presented by a leading scholar. Students have a chance to talk to the lecture over a cup of tea after the lecture. Most days we have a Cambridge-style supervision (tutorial), given to students in very small groups, and led by lecturers and post-docs from the University of Cambridge. Supervisions are a unique opportunity to discuss a work in depth, try out ideas, and refine your close reading skills. We will also have a group seminar in which everyone can participate.

We will pay visits to places of interest in Cambridge, including some of the most beautiful, ancient colleges. Our lecturers lead the visits and can get access to areas not usually open to the public.

After lectures, supervisions, and excursions, there is some time to explore Cambridge on your own, go punting, discuss literature with other students, and to reflect. 

Refugees cover 1.jpg

We also offer a week of study on Virginia Woolf's Gardens, 14-19 July 2019. There is a discount if you attend both courses.
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Useful links

British Library information on Jane Austen.
Katherine Mansfield Society webpage. Includes copies of Mansfield's stories.
Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain webpage.
Viet Nguyen, New York Times article, September 2016, on being a refugee.

Gallery from our 2018 summer courses. Thanks to Jeremy Peters @JezPete for the photos.