Literature of the English Country House


The Literature of the English Country House is a free online course written and delivered by the School of English at the University of Sheffield. The course is one in a wide range of ‘MOOCs ’ (Massive Open Online Courses) produced and run each year by the University.

Open to all the course uses videos, discussion and a range of interactive activities to offer a six-week investigation of the role and representation of the English country house in literature.

We’ll be tracing the history of country house literature, from the sixteenth and seventeenth-century poetry and drama of Thomas More and Margaret Cavendish, through the polite satire and sociability of the eighteenth-century, the Gothic terror and intrigue of Ann Radcliffe and Charles Dickens, all the way through to the dawn of the twentieth century and the wit of Oscar Wilde.

As well as reading extracts from the novels, poetry and drama of these well-known authors, we’ll be exploring lesser known forms and less familiar authors. You’ll encounter manuscripts, newspapers, periodicals and magazines, as well as private poetry and published letters.

Written and presented by staff and postgraduate students in the School of English, the course also provides an unparalleled insight into some of the research and teaching that takes place in our department, making it an ideal taster from prospective students.

The course begins 27 June 2016. You can watch the trailer, find out more and sign up for free here.

On this companion blog we’ll be bringing you all of the latest news, interviews, updates and behind-the-scenes exclusives, as well as providing a space for further exploration of the research that inspired the steps on the course. We’ll be spotlighting a broader range of varied and fascinated work being carried out across the School of English by our staff, students and external partners.

Use the hashtag #FLHouseLit to join and contribute to social media conversations about this course.

Blog posts in the ‘Literature of the English Country House’ series: 



15 comments to “Literature of the English Country House”
15 comments to “Literature of the English Country House”
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  4. Looking forward to the course. It’s been a long time since I last did any serious thinking about literature (or anything else, come to that) so a few cobwebs need blowing away. So glad that the passages to be read will be provided – I don’t think I could find time to read all of “Sir Charles Grandison” by week 4!

  5. I´m an English teacher who loves literature, so I´m looking forward to the start of the course.The reading list above looks wonderful!

  6. I followed this course when it ran before. I leart such a lot. I intended to work through it again but I became engrossed in other FL courses. Besides it is harder to work on your own without a guiding hand and the discussions.

    • We’re really pleased to hear you had a great time on the last run, we’ve added even more this time, and we have dedicated mentors and educators set to get involved in all of the discussions.

  7. This course is so appropriate for me because not only did I graduate in History from Sheffield in 2012 but I am now volunteering at Hardwick Hall. I did the the Gothic Novel course you offered last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So lovely to have an academic connection to Sheffield again,

    • Here you go,

      What will we be reading?
      On the course we’ll be reading and discussing the literature of a wide range of writers. We’ll look at extracts from novels, poetry and drama, but also less common forms, like letters, newspapers and periodicals. All of the passages you need to read will be included in the course material and will be accessible once the course has started, but if you’d like to do some preparatory reading, here’s a taster of what’s coming up:

      Week 1
      Utopia, Thomas More
      To Penshurst, Ben Jonson

      Week 2
      Hamlet, William Shakespeare

      Week 3
      The Sylph, Georgiana Cavendish

      Week 4
      Sir Charles Grandison, Samuel Richards
      Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

      Week 5
      Mysteries of Udolpho, Ann Radcliffe
      Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

      Week 6
      The Canterville Ghost, Oscar Wilde
      The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde


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