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Portraits of the Netherlands: Holland and Belgium

This course focuses on the outstanding works of art and music that have emerged from the Low Countries: the paintings of the Van Eyck brothers, and the Flemish school in the early 15th century; the music of Clemens non Papa and Jan Sweelinck, Holland’s greatest late Renaissance composers; Rembrandt and the Golden Age of Holland; Mozart in the... [More]

Bismarck And The Second Reich

In the middle of the 19th century, the idea of the unification of Germany became a huge popular movement. The declining nobility opposed it, but it gave Prussia the opportunity to enlarge its power base and for Bismarck to emerge as the architect of the Second Reich. We will trace the remarkable career of this most powerful man of half a century,... [More]

Portraits of Russia: Rublëv, Pushkin, Turgenev, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky

This course, focussed on the life and work of some of Russia’s most outstanding personalities, will begin with the work of Andrey Rublëv, Russia’s most famous icon painter, and his circle, and the Byzantine background to Russian iconography. Russia’s greatest poet, Alexander Pushkin, and his immortal poem ‘Yevgeny Onegin’ will be the subject of the... [More]

How The British Empires Changed The World

At its peak, in the 1930s, the second British Empire included more than a quarter of the world’s population in its dominions, colonies, protectorates and mandates on all six continents. It was the largest empire in the history of the world. It was contiguous, like the great empires before it, but was held together by the Royal Navy, by the English... [More]

British India - Fact and Fiction

From European fascination with the Orient through to the formation of the East India Company, and from the growth of Empire during the nineteenth century and its demise in the twentieth century, the history of British India will be explored. As this topic has attracted some of the best writers the English speaking world has known, the participants... [More]

Hell on Earth - Norfolk Island's Convict Story

Norfolk Island, a ‘paradise’ in the South Pacific was as a dumping ground for the worst criminals of the colonial system and allowed the terrible abuses of penal servitude to flourish unrestrained. The island, now in the hands of the gentle Pitcairners, still bears the scars of that terrible time. This course will provide a window into this period... [More]

Lost History: Four Demolished Houses Of Victorian Sydney

Houses are living historical monuments – of the people who built and then lived in them; of the society in which they were found; of the ideas of social movem ent, trade, wealth and gender that influenced how they were used. Demolishing a house therefore destroys part of history. This illustrated course examines four Sydney houses that were... [More]

Portraits of Scandinavia: Norway and Denmark

The cold lands of the far north have in fact produced inspiring examples of music, drama, art and philosophy to match the best of the more famous cultures of France and Italy. Explore the genius of Norway and Denmark by examining the works of Ludvig Holberg (founder of the Danish National Theatre), Hans Christian Andersen, the philosopher... [More]

Emigrate or Die! The Great Irish Famine

The Great Famine devastated Ireland between 1845 and 1850 taking the lives of up to one and a half million people, and forcing another two million to leave Ireland forever. This famine driven tide of immigrants had great and lasting repercussions within the countries in which they settled. This course examines the magnitude of the disaster by... [More]

The Middle East, Past and Present

To even begin to understand the turmoil in the Middle East today – the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Israel/Palestine, and elsewhere – we need to know more than most of us do about its geography and its violent history. We also need to understand how much the peoples of the Middle East have in common, including their concerns for land and... [More]