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Honoursmodule: The Three Ages in English Literature

Youth, Adulthood, and Old Age from Shakespeare to the Present Day.

In every class, we will train some of the basic close-reading and argumentation techniques used in the field of literary studies but also venture further into some of the cultural debates that inform our chosen texts. We will do this with a particular topic in mind: the conception, representation, and occasionally also political implications of age and the ageing process in the various texts under investigation.

What does ‘growing up’ mean in Shakespeare’s play Henry IV and how does it relate to political authority? How did childhood come to be idealised in Wordsworth’s Romantic poetry and what were the socio-cultural consequences of its widespread elevation? What happened to middle age in Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby? And how does Elizabeth Strout’s novelistic short-story sequence Olive Kitteridge conceptualise the life course as a whole?

In order to answer these questions, we will draw on academic work from a variety of age-related disciplines, although the main focus of the course is literary, and directed towards our primary texts themselves. 


The schedule will be available on Datanose.


Registration is open to second-year or third-year Bachelor's students participating in an Honours programme. Between 8 June 10 am and 12 June 11 pm, you can register by completing the online registration form that will appear on our website Honoursmodules IIS.  

Please note: Registration is not through SIS. Placement is at random. There is no guarantee for placement if you register after June 12, so make sure you register on time. You will hear which course(s) you are registered for in the week of 20 June.  

If you have any questions, please contact us at Honours-iis@uva.nl

SDGs in education

The IIS strives to reflect current societal issues and challenges in our elective courses, honours modules and degree programmes and attempts to integrate the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in this course. For more information about these goals, please visit the SDGs website.

More Information

Facts & Figures
Mode Honours programme
Credits 6 ECTS,
Language of instruction English
Starts in September