UCC ACE Short courses

The World of Elizabeth Gaskell and her novels NEW

About This Course

Fact File

  • Title

    The World of Elizabeth Gaskell and her novels NEW

  • Code


  • College

    Adult Continuing Education

  • Duration

    Eight weeks, Fridays 10:30am-12:30pm, from 31 January to 20 March 2020

  • Teaching Mode


  • Qualifications

    Cert of Attendance

  • Fees

    €200 See Fees and Costs for full details.

  • Entry Requirements

    See Requirements for full details.

  • Closing Date

    Monday 17 January 2020

  • Venue

    Cork Education Support Centre, The Mardyke, Cork

  • Start Date

    Friday 31 January 2020

Course Outline

Once described as ‘the most powerful and finished female novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists’, Elizabeth, or ‘Mrs. Gaskell’, was unjustly overlooked in the years following her death, with authors such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot far eclipsing her in popularity. However, the last 50 years have brought a revival of interest in this literary great – an author whose versatility and many-sided skill has led to comparisons with both Dickens and Austen, and whose pioneering work remains supremely relevant today.
This course shall explore Gaskell’s work in the context of her life and times, moving from her earlier social or ‘Condition of England’ novels, to her later more humorous explorations of village and family life. All lectures will seek to facilitate class discussion, and students are encouraged to bring their own responses to the table. Many sessions will also make use of audio and visual materials in order to stimulate debate.

Over the course of 8 weeks, we shall explore the following topics:

1) Elizabeth Gaskell: her life and times.
2) Mary Barton: Class conflict, social justice and loss in Gaskell’s debut novel.
3) Ruth: Unmarried motherhood, societal hypocrisy and moral recovery in Gaskell’s oft-overlooked novel.
4) Cranford: Gaskell’s ‘practically structureless’ yet immensely popular portrait of people and customs in the fictitious small country town of Cranford.
5) North and South: Modernity versus tradition, social concern and female self-determination in Gaskell’s second ‘Manchester’ novel.
6) Cousin Phillis: Coming of age and the male/female divide in what is often considered to be Gaskell’s crowning achievement in the short novel.
7) Wives and Daughters: Romance, scandal, intrigue and the challenging of masculine authority in Gaskell’s final novel.
8) Gaskell’s afterlife: Neglect and subsequent revival of interest in Gaskell’s works.

Course Practicalities


Short courses are non-assessed

Who teaches on this course 

Emma Dore- Horgan is pursuing doctoral research at the University of Oxford; and holds a BA in English Literature and Philosophy from the Open University, an MA in Philosophy from UCC and a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine from UCD. She is particularly interested in the nineteenth century novel and the work of the Brontës, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell and Thomas Hardy. 

Why Choose This Course

This course represents an opportunity to explore the works of an often overlooked literary great: an author who managed to combine the wit of Jane Austen with the social conscience of Dickens, while remaining as emotionally bold as Charlotte Brontë throughout. We shall examine the subversive quality of Gaskell’s work, particularly her fierce and explicit concern with the political issues of her day; while also exploring her remarkable ability to combine humour and pathos in her writing.  If you are keen to explore the life and work of this visionary and under-appreciated author, then this is the course for you!


Fees and Costs

The fee for this course is €200.

How Do I Apply

The closing date for applications is Friday 17 January 2020. Fees are listed in each course description. Students register and pay fees before course commencement as follows:

1. Register and pay online by clicking the Apply Now button below. Course commencement is subject to sufficient enrolment. In the event of a course not commencing applicants will be informed and their fees will be returned.

2. Payment may also be made by credit or debit card, cheque, postal order or bank draft made payable to UCC and these should be returned together with a completed application form to Short Courses, Adult Continuing Education, The Laurels, Western Road. Application forms are available from the office or they may be downloaded from the link below.

3. Students may also hand in completed application forms to the office at ACE between 9:15am and 5pm each day prior to the closing date. We regret we are unable to accept cash.

Application Form Jan 2020

Year 1 Modules

Year 2 Modules

Year 3 Modules

Year 4 Modules

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact