European Literature in Translation: The first 25 years

European Literature in Translation: The first 25 years

By Margaret Farnworth, Continuing Education student

On a warm October morning in 1993 a group of eighteen or twenty of us crammed into a stuffy room in the Modern Languages building for the first session of a twenty-week course in “European Literature in Translation”. No one could possibly have realised that this was the start of a course which would still be running in 2017 and about to enter its twenty-fifth season.
Over the years we have been taught by five tutors, and have diversified from French literature to European Literature generally. Students have come and gone with many attending for a decade or more, and the enthusiasm and commitment of tutors and students alike remain undiminished. We have tackled works originally written in many languages, ranging from French and Italian to Russian and Scandinavian and have studied novels, plays, short stories and memoirs.

What’s the attraction of this course? Why do people sign up and in many cases stick with it for years? What do they get out of it?

Although many of those who attend are retired, and already have degrees and professional qualifications, some still find writing essays for assessment a welcome challenge. Others prefer to forego that pleasure, but will happily volunteer to prepare talks and presentations on topics of particular interest. Some enrol to follow up an interest in literature dating back to school days but side-lined through their working lives. Others are retired teachers or academics specialising in English or in modern languages who are looking to extend their existing knowledge. People who have never read outside English and American literature welcome the chance to explore a wider range of texts. Some enrol through personal recommendation from friends. As one member wrote – There is no better way of exploring ideas, thought and life than through literature.

The class provides what one student describes as a warm, welcoming, fun and stimulating environment in which to read and discuss texts. It’s important that we are led by a qualified tutor to direct our study, so that we are most definitely not a book group. But group discussion is a big part of the class, although no one is forced to contribute and if you just want to listen that’s fine. Cross-fertilisation of ideas is important, and people benefit from insights they would not necessarily have discovered for themselves. Because most members have decades of life experience, they bring a fascinating array of knowledge to the discussion. Over the years, historians, artists, actors, academics and others have shared their expertise – and for several years a retired GP provided wonderful insights into the ailments of the characters we read about. We have always placed a strong emphasis on studying the works we study in their historical, social and political context, and where possible we look at clips of stage and film versions. As one member commented – Every week I leave the class feeling stimulated.

Over time we have become more than just an adult education class. Theatre and film trips take place if there’s a local performance of a text we’re studying. Weekly coffee breaks and end-of-term lunches provide a chance to chat. Friendships have developed and people meet informally out of class. Last year we had an innovation – an informal, twice-monthly reading group in a local cafe, intended to keep us in touch over the long summer break. We hope this will become a regular feature.
In October we plan to mark the anniversary of the Russian Revolution by reading some works from the Soviet period; I can promise anyone who decides to join us a lively, stimulating and enjoyable course.

And finally – a big thank you to the staff of Continuing Education who made all this happen.
European Literature will return for its 25th year this Autumn – if you would like to enrol email us at and we will send you the details when they are ready.

The History of Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool

By Dr Anna Pilz


In May 2015, I was invited to give a talk as part of Continuing Education’s Lecture Series on the history of the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool. It was a great pleasure to return to my alma mater and meet some of my former colleagues and students. During my doctorate at Liverpool, I was fortunate to offer four courses on Irish literature and culture for their Continuing Education programme. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences during my degree. It offered me the opportunity to gain vital experiences in curriculum design and teaching. More importantly, however, I enjoyed the discussions I had with the students on Irish writers, historical events and representations of Irish culture. It was a particular pleasure to encounter a variety of class members who joined the courses for different reasons: either because of a personal interest due their own Irish heritage; in an effort to socialise with others who share similar interests; in order to test the ground of learning in a Higher Education environment for possible future enrolment on degree programmes; or simply in pursuit of knowledge and exchange of ideas. It was precisely this diversity in motivation as well as an eagerness to engage with new and often challenging concepts among the participants that made these classes such a joyful and rewarding experience. As so often, the best ideas and thoughts are stimulated through debate.

CE_176When I was approached to write a brief history of Continuing Education at Liverpool, I jumped at the chance to delve into the rich archive of the Centre for Lifelong Learning. It was an exciting opportunity to find out more about the developments of adult education, how it evolved and adapted to the changing social, economic, and political contexts from the late nineteenth century to the present in the city of Liverpool. I was struck in particular how the programme and the vision for adult education was driven by the people dedicated to offer a diverse syllabus and broadening the programme to cater toward an ever-increasing demand.

The challenges faced in the past were similar to today, relating to issues of finances, administrative structures, teaching materials, appropriate teaching spaces, recruitment and wider changes in the academy. The history of adult education at Liverpool indicates that such challenges can be overcome. Three things struck me in particular. Firstly, I found that throughout the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, CE was always at the forefront in responding to external changes. Secondly, since the 1960s, it engaged in developing a research-led vision for the Centre and its varying strands and duties by bringing in international scholars with a research interest in adult education, funding researchers based at Liverpool as well as sending out its staff to international conferences. Thirdly, it struck me how widening participation and community engagement was always a focus of adult education in Liverpool with collaborations between the Centre and local institutions, such as the Blue Coat, the Walker Art Gallery and the Philharmonic Hall. In this ambition, it seems to me that the Centre for Lifelong Learning is really at the heart of what one major concern within the academy: to reach out and transfer knowledge to the wider community.

The Centre’s archive holds a wealth of material, including student enrolment lists, syllabi, correspondence and annual reports with particularly rich materials for the period of World War Two. These highlight the fast-pacing socio-economic and political changes Liverpool and Merseyside and their impact on adult education. Thanks to the dedication of the people to face these challenges head-on, the Centre for Lifelong Learning is thriving today enabling me to be part of and contribute to CE’s adult education programme which offered a unique experience to me as an Early Career Researcher. I can only hope that the archive will attract an enthusiastic student to embark on a full study of the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Liverpool. As one of the few Centres left dedicated to adult and further education, its archive merits such a study and will shed light on the importance of adult education.

For our current programme click here 2015/16 Programme
You can read a copy of Anna Pilz Continuing Education at the University of Liverpool here History of Continuing Education

Babylon and the Bible conference

10By Dr. Paul Lawrence – University of Liverpool

Archaeology and the Bible 2015

Saturday 2nd May, 10.00am – 4.30pm University of Liverpool


It is very rare that the university has to turn people away from a conference for lack of space. This happened at a day conference organised by myself and Dr. Glenn Godenho from the school of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology in February, 2012. Undoubtedly a big draw was a public lecture from Emeritus Professor Kenneth Kitchen on Treaty, Law and Covenant in the Ancient Near East. He had spent 56 years writing a 5.5 kg. three volume work on the subject. People came from all over the country, even from Ireland and Germany to hear what was billed as his last public lecture.
Encouraged by such an overwhelming response a second conference took place the following year. This time the keynote speaker was Dr. James Hoffmeier from USA talking on the evidence for the Israelites in Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. The attendance of 100+ was repeated last year with a look at the Archaeology of the New Testament.
We are delighted to announce Archaeology of the Bible Conference for 2015, this years theme is Babylon and the Bible. Emeritus Professor Alan Millard will be the keynote speaker comparing the Babylonian story of the flood with the flood story in the Book of Genesis. It is best to book now to avoid being turned away!

Babylon and the Bible

From the Genesis story of the Tower of Babel to the city whose doom is described in the Book of Revelation Babylon plays an important role in the Bible. Babylon was addressed by many of the Hebrew prophets and was the place to where Daniel and many other Jews were exiled in the 6th C BC. Over a century of excavations have helped to bring ruined Babylon to life. Of particular interest to many is how the Mesopotamian flood stories can be compared  with the Genesis story of Noah and the flood.


10am – Professor Alan Millard –  University Of Liverpool, Genesis and the Babylonian Creation and Flood Stories.  Did Genesis borrow from Babylon? 

When Babylonian tablets were discovered containing stories of the creation of the world and human beings and of a great flood, comparisons we made with the biblical accounts leading people to suppose Genesis we based on Babylonian traditions.  After a century of discovery and research, do those conclusions still hold?  This lecture will re-assess the Babylonian and Hebrew sources.              

11am                    Break (Refreshments)

11.30pm                    Dr Magnus Widell, Sumerian Literature from Ancient Sumer

Sumerian literature, which was written down on clay tablets in the cuneiform script by scribes and students in southern Iraq some 4,000 years ago, represents the oldest readable poetry in the world. In this talk, I will offer a general survey of Sumerian literature, and discuss different literary genres, as well as both ancient and modern classifications of Sumerian literature. We will look at several different types of literary compositions in translation, and analyse the Sumerian literary language and its rich use of metaphors and imagery.

12.15pm                    Dr Paul Lawrence – University of Liverpool, Daniel and Babylon

The stories in the  book of Daniel are some of the best known in the Bible, but are they really to be set in the early 6th C BC or is the whole book a much later composition being written during the persecution of the Jews by the Syrian king Antiochus IV in the mid 2nd C BC? Using archaeological and linguistic evidence both claims will be assessed.

1pm                     Lunch Break

2pm                    Dr Selim Adali  – Social Science University of Ankara,                      Gog and Magog in the Book of Ezekiel in light of Babylonian History

Ezekiel’s prophecy against Gog of Magog assumes a king ruling over Meshech and Tubal sometimes after the fall of Jerusalem 587 BC.  Meshech and Tubal refer to regions of Central Anatolia.  This paper addresses the question of historical background for Gog and Magog in the Book of Ezekiel.  In the process, this paper engages the cuneiform evidence pertaining to this question in the areas of Anatolian Iron Age history and the relation of Ezekiel’s Prophecy with Babylonian religion and literature as treated in cuneo-biblical studies.

3pm                          Break (Refreshments)

3.30pm                     Alan Millard – Liverpool University, Babylonians in the Bible

Merodach-baladan, Nergal-Sharezer –  these are names that don’t trip off the tongue easily if you read the Bible in public!  What can we learn about these people and others with strange names?  Discoveries old and new help to place them in history and to see how the biblical texts fit with their ancient settings.

4.15pm                      Questions for the speakers and concluding remarks                     

To book online, click here








Introduction to Classical Mechanics by Stephen Hughes


Introduction to Classical Mechanics by Stephen Hughes

Gravity, a natural phenomenon that keeps our feet firmly on the ground and occasionally permits us to have our heads in the clouds, shapes the Universe by binding vast systems of planets, stars and galaxies together. It is also responsible for the Earth’s dynamic tides and causing apples to fall from trees. Yet it is the weakest of all the fundamental forces that govern how everything interacts with everything else. The other three forces are the strong force, electromagnetism and the weak force, in order of decreasing strength. The strong force binds protons and neutrons together forming the nuclei of atoms. Electromagnetism is responsible for electric charges attracting and repelling one another. This also includes the similar effects experienced by magnets. The familiar behaviour of this force is how opposites attract and likes repel. Finally the weak force, still far stronger than gravity, causes radioactive decay. Why then does gravity have such a big impact on the dynamics of the Universe? The answer to this question has two parts. Firstly the strong and weak forces act only over very short distances, about the same distance as the size of an atoms nucleus. Secondly, although electromagnetism has an infinite range it acts on objects that have either a positive or negative charge. There are usually an equal number of positive and negative charges in a given region so any overall effect cancels out. Gravity in comparison has an infinite range but acts only on objects that have mass, which is always positive. This is how gravity triumphs in governing the large scale dynamics of the Universe. Only one type of mass, positive mass, means gravity causes everything to be attracted to everything else.

When Isaac Newton described gravity mathematically he provided a method to calculate the future position of the planets, the height of the tides and eventually helped land a spacecraft on the moon. The downside to his description is that it gives no indication of how gravity works. What mechanism causes two objects with mass to be attracted towards each other? As astronomical measuring instruments improved it was observed that the predictions regarding Mercury’s position were slightly wrong. Albert Einstein had been thinking about gravity and was interested in this problem with Mercury. His new theory of gravity, general relativity, accounted for this small difference and calculated the correct position of Mercury. It does this by incorporating the strong gravitational effects experienced near to very heavy objects, like the Sun. Mercury, being the closest planet to the Sun, is affected more than any other planet in the solar system. General relativity also gives us an insight into the mechanism that makes gravity work. Space is described as distortable, compressing and stretching in the presence of mass. Space warps around an object with mass, which causes a passing object to follow the shape created by the warped space, giving an illusion of a force acting between the two objects.
Stephen will be leading a fascinating course by Continuing Education titled an Introduction to Classical Mechanics: The Origins of Science from Wednesday 1 October –