Group Size
10 hours
Skill Level
500 euro

Course Description

In honour of plagues past and present, this On-Demand Coaching course focuses on the literary products whose creations were made possible by the bubonic plague first in the Middle Ages and later during the Renaissance.  

Who is this course for ?

This course is for the literary curious who wish to explore the phenomenon of the current global COVID pandemic from an intellectual perspective, specifically through a literary lens. Therefore, this course is for anyone seeking an opportunity to critically read and explore historical English texts with a special emphasis on the concepts of pandemic literature; and with the subsequent aim of revealing parallels from selected ‘pandemic’ literary works to help interpret and rationalize what we find ourselves, individually and collectively, experiencing today in the second decade of the twenty first century.

Context to COVID-19

Humans are deeply social in nature, so pandemic protocol is pathogenic to our psyches in myriad ways. Covid’s collateral damage involves depression, anxiety and insomnia; 2020 saw a rise in suicide rates and antidepressant prescriptions, alcohol consumption and its suite of comorbids such as liver disease and diabetes, and a general surge in erratic behaviour and the proliferation of conspiracy theories, especially online through social media. However, as devastating as Covid has been to almost every aspect of human life on earth, imagine this past year in the total absence of any news or health and safety information save what you pick up from grocery store gossip, a year without Netflix or the CDC or hand sanitizer, without the radio or anything to read except perhaps the Bible. Now, imagine all of this taking place entirely in the dark. Just cut the lights for the whole world at the stroke of midnight January 1, 2020.

Course Content

The complete course is comprised of the following two On-Demand Coaching Units:

  • UNIT 1: Medieval Literature and the Plague. (Explicitly, Boccaccio, Chaucer and Piers Plowman).
  • UNIT 2: Shakespeare and Lockdown. (Shakespeare purportedly wrote three plays during the Globe’s lockdown, Macbeth, Lear, and Antony and Cleopatra).

However, both of the individual units can be taken singularly, as a stand-alone course.

In Unit 1, we will be reading the literature coming out of the Black Death that ravaged Europe and the British Isles in the mid-fourteenth century.  We will read and examine selections from Boccaccio’s chronicle of the plague from The Decameron; Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales; and William Langland’s wild account of the plague-days and its politics Piers Plowman.  

Unit 2 will focus on the singular British playwright William Shakespeare who put his time in lock-down to very good use and wrote the three plays we will be dissecting, Macbeth, King Lear and Antony and Cleopatra, during the time London’s theatres were closed due to bubonic plague.

What many people don’t realise today, is that Shakespeare spent most of his life in the spectre of bubonic plague. And of all Shakespeare’s plays, the plague figures most prominently in the Tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, as uttered through the words of Friar John (which contains an explicit reference to the infection and quarantine [in Verona]):

                       Going to find a barefoot brother out,

                       One of our order, to associate me,

                       Here in this city visiting the sick,

                       And finding him, the searchers of the town,

                       Suspecting that we both were in a house

                       Where the infectious pestilence did reign,

                      Sealed up the doors and would not let us forth,

                      So that my speed to Mantua there was stayed.

                                                                                                       Romeo and Juliet, Scene V, Act II

The course will conclude with a literary-based analysis of how history will look back on and record, our currently-lived pandemic crisis!

What to expect ?

The main objectives of the course are to:

  • introduce students to ‘pandemic’ as a uniquely potent narrative device;
  • investigate how the selected historical ‘pandemic’ course texts help us make sense of describing and recording what we’re experiencing now;
  • contrast and compare the efficacy of literary devices adopted in the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the 21st century to extract new meaning to societal upheaval wrought from pandemics;
  • explore how ‘narrative distance’ in the selected historical ‘pandemic’ literature transcends mere reporting to communicate the ominous and portentous - and ultimately a fragility of shared experience and shared meaning.

Formative assessment                                                                                                                                                                       

Each On-Demand Coaching Programme has a dedicated tutor-coach who co-ordinates and guides the student throughout the duration of the programme. Your Coach will also build-in frequent opportunities for you to check your own understanding and development – which will include gaining feedback from SCHEDULED formative assessments. Refer to the E.T.A. Coaching Process.

Summative assessment

In addition to ongoing formative feedback, for EACH unit you will be set two pieces of written summative assessment: the first of 1000 words will be set halfway through the course; and the second will be the final assessment of 1,500 words due at the end of the unit.

THREE Features of our On-Demand Coaching Programmes

To promote high quality and regular interaction between student and coach, all our On-Demand Coaching Programmes come with the three features of: 

  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Private instant messaging
  • A personalized User-Portfolio
Interactive Online Whiteboard

Each student on our Coaching Programmes will be allocated a secure, dedicated online interactive whiteboard. Its features include: voice/video conferencing, screen and video sharing, record and playback of online whiteboard sessions and upload and download files to and from the whiteboard.

Private Instant Messaging

Embedded in the Whiteboard within each student’s Coaching Programme online page is a private messaging feature that enables an instant and efficient textual record of ongoing communication between student and coach. 

Personalized User-Portfolio

Each coaching student will have their own secure, cloud-based User-Portfolio progress record and databank. There is no software to install, as it is linked to the Europe Tutorial Academy website. From their User-Portfolio each student can view, manage and submit assignments, view ongoing feedback and reports from their Coach, and keep track of progress and upcoming deadlines agreed with the Coach.

Our Coaching Philosophy

The core of Europe Tutorial Academy educational philosophy is to create a learning experience for our students that successfully identifies and addresses each individual student’s needs, So all our tutoring is student-centred with a focus on empowering each student to monitor and adapt their own learning strategies. To fulfil this ambition, our tutoring philosophy is built on the three pillars of:

  • Our Holistic Principle
  • Learner-Centred Approach
  • Three Dimensions of Learning.

For more details of these three key elements please refer to Our Philosophy.

Coaching Methods

In line with our holistic principle that students perform at their best when their individual needs are diagnosed and natural thinking styles are identified, the tutoring methods across the E.T.A. coaching programme will vary, but will typically include a combination of:

  • critical reasoning
  • anchored instruction
  • concept-based learning
  • formative assessment
  • summative assessment.

Next Steps

To apply for an On-Demand Coaching place with us, just click the BOOK THIS BUTTON on the left of this page. If you need further advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We wish you every success. Enjoy your course!


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