The Oxford ReLit Summer School is an intensive exploration of the power and therapeutic value of literature and the other arts. The theme for 2019 is “Taking a Pause: the Art of Rest and Reflection.”


The Course

The Oxford ReLit Summer School is an intensive exploration of the power and therapeutic value of literature and the other arts. 

The 2019 Summer School will run from Monday 5th August – Sunday 11th August. 

The theme for 2019 is “Taking a Pause: the Art of Rest and Reflection.” 

“Rest before you sleep
You’ll be walking for hours
Then as usual away from home
Your shoes in your hand
Your feet not yet used to the road”  

(“Rest before you sleep”, Dionisio D. Martinez)

A perfect day comes in thirds: work, where we toil in purposeful dedication to a task; play, where we live freely and with abandon; and rest, where we slip into restful silence.

But whose days are made of evenly divided work and play? The theme of this week-long course will be the art of pausing for rest and reflection.

Artists repeatedly explore the theme of rest. It is the essential pause to daily worries, wakefulness, stresses and strains. While a lack of rest can produce art, rest itself can also be induced by art. The practice of music, literature and the plastic arts can be a tonic for restlessness.

Participants in the 2019 Oxford ReLit Summer School will spend seven days with a variety of artists and art experts during which time we will explore the theme of rest and reflection. This international, cross-generational course will gather poets, writers and visual artists in a series of collaborative discussions and creative practices.

This is a week dedicated to celebrating the merits of rest and reflection in an age that demands more than we have to give. Sessions will take place in the stunning dining room of the Provost’s Lodgings at Worcester College, Oxford, and in the college’s beautiful grounds and gardens and surrounding countryside.

“I will build a house of rest,
Square the corners every one.
At every angle on his breast
Shall a cherub take the sun;
Rising, risen, sinking, down,
Weaving day’s unequal crown.”

(“The House of Rest”, Julia Ward Howe)

Course Ethos:

As an educational experience, the course emphasises collaborative conversation and cross-generational learning. The course is open to anyone from pre-university to retirement age, and we especially encourage the non-traditional student. While the course offers up some specialist materials, each session is run in such a way that participants can interact immediately and openly with the materials in front of them without any prior specialist knowledge. We’ve made a short video which gives an insight into the format that a Summer School session might take; the video can be viewed here.

If you have any enquiries about the course content or ethos, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Course Co-convenor Dr Julie Sutherland, by emailing

Please note that for non-local participants, the course is 18+ unless accompanied by an adult. If you are under 18, please contact us for more information by emailing and

“Doubling and doubling with laborious walk,
Who, that has gained at length the wished-for Height,
This brief this simple wayside Call can slight,
And rests not thankful?” 

(William Wordsworth)

“Her rest shall not begin nor end, but be;
And when she wakes she will not think it long.”

(Christina Rossetti)