"Extramural is nothing less than a first-hand, definitive celebration of the importance of lifelong learning by a gifted teacher and administrator who wears his own scholarship lightly, delighting, as the best teachers always do, in the fact that 'you are likely to learn as much from your students as they will learn from you'. Nobody who reads Adrian Barlow's wonderfully alert account of [continuing] education courses taught mainly at Cambridge's Madingley Hall could fail to envy those who have participated in them, and no institution could have a better advertisement. This, though, is only part of the book's value. Containing the texts of various commissioned lectures on Barlow's twin loves of literature and architecture, plus occasional reviews and a selection of lively, sometimes engagingly forthright items from his blog ( e.g. 'Please forgive the indignant tone of what follows. . .'), Extramural combines polemic, literary criticism and autobiography in what amounts to a vivid memoir of his life in education. As an occasional Madingley Hall tutor myself, I found the book ringing true on every page."
John Mole, Writer in Residence at Magdalene College, Cambridge, Poet in Residence to the Poets Society in the City of London and Poet in Residence of 'Poet in the City'
"Drawing on a broad theoretical understanding as well as the author's personal experience of teaching literature in an extramural context, this is a genuinely illuminating study. In the present political climate it is also a timely one, reminding us of how much society stands to lose if continuing education is not adequately valued and supported."
Jem Poster, Professor and Director of Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University; formerly University Lecturer in Literature, Oxford University Department for Continuing Education
"Each essay in the book – all of them stylish, good natured, and erudite in a thoroughly unpretentious way – stands as a spirited defense of 'Literature and Lifelong Learning' (the book's subtitle) in an environment in which both have become vulnerable. … Extramural is, among other things, an expression of gratitude to the thousands of students Adrian Barlow has known over his years in Cambridge, a gracious recognition that teaching and learning are mutual in the most profound sense of the term, and that in the very best extramural classes the 'non-egoistic listening and thinking together' (in the words of my friend Jacob Needleman) open us up, enlarge us, and leaves all – teachers and students – intellectually and imaginatively invigorated."
Charles Junkerman, Dean of Continuing Studies, Stanford University
"What impressed me most about these chapters is how accessible Adrian [Barlow] makes the discussion of literature particularly for those of us whose field is not literature. ... I found the book to be a very personal discussion about subjects and authors of great meaning to the author and they then became of great interest to me as a reader. ... As I did to my colleagues at UPCEA, I strongly recommend Extramural to those who advocate for lifelong learning. My only regret having read the book is that I've never attended any of Adrian's day or evening extramural lectures and walk with him as described the chalk-pit near Adrian's much loved Madingley Hall."
Dr James M. Shaeffer Sr, Associate Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement, James Madison University
"Underpinning the whole book ... is the knowledge that literature is important in so many ways not just in the development of skills, but in 'opening minds and expanding horizons.' ... It also reminds us that a life spent in literature is a life worth living."
Jane Campion, in The Use of English, Summer 2012
"This is a book which needed to be written, if for no other reason than to ensure that when the annals of target-limited, instrumentalist views of education get disseminated, there will be an alternative account from those who held other ideas, and put their time and effort into making them work. On the evidence of this clearly-voiced, forceful, and at time poignant, collection of studies it is easy to see which of these competing accounts will be better written."
John J. McGavin, in The English Association Newsletter, No 200