I feel that everyone should take this course just so we know that we're all on the same page when it comes to conversation structure and etiquette. Much of the information was basic and familiar, but Curzan nonetheless finds a way to make it entertaining and insightful. This course isn't necessary if you feel that you are already pretty good at conversation and how to negotiate one, but it does bring interesting linguistic ideas to bear on conversation structure. I do feel an urge to evangelize about how the conversation floor and backchanneling work after listening. Good, short course.
I didn't live in the 60s so maybe I'm unqualified to judge Thompson's satirical prowess, but the book didn't really seem that effective at satirizing anything. He did a lot of drugs and had a bizarre time in Vegas. The story was weird and interesting but also meandering and seemingly pointless. Perhaps there wasn't supposed to be a "point" but I was waiting for something biting or insightful and it never came. I was still entertained though. People are saying the narrator did an awful job, but I thought his narration was compelling with its tone of impending insanity. The book was very much like an acid trip, except you don't get the fleeting, overwhelming epiphanies.
Anne Curzan is a masterful teacher. She is organized, yet conversational. She gives you a cornucopia of linguistic and lexicographical information that is both fascinating and instructive. She is funny and adept at giving felicitous examples to support her point. You will learn so much about the English language in this course. I just can't rave enough about it. It's far better that John McWhorter's meandering courses. I think I learned more from Curzan's few lectures about English's history than McWhorter's entire course about the subject. This is one of the best Great Courses.
In the vein of Freakonomics, Professor Taylor, undoubtedly one of the best Great Courses lecturers, provides you with a novel perspective on a variety of issues. Kidney transplants, traffic congestion, terrorism, marriage, procreation, discrimination, addiction, obesity, and voting; Prof. Taylor gently but fascinatingly analyzes all of these areas with economics in mind. He doesn't tell you what to but how to think more clearly about these subjects. Highly recommended.
Professor Muller exquisitely weaves the historical dialectic between the eminent thinkers of capitalism with the contexts surrounding it. He evenhandedly addresses each thinker and elucidates why each one was so influential. You will come away with a more nuanced view of capitalism after listening to this course. Leftists will move right and rightists will move left. Prof. Muller constantly intrigues with his knack for storytelling and explication of ideas, never allowing for a boring moment. Highly recommended.
There were some helpful tips here and there but the course plodded with lots of platitudinizing. I felt like he could've effectively communicated everything he wanted to in 3 hours or less.
This book is wonderful look at how far humans have progressed ethically. Steven Pinker eloquently tells the story of how we escaped the amoral, nasty, brutish Hobbesian state of nature to now be at a place ethically where we are considering the rights of other species. And of course the potency of the story comes from the myriad facts and statistics Pinker provides throughout. As a beautiful vindication of the idea of progress, the argument perfectly refutes the delusional Rousseauians' idea of the "good old days." I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It's a true reason for optimism.
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