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The Great Courses: Literature & Language

 
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  • Language A to Z

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (536)
    Performance
    (484)
    Story
    (470)

    Linguistics, the study of language, has a reputation for being complex and inaccessible. But here's a secret: There's a lot that's quirky and intriguing about how human language works-and much of it is downright fun to learn about. But with so many potential avenues of exploration, it can often seem daunting to try to understand it. Where does one even start?

    Jacobus says: "A genious Miscelany of linguistic topics"
  • Writing and Civilization: From Ancient Worlds to Modernity

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 9 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Marc Zender
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (22)
    Story
    (21)

    At just over 5,000 years old, writing is actually a relatively recent invention. It has become so central to the way we communicate and live, however, that it often seems as if writing has always existed. But the question remains: Who invented writing, and why?In these 24 fascinating lectures, you'll trace the remarkable saga of the invention and evolution of "visible speech," from its earliest origins to its future in the digital age.

    Stacey says: "Loved it!"
  • Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Thomas A. Shippey
    Overall
    (283)
    Performance
    (255)
    Story
    (254)

    Odysseus. Robinson Crusoe. Harry Potter. What do these memorable characters have in common? Why do we turn to certain stories again and again? And what impact have they made on world history? These 24 eye-opening lectures give fresh insight into some of the greatest heroes in world literature, from warriors such as Beowulf and Odysseus to unexpected heroes such as Uncle Tom and Sancho Panza. Professor Shippey gives you an inside glimpse into the writer's process.

    SC in SC says: "Outstanding! Myth, Legend & History Come Alive"
  • Classical Mythology

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (512)
    Performance
    (454)
    Story
    (448)

    These 24 lectures are a vibrant introduction to the primary characters and most important stories of classical Greek and Roman mythology. Among those you'll investigate are the accounts of the creation of the world in Hesiod's Theogony and Ovid's Metamorphoses; the gods Zeus, Apollo, Demeter, Persephone, Hermes, Dionysos, and Aphrodite; the Greek heroes, Theseus and Heracles (Hercules in the Roman version); and the most famous of all classical myths, the Trojan War.

    Matt says: "Very Informative and Entertaining"
  • The Art of Reading

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 36 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Timothy Spurgin
    Overall
    (53)
    Performance
    (42)
    Story
    (44)

    Artful reading-the way we read novels and short stories-is less about reading for specific information and more about reading to revel in the literary experience. Learning the skills and techniques of artful reading can improve your life in many ways, whether you're a fiction reader, an aspiring writer, a book club member, or a student.And the best part: These skills are not difficult or unwieldy; rather, they are well within your reach.

    C. Sneed says: "Endurance"
  • Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Brooks Landon
    Overall
    (154)
    Performance
    (136)
    Story
    (130)

    Why do some lengthy sentences flow effortlessly while others stumble along? Why are you captivated by the writing of particular authors? How can you craft sentences that reflect your unique outlook on the world? This lively, 24-lecture course introduces you to the myriad ways in which we think about, talk about, and write sentences. Reviving the sentence-oriented approach to studying writing, Professor Landon provides a greater context for what makes sentences great - and how you can apply these methods to your own writing.

    Cynthia says: "Very well presented... but with poor pronunciation"
  • The Story of Human Language

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 15 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (310)
    Performance
    (285)
    Story
    (282)

    Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct.

    Saud says: "You'll Never Look at Languages the Same Way Again"
  • Classics of American Literature

    • ORIGINAL (43 hrs and 53 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (70)
    Performance
    (59)
    Story
    (60)

    To truly understand the United States of America, you must explore its literary tradition. Now, in this grand collection of 84 fascinating lectures, you'll get the chance to finally become familiar with America's true literary masterpieces (some you may already be familiar with, others you have yet to discover). Professor Weinstein has crafted these lectures to explain why some works become classics while others do not, why some "immortal" works fade from our attention completely, and even why some contemporary works now being ignored or snubbed by critics may be considered immortal one day.

    W. Perry Hall says: "Incomparable AudiOverview of American Literature"
  • William Shakespeare: Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Peter Saccio
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (49)
    Story
    (51)

    Shakespeare's plays - whether a comedy like A Midsummer Night's Dream, a history like Henry IV, or a tragedy like Hamlet - are treasure troves of insight into our very humanity. These 36 lectures introduce you to Shakespeare's major plays from each of these three genres and explain the achievement that makes him the leading playwright in Western civilization.

    Mikkel says: "Connections across genres"
  • The Life and Writings of C. S. Lewis

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Louis Markos
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (18)
    Story
    (18)

    What can we still learn from C.S. Lewis? Find out in these 12 insightful lectures that cover the author's spiritual autobiography, novels, and his scholarly writings that reflect on pain and grief, love and friendship, prophecy and miracles, and education and mythology.

    Richard says: "Basically a collection of sermons"
  • Classics of Russian Literature

    • ORIGINAL (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Irwin Weil
    Overall
    (33)
    Performance
    (33)
    Story
    (33)

    Russian literature famously probes the depths of the human soul, and in this series of 36 insightful lectures prepared by a frequently honored teacher legendary among educators in both the United States and Russia-you probe just as deeply into the extraordinary legacy that is Russian Literature itself.Professor Weil introduces you to masterpieces such as Tolstoy's War and Peace, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, Gogol's Dead Souls, Chekhov's The Seagull, Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, and many other great novels, stories, plays, and poems.

    Cookie says: "This is really special!"
  • Shakespeare's Tragedies

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Clare R. Kinney
    Overall
    (25)
    Performance
    (24)
    Story
    (24)

    Shakespeare's contributions to stage and language are unequaled, audiences left breathless for the past four centuries, his artistry as evident in moments of insensate rage as it is in moments of heartbreaking tenderness.

    Dan says: "Enlightening and well presented"
  • Masterpieces of Ancient Greek Literature

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David J. Schenker
    Overall
    (10)
    Performance
    (9)
    Story
    (9)

    The ancient Greeks left the world that came after them-particularly our own and our ways of seeing it-an incalculable legacy. Mention politics, philosophy, law, medicine, history, even the visual arts, and we barely scratch the surface of what we owe this extraordinary culture. How can we best learn about these people who have given us so much, who have deepened and enriched our understanding of ourselves, and whose world remains far closer than we might imagine? The 36 lectures of this sparkling series from a frequently honored teacher is an outstanding place to begin.

    Bernie Cullen says: "Excellent course"
  • The English Novel

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Timothy Spurgin
    Overall
    (11)
    Performance
    (11)
    Story
    (11)

    Who can imagine life without novels? They have served not merely as diversions but as companions for so much of our lives, offering hours of pleasure and, at their best, insights few of us can ever quantify. But the simple joy of reading novels sometimes obscures our awareness of the deeper roles they play in our lives: honing our intellect, quenching our emotional thirsts, and shaping our sense of ourselves and of the world we live in.

  • Joyce's Ulysses

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 20 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor James A. W. Heffernan
    Overall
    (30)
    Performance
    (25)
    Story
    (26)

    Ulysses depicts a world that is as fully conceived and vibrant as anything in Homer or Shakespeare. It has been delighting and puzzling readers since it was first published on Joyce's 40th birthday in 1922. And here, Professor Heffernan maps the brilliance, passion, humanity, and humor of Joyce's modern Odyssey in these 24 lectures that finally make a beguiling literary masterpiece accessible for any reader willing to give it a chance.

    Peregrine says: "I really recommend this if you're reading Ulysses"
  • Herodotus: The Father of History

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 17 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (18)
    Performance
    (15)
    Story
    (16)

    Witness the "works and wonders" of the ancient world through the eyes of its first great historian in this sparkling series of 24 lectures from a much-honored teacher and classical scholar.Herodotus (c. 484-420 B.C.E.) was a Greek who was born in what is now the modern Turkish resort town of Bodrum and who died, so tradition says, in the south of Italy. In between, his tirelessly inquiring mind took him from one corner of the known world to another.

    Betsy says: "Really Loved It"
  • Myth in Human History

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (64)
    Performance
    (54)
    Story
    (56)

    Myths provide the keys to truly grasping the ways that principles, rituals, codes, and taboos are woven into the fabric of a particular society or civilization. It's through myths that we can answer these and other fundamental questions: How was the universe created, and why? What is the purpose of evil? Why is society organized the way it is? How did natural features like rivers, mountains, and oceans emerge?This entertaining and illuminating course plunges you into the world's greatest myths.

    Walter says: "Five stars, with some caveats"
  • The Aeneid of Virgil

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 8 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (29)
    Performance
    (26)
    Story
    (26)

    The Aeneid is the great national epic of ancient Rome, and one of the most important works of literature ever written. And with Professor Vandiver's 12 instructive lectures, you'll enter fully into the gripping tale that Virgil tells. Join Aeneas on his long journey west from ruined Troy to the founding of a new nation in Italy, and see how he weaves a rich network of compelling human themes. Your encounter with the Aeneid focuses on careful, detailed examinations of the epic's background, main themes, and significant episodes.

  • The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Seth Lerer
    • Narrated By Professor Seth Lerer
    Overall
    (4)
    Performance
    (4)
    Story
    (3)

    Geoffrey Chaucer is one of our grandest and most enduring poets; an architect of our vocabulary and our literary style. By examining the English writer's texts, from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and incident that is The Canterbury Tales, these 12 lectures will prepare you for the challenges of Chaucer's oeuvre, and will provide an understanding of what makes him the true "father" of English poetry.

    Hjalti says: "A complete waste of time"
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