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The Great Courses: Literature & Language


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  • Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalist Movement

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 11 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Ashton Nichols
    Overall
    (85)
    Performance
    (72)
    Story
    (72)

    The America we know today is so different in its fundamental views about almost every aspect of life as to be unrecognizable to our countrymen of two centuries ago. On issues as divergent as slavery, women's rights, education, the environment, and many others, we are simply no longer the country we were.What is the source of not only these changes, but of our distinctly American way of experiencing ourselves-confident in our value as individuals, certain of our ability to discover truths, self-reliant in the face of uncertainty and change?

    Ray says: "Dry subject matter made interesting"
  • Classics of British Literature

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John Sutherland
    Overall
    (146)
    Performance
    (128)
    Story
    (125)

    For more than 1,500 years, the literature of Great Britain has taught, nurtured, thrilled, outraged, and humbled readers both inside and outside its borders.Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Swift, Conrad, Wilde-the roster of powerful British writers is remarkable. More important, Britain's writers have long challenged readers with new ways of understanding an ever-changing world.This series of 48 fascinating lectures by an award-winning professor.

    Mark says: "The Best of British"
  • Greek Tragedy

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (116)
    Performance
    (102)
    Story
    (100)

    Greek tragedy was a dramatic form that flourished for less than a full century. And yet it remains vibrant, alive, and productive today. And the form's masterpieces help us-as perhaps they helped their original audiences-grasp a fuller sense of the terror and wonder of life. Professor Vandiver has designed these 24 rich and rewarding lectures to give you a full overview of Greek tragedy, both in its original setting and as a lasting contribution to the artistic exploration of the human condition.

    Joshua says: "Theatre History Done Right!"
  • Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (42 hrs and 56 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver, Professor James A. W. Heffernan
    Overall
    (129)
    Performance
    (114)
    Story
    (115)

    From the anonymous author of the Epic of Gilgamesh in ancient Mesopotamia to William Faulkner writing about Mississippi 3,600 years later, many of Western culture's greatest figures have been writers. Their landmark themes, unique insights into human nature, dynamic characters, experimental storytelling techniques, and rich philosophical ideas helped create the vibrant storytelling methods we find reflected in today's authors.

    Mary Elizabeth Reynolds says: "Epic Audio"
  • The Iliad of Homer

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 4 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Elizabeth Vandiver
    Overall
    (458)
    Performance
    (412)
    Story
    (408)

    For thousands of years, Homer's ancient epic poem the Iliad has enchanted readers from around the world. When you join Professor Vandiver for this lecture series on the Iliad, you'll come to understand what has enthralled and gripped so many people.Her compelling 12-lecture look at this literary masterpiece -whether it's the work of many authors or the "vision" of a single blind poet - makes it vividly clear why, after almost 3,000 years, the Iliad remains not only among the greatest adventure stories ever told but also one of the most compelling meditations on the human condition ever written.

    Machteacher says: "Vandiver never disappoints"
  • 20th-Century American Fiction

    • ORIGINAL (16 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein
    Overall
    (51)
    Performance
    (43)
    Story
    (42)

    Hemingway. Fitzgerald. Faulkner. These and other giants of literature are immediately recognizable to anyone who loves to read fiction and even to many who don't. Now, thanks to these 32 lectures, you can develop fresh insight into some of the greatest American authors of the 20th century. Professor Weinstein sheds light not only on the sheer magnificence of these writers' literary achievements but also explores their uniquely American character as well.

    Madeleine says: "A Truly Enriching Experience"
  • From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 14 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Louis Markos
    Overall
    (71)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (60)

    Any lover of Shakespeare or the Romantic poets can concede that poetry is pleasurable. But is it good for you? Can it teach you anything? These are questions that have beguiled and engaged eminent critics for millennia, and now you can develop your own answers and options with these 24 lectures.

    Jennifer says: "Passionate Profesdor"
  • The Life and Work of Mark Twain

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 16 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Stephen Railton
    Overall
    (28)
    Performance
    (27)
    Story
    (27)

    Samuel Clemens, the man known to history as Mark Twain, was more than one of America's greatest writers. He was our first true celebrity, one of the most photographed faces of the 19th and 20th centuries. This series of 24 lectures by an acclaimed teacher and scholar explores Twain's dual identities-as one of our classical authors and as an almost mythical presence in our nation's cultural life.

    Gjemm says: "narrator's stilted style ruins it"
  • A Day's Read

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 24 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Arnold Weinstein, Professor Emily Allen, Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (67)
    Performance
    (60)
    Story
    (60)

    Join three literary scholars and award-winning professors as they introduce you to dozens of short masterpieces that you can finish - and engage with - in a day or less. Perfect for people with busy lives who still want to discover-or rediscover-just how transformative an act of reading can be, these 36 lectures range from short stories of fewer than 10 pages to novellas and novels of around 200 pages. Despite their short length, these works are powerful examinations of the same subjects and themes that longer "great books" discuss.

    Kelly says: "Awesome lectures!"
  • Books That Have Made History: Books That Can Change Your Life

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Rufus J. Fears
    Overall
    (710)
    Performance
    (644)
    Story
    (637)

    Why do "Great Books" continue to speak to us hundreds and even thousands of years after they were written? Can they deepen our self-knowledge and wisdom? Are our lives changed in any meaningful way by the experience of reading them?Tackle these questions and more in these 36 engaging lectures. Beginning with his definition of a Great Book as one that possesses a great theme of enduring importance, noble language that "elevates the soul and ennobles the mind," and a universality that enables it to "speak across the ages," Professor Fears examines a body of work that offers extraordinary wisdom to those willing to receive it.

    Kristi Richardson says: "A course that will open you to new ideas."
  • The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (75)
    Performance
    (64)
    Story
    (67)

    Daunted by the "great big books" of the Western canon? Looking for the same pleasures, satisfactions, and insights from books that are shorter, more accessible, and less dependent on classical references and difficult language than tomes such as Moby-Dick and Ulysses?

    Gerry Seymour says: "Like "this not that" for serious readers"
  • The Western Literary Canon in Context

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 59 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor John M. Bowers
    Overall
    (47)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (37)

    What exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others? And what do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization? Explore these and other thought-provoking lectures with a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played-and continue to play-in the development of Western literature.

    Gallila says: "Nice set of lectures"
  • Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 25 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Peter Conn
    Overall
    (187)
    Performance
    (167)
    Story
    (168)

    Best-selling books have played a critical role in influencing the tastes and purchasing habits of American readers for more than 100 years. But there is more to America's great best-selling books than the sales figures they rake in. American bestsellers also offer us ways to appreciate and understand particular periods of American culture.In this series of 24 lectures you'll enjoy a pointed look at key best-selling works and their places within the greater fabric of American cultural history.

    Deborah Jacob says: "Looking for the great in great"
  • Modern British Drama

    • ORIGINAL (6 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Peter Saccio
    Overall
    (39)
    Performance
    (34)
    Story
    (33)

    Waiting for Godot. The Importance of Being Earnest. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Since Shakespeare's time, no period has produced more brilliant and various theatrical dramas in Great Britain than in the past 100 years. Professor Saccio has selected the major British playwrights of the past century to cover Wilde, Shaw, Coward, Beckett, Osborne, Pinter, Stoppard, Churchill, and Hare.

    Erik says: "Impressive introduction to Modern British Drama"
  • The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition

    • ORIGINAL (18 hrs and 27 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, Seth Lerer
    • Narrated By Professor Seth Lerer
    Overall
    (234)
    Performance
    (202)
    Story
    (202)

    This course offers an overview of the English language that is literary, historical, cultural, political, and scientific in its scope and designed to give you greater insight into the written and spoken word.The lectures provide a thorough understanding of the history of the English language - from its origins as a dialect of the Germanic-speaking peoples through the literary and cultural documents of its 1,500-year span to the state of American speech today.

    William Harrison says: "If you like..."
  • Masterworks of Early 20th-Century Literature

    • ORIGINAL (11 hrs and 29 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor David Thorburn
    Overall
    (43)
    Performance
    (37)
    Story
    (35)

    If you've ever longed to read the great Modernist novels of the early 20th century - perhaps James Joyce's Ulysses, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, or William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! - but have shied away or set them down because of their intimidating style, fragmented narrative, or lack of a clear plot, you no longer need to wait, or be reluctant to return. In this series of 24 lectures, an acclaimed literary scholar and award-winning teacher has created an accessible gateway to this remarkable literary movement.

    W Perry Hall says: "Most Enriching Course Ever"
  • How to Read and Understand Shakespeare

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Marc C. Conner
    Overall
    (235)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (205)

    Shakespeare's works are among the greatest of humanity's cultural expressions and, as such, demand to be experienced and understood. But, simply put, Shakespeare is difficult. His language and culture - those of Elizabethan England - are greatly different from our own, and his poetry, thick with metaphorical imagery and double meanings, can be hard to penetrate.

    Andy says: "Empowering overview of Shakespeare's works and themes"
  • Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 7 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Dorsey Armstrong
    Overall
    (518)
    Performance
    (438)
    Story
    (431)

    Tap into the power of effective writing by developing the fundamental critical and analytical skills that transform your writing from "good" to "great." Regardless of your subject, goal, or occasion, these skills will help you organize your thoughts into a coherent piece, make a persuasive argument rooted in facts, and make responsible use of research materials.

    Kindle Customer says: "A course I wish I'd had in high school or college"
  • Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage

    • ORIGINAL (12 hrs and 18 mins)
    • By The Great Courses, John McWhorter
    • Narrated By Professor John McWhorter
    Overall
    (491)
    Performance
    (445)
    Story
    (429)

    Conventional wisdom suggests English is going to the dogs, that bad grammar, slang, and illogical constructions signal a decline in standards of usage - to say nothing of the corruption wrought by email and text messages. But English is a complicated, marvelous language. Far from being a language in decline, English is the product of surprisingly varied linguistic forces, some of which have only recently come to light. And these forces continue to push English in exciting new directions.

    Quaker says: "This course will turn you into a linguistics fan!"
  • The History of World Literature

    • ORIGINAL (24 hrs and 37 mins)
    • By The Great Courses
    • Narrated By Professor Grant L. Voth
    Overall
    (196)
    Performance
    (173)
    Story
    (171)

    Whether around the campfire, between the covers of a great book, or in the theater, the desire to tell stories has been a common human impulse for thousands of years. These 48 lectures take you on a journey through time and around the world-from the enormous auditoriums of ancient Greece to a quiet study in the home of a 19th-century New England spinster - to introduce the history of world literature. In this course, you'll sample some of the greatest literary expressions the world has known and experience storytelling in its many forms, including poetry, drama, and narrative.

    Richard says: "Excellent introduction to world literature"
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