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. One memorable work at a time, you'll see how each of these masterpieces shares the uncompromising uniqueness that invariably marks the entire American literary canon.
From Sleepy Hollow to The Great Gatsby and beyond, you'll journey through more than two centuries of the best writers America has yet produced, bringing out the beauty of their language, the excitement of their stories, and the value in what they say about life, power, love, adventure, and what it means, in every sense, to be American. You'll explore the roles of self-reliance and the "self-made man" in the evolution of American literature; the evolution of the American ghost story, from Poe and Hawthorne to James and Morrison; the epic strain in American literature, from Melville and Whitman to Faulkner and Ellison; the perspectives on nature revealed in poets Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, and Eliot; the tenets of Modernism in the work of Eliot, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner; the contributions of O'Neill, Miller, and Williams to American theater; and much more.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses
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If you love reading or wish you'd taken that American Lit course in college or paid attention when you did, this is a great opportunity to explore and learn in over 43 hours of a conversational look by Ivy League (Brown) professor Arnold Weinstein at American literature going back to Ben Franklin's Autobiography and up to Toni Morrison's "Beloved." The course covers not only narratives (novels novellas and short stories), but also poetry by Whitman, Frost, Eliot and Dickinson (over 11 hours), plays by Eugene O'Neill, Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams (about 4 1/2 hours) and essays/memoirs by Emerson and Thoreau (about 4 1/2 hours). In the area of narratives, Professor Weinstein quite thoroughly examines in over 23 hours of courses, in addition to Ben Franklin and Morrison, the works of Washington Irving, Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Twain, Henry James, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Ellison and a few others.
If you haven't read a lot of these materials, don't be dissuaded from taking the plunge into this fabulous exploration of America through literature. I hadn't read many of the works, particularly the shorter ones, yet Professor Weinstein inspired me to read a lot of them. His teaching method doesn't require you to have read them to enjoy and learn from the course. Significantly too, the Professor doesn't stick solely to the works typically associated with a particular author. For example, he spent some time studying lesser known works by Melville ("Benito Cereno"), Hemingway ("Garden of Eden") and Twain ("Pudd'nhead Wilson"). And, perhaps the best thing about this audio course is that, if you aren't interested in an author/poet/playwright/essayist, you can skip that lecture *with impunity*.
I cannot recommend this course highly enough to anyone who loves lit, but never had a chance or took the time to study it. For me, this course was worth several credits and more.
I find myself enjoying all the Great Courses audio programs on topics that interest me. This one, on Classics of American Literature, is an extensive and thorough overview of some of the greatest works ever written. The speaker offers a perceptive, informative analysis of each work, sometimes offering as many as three sessions on a single work, examining it from a variety of angles. It is tremendously engaging and an excellent value.
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