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Classics of American Literature Lecture

Classics of American Literature

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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©1998 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1998 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (145 )
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4.3 (127 )
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Performance
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  •  
    W Perry Hall 02-05-14

    One master-passion in the br east, like Aaron's serpent, swallows all the rest. A. Pope

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incomparable AudiOverview of American Literature"

    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.

    24 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Pawlowski New Hope, MN 03-09-14
    Joe Pawlowski New Hope, MN 03-09-14 Member Since 2006

    zendogjoe

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A thorough and perceptive overview"

    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.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacob Halstein California 04-23-14
    Jacob Halstein California 04-23-14 Member Since 2014

    The Price is Right

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great lectures, no track listing"
    What made the experience of listening to Classics of American Literature the most enjoyable?

    I learned a lot and I'm a teacher so this helps.


    What other book might you compare Classics of American Literature to and why?

    Other lectures in the series.


    What about Professor Arnold Weinstein’s performance did you like?

    Very clear, like being in the front row of the class.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, but I teach specific books and this is great for educating myself.


    Any additional comments?

    There's no way to know which tracks correspond to which books/stories! Very frustrating.

    14 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Craig 04-07-16
    Craig 04-07-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "without reference, art loses itself"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Those who are interested in art simply for art's sake with minimal thoughtfulness put forth.


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    Prof. Weinstein specifically points out that he isn't interested in the history around these stories. Without a reference point, a great deal of the meaning is lost. During the lecture on Rip Van Winkle in New York, and the changes that take place while he's sleeping, speaking about the radical changes to life in NY with the Erie Canal at the same time as that story would speak VOLUMES about the story itself. There's a circular argument in Emerson wherein Shakespeare is still alive within us, and then he goes on to argue that a live dog is worth more than a dead lion. There are intellectual failures throughout the course.

    Removing context from a story and then pretending that one can truly evaluate the story is a lie.


    What didn’t you like about Professor Arnold Weinstein’s performance?

    The analyses done on these stories is shallow and short-sighted. This is the level of work I got in my high school classes, without the value of any deeper discussion. It's not worthy of the several other Great Courses which I've experienced.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Deep disappointment. This is a university level course steeped in closed-mindedness. At the university level, I want to know how several people experienced these novels, and I want the analysis to discuss the world in which the stories are written. The world of the author matters.


    Any additional comments?

    This is the twelfth course I've listened to through the Great Courses. Most are excellent. If you share the viewpoints of the author, you'll probably enjoy this one. If you listen to the first 2-3 lectures and, like me, want to argue with the air - stop listening, it won't get any better.

    8 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sabrina Hildebrand 05-12-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Blah"

    The lecturer seems to frequently lose his train of thought. I thought the material to be very opinion based, where I was looking for factual information . Also the professor is obsessed with sex or thinks every writer is.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandra 06-01-15
    Alexandra 06-01-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprisingly disappointed"
    Any additional comments?

    I was really looking forward to listening to Classics of American Literature yet I find myself rather disappointed. The content is interesting but I feel that the lecturer spent too many lectures on individual authors and texts. For example, I love Poe but I did not really feel having three lectures over him and his works was needed. The same goes for Hemingway and Steinbeck who earned five and six lectures respectively. I enjoy these authors but feel there were many authors and works left out of the course as a result of spending so much time with the same individuals. Overall, the content was interesting but I would have liked more variety.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    paul Port Huron, MI, United States 08-20-16
    paul Port Huron, MI, United States 08-20-16 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Prof Weinstein pushes his perspective on the books"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Arnold Weinstein?

    .


    Any additional comments?

    Professor Weinstein is learned and entertaining, but he tends to be a bit tone-deaf to the transcendent or spiritual themes and authors. He doesn't seem able to follow an author to the spiritual heights. He always wants to deflate the symbols of transcendence with a kind of materialist reductionism. He's not an angry atheist type who wants to insult everything spiritual, but religious themes of Uncle Tom's Cabin for instance seem closed to him as if he is numb to ecstatic moral moments that lay the Truth bare before a reader. When discussing the moment of death in an Emily Dickenson poem, he insists that the poet is noting how people "bring out their myths" to cope with the loss. Reading the poem without that reduction gives no such impression. For me, the professor flattened the very high spiritual peaks of American literature. I hesitate to recommend this program.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marvin R. Harper 07-10-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Sound quality was awful"

    The sound quality was awful. There were skips. In the in the audio. I also requested a refund and got it. I was terribly disappointed because I was looking forward to listen to that type. I don't know what was wrong with it. I think it needs to be checked out by your technical people

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jose Alvarez 02-12-16 Member Since 2013
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    "Wonderful"

    Professor Weinstein loves his studies, and he makes me love them too. Fantastic! I learned far more here than from any teachers in my past. Truly an enjoyable experience.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andre 11-04-14
    Andre 11-04-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "FAKE!! this book isn't REALLY available"
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Arnold Weinstein?

    Not from this con


    What was most disappointing about The Great Courses’s story?

    You can't download it and the first part is one big ad


    4 of 54 people found this review helpful

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