The analysis is certainly very interesting and good but the short stories themselves are not actually read during the lectures. To properly enjoy thi..Show More »s you need to start a lecture until you hear what work they are discussing, then stop listening before they spoil the whole story. Then, go look up that work and read/listen to it before returning to the lecture. Very tedious. This would be a much better course if it were interleaved with readings of the actual stories.
I have done so several times! This is the Great Courses lecture I have most enjoyed listening to (and I have listened to quite a few). Professor Sh..Show More »ippey's grasp of his subject is excellent: He presents characters when first found in literature, placing them in the framework of that time, then traces their reincarnations as societies and mores change over time. It's wonderful, sometimes surprising, to find a mythic figure, or even one from the middle ages, so alive and well, in 21st century literature! This course cites books and movies new within the past few years. Kudos to Professor Shippey: Not only has he thought long upon his subjects; he continues to consider them as they may appear to us today.
This and its companion 36 Revolutionary Figures that Changed the World, is a compilation of material created for clearly different purposes and then p..Show More »asted together under a flimsy rationale. I bought both, excited by the potential, but was very disappointed. GREAT COURSES has produced many excellent, educational and informative lecture series - this is NOT one.
Multi-lecturer courses are always prone to fluctuations in quality… But 3 out of 4 ain't bad!
Kathryn McClymond covers the myths of ancient E..Show More »urope, the Middle East, and South Asia. Her lectures are fantastic, offering a good balance of storytelling and interpretation. She tells the stories, then uses them to construct a coherent cosmology of each culture, so you get a sense of their view of the real world and of the cosmos. It's also nice to have a woman's perspective on this stuff; history is still so male dominated, and she calls due attention to the sexism inherent in a lot of the myths, and what it says about the relevant culture.
After her, Julius Bailey, who covers African myths, is a letdown. African myth is a huge subject, so his task is difficult. But he chooses to organize his myths by topic, NOT by culture, so it's impossible to get that sense of a coherent cosmology for any one culture. He's also not a good orator; he trips over the emphasis of every third sentence.
Andre LaFleur's lectures on Asian and Pacific myths picks things right up again though. He provides a good balance of story and interpretation, and he steers clear of the typical pitfalls of a white guy teaching "foreign" cultures -- avoiding essentialism, or romanticizing the role of Westerners in documenting the material, for instance.
Grant Voth's lectures on Native American myths are some of the best of the pack, even though -- according to his CV in the PDF -- he doesn't seem to have any formal experience with the topic. His task is like Bailey's, but he organizes his lectures by broad regions wherein there is a common mythic tradition (with variations), and so it's possible to get a sense of each culture -- or family of cultures, if you will -- and their cosmology.
All in all, I recommend it -- you're bound to learn a lot.