When I first read the Iliad of Homer on my own, I thought it a hyper-violent war story with deeply unsympathetic characters who let petty disputes plu..Show More »nge their societies into disaster. However, Professor Vandiver's lectures gaves the historical and cultural background for the Iliad, helping me to understand why Agamemnon's actions were so deeply insulting to Achilles, while also illuminating how the Iliad is a timeless work of literature that speaks to the human condition today. These lectures are a must if you want to really understand this famous epic.
All of Prof. Vandiver's lectures on classical literature are highly recommended for anyone even the slightest bit interested in the subject. She brings so much background and insight to the great tales of Ancient Greece, illuminating small points that I overlooked when reading on my own. In addition, she is a first-rate lecturer, and keeps her discussions engaging throughout. Her conversational tone keeps her lectures free from the pedantry and pretentiousness that some lecturers suffer from. I have all of her Teaching Company courses, and love all of them.
Yes I will definitely listen to this again. Its chalk full of information on the symbolism, characters, and political climate that existed in Italy a..Show More »round the time Dante wrote the Commedia. The first listen has given me an over view of the work. I will go back to fill in the details with my own copy of the translation so that I can experience the work as it was meant to be experienced.
Before I make any criticism, I want to say that for me, this was a "Couldn't put it down" audio book. To me this is an example of audio books at the..Show More »ir best. I strongly recommended it. I found it entertaining, easy listening, informative and well presented.
The speaker's delivery was at just the right pace for me and with plenty of colour. I like to listen while doing other things such as exercising and cooking and driving. That means the delivery needs to be good to hold my attention and she hit the spot for me.
I knew a bit about classical mythology before I started, but I knew a lot more by the time I finished. Great perspective and overview.
My only criticism is that I would have liked the stories and characters she covered to have been presented as such, rather than descriptions and discussions of the stories. Obviously these are academic style lectures, but I think a few complete stories mixed in would have added to the work. I would love to hear an expanded version where these lectures serve as a companion to properly narrated stories themselves. That would be awesome.
One very important thing to add - she stimulated an appetite in me to learn more. I bought several other works in the same series after this. (Not all were as good as this). In retrospect, I think this is one of the most valuable things about it.
Want to be a serious reader, but don't have the time or energy to deal with all of the classics? This course gives a passionate and entertaining overv..Show More »iew of alternatives to some of the hard-to-digest classics, and some great advice on getting more out of any reading.
Professor Elizabeth Vandiver provides a clear and succinct portrayal of Greek Tragedy. The lectures discuss how tragedy was developed, the three extan..Show More »t tragic playwrights, as well as the ways in which Greek Tragedy was staged. For as a professional theatre artist myself, I think many people look at Greek Tragedy as simply literature but in truth it was meant to be preformed. Professor Vandiver's facts are well researched and when she does give her own scholarly opinion she informs the listener. She also is very clear that the evidence on which our knowledge of this period are based is very scant, therefore the listeners should also be cautious of taking opinions as fact. However, I would warn a listeners that if you do not have a basic knowledge of Greek Mythology and/or Greek Theatre you may have a hard time following parts of the lecture. This course does assume that you come to the table with some knowledge.
Unless you were an English Literature major, you probably never considered poetry or fictional prose in this way. Perhaps you've heard of critical the..Show More »ory but weren't sure what it was. Maybe you've encountered it in the context of philosophy, political science, or linguistics, but these contexts are spin-offs of the original, which is poetical literature. Does poetry matter to society? Can a poetical work be sublime and timeless, or is it always a mere transient expression of a social niche? To what extent do poems reflect the author's original thinking rather than the social influences on the author? Do critics of poetical literature add value for readers? The professor knows these are unfamiliar questions to anyone who did not major in literature, and he is excited to convey them to.a lay audience. His voice is always clear, animated, and easy to listen to.
Prof Vandiver is amazing. She is obviously very enthusiastic about the material and she takes her audience on a journey. I very much enjoyed listening..Show More » to this course and I'd consider it as a preparation for actually reading this classic work, which otherwise I might have found inaccessible. As others have pointed out, she does spend a lot of time summarising the plot although before beginning the lecture proper, she spends a couple of lectures on the historical background. She also draws attention to important themes and controversial questions and the last two chapters are devoted to such a discussion.
So to summarise, if you have already read the Aeneid, you could miss this course without missing much. If you intend to read or listen to the epic, then these lectures would be very helpful for understanding the plot as well as appreciating the subtleties.
There were more lectures in this long set of lectures (48) on the classic age than any other, twenty something rather than the ten for the other perio..Show More »ds. I wasn't convinced that was necessary, obscure Greek and Roman poets get their own lecture while medieval and Renaissance literature are just scanned. There is exposure to French and Spanish authors that we rarely get in English Lit. Doing these works chronologically, you can see how one period builds on another, except for the classics. I can see the attention paid to the greats but I simply didn't enjoy the first part as much as the last.
This course is well-named. It presents the works in context, especially in context with each other. I enjoyed it, especially the segments on Jane Aust..Show More »en and Tolkien. The professor is clear, engaging and focused.
This course is an excellent introduction and overview of world mythology. It covers a lot of ground, and does it well. While I would recommend it to a..Show More »nyone, I need to add the following caveats:
Because it covers so much ground, it moves as a very brisk speed, and in some cases I would have preferred to get more depth (for example, more detail on some of the hero myths, and more discussion of the psychological interpretation of myth, a la Rank, Jung and Campbell). Dr. Voth did a really good job of covering the material, but there's enough here for two or even three lecture series.
Second, I found my interest waning slightly in during the latter part of the course. This may have been because (while he never says so) Prof. Voth seems to be suggesting a kind of monomyth for trickster myths (similar to the monomyth of the hero). While I thought the argument and evidence presented for the hero monomyth was compelling, it seemed that the trickster myths were much more diverse (hard to see an parallel between the Norse Loki and the African Anansi as presented here, for example).
Still, the course material was very engaging, and I will definitely be broadening my study of mythology as a result.
I thought this was completely informative and enjoyable. It does what courses like this do best by taking a topic you know a little bit about and just..Show More » expanding it. At first, I was skeptical about the Professor but I was wrong. She was knowledgeable and easy to follow. But she also seemed to just genuinely enjoy the topic and have a lot of affection for Herodotus (as odd as that sounds by the end I did too), which really makes you get into it.
The Histories really were an amazing achievement from a person who seemed to be maybe naive maybe intentionally deceptive but, regardless, endlessly curious and inquisitive about just everything. Not just the wars but culture, religion, science. And the Professor conveys that along with conveying facts.
It obviously seems like a narrow and niche topic to pick up. But I really think it is worth it. It really covers a lot about the history of history and of the time. The Professor talks about how Herodotus influences others (even as they were disdainful of him) but I think that has never been more relevant. She doesn't get into it but at this point there is an "oral history" on every topic imaginable floating around. Some are considered classics (Please Kill Me, Live From New York and most of Studs Terkel). And some aren't. But the idea of learning about a topic and a place in time by just talking to a bunch of people and relating what they say word for word even if one contradicts the other has definitely come back into vogue in a very big way. That approach has a lot of flaws when it comes to relating facts and dates (so traditional history is of course important) but it often captures the mood, the feelings, the idea of a place (the real truth) in a way relating the facts can't. And, in that sense, Herodotus has truly never been more relevant.
Excellent Course, But Gaping Hole Without Bulgakov
Leaving Bulgakov out of a Russian Lit Lineup is pretty much akin to leaving Iron Man out of an Avengers movie.
That aside, I loved this cour..Show More »se. The only downside was the lack of coverage of Bulgakov, as a result of his being banned for so long in the Soviet Union (and virtually unknown in the west at the time the professor was working on his PhD). The author didn't so much as mention him.
This covers everyone from Pushkin to Solzhenitsyn, providing incredible historical context, perfectly pronounced Russian phrases and poems, and an in-depth walk through *almost* all the best Russian works.
I lived in Ukraine for 10 years, and this course still opened my eyes to a lot more about the Russian culture I was unaware of. It's brilliant, funny, educational, and insightful. Anyone vaguely interested in the history and/or literature of this part of the world should pick this up now. 36 amazing half-hour lectures for one credit is a steal!
The lecturer is obviously very knowledgable but she left out a lot of important background information on her last two subjects. It would have been ea..Show More »sier to follow if she discussed events more chronological as well as some reference to dates (there were very few other than birth and death). She also has very strange pronunciations of French names and places which was frustrating at times.
This course is about exploring the greatest books ever written that changed the world. It also explains why they are great and how they affected ..Show More »those around them. Professor Fears is a great lecturer and always keeps things interesting. Each lecture is around a half hour each so great to listen to on your commute or when you have a short time to devote to the lecture.
The books per Prof. Fears are: 1. Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer 2. Homer 's Illyiad 3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius 4. Bhagavad Gita 5. Exodus by Moses 6. The book of Mark in the New Testament 7. Koran 8. Gilgamesh 9. Beowolf 10. Job 11. Oresteia by Aeschylus 12. The Bacchae by Euripides 13. Phaedo by Plato 14. The Divine Comedy by Dante 15. Othello by W Shakespeare 16. Prometheus Bound 17. Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn 18. Julius Caesar by W Shakespeare 19. 1984 by George Orwell 20. The Aeneid by Virgil 21. Gettysburg Address by A Lincoln 22. Pericles Funeral Speech 23. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque 24. Confucius 25. The Prince by Machiavelli 26. Plato's Republic 27. On Liberty by John Stuart Mill 28. Le Morte d'Arthur by Thomas Mallory 29. Faust Parts One and Two by Goethe 30. Walden by Henry David Thoreau 31. Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons 32. Lord Acton's History of Liberty 33. On Duties by Cicero 34. Autobiography of Mohandas Gandhi 35. My Early Life, The Second World War series and Painting as a Pastime by Winston Churchill The last lecture goes over the books quickly and talks about the lessons taught and that the best way to pursue knowledge is to open your minds and meditate on each book in order to let what the author is trying to tell you sink in. I highly recommend this class. It opened up a whole new world to explore for me.