Category Archives: Literature

Still time to enroll in ModPo

Coursera’s new course on Modern Poetry (a.k.a. ModPo) is one of the most delightful courses I’ve listened to in a long time. Most of the credit is due to the professor, Al Filreis of the University of Pennsylvania, who is … Continue reading

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Adventures in MOOC-land

To hear Sebastian Thrun tell it, some folks like a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) even better than a real world lecture class. Thrun, the founder of Udacity, discovered that some of his Stanford University students liked the online version … Continue reading

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Fantasy and Science Fiction

In a traditional literature class, students read, discuss and write about their interpretations of literary texts. But can a literature class work as a MOOC — a Massive Open Online Course with thousands of students? Fantasy and Science Fiction, a … Continue reading

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The epic of the epic

The grand tale known as the epic is an ancient genre that goes back to the dawn of literature.  Think of the heroes battling for glory in the Aeneid, or the fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost. To … Continue reading

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Reading Ulysses

Reading James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulysses has been on my to-read list since forever, but every time I give it a try, I am stymied by the author’s endless in-jokes and references to Irish popular culture circa 1904. But I’m … Continue reading

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin: a book that changed history

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the rare novel that changed the world. Published in 1852, the book brought the human cost of slavery to the attention of Americans, who by and large preferred not to think about … Continue reading

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Gems from the Internet Archive

If you’ve ever tried to rummage around in the Internet Archive for interesting courses and lectures, you know that it can be a profoundly frustrating experience. The Archive, a non-profit digital library, has vast collections of audio and video material, … Continue reading

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Fantasy in Middle English, Chaucer and beyond

Washington College English Professor Corey Olsen (a.k.a. The Tolkien Professor) is back with Faerie and Fantasy (website, iTunes) a new literature course focusing on fantasy and magic in English literature. If you’ve ever wanted to explore Chaucer and other medievals, … Continue reading

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The Star-Spangled Banner

Some things about “The Star-Spangled Banner” you probably didn’t know: 1. The Star-Spangled Banner is a poem originally entitled “Defense of Fort McHenry” and it has 3 additional stanzas which are seldom sung. 2. The difficult, almost unsingable melody was … Continue reading

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American Literature from NYU

I’ve been exploring New York University’s recently posted course, American Literature I: From beginnings to the Civil War (website, iTunes, Youtube). The teacher, Cyrus Patell, is a delight to listen to as he challenges, exhorts and explains his way through … Continue reading

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