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Publisher's Summary

Any lover of Shakespeare or the Romantic poets can concede that poetry is pleasurable. But is it good for you? Can it teach you anything? These are questions that have beguiled and engaged eminent critics for millennia, and now you can develop your own answers and options with these 24 lectures.
The source of poetry's wellspring; the relationship between poetry and human progress; the possible truths (and lies) involved in the literary arts; the role of the author; these lectures tap into an enormous range of material to explore these and other provocative issues. You'll follow the strands of this "conversation" between philosophy and the literary arts down the millennia, profiting from in-depth analyses of works by Plato, Aristotle, Horace, Sir Philip Sidney, Dryden, Pope, Wordsworth, Shelley, Coleridge, Matthew Arnold, T.S. Eliot, Northrop Frye, Foucault, Derrida, and more.
Throughout these lectures, you'll meet the poet in many guises. These include: the divine poet (a supernatural creator who transcends the laws of nature), the alchemical poet (the inspired individual who fuses humanity's divided nature into one), the common poet (the poet who roots himself or herself in the real world and speaks for the common individual), the playful poet (who champions sensitivity of feeling, contradictory truths, and uncertainties), and the prisoner poet (who's a product of, and a slave to, his or her own subconscious suppositions).
By concentrating on critical reflections about poetry - the oldest of the literary arts - you'll come away with lessons on how to understand literature, and all of the arts, more generally. More importantly, you'll be prepared to join in these critical conversations yourself.

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

©1999 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1999 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jennifer on 01-01-15

Passionate Profesdor

Unless you were an English Literature major, you probably never considered poetry or fictional prose in this way. Perhaps you've heard of critical theory 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.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Madeleine on 04-12-14

Very good until it it gets to the 20th Century

Professor Markos is a passionate teacher on the history of poetry. I was a little disappointed that he was only covering poetry when I started the course, but quickly got engrossed in his lectures because he has organized the course very well and so some of the more difficult concepts of that emerge in the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries were very well explained.

However, when Prof. Markos gets to the 20th century, it becomes very clear just how disenchanted he is with even modernity, not to mention post-modernity. His derision is obvious and unhelpful. Primarily because, for instance, people like Derrida are some of the hardest philosophers to understand when it comes to literature. I could have used less derision and more information.

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16 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By sin sin minkin on 03-24-18

The Subheading doesn't match the Sense

Although entertaining, this merry jaunt through criticism neither focuses on literature as a way of reading criticism, nor does it say much about authorship. It does have its moments, but is probably too fast or introductory a lecture series to engage with either.

The lectures talk much more about Christianity than they do literature or authors.

One last thing: the final three lectures suffer from the wrong-headed 'deconstructive' mistake of using Deconstruction as a verb or a gesture. You will hear, as the lecturer talks, no actual gesture, analytical procedure in play, and this is the key to Deconstruction. It is always already differed, at play inside all texts and ideologies. We do not do anything to the texts. We do not 'deconstruct' anything. Sadly, this mistake will grow in the minds of students and become a verb, synonymous with 'take apart' or 'analyse.'


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