From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Louis Markos
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 12 hrs and 14 mins
  • Lecture

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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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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- Madeleine "Audiobook addict."

Be warned

The title and description of this great course is misleading. There is very little at all regarding the role of the author. Also, much of the material was completely ruined for me by the professor's pre-occupation with his own Christian worldview. The lectures are less about the "essence of literature and the role of the author" than they are about his own (inaccurate) views of many philosophers and a lot of bizarre Christian apologetics. I wouldn't recommend this course to someone looking for a general history of literary theory.
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- David

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses