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Publisher's Summary

What exactly is the Western literary canon? Why does it contain certain works and not others? And what do particular works in the Western canon tell us about the development of literature and civilization? Explore these and other thought-provoking lectures with a thorough investigation of more than 30 key works of the Western canon and the critical roles they played - and continue to play - in the development of Western literature. Over the course of 36 lectures, you'll discover the exciting stories behind these classic works and their often surprising connections with one another.
You'll gain invaluable insights into the stories behind these masterpieces and some of the important elements involved in canon formation, including the influence of editors on the New Testament, the influence of culture on Homer's and Virgil's epics, and the influence of education on J.R.R. Tolkien.
You'll also examine the unique connections between each work and its predecessors, allowing you to participate in a riveting literary discussion and examine how history's greatest writers have "talked" with one another, from the way Virgil's Aeneid echoes the Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey to the way John Milton's Paradise Lost is a catalog of the canonic works that precede it, from Plato's "The Apology of Socrates" to William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
A panoramic look at literature, this course is your opportunity to witness a rich literary dialogue and take an amazing journey through thousands of years of literary beauty, grace, and humanity.

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

©2008 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2008 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Gallila on 05-02-15

Nice set of lectures

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 Austen and Tolkien. The professor is clear, engaging and focused.

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7 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Randi Matsuzaki on 07-15-18

This is what I was looking for

I grew up in the states reading from Norton anthologies, Great Political Theories, and the like.
I live in Asia now, and so, will be solely responsible for the western part of my children’s education.
I needed a good overview of the whole picture so I could think about how to tackle what is a monumental task.
This has really helped me conceptualize the approach.

Also, he doesn’t exclude authors who are female (unfortunately, I wasn’t—in my formal education—encouraged to read any work written by a women until I was in university...and even then, it was only Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Aphra Behn’s The Rover, and some poems of Emily Dickinson. ...and I was a theatre major, so I assume that may even be more than what was usual at the time (ten years ago).

This audio lecture also comes with a helpful outline that makes referring back to information much more convenient.

Oh, and the presentation is both informative and entertaining. I ended up listening to the entire thing over the weekend while remodeling my house.

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