Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative : The Great Courses: Western Literature

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Arnold Weinstein
  • Series: The Great Courses: Western Literature
  • 32 hrs and 49 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

The major texts of Western culture are a gateway to wisdom that can widen your views on self and society in enduring ways. The extraordinary body of literature given us by writers from antiquity to the present day, as Professor Weinstein notes, "is potent stuff, serving not only as transcription of history but also as a verbal Pandora's box, capable of shedding light on those transactions which remain in the dark for many of us: love, death, fear, desire. We are talking about more than artful language; we are talking about the life of the past and the life of the world."
It is truly a monumental legacy. And now you can examine its most important works - whether drama, poetry, or narrative - in this series of 64 penetrating lectures that reveal astonishing common ground. You'll see how this award-winning teacher uses several different analytical perspectives, including Feminism, Marxism, Freudianism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism, and New Historicism, to give us fresh insight into persisting human themes like rites of passage; the "fit" or "misfit" between self and society; the creation of an identity; and the play, weight, and presence of the past in understanding our present.
You learn how drama makes visible the conflicts and wars of culture in ways other forms cannot manage. How poetry can go to the heart of human existence with a purity and power akin to surgery, bidding us to challenge and change the way we usually do business. And how narrative can tell life stories in ways that enable a possession of that life that is hardly imaginable any other way.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Could have been more

This is an analysis of a select few classic literary works and discussing the themes within it to a contemporary audience, with a consideration of the societal elements present when it was written.

It could have been doubled in length and not have covered everything available to analyse. It is an excellent, ambitious attempt in a subject that is massive in scope.
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- Deep Reader "Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject."

Great Course, Great Professor, Great Book!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have already recommended to several friends and my family; Prof. Weinstein is a thoughtful, intelligent and humorous teacher.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative?

Prof. Weinstein's reading I Am Ceded by Dickinson.

Which character – as performed by Professor Arnold Weinstein – was your favorite?

Walt Whitman

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed, I cried, and I will listen to it again.

Any additional comments?

I am an old English major, retired librarian, and this was the best course I have ever taken. Thank you for offering it and thank you Professor Weinstein.

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- AnneNorton

Book Details

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