These works are both American and classics. The course has been crafted to explain why some works become classics while others do not, why some "immortal" works fade from our attention completely, and even why some contemporary works now being ignored or snubbed by critics may be considered immortal one day. One memorable work at a time, you'll see how each of these masterpieces shares the uncompromising uniqueness that invariably marks the entire American literary canon. From Sleepy Hollow to The Great Gatsby, Professor Weinstein contends that the literary canon lives, grows, and changes. What links these writers to each other—and to us readers today—is the awareness that the past lives and changes as generations of writers and readers step forward to interpret it anew. The course was born from Professor Weinstein's conviction that American literature is our "great estate," and that claiming this rightful inheritance—the living past and the lessons we can take from it—should be nothing less than a unique and joyous learning experience.
Experience Two Centuries of America's Greatest Works
Professor Weinstein explains that America's classic works should be savored as part of our inner landscape: part of how we see both America and ourselves.
He leads you through more than two centuries of the best writers America has yet produced, bringing out the beauty of their language, the excitement of their stories, and the value in what they say about life, power, love, adventure, and what it means, in every sense, to be American.
Perhaps you recall: Melville's prowling Ahab, on the search for Moby Dick, and the power of the "grand, ungodly, Godlike man" The quiet diner in The Grapes of Wrath and the pain of one of John Steinbeck's "Okies" trying to purchase a dime's worth of bread The parlor in Long Day's Journey Into Night and the lifetime of tension in a simple request to a father that he turn on the lights.
Rip Van Winkle falls asleep for 25 years for some mysterious reason—but what exactly was it? Why did Emerson believe in self-reliance, and why do we?
Twain, our first media celebrity, tells stories that have an inkling of Peter Pan: Tom Sawyer never does grow up. But Huck Finn must grow up to face the racism of the South and get past his own polluted conscience—can he do it? James brings American innocents to Europe for them to inherit the world—but do they?
Discover the Stories behind America's Immortal Writers
Emily Dickinson was virtually unheard of in her own time.
William Faulkner's books were out of print until the mid-1940s.
F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing he had been forgotten.
Readers of their times would be astounded if they knew the immortality these writers achieved, just as we are astounded that they once were overlooked.
Most of us don't know that when Walt Whitman self-published Leaves of Grass—seemingly in answer to Ralph Waldo Emerson's memorable wish for the poet America deserved—he sent a copy to Emerson, America's most revered man of letters. When Emerson replied in extraordinarily flattering terms, Whitman published his letter, virtually forcing the new poet's acceptance by a literati that would might have preferred to flee from Whitman's startlingly new, often sexual, poetry.
Perhaps you share the common picture of Emily Dickinson: a passive, gentle, reclusive spinster content in her father's Amherst, Massachusetts, home. If so, allow Professor Weinstein to introduce you to her friend, clergyman and author Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who said of "gentle" Emily: "I never was with anyone who drained my nerve power so much. Without touching her, she drew from me. I am glad not to live near her."
Through this course, you will learn to:
Explain the roles of self-reliance and the "self-made man" in the evolution of American literature
Identify the tenets of American Romanticism
Describe the evolution of the American ghost story, from Poe and Hawthorne to James and Morrison
Outline the epic strain in American literature, from Melville and Whitman to Faulkner and Ellison
Explain the importance of slavery as a critical subject for Stowe, Twain, Faulkner, and Morrison
Summarize perspectives on nature revealed in poets Whitman, Dickinson, Frost, and Eliot
Identify the tenets of Modernism in the work of Eliot, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner
Identify the contributions of O'Neill, Miller, and Williams to American theater
Summarize the threads of the complex relationship between America's great writers and the past.
Savor the Joy of Great Reading
Dr. Weinstein is the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor at Brown University, where he has been teaching literature to packed classrooms since 1968. Brown University student course evaluation summaries reported: "By far, students' greatest lament was that they only got to listen to Professor Weinstein once a week."
One customer writes: "Professor Weinstein is inspiring. Not only am I enjoying these lectures, but I am also rereading these wonderful classics and having a wonderful time."
The course will lead you to read or reread masterpieces that intrigue you most. And with the deeper understanding you gain from the lectures, you will likely experience such joy from great reading that you may wonder why you have spent so much time on contemporary books.
The 84 carefully crafted lectures in this course, each 30 minutes long, are your royal road to recapturing the American experience—and our intellectual and cultural heritage. Just review the lecture titles. All of this can be yours, and the journey will be as rewarding as the arrival.
Lecture 01 - Introduction to Classics of American Literature
Lecture 02 - Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography_ The First American Story
Lecture 03 - Washington Irving_ The First American Storyteller
Lecture 04 - Ralph Waldo Emerson Yesterday_ America's Coming of Age
Lecture 05 - Emerson Today_ Architect of American Values
Lecture 06 - Emerson Tomorrow_ Deconstructing Culture and Self
Lecture 07 - Henry David Thoreau_ Countercultural Hero
Lecture 08 - Thoreau_ Stylist and Humorist Extraordinaire
Lecture 09 - Walden_ Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
Lecture 10 - Edgar Allan Poe
Lecture 11 - Poe_ Ghost Writer
Lecture 12 - Poe's Legacy_ The Self as Haunted Palace
Lecture 13 - Nathaniel Hawthorne and the American Past
Lecture 14 - The Scarlet Letter_ Puritan Romance
Lecture 15 - Hawthorne's A_ Interpretation and Semiosis
Lecture 16 - The Scarlet Letter_ Political Tract or Psychological Study
Lecture 17 - Hawthorne Our Contemporary
Lecture 18 - Herman Melville and the Making of Moby-Dick
Lecture 19 - The Biggest Fish Story of Them All
Lecture 20 - Ahab and the White Whale
Lecture 21 - Moby-Dick_ Tragedy of Perspective
Lecture 22 - Melville's Benito Cereno_ American (Mis)adventure at Sea
Lecture 23 - Benito Cereno_ Theater of Power or Power of Theater
Lecture 24 - Walt Whitman_ The American Bard Appears
Lecture 25 - Whitman_ Poet of the Body
Lecture 26 - Whitman_ Poet of the City
Lecture 27 - Whitman_ Poet of Death
Lecture 28 - The Whitman Legacy
Lecture 29 - Uncle Tom's Cabin_ The Unread Classic
Lecture 30 - Stowe's Representation of Slavery
Lecture 31 - Freedom and Art in Uncle Tom's Cabin
Lecture 32 - Emily Dickinson_ In and Out of Nature
Lecture 33 - Dickinson's Poetry_ Language and Consciousness
Lecture 34 - Dickinson_ Devotee of Death
Lecture 35 - Dickinson_ Amherst's Madame de Sade
Lecture 36 - Dickinson's Legacy
Lecture 37 - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer_ American Paradise Regained
Lecture 38 - Huckleberry Finn_ The Banned Classic
Lecture 39 - Huckleberry Finn_ A Child's Voice, a Child's Vision
Lecture 40 - Huckleberry Finn, American Orphan
Lecture 41 - Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson_ Black and White Charade
Lecture 42 - Henry James and the Novel of Perception
Lecture 43 - The Turn of the Screw_ Do You Believe in Ghosts
Lecture 44 - Turning the Screw of Interpretation
Lecture 45 - Stephen Crane and the Literature of War
Lecture 46 - The Red Badge of Courage_ Brave New World
Lecture 47 - Stephen Crane_ Scientist of Human Behavior
Lecture 48 - Charlotte Perkins Gilman_ War Against Patriarchy
Lecture 49 - The Yellow Wallpaper_ Descent into Hell or Free at Last
Lecture 50 - Robert Frost and the Spirit of New England
Lecture 51 - Robert Frost_ At Home in the Metaphor
Lecture 52 - Robert Frost and the Fruits of the Earth
Lecture 53 - T.S. Eliot_ Unloved Modern Classic
Lecture 54 - T.S. Eliot_ The Waste Land and Beyond
Lecture 55 - F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby_ American Romance
Lecture 56 - The Great Gatsby_ A Story of Lost Illusions
Lecture 57 - Fitzgerald's Triumph_ Writing the American Dream
Lecture 58 - Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises_ Novel of the Lost Generation
Lecture 59 - The Sun Also Rises_ Spiritual Quest
Lecture 60 - Ernest Hemingway_ Wordsmith
Lecture 61 - Hemingway's The Garden of Eden_ Female Desire Unleashed
Lecture 62 - The Garden of Eden_ Combat Zone
Lecture 63 - William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury_ The Idiot's Tale
Lecture 64 - The Sound and the Fury_ Failed Rites of Passage
Lecture 65 - The Sound and the Fury_ Signifying Nothing
Lecture 66 - Absalom, Absalom!_ Civil War Epic
Lecture 67 - Absalom, Absalom!_ The Language of Love
Lecture 68 - Absalom, Absalom!_ The Overpass to Love
Lecture 69 - The Grapes of Wrath_ American Saga
Lecture 70 - John Steinbeck_ Poet of the Little Man
Lecture 71 - The Grapes of Wrath_ Reconceiving Self and Family
Lecture 72 - Invisible Man_ Black Bildungsroman
Lecture 73 - Invisible Man_ Reconceiving History and Race
Lecture 74 - Invisible Man_ What Did I Do, to Be So Black and Blue
Lecture 75 - Eugene O'Neill_ Great God of American Theater
Lecture 76 - Long Day's Journey Into Night_ There's No Place Like Home
Lecture 77 - Tennessee Williams_ Managing Libido
Lecture 78 - A Streetcar Named Desire_ The Death of Romance
Lecture 79 - Death of a Salesman_ Death of an Ethos
Lecture 80 - Death of a Salesman_ Tragedy of the American Dream
Lecture 81 - Toni Morrison's Beloved_ Dismembering and Remembering
Lecture 82 - Beloved_ A Story of Thick Love
Lecture 83 - Beloved_ Morrison's Writing of the Body
Lecture 84 - Conclusion to Classics of American Literature
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