Understanding Literature and Life: Drama, Poetry and Narrative

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Arnold Weinstein
  • 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.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting, Informative English Literature course

A great, if sometimes heavy listen. The issue for me was that I'm not particularly well read (one of the reasons I listen to The Great Courses!) so I hadn't heard of some of the poets and playwright's discussed here. T Weinstein's strength his he gets across the information in an easy listening way. Like all the Great Courses that I've listened to, well worth a listen!
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- Farniboy

A great intoduction

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

This is a great and wide sweeping introduction. Professor Arnold Weinstein is engaging and interesting.


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

This book has expanded my understanding greatly.


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- Jess Hoare

Book Details

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