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Considering the high standard of other titles in the Great Courses series, I cannot but be disappointed.
The lectures are unstructured, apparently off-the-cuff, rambling from some point to another via another still, utterly unconcerned with any kind of signposting. The listener is thus waylaid mid-lecture on reading by a stray note on writing, leaving the listener completely baffled as to what they are actually being lectured on.
The lectures are utterly devoid of terminology. All analytical/critical concepts are thus implied rather than exemplified & named explicitly. No undergraduate therefore need invest into this title.
The lecturer skims over examples as if every piece of analysis were obvious. There are precious few instances of brilliant insight (which nonetheless go unexplained - how does she arrive at her conclusions? Mostly, we have to work it out ourselves.) At one stage, she blandly reels off an extract from Moby Dick - the longest example in the whole lecture - just to perfunctorily spend a few sentences on a sonewhat bewilderingly gratuitous comment on three words from the whole paragraph.
The lecturer sounds utterly bored & unenthusiastic.
This is, sadly, not what I expected.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I have two Master's degrees, but none of my professors have ever been able to explore the art of essay, rhetoric, fact and support, pathos and ethos, quite as well as Dr. Armstrong. Nevertheless, it's never too late to learn.
Thank you. Again, The Great Courses continues to live up to its tradition odd excellence in teaching.
Richard F. Hays
38 of 39 people found this review helpful
I was an English major in college. I learned to do research and write papers. I think I have some natural writing ability, and I know I am very logical. Nevertheless, writing essays was agony for me. I had no idea how to outline. I put the project off to the last minute. Thanks to many all-nighters, I was able to get good grades.
Thirty-five years later, I listened to this course for a couple of reasons.
I'm a supervisor and have to provide written feedback. Almost always, I end up writing the reviews at the last possible moment and stress about not having done them sooner.
I am also a Toastmaster. As a Toastmaster, I give 15 to 20 speeches a year. After 24 years, I've finally learned to outline, but I thought this course might help me organize my thoughts more efficiently. I have a technical speech that I've been planning to give, but couldn't quite figure out how to organize and present it to a non-technical audience.
This course (perhaps the 20th I've listened to) is one of the two best I've heard. (The other was "The Other Side of History".)
Professor Armstrong is a gifted and engaging lecturer. She provides insight into her own writing, which informs her recommendations of best methods. She has concrete suggestions for how these techniques can be used both inside and outside academia. (Letters to the editor, resume writing, etc.)
She gives us examples of poor or average writing, then recommends changes that undeniably improve the work.
Her course is clear, well-organized, easy to follow and (surprisingly) fun.
My niece wants to teach high school English. I have recommended this course. If I had been presented with this material in my youth, my writing would have been better and my sleep more prolific. As it is, I believe my habits and my writing will improve thanks to Professor Armstrong and this course.
76 of 79 people found this review helpful