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November 22, 2003

Teaching Company Lecture Series on Sale

Dear Friedrich --

I've blogged before about The Teaching Company, which sells recorded versions of college-level lecture series. I've tried a lot of their products and am super-enthusiastic about some of them. Happily, The Teaching Company puts nearly all of its courses on sale at some point or other. At the moment, many of my favorites can be bought at amazingly good prices. Click on the link that follows the lecturer's name to find a page with links to all his courses.

Patrick Allitt (here): I found his "American Religious History" series fantastic, raved about it here, and am looking forward to listening to his "Victorian Britain."

Alan Charles Kors (here): He lectures about the intellectual history of 17th and 18th century Europe. I thought both "The Birth of the Modern Mind" and "Voltaire and the Triumph of the Enlightenment" were blazingly good. My thoughts about them are here.

Timothy Taylor (here): I can't imagine a better way for a mush-headed LibArts type to finally crack Econ than by starting with this short series here, then moving on to this one here. But listen to all his courses eventually; I have, and I got a lot out of each one. I've expressed enthusiasm for Taylor's work here and here.

Robert Greenberg (here): He's the Teaching Company's go-to guy for music history, and he's sensationally good. I've listened to both his general intro to Western classical music (here) and his Bach series (not currently on sale) -- it'd be hard to better either one.

If prices like $34.95 or $64.95 strike anyone as stiff: well, for Pete's sake, get real. These are fabulous courses that are many enjoyable and informative hours long, and that are far better than anything I took at an expensive, if lousy, Ivy university. Plus, hey, when you're done with them you can generate some good karma for yourself by passing them along to a friend or by donating them to your local public library. Spread the knowledge -- and the pleasure.



posted by Michael at November 22, 2003


Your Ivy university is invariably "lousy" - both you and F have used the same adjective in the last couple days. Is this a sweeping indictment or just a code word for Cornell?

Posted by: opie on November 23, 2003 4:51 AM

Your Ivy university is invariably "lousy" - both you and F have used the same adjective in the last couple days. Is this a sweeping indictment or just a code word for Cornell?

Posted by: opie on November 23, 2003 4:52 AM

I like the look of that Western classical music course. It looks like it has to be an improvement on the music history course I did at university ten years ago, which I don't think ever really taught us quite why the great composers are considered to be great. Still a little out of my price range, though...

Posted by: James Russell on November 23, 2003 7:42 AM

Hey! I found a lecture on great sea story (I am a genre fiction buff!) for only $19.95!

Sea Story Course Described Here

Posted by: David Sucher on November 23, 2003 11:05 AM

I'm intrigued by their offering on the Ethics of Aristotle, also currently selling for a bargain-basement price. Has anyone purchased and listened to this one? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted by: Michael Serafin on November 23, 2003 1:21 PM

Opie -- Darn it, I always hoped Cornell was a good school. Pretty town and location and (I was hoping) less snobbery than the others. Am I all wet?

James -- Greenberg is really fabulous. Lots of biographic and historical scene-setting, just the right amount of pulling the music apart technically, all of it in enthusiastic straightforwrad English. Are you living on a post-grad's non-income these days? If not, the series, when they're on sale, are a real steal. $64.95, or whatever the on-sale price is, brings in something like 40 45-minute long lectures. That's like attending a topflight college class at a little over a buck a lecture. Now that I type that out, it sounds like what colleges should charge.

David -- "The Odyssey" as a genre sea-adventure story, I love it. Come to think of it, I read a version of "Jason and the Argonauts" not long ago and was very struck by how much it resembled an action-adventure movie. I could see Jerry Bruckheimer producing a version.

Michael -- Sorry, haven't listened to that one. If you go for it, please let us know how it is. I've sat, er, listened through some pretty dull Teaching Company series. Mostly in history, I don't know why....

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on November 23, 2003 6:29 PM

And actually the professor who gives the Odyssey lectures talks about from the POV of yet another genre: the domestic drama.

" In the Odyssey, why does Odysseus long so powerfully to go home? It is this universal theme that seems of paramount importance. What holds people together and keeps them going in extreme situations such as war or shipwreck? Why do we love our own so strongly?"

Posted by: David Sucher on November 23, 2003 6:55 PM

I've said it before, I enthusiastically endorse all that is said in praise of the Teaching Company. It's strange really. I used to love school and the idea of school. My experience with the Teaching Company was one of the first cracks in my idolatry because:
1) The lectures are at least as good as the top 10% of all the classes I ever took (and I took a lot).
2) They're at 1/100 of the price I paid.
3) They're far more convenient and time effective.

All of which helped lead me to the stunning conclusion that I value erudition, not education. Education, as the formal conferring of degrees, I turn out to not value at all. And at Year 2003 prices, Lousy is not the word!


Robert Holzbach

Posted by: Robert Holzbach on November 24, 2003 11:51 AM

Opie - the phrase "lousy Ivy educations" is part of the blog's purpose. See the top of the right-hand sidebar.

Posted by: j.c. on November 24, 2003 12:40 PM

I am a big Teaching company fan and I can second Michael's enthusiastic recommendation of Prof. Greenberg,Kors, and Taylor. I would also recommend Vandiver(Homer,Virgil), Robinson(Philosophy,Psychology), and Fears(History of Freedom, Famous Greeks and Roman's, and Churchill).These are wonderful products.

Posted by: Mark on November 24, 2003 5:07 PM

Are these courses ok for teenagers with an interest in history? I've looked at them before for car trips and the like. Just curious.

Posted by: Deb on November 24, 2003 5:57 PM

I think they would be great for teenagers who have some interest in history. Professor Fears,( who I mentioned above),is a particularly interesting and dynamic speaker. I am about six lectures into the lecture series on American History and am very impressed with the professor who covers early American history.

Posted by: Mark on November 24, 2003 6:14 PM

Thanks, Mark. These are kids whose favorite TV show is "Antiques Roadshow." I thought about the American History one for the car. Hmmmm....Christmas is coming, isnt it?

Posted by: Deb on November 24, 2003 10:16 PM

I am somewhat addicted to these lectures and recommend them highly. They are great for adults as well as teenagers with an interest in the subject matter. Some highly recommended lectures are C.S. Lewis, The American Civil War, The Iliad and The Odyssey, Ancient Greek Civilization, all Greenberg music lectures and The New Testament. There are tapes just for high school students and the one on basic math is outstanding. While they may seem expensive, they are really a great value for the money, and often cost less than a fairly modest dinner for two.

Posted by: Bill on November 26, 2003 3:33 PM

Michael: I'm in Australia, remember. That $180 I'd pay for the DVD version (which, by the sound of things, is the version I may as well get) is actually about $330-40 in my money. Still, 'tis tempting...

Posted by: James Russell on November 27, 2003 2:23 AM

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