This experience is optimized for Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

Please upgrade your browser

Send the Gift of Lifelong Learning!

Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature

Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature

Gifting Information


To send your gift, please complete the form below. An email will be sent immediately to notify the recipient of your gift and provide them with instructions to redeem it.

  • 500 characters remaining.

Frequently Asked Questions

With an eGift, you can instantly send a Great Course to a friend or loved one via email. It's simple:
1. Find the course you would like to eGift.
2. Under "Choose a Format", click on Video Download or Audio Download.
3. Click 'Send e-Gift'
4. Fill out the details on the next page. You will need to the email address of your friend or family member.
5. Proceed with the checkout process as usual.
Q: Why do I need to specify the email of the recipient?
A: We will send that person an email to notify them of your gift. If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: How will my friend or family member know they have a gift?
A: They will receive an email from The Great Courses notifying them of your eGift. The email will direct them to If they are already a customer, they will be able to add the gift to their My Digital Library and mobile apps. If they are not yet a customer, we will help them set up a new account so they can enjoy their course in their My Digital Library or via our free mobile apps.
Q: What if my friend or family member does not receive the email?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at ( or call 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: How will I know they have received my eGift?
A: When the recipient clicks on their email and redeems their eGift, you will automatically receive an email notification.
Q: What if I do not receive the notification that the eGift has been redeemed?
A: If the email notification is missing, first check your Spam folder. Depending on your email provider, it may have mistakenly been flagged as spam. If it is not found, please email customer service at ( or call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: I don't want to send downloads. How do I gift DVDs or CDs?
A: eGifting only covers digital products. To purchase a DVD or CD version of a course and mail it to a friend, please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. Physical gifting can still be achieved online – can we describe that here and not point folks to call?
Q: Oops! The recipient already owns the course I gifted. What now?
A: Great minds think alike! We can exchange the eGifted course for another course of equal value. Please call customer service at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance.
Q: Can I update or change my email address?
A: Yes, you can. Go to My Account to change your email address.
Q: Can I select a date in the future to send my eGift?
A: Sorry, this feature is not available yet. We are working on adding it in the future.
Q: What if the email associated with eGift is not for my regular Great Course account?
A: Please please email customer service at ( or call our customer service team at 1-800-832-2412 for assistance. They have the ability to update the email address so you can put in your correct account.
Q: When purchasing a gift for someone, why do I have to create an account?
A: This is done for two reasons. One is so you can track the purchase of the order in your ‘order history’ section as well as being able to let our customer service team track your purchase and the person who received it if the need arises.
Q: Can I return or Exchange a gift after I purchase it?
A: Because the gift is sent immediately, it cannot be returned or exchanged by the person giving the gift. The recipient can exchange the gift for another course of equal or lesser value, or pay the difference on a more expensive item
Video title

Priority Code


Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature

Course No. 2192
Professor Thomas A. Shippey, Ph.D.
St. Louis University
Share This Course
Course No. 2192
  • Audio or Video?
  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing Professor Shippey's captivating storytelling while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version features more than 350 visuals to enhance your learning. Images of artifacts like the golden Mask of Agamemnon and illustrations and other artwork depicting heroes in action enhance the lectures. On-screen text also helps learners follow along as the professor explains key concepts.
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

Heroes hold a special place in our imagination. Names such as Odysseus, Beowulf, and Queen Guinevere summon up mythic legends, while Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Huckleberry Finn are some of the most recognizable figures in all of world literature. Robinson Crusoe and Elizabeth Bennet are as real to us today as they were when Daniel Defoe and Jane Austen first created them. Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, and Lisbeth Salander are heroes for our age and the legends of the future.

What do these memorable characters have in common? Why do we turn to certain stories again and again? And what impact have they made on world history? The answers to these questions tell us more than you might think. Great heroes have lasting power because they offer templates for behavior by showing us models of courage and fortitude. Whether by reinforcing traditional values or challenging values in flux, heroes reflect the mores of society. Some, such as Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel, have changed the course of history, while others have inspired countless leaders, writers, and artists.

Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature is an incredible opportunity to study some of the most memorable and important characters ever created. Taught by Professor Thomas A. Shippey of Saint Louis University—one of the most well-known scholars of J.R.R. Tolkien—these 24 eye-opening lectures give fresh insight into familiar characters and a generous survey of characters we may be less familiar with. We think we know Robin Hood, for instance, but where does his story originate? What made the medieval outlaw popular, and how has he been rewritten for modern times?

Delve into original sources and explore the notable impact of these characters on world history. Get an inside glimpse into the writer’s process and see how authors “write into the gap” to flesh out—or, in some cases, reimagine altogether—old stories, making them new for new readerships with changing cultural values. In Professor Shippey’s words, you’ll “trace the buried power lines of great and successful fiction.”

What does it mean to be a hero?

The word “hero” might bring to mind a strong, fearless warrior who swoops in to save the day. You’ll investigate several of these “traditional heroes,” and by examining what makes them such compelling characters, you’ll see how they provide a window to better understand ourselves.

  • Beowulf, the oversized monster slayer, is a model for the modern-day superhero, yet as he ages—and weakens—the epic poem treats us to a poignant look at vulnerability and the process of attaining wisdom.
  • Sherlock Holmes has a narrow-minded, self-centered, addictive personality, but he also gives us a new sense of human potential. He gives us the chance to outguess him—to see more clearly, to gather more information, to deduce faster.
  • James Bond allows us a certain kind of wish fulfillment: Men want to be him, and women want to date him. But beneath the charisma is a wounded and complex character.

Beyond these traditional heroes—strong, smart, glamorous—this course introduces you to other models of heroism. Characters who are meek, frail, or poor might run counter to our expectations for what makes a hero, but they play an important role in our imaginative world. For instance, you will

  • study Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, whose sexual autobiography perhaps makes her the first complex woman in literary history;
  • see how Sancho Panza’s role as an “antihero” deepens the story of Don Quixote;
  • consider the heroic qualities in Celie, the impoverished and abused protagonist of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple; and
  • reflect on what Harry Potter has to teach us about heroism.

What do heroes tell us about our culture?

Heroes and Legends gives you the chance to study a diverse spread of characters from the beginnings of world literature through today’s bestsellers. In addition to exploring the core of what makes a character successful, the breadth of this course provides a window on our shifting cultural values—and the way historical circumstances pave the way for certain heroes.

Perhaps the best example is Frodo Baggins, the meek hobbit hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. In his opening lecture, Professor Shippey explains how, after the horrors of global war, the world was waiting for a down-to-earth hero, someone called to duty rather than born strong and fearless.

Throughout the course, you will analyze stories through the lens of culture and find out how our changing culture and values affect our sense of what makes a good hero, and how our heroes reflect the mores of our society.

  • Trace the way different cultural eras have viewed Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot, from medieval admiration through Victorian prudery to modern sympathy.
  • Look at the relationship between love and romance on one hand and money and social class on the other in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
  • Reflect on Robinson Crusoe and the geography of undiscovered lands.
  • Revisit the American frontier and see what heroes such as Natty Bumppo (from Last of the Mohicans) and Woodrow Call (from Lonesome Dove) tell us about the myth of the Wild West and Manifest Destiny.

Just as history shapes heroes, so, too, do heroes shape history. From creating narratives that define a nation to redefining our sense of self and our relationships, great heroes have changed the course of history. Professor Shippey surveys a wealth of memorable stories, helping us understand why such heroes were necessary and how they continue to influence us today.

  • The mythical journey of Aeneas created a cultural history for ancient Rome and helped define its new imperial image.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe furthered the abolitionist cause with her saint-like Uncle Tom.
  • Winston Smith, the unlikely hero of George Orwell’s 1984, reinforced the need for vigilance against state control.
  • Writers such as Angela Carter who rewrote fairy tales in the 1970s constructed a new morality better suited for modern times.
  • Storytelling at Its Finest

    One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course is that it covers the high and the low. Rather than employing the traditional academic approach to “theme” and “symbolism” and dense critical language, Professor Shippey is interested in story, with its entertainment value and memorable characters.

    As such, he covers some canonical favorites—Homer, Virgil, Chaucer—but he also gives considerable attention to characters often ignored in academia, such as the “New Romancers” of the late 19th century and the fantasy writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is an enjoyable approach to the great stories across the ages.

    At the heart of the course is Professor Shippey himself, a charming, top-notch storyteller who is as engrossed in (and moved by) these stories as we are. But as a true authority on his subject, he offers a unique viewpoint and fresh insights to every lecture, making this course a memorable—and moving—experience.

    Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  31 minutes each
Year Released: 2014
  • 1
    Frodo Baggins—A Reluctant Hero
    What makes certain characters successful? Begin your study with a look at Frodo Baggins, the hobbit-hero from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In considering what makes him a hero—and how he runs counter to our notions of the traditional hero—you’ll see how changing cultural values connect to heroism. x
  • 2
    Odysseus—The Trickster Hero
    Go back to the beginning of world literature to explore what made Homer’s traveling hero such a powerful figure. Odysseus’s story set the model for countless road narratives, but his character, which is surprisingly sly and resourceful, is unique. Here, follow him on some of his many adventures. x
  • 3
    Aeneas—The Straight Arrow
    Turn now to the Roman straight arrow. Aeneas’s story takes him from the Trojan War to the courtship of Queen Dido and on to the founding of Rome. In writing this epic, Virgil helped shape the Roman Empire’s sense of self. It also shows how old legends provide the inspiration for new tales. x
  • 4
    Guinevere—A Heroine with Many Faces
    Trace Guinevere’s adulterous affair with Lancelot and consider what effects it had on cultural values and Western history. As a powerful woman in the heart of King Arthur’s court, Guinevere is an intriguing heroine—passionate, strong-willed, and complex in a way that still captures our imagination today. x
  • 5
    The Wife of Bath—An Independent Woman
    Chaucer worked harder on the Wife of Bath than on any other character in The Canterbury Tales, leaving us not one but four separate perspectives on one of literature’s most memorable female characters. Discover what Chaucer reveals about her, the time she lives in, and the surprising complexity of her character. x
  • 6
    Cressida—A Love Betrayed
    Cressida is an archetypal femme fatale, embroiled in a love triangle between her true love, Troilus, and the bad boy, Diomedes. Through the lens of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and the Scottish poet Robert Henryson, discover what makes Cressida tick—why does she send Troilus a “Dear John” letter? What doesn’t she understand about love? x
  • 7
    Beowulf—A Hero with Hidden Depths
    Beowulf is not an easy poem to understand, but Beowulf is not an easy character to understand. Here, analyze how this classic male hero—a big, strong, monster killer—may have a hidden vulnerability. Then, look at what insights Beowulf’s story offers about life and death, the limits of self-reliance, and the path to achieving wisdom. x
  • 8
    Thor—A Very Human God
    Thor may seem like another classic male hero—the god of thunder in Norse mythology and a superhero today—yet the Icelandic poems and stories from the 13th century undercut the image of Thor as a straightforward hero. These amusing tales will give you a new window into a character you thought you knew. x
  • 9
    Robin Hood—The Outlaw Hero
    Who was Robin Hood? He’s an anomaly in this course because his story cannot be traced to a single work or figure. Perhaps because of these gaps in the story, he seems to be a bundle of contradictions. Delve into the politics, religion, and society of Robin Hood’s origins to understand his character and lasting appeal. x
  • 10
    Don Quixote—The First of the Wannabes
    Turn next to Don Quixote, a wannabe knight-errant whose infamous exploits mark a pivotal moment in the history of literature. Explore his fantastic adventures and meet Sancho Panza, who is perhaps literature’s first antihero. See why this novel is so innovative and how it has influenced writers in the centuries since its publication. x
  • 11
    Robinson Crusoe—A Lone Survivor
    Robinson Crusoe might be the most flawed hero in the course—a colonizer and a slave-owning capitalist. Why, then, is he such an enduring character? Is it the desert-island story? Or is there something inherent in Crusoe’s character, beyond the flaws, that has helped him stand the test of time? x
  • 12
    Elizabeth Bennet—A Proper Pride
    Meet the charming heroine from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The story of her complicated relationship with Mr. Darcy is a realistic Cinderella story and has lent itself to numerous adaptations, including Bridget Jones’s Diary. Consider the integral role that money and social class play in this classic tale of love and romance. x
  • 13
    Natty Bumppo and Woodrow Call—Frontier Heroes
    Shift your attention to two very American heroes: Natty Bumppo from James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans and Woodrow Call from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove series. These frontier heroes bring to life the conflict between Anglo- and Native American cultures—and capture a reality often glossed over by the romance of the Wild West. x
  • 14
    Uncle Tom—The Hero as Martyr
    The name “Uncle Tom” has complex associations today, but Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel had a truly powerful impact when it was published in 1852. Explore the historical circumstances of slavery that inspired Stowe’s novel, and then consider the fortitude that makes this meek, long-suffering character a hero. x
  • 15
    Huckleberry Finn—Free Spirit of America
    Join Huck Finn on his American odyssey down the Mississippi River. Although the story at first seems to be the fun adventure of a free-spirited hero, you’ll explore the moral complexities of 19th-century America as Huck struggles with the tension between his conscience and the social circumstances in which he grew up. x
  • 16
    Sherlock Holmes—The First Great Detective
    We are familiar with Sherlock Holmes’s methodology—using clues, facts, evidence, and reason to solve the case. Here, go inside the world of the 19th century and see what circumstances paved the way for such a hero. Then, turn to some of Sherlock’s most exciting cases. x
  • 17
    Dracula—The Allure of the Monster
    The 19th century produced a radically different kind of hero: the spooky and fantastical Dracula. After observing the structural complexity of this novel, you’ll examine the hidden fears and repressed sensuality that led Bram Stoker to create this vampire and his seductive brides. Then ponder Dracula’s lasting effect on world literature. x
  • 18
    Mowgli—The Wolf Child
    A boy in the woods, raised by wolves and living by the law of the jungle: This story is familiar to us, thanks to Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories and the later Disney film. Revisit the original stories to see what they tell us about humanity, morality, imperialism, and political responsibility. x
  • 19
    Celie—A Woman Who Wins Through
    We’ve seen that heroes don’t always have to be gods or queens or the social elite. Dirt poor in Georgia in the 1930s, Celie—the heroine from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple—is at the bottom of the social totem pole, yet she exhibits remarkable heroism in the way she overcomes the forces pressing against her. x
  • 20
    Winston Smith—The Hero We Never Want to Be
    Winston Smith, the central figure in George Orwell’s nightmare scenario, 1984, is fearful, undernourished, and oppressed by the state—not exactly the image we conjure up when we think of the word “hero.” Dive into the dystopia of Big Brother and Ingsoc and find out what makes Winston worthy of being called a hero. x
  • 21
    James Bond—A Dangerous Protector
    Thanks to novels, movies, and an array of charismatic actors, nearly everyone in the developed world knows about James Bond and how he drinks his martini—“shaken, not stirred.” But who is Bond? What makes him tick? Look beyond the girls, gadgets, and glamour and discover the secret to the James Bond franchise. x
  • 22
    Fairy-Tale Heroines—New-Style Princesses
    Cinderella. Snow White. Rapunzel. These fairy-tale heroines are imbued in our cultural consciousness. What lessons are they meant to teach? And do these lessons align with our current cultural values? Study the composite fairy-tale heroine, both in the classic fairy tales and in modern revisions from authors such as Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood. x
  • 23
    Lisbeth Salander—Avenging Female Fury
    Lisbeth Salander, the heroine from the popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, seems to be an original character well suited to our times—hip, ingenious, computer savvy. But as you’ll discover in this lecture, her character also has echoes of ancient myths, from the Greek Furies to the Scandinavian Valkyries. x
  • 24
    Harry Potter—Whistle-Blower Hero
    Finish your course with one of the most unexpected hits of our time—and a smash hit at that. What can the surprising success of Harry Potter teach us about successful heroes? And what do his battles against Lord Voldemort tell us about our world today and the need for love, faith, and inner heroism? x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
Audio Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 audio lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 192-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
CD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 12 CDs
  • 192-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE audio streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 192-page course synopsis
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Thomas A. Shippey

About Your Professor

Thomas A. Shippey, Ph.D.
St. Louis University
Dr. Thomas A. Shippey is Professor Emeritus at Saint Louis University, where he held the Walter J. Ong, S.J., Chair of Humanities. He holds a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Professor Shippey has published more than 100 articles, mostly in the fields of Old and Middle English language and literature, and he has a long-standing interest in modern fantasy and science fiction. He is a regular...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


Rated 4.1 out of 5 by 28 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by The Hero With Twenty-Four Faces A phrase mentioned in this lecture series is “the hero with a thousand faces,” which was coined by the scholar Joseph Campbell to describe the hero archetype in world mythology. In the compact structure of twenty-four lectures, this Great Course might be appropriately titled “The Hero With Twenty-Four Faces.” Our lecturer, Professor Thomas A. Shippey, is an expert on the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien. In his analysis of the hobbit hero, Frodo Baggins, the professor carefully places “The Lord of the Rings” in the context of Tolkien’s writing in the interwar period of the 1930s and extending through the global conflict of World War II. When Frodo exclaims, “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” his words recall those of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who asserted that “peace in our time” was achieved in his fateful Munich pact with Hitler in 1938. Those words would reverberate for decades as the essence of appeasement. For Tolkien, this is the antithesis of the hero’s quest that Frodo Baggins must fulfill. A study of the great heroes places us in touch with the essential awe and mystery of life. The characters described in this lecture series share the goal of blazing a trail into the unknown. When Odysseus leaves the comfort zone of Calypso’s island after seven years of living in luxury, he must navigate uncharted waters in order to return to Ithaca. When Lancelot attempts to rescue Guinevere, he literally encounters “the edge of a razor.” When Huckleberry Finn breaks the law in order to protect his friend Jim, who is a slave, Huck is asserting the prerogative of the hero as the founder of a new and higher moral authority. In some instances, the authors themselves demonstrate heroism in the act of literary creation, especially Harriet Beecher Stowe, George Orwell, and Alice Walker. In this course, the range and variety of character selections are superb, as we relive the journeys of the twenty-four heroes. In recounting the stories, the lecturer draws on a wealth of examples from literary works. The lively presentations are salted with wit, as the professor provides examples from both the literature of the past and popular culture today. And for icing on the cake, Professor Shippey has a smooth lecturing style with crystal clear articulation, plus the cadences, inflections, and brogue resembling those of the actor Sean Connery. In such a wide range of stories, it becomes apparent that the adventure of the hero is the adventure of being alive. This material is so engaging that, upon completion of the course, it is difficult not to want to undertake the reading of all twenty-four of these extraordinary works of literature. The course should have an appeal to those already familiar with the literature, as well as to young people for whom the course may serve as an introduction to these unforgettable characters. A hero is defined by deeds that transcend the ordinary range of human experience. As we read these works of literature, a pattern emerges in the journeys of the characters: they are all making a voyage into the unknown, sacrificing their needs for those of others. While the outcome is uncertain, the journey itself is enlightening, as the hero draws upon his or her inner strength for the crucible that lies ahead. As we become engaged in their stories, it becomes clear that the journeys of these great heroes may also be our own. COURSE GRADE: A March 12, 2014
Rated 4 out of 5 by Good but not Great When this course was released, I was very excited. Many of the characters I grew up with and the opportunity to learn more about them was tempting me to buy this course. In the end I found it to be good but it needed to be more than just as quick treatment of these heroes and legends. Professor Shippey, I felt gave a cursory glance at many of the characters. Elizabeth Bennett of Pride and Prejudice is one example. The lecture felt like a Spark Notes version of the story with little commentary on the historical background to her character and society. It is not enough to say that in early 19th century Britain that women had to get married or face possible spinsterhood. However, there were some lectures I thought served their characters well. Guinevere showed me how Medieval people had complex views of women, which accounts for so many different adaptations of her story. On the one hand she is the innocent princess bride, on the other she is a tempting dominatrix. The Robinson Crusoe lecture made me uncomfortable for a couple reasons. One, he does not see any conflict between his Christian religion and engaging in the slave trade. He promises to take care of his slave Xury, only to sell him, and doesn't . Second he is an early imperialist who seeks any way to find how he can subjugate the land he occupies. It is a eerie foreshadowing of show Europeans will conquer the lands and people of Africa and Asia for profit and exploitation. Another one that I really like was on Dracula. For someone so famous, he absolutely deserved to be on this course. Professor Shippey had some very thought provoking questions about this famous vampire. Does he deserve pity, because as a vampire he cannot help being what he is? It was an intriguing idea. Dracula is a victim of vampirism and needs to be saved, just as Lucy Westenra had been. Harry Potter's lecture could have had more meat on it. Professor Shippey choose to look at him in only one novel, when he could have examined him both as the whistleblower hero and the hero of the boarding school novel. It was disappointing but considering that of all the characters chosen, Harry Potter is in the longest book series featured in this course. This course was more Western centric than it should have been. I think the watchers and listeners would have been better served if heroes and legends from Persia, India and China were represented. I also question the addition of the character Woodrow Call from Lonesome Dove. While the novel is great in its own right, I do not believe that he is as influential as Professor Shippey . I think that the title character of Own Wister's 1902 novel The Virginian would have been a more astute choice. The novel and its character are among the most influential in American culture, as it set the standard for Western literature and films for the entire century. Without the Virginian, there would have been no Woodrow Call. However, with all that being said, I would love it if the Great Courses would do another course on great literary characters. This lecture could easily have been 36 instead of 24 and there are just as many more iconic literary characters to be included such as Gilgamesh, Simbad, Oliver Twist, Sam Spade, Captains Ahab and Nemo, Scarlett O'Hara, the Phantom of the Opera, the Lady of the Camellias, Edward Waverly, Fa Mulan, and Frankenstein. September 23, 2015
Rated 4 out of 5 by An Interesting Wide Slice of Literature's "Heroes" Shippey is well known for his works on Tolkien, which I have read some of, so I looked forward to this. Shippey brings in some true classics, like Odysseus, Robin Hood, Beowulf to modern (or at least recent) such as Frodo. He also smartly shows how Orwell's Winston Smith or Twain's Finn can also be seen as heroes. A couple choices are a bit off: Harry Potter and the The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo may be successful, but they are too recent to be in the "most influential." Check back in 30 years. And who is still reading The Color Purple? On the other hand, I was surprised at what he pulled out of Ian Fleming's Bond books, and it will give you a new appreciation for those and the films. In the fairy tale lecture, he should have spent more time on the fairy tales, rather than the odd reinterpretations that hardly anyone reads. Overall, though, a worthwhile course. Go all the way through, or skip around to books you read. September 16, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Baby bear's portion Although one reviewer complained that the professor spent too much time retelling the stories and another complained that he assumed the listener already knew them, I think he told enough to illustrate his points without giving an exhaustive rehash (which would have been impossible in the time he had anyway). Like baby bear's portions in the three bears it was just right. I have read most of the tales (though there seems no particular text for Thor or Robin Hood) and Prof Shippey told enough to remind me of the episodes he was highlighting. I haven't read The Color Purple and he told enough of the story for me to appreciate the points he made. I wanted to argue with him that desert island stories didn't begin with ocean travel. Philoctetes was marooned for years on the deserted island, Lemnos, during the Trojan War. Also that Tarzan showed more than just muscle (at least if you consider the whole of Burroughs Tarzan corpus). He learned to read English by finding some books although he had no prior knowledge of even the existence of written language or of English. A feat I believe impossible but certainly heroic. I consider the desire to argue with the instructor a pretty good sign that I got new ideas from the course. September 6, 2015
  • 2015-11-27 T14:19:33.036-06:00
  • bvseo_lps, prod_bvrr, vn_prr_5.6
  • cp-1, bvpage1
  • co_hasreviews, tv_28, tr_28
  • loc_en_US, sid_2192, prod, sort_default
2 next>>

Questions & Answers

Buy together as a Set
Save Up To $200.00
Choose a Set Format