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Professor Seth Lerer, Ph.D.

Professor Seth Lerer
  • University of California, San Diego
  • University of Chicago
Anyone who comes to know English as a child in school, or as an adult who speaks another language, is invariably confronted by the strangeness of its spelling.

Dr. Seth Lerer is the Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, San Diego. Before taking this position, he was the Avalon Foundation Professor in Humanities and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He also taught at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Lerer earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, a second B.A. from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Professor Lerer's research interests include medieval and Renaissance studies, early Tudor literary culture, textual criticism, Old and Middle English literature, and children's literature. He has published 10 books, including Chaucer and His Readers and Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language. Professor Lerer won the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin for his book Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter. The book also won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and reviews. Professor Lerer received many awards for his scholarship and teaching, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, the Beatrice White Prize of the English Association of Great Britain (for Chaucer and His Readers), and the Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching at Stanford.


"It was a privilege to be able to hear Professor Lerer whose profound scholarship shone through and whose passion for his subject was inspiring."


"Dr. Lerer makes English live and breath and seem so beautiful. "


"Professor Lerer's speaking style was supremely confident
and utterly disarming. The course's valuable content just slipped
into my brain like I was putting on an old pair of well worn,
comfortable shoes."

5 Courses

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5 Courses

  1. 36 Books That Changed the World Collection

    36 Books That Changed the World

    Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $269.95 $199.95$269.95
    Since the development of written language, books have played major roles in the world: Entertaining. Instructing. Inspiring. Even changing the course of history. Now, with 36 Books That Changed the World, a fascinating Great Courses Collection crafted from our extensive library of courses, take a riveting tour of the profound impact of books from thousands of years of history and from civilizations around the globe.
  2. History of the English Language, 2nd Edition Sale

    History of the English Language, 2nd Edition

    Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
    Save up to $275.00 Starting at $49.95 $99.95 $49.95$99.95
    Sixteen centuries ago a wave of settlers from northern Europe came to the British Isles speaking a mix of Germanic dialects. Today we call that dialect Old English, the ancestor of the language nearly one in five people in the world speaks every day. How did this ancient tongue evolve into the elegant idiom of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and other great writers? And how does English continue develop today? The History of...
  3. 36 Revolutionary Figures of History Collection

    36 Revolutionary Figures of History

    Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $269.95 $199.95$269.95
    Alexander the Great. Jesus. Darwin. Churchill. These are just a few of the revolutionary individuals who have transformed our world in ways that still resonate today. 36 Revolutionary Figures of History is a unique collection of 36 lectures from our extensive course catalog—one that takes you across time and around the globe to offer piercing insights into some of history’s most transformative figures.
  4. Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer Sale

    Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer

    Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
    Save up to $74.00 Starting at $15.95 $15.95 $15.95$15.95
    The Life and Writings of Geoffrey Chaucer, award-winning Professor Seth Lerer's masterful course on one of Western literature's most enduring poets, is a fascinating look at Chaucer's life, his world, and the language in which he wrote. By examining texts, from his short love lyrics to the copious profusion of character and events that compose The Canterbury Tales, this course prepares you for the challenges of...
  5. Life and Writings of John Milton

    Life and Writings of John Milton

    Seth Lerer, Ph.D.
    Starting at $89.95 Starting at $89.95 $89.95 $89.95$89.95
    There is no disputing that John Milton is one of the supreme writers in the history of English letters. Yet, for a number of reasons, many modern readers are unaware of the pleasures of his often intimidating poetry and prose. The Life and Writings of John Milton is a thorough examination of this seminal Western writer designed to help you understand his poetry: its richness and depth; its representation of...