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Professor William R. Cook

Professor William R. Cook
  • State University of New York, Geneseo
  • Cornell University
In some ways, being detached from the world allows you also to be united with the world.
Dr. William R. Cook is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1970. He earned his bachelor's degree cum laude from Wabash College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa there. He was then awarded Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Lehman fellowships to study medieval history at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D. Professor Cook teaches courses in ancient and medieval history, the Renaissance and Reformation periods, and the Bible and Christian thought. Since 1983 Professor Cook has directed 11 Seminars for School Teachers for the National Endowment for the Humanities. His books include Images of St. Francis of Assisi and Francis of Assisi: The Way of Poverty and Humility. Dr. Cook contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Giotto and edits and contributes to The Art of the Franciscan Order in Italy. Among his many awards, Professor Cook has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1992 the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named him New York State's Professor of the Year. In 2003 he received the first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America.

"Professor Cook did a great job of keeping the information interesting and relevant, and the lectures were well organized and impeccably produced. "


"I am continually captivated by Cook's profound scholarship, incisive insights. and conversational manner by which he tells a compelling story."


"Professor Cook's style is exceptionally colloquial, which I find quite engaging, and his enthusiasm is palpable and infectious. His range of interests and depth of expertise are truly remarkable."


"Professor Cook's style is exceptionally colloquial, which I find quite engaging, and his enthusiasm is palpable and infectious. His range of interests and depth of expertise are truly remarkable."

10 Courses

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10 Courses

  1. World's Greatest Churches Sale

    World's Greatest Churches

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $210.00 Starting at $49.95 $59.95 $49.95$59.95
    The great churches represent some of the world’s most stunning masterpieces of architecture, art, and faith. In The World’s Greatest Churches, go on a guided tour of the most outstanding, memorable, and meaningful churches in the world. Lavishly illustrated with breathtaking photos, detailed floor plans, and 3-D models, these lectures take you deeply into Christianity through its most important buildings.
  2. The Cathedral Sale

    The Cathedral

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $185.00 Starting at $59.95 $69.95 $59.95$69.95
    Tour the world's most captivating cathedrals from the comfort of your own home with these 24 lavishly illustrated lectures by Professor William R. Cook. An exciting, immersive, and multidimensional learning experience, The Cathedral brings you closer to cathedrals like Notre Dame in Paris and those in Amiens, Chartres, and Canterbury than any on-site tour could hope to do. With high-definition 3-D modeling and...
  3. The Catholic Church: A History

    The Catholic Church: A History

    William R. Cook
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $374.95 $199.95$374.95
    Explore the vast and fascinating history of one of the most influential institutions in the world with The Catholic Church: A History. In 36 informative and engaging lectures, follow the development of this powerful religious force throughout the centuries and witness its ability to move armies, inspire saints, and shape the lives and spirits of its more than 1 billion members. With noted historian and Professor...
  4. 36 Books That Changed the World Sale

    36 Books That Changed the World

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $215.00 Starting at $49.95 $69.95 $49.95$69.95
    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.
  5. Dante's Divine Comedy Sale

    Dante's Divine Comedy

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $185.00 Starting at $34.95 $69.95 $34.95$69.95
    Two gifted teachers share the fruit of two lifetimes’ worth of historical and literary expertise in this rewarding introduction to one of the greatest poems ever written. You will explore invaluable background information on Dante’s life, why he wrote the Divine Comedy, how to approach English editions, and many of the poem’s characters and episodes.
  6. Francis of Assisi Sale

    Francis of Assisi

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $115.00 Starting at $15.95 $19.95 $15.95$19.95
    When Francis of Assisi died in 1226, he left behind little material wealth. And yet he did leave behind a spiritual legacy that survives and changes lives even today. Francis of Assisi, delivered by the veteran teaching team of Professors William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman, gives you a well-rounded and fully informed introduction to this luminous man and his influence on the course of both Christian and Western...
  7. Lives of Great Christians Sale

    Lives of Great Christians

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $205.00 Starting at $29.95 $49.95 $29.95$49.95
    For many, Christianity is the daily effort to live one’s faith in every moment. This course introduces you to those who have done so over the centuries, those Professor William Cook calls "superstars of faith:" Francis and Clare of Assisi, Catherine and Bernardino of Siena, Thomas More, Martin Luther, John Wesley, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others.
  8. Tocqueville and the American Experiment Sale

    Tocqueville and the American Experiment

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $185.00 Starting at $34.95 $69.95 $34.95$69.95
    Was the greatest book on U.S. democracy ever written crafted by a Frenchman visiting this country some 175 years ago? Why would such a book be relevant in today's ever-changing political landscape? Professor William R. Cook of the State University of New York, Geneseo, leads a 24-lecture, spirited exploration of Alexis de Tocqueville and his unique observations of this young nation that resulted in Democracy in...
  9. St. Augustine's Confessions Sale

    St. Augustine's Confessions

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $185.00 Starting at $34.95 $69.95 $34.95$69.95
    This course examines all 13 books, or chapters, of this masterpiece that inspired Dante and Martin Luther and encouraged Christianity to accept the thinking of Plato. It provides the background needed to understand the Confessions as Augustine intended and analyzes his account—told in stories that are as powerful as any in world literature—of the events leading to his Christian conversion.
  10. Machiavelli in Context Sale

    Machiavelli in Context

    William R. Cook
    Save up to $205.00 Starting at $29.95 $49.95 $29.95$49.95
    What images does the name Machiavelli conjure up? Political opportunism? Cold-blooded manipulation? The ends that justify the means? But does the Machiavelli most of us think we know bear any resemblance to the Machiavelli who lived, pondered, and wrote? Professor William R. Cook offers the opportunity to meet an extraordinarily thoughtful and sincere student of history and its lessons.