Francis of Assisi

Course No. 615
Taught By Multiple Professors
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Course No. 615
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Course Overview

When Francis of Assisi died at the age of 44 in 1226, he left behind nothing that the world would consider as material wealth. But if one counts as riches the fruits of the spirit and of a humble and a contrite heart, he was wealthy beyond measure, and left behind a legacy that survives, thrives, and changes lives even today.

These lectures by the veteran teaching team of Professors William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman will give you a rounded, fully informed introduction to this luminous man, and tell the story of how his influence has glowed across the centuries.

"Rebuild My House"

Francis—who was never ordained and never held an official position—is probably the best known and most commonly depicted Christian saint after Mary, the mother of Jesus. He began his ministry with a few companions who joined him in preaching the Gospel, carrying out simple acts of charity for lepers and other marginalized people, and rebuilding neglected local churches.

By the time of his death, thousands of people—lay and clerical, male and female—all across Europe were dedicated to living "Franciscan" lives of humble service to God and neighbor. Within a few centuries, Franciscans would be found from New Mexico to Beijing.

A Message for Everyone

Francis is one of the most beloved Catholic saints and a person whose message and appeal transcend denominational and religious boundaries.

Modern thinkers who have taken inspiration from him include the English Catholic convert G. K. Chesterton, Greek novelist Nikos Kazantzakis, German author Herman Hesse, and African American intellectual W. E. B. DuBois, who offered Francis as a model to African American high school graduates in 1907.

Francis has been the subject of some of the greatest art in the Western tradition and remains a topic of active scholarly research. Yet he is also a favorite for backyard shrines and key chains, and is the star of a big-selling Marvel comic book, Francis, Brother of the Universe. The author is a Franciscan friar, and the comic has sold half a million copies in English and Spanish.

Cities and soup kitchens bear Francis's name. Some people think of him primarily as a nature lover. Others detect the influence of his mystical awareness on the poetic genius of Dante and the paintings of Giotto.

And when Pope John Paul II decided to convene a prayer meeting of world religious leaders in 1986, where else could he have held it but in Assisi?

Saint Francis Today

Professors Cook and Herzman describe the continuing influence of Saint Francis:

"Francis of Assisi is perhaps best known today as a lover of nature, and indeed his relationship with all creatures is an important part of his legacy. Yet he was more than a man who preached to birds and petted wolves. Francis recaptured a part of the biblical view of creation that had been downplayed at least in part because in the Middle Ages untamed nature so often seemed more an enemy than something to embrace.

"In a hierarchical world where those at the top were often prideful and in an emerging world of commerce in which the winners were avaricious, Francis practiced humility and poverty.

"In an increasingly complex world that loved subtlety and argumentation, Francis practiced simplicity.

"Perhaps observing how he lived in 13th-century Italy can be at least a partial guide for living today. Francis's embrace of the outcasts of his society, especially lepers, is certainly relevant in a world that contains so many marginalized people.

"And Francis's joy, which was never smothered by his own physical ills and failures, is a model especially to those who find themselves overcome by the world's problems and our failure to solve them.

"Thus, Francis remains as fascinating and inspiring a man today as he was 800 years ago."

Knowing Saint Francis

Despite his continuing influence and the fairly ample writings about him that date from his own time, Francis remains somewhat elusive in history. It is not easy to meet the man who, at about the age of 25, renounced his family and inheritance to serve his God in poverty, simplicity, and obedience.

Yet Cook and Herzman, with their mastery of history, theology, art, and literature, expertly unlock two sources that are the most revealing and plentiful—written narratives of Francis's life and the images created for Franciscan churches.

Professors Cook and Herzman have included a great deal about the world around Francis as well as on the artwork, the ministries, and the religious communities that he inspired.

But through it all shines their deeply human sense of the man himself and what he stood for—things which, they argue, are needed as much today as ever they were when Francis trod the byways of Italy to show what it means to live life to the full in faith, hope, and love.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Why Francis of Assisi Is Alive Today
    Who was Francis of Assisi? What are the reasons for his continuing significance in the modern world? How can we learn about him by studying his own time? What are some of the unexpected places where his influence reaches? x
  • 2
    The Larger World Francis Inherited
    In order to answer the questions of the previous lecture, we need to know what the world of Francis was like. More years divide Christ from Francis than divide Francis from us. How had the institutions that mediated the teachings of Jesus changed by the 13th century? x
  • 3
    The Local World Francis Inherited
    It is important to know Francis not just as a medieval but as a man of Assisi, a thriving market town of central Italy. Francis came from an urban world where a new money economy was in tension with the old feudal order and raising new questions for Christians. x
  • 4
    From Worldly Knight to Knight of Christ
    Francis grew up as the conventional, somewhat pampered son of a merchant. In his early twenties, he began to seek out both solitude for prayer and an active life repairing rundown churches. Prayer and service came to replace his earlier, more worldly values, leading to a dramatic renunciation. x
  • 5
    Francis and the Church
    Although Francis rejected many elements of "the world" that the Church had come to embrace, he never doubted the Church's authority, and sought its blessing for all he did. This is one of the striking—perhaps even paradoxical—things about Francis that must be grasped to understand him. x
  • 6
    Humility, Poverty, Simplicity
    After giving up his earthly goods, Francis wandered, lived as a hermit, cared for the rejected (especially lepers), and rebuilt churches. The basis for his deeds—voluntary poverty and simplicity—was his experience of the Christian call to love God and neighbor with a whole heart. x
  • 7
    Preaching and Ministries of Compassion
    Although he was neither learned nor ordained, Francis felt called to preach the Good News, often informally. He once preached to a Muslim sultan, and even to birds, flowers, and stones. Francis was living Christ's command: "Preach to all the creatures of the Earth." x
  • 8
    Knowing and Experiencing Christ
    Some scholars who knew Francis realized that his intuitive grasp of Scripture was superior to book learning. Francis's well-known love of nature was one facet of how he sought God. His reception of Christ's stigmata on Mt. LaVerna is part of the same journey. x
  • 9
    Not Francis Alone—The Order(s) Francis Founded
    Often when people adopt a radical way of life, no one joins them. But Francis drew companions from early on. This lecture describes the rapid growth of Franciscan communities, and the difficulties as well as the opportunities this created. x
  • 10
    Not Men Alone—St. Clare and St. Francis
    Clare of Assisi, a younger contemporary of Francis, combined her own charism with traditional forms of monasticism and Franciscan poverty to create a new way for women to serve Christ. x
  • 11
    The Franciscans After Francis
    Francis was canonized just two years after his death. Ever since, he has been the most popular post-Biblical saint in Christendom. Million have journeyed to Assisi to pray or to see the magnificent art that decorates the walls of the Basilica of St. Francis there. x
  • 12
    A Message for Our Time
    Does this poor, simple man from a distant age have anything to teach Christians in particular and humanity generally? This lecture discusses some surprising people who have thought that the answer to both questions is yes, and powerfully made this point about a saint whose message continues to touch hearts and inspire people across all confessional boundaries. x

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Your professors

William R. Cook Ronald B. Herzman

Professor 1 of 2

William R. Cook, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Geneseo

Professor 2 of 2

Ronald B. Herzman, Ph.D.
State University of New York, Geneseo
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...
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Dr. Ronald B. Herzman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1969. He graduated with honors from Manhattan College and earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Delaware. Dr. Herzman's teaching interests include Dante, Chaucer, Francis of Assisi, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Arthurian literature. He has...
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Reviews

Francis of Assisi is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 92.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Complement to the vast writing and film on Francis Students of Francis of Assisi are well aware of the over 1500 books and dozens of other media work on this man. This course opens with a concise synopsis of Francis' life in chronological order, and then proceeds to examine his life's meaning from different perspectives. It is a well-thought-out approach, and allows this work to add to existing sources rather than just repeat them. If you are already a Francis scholar, you are likely to find the choices of facts and opinions quite interesting. If this is your first exposure to Francis, you will get a good overview, and may want to do further reading. Like most courses here, this course bears repeated listening very well.
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Done! Great course and well worth the money. Gave me insights into the time and a knowledge and feeling for the man.
Date published: 2014-10-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from francis of assisi not yet finished and i do not think i will finish the course. two rambling guys talking about a great saint with little competency, they are boring
Date published: 2014-10-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good for people interested in religious history The teaching style, the tag teaming, was great. The professors also did a good job of interpreting the events and motivations of the people in St. Fransis' life in a way that makes sense for those living in the 21st century. I came into this course without a very strong interest in saints' lives. Unfortunately I don't think this course changed my attitude. I recommend this course only for those interested in religious history.
Date published: 2014-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Novel, Engaging and Informative I was delightfully surprised to hear two professors teaching in tandem, with one speaking for a minutes on his area of expertise, and then the other seamlessly picking up where the other left off. It’s quite remarkable actually as they totally supported and expanded on what the other was saying. Not only that, but they were both engaging speakers who had a wealth of information and ideas to communicate. It was not at all dry or overly academic. Bravo!
Date published: 2014-05-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Introductory course I was somewhat disappointed in the course. I enjoyed the "conversational" lecture style of the two professors, who are obviously knowledgeable, passionate, and interested in their subject matter. I found the content of the course too "simple" and wished for more of an in-depth discussion about the historical elements of Francis' life. I actually liked the last part of the course in which the influence of Francis and Claire through the centuries was discussed. Overall, however, the course is worth listening to as the dialogue between Dr.Cook and Dr. Herzman provides a refreshing change in The Great Courses typical presentations.
Date published: 2014-03-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great If you are a well-read Francis buff then this course will only add a few items to your knowledge. Nevertheless, when purchased with one the TC's deep discount sales it is well worth the nominal cost. Others have noted that Dr. Cooke can be a bit overbearing, but when you are driving and need to keep yourself focused on the road and also focused on the lectures, well then, Dr. Cooke's authoritative tone keeps you in the loop. He tends to say something much too often and I'm not sure if others have noted such,but he needs to stop this...whatever. Yes indeed, he says whatever with a frequency that would astound. I find myself awaiting the next whatever and then despising him for it. Someone at the TC needs to put a stop to this speech fault. But at Dr. Cooke's age it's probably a losing proposition.
Date published: 2014-02-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Introduction I was inspired by lecture 6 in Professor Ruiz' excellent "Terror of History" course to learn more about St Francis. My aim in this course was to gain an overview of St Francis' life and his key contribution to Faith in Western Christianity. Professor Herzman and Cook deliver a very good introduction which trace the saint's life and his commitment to a life of poverty. They also provide good notes for each lecture and a useful bibliography. This is recommended to anyone who, like me knew little about St Francis, is seeking an insightful overview.
Date published: 2013-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Good Beginning This is one of the shorter courses offered by The Teaching Company. It does not purport to be, nor do the professors suggest that it is, a comprehensive critical study of the times, the life or the theology of Francis of Assisi. It is, though, a good overview of all those aspects of St. Francis and it certainly broadened my understanding of him (which was pretty well limited to Sunday School images of a fellow in a robe talking to birds on a sunny hillside, a limitation I suspect I share with many.) This course can easily stand alone as an interesting and well-taught high level look at one of Western history's notable figures. But Doctors Cook and Herzman do us a significant service by suggesting - both in their lectures and in the course guide book - other sources in historical writing, fiction and even music to which one might repair if this first taste entices but does not, in itself, wholly satisfy. I am particularly indebted to them for introducing me to Glenn McClure's "Saint Francis in the Americas: A Caribbean Mass": it will enrich my life for many years to come, and I am not Catholic. One need not be a believer to gain much from this course.
Date published: 2013-05-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good introduction to Saint Francis This is a good introduction to the life of Saint Francis, the context from which he emerged, and the legacy he has left behind. This course is presented by two professors, each taking turns presenting a sentence or two. This was the first time I've heard a course in this format, and it worked well. (I especially liked when the two re-imagined and acted out the dialogue between St. Francis and Pope Innocent III.) Both professors are enthusiastic about the topic and speak well. The course is somewhat lightweight. You will not have to think hard. Is this hagiography? No. But it is a sympathetic biography "Saint Francis" and not just "Francis". Is this course for you? If you want an introduction to Francis, jump on board. If you are looking for a critical review of his life, you might want to look elsewhere. My acid test for any teaching company course is whether I think I will listen to it again (and again). Not this one. Enjoyable but not repeatable.
Date published: 2013-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good overview I had been wanting to purchase this course for a while, and especially after the election of the Pope who took his name, I thought this would be a good time. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between the two professors, it helped keep my attention. I think they complemented each other well. They may have repeated some things between then them, but overall, I enjoyed it. (Professor Cook was quite enthusiastic!) There was an OK treatment of Francis life, but I would have wanted a little more of specifics of his ministry, and very little was mentioned about his death--when someone dies at the age of 44, I am curious as to why. I also felt the lecture skipped around a bit as far as interweaving Francis life and ministry with what was going on in the Catholic church and the world at the time. For example, I would have liked to know more how he reacted to his movement's growing popularity and how it was was changing even when alive. It was interesting to get to know a little bit about St. Clare and others who followed Francis as well as what happened to the Franciscan movement after Francis died. I guess I would agree with some other reviewers that in essence that this course was more about Francis "the monument" vs Francis the man. This was a good course, but it is not my favorite TC course.
Date published: 2013-03-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Broad Overview This twelve lecture course serves as a basic introduction to the life and times of Saint Francis of Assisi. Both Professor Cook and Professor Herzman are clearly experts in their fields and have spent many years in the study of Saint Francis. In addition, they both clearly adore Saint Francis. The method of delivery of the lectures through alternating comments back and forth provided interesting perspectives and clearly held my attention. However, this method led to repetition and limited the total amount of material that could be conveyed in a single thirty minute talk. A single lecturer would likely be able to provide a greater depth of discussion. This study of Saint Francis is at the level of an intermediate high school course without much in the way of critical analysis from either professor. It does provide a nice survey for individuals without much prior knowledge of the topic. One of our two professors (Professor Cook) is an expert on the art that pertains to Saint Francis. This course is currently available only in an audio version. An updated video version could allow use of many visual aids, such as images of the great art work concerning Francis and the city of Assisi, which could go far in further illustrating Saint Francis’ life and times. If you want an overview of Saint Francis this is a good start. For more detailed treatments one of the referenced biographies noted in the course guidebook would be the best option.
Date published: 2013-02-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Course for true believers Not much depth. A lot of repeats of Brother stone or Sister Bird. Requires the user to "get it" and enjoy beliefs. Gives much more credit than I think is due for later changes in the Middle Ages to St. Francis.
Date published: 2013-01-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Catholic Marketing While the course started out pretty good, it degenerated into a extended adulation of St. Francis. Not saying he's not a good guy, but I turn to the teaching company for objective historical context and scholarly biography. What I got was a litany about his exemplary Christianity and how everyone from everywhere adored him (especially the lecturers). I could go to church for that.
Date published: 2012-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from By far best Teaching Co Audio This is the best series of lectures I've listened to thus far, and have been getting Teaching Company audio's for around 10 years. I found the material and presentations to be engaging, thought provoking and inspiring. I really enjoyed the way the 2 professors mix it up, not just with their alternating presentations and styles but by sprinkling in unusual methods, such as starting the whole series off with a song, or breaking off at one point in middle of a lecture and the 2 acting out parts from St. Francis' life as though in a play. Since buying this a few years ago I have listened to all lectures at least 3 times. I grew up Catholic but never knew much about this truly amazing man. I since have tried to read everything I can about him and agree w/the assessment from Drs. Cook and Herzman that regardless of your religious background or beliefs, he was a remarkably interesting person. They did a tremendous job of bringing him back to life. My only complaint is that it was only 12 lectures; at the end I wished I could hear more from these guys.
Date published: 2012-09-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyed the course! I thoroughly enjoyed this course. It has value to people of any (or no) religion, as it is both historical and religious in nature. I especially appreciated the objectivity with which is was presented.
Date published: 2012-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great way to learn about Francis and Clare Contrary to some reviewers, I actually really enjoyed the tag-team approach of the two instructors. Though there may have been some repetition through their tendency to restate what the other had just said, it worked for me and actually allowed me to spend another moment considering what I had just learned. For me, this course is really what the Great Courses are all about: experts with outstanding presentation abilities teaching curious lay people about something they are passionate about. Can't wait to visit Assisi! Fully recommended course that can add a spark to your life.
Date published: 2012-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An Interesting Survey audio version This course provided a basic survey of Francis of Assisi. I hate to sound less than excited about Prof. Cook as I have listened to a couple of his other courses and found them quite enjoyable. Perhaps I am not used to the format, but I found the two-person "panel" discussion of Francis somewhat distracting (the professors would switch back and forth every minute or so). I also found that the professors spent a good bit of time repeating or paraphrasing one another -- I think this caused them to lose a good bit of time that could have been used to more deeply investigate the life of St. Francis. The course also certainly had it's good points. I enjoyed learning the basics of St. Francis' life. It was also nice to have pious men providing the discussion. Overall, I would recommend this course to students interested in learning the basics of the life of St. Francis.
Date published: 2012-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Francis of Assisi I listened to lectures 1 to 9 all in one listen. And the remaining three the next day. I totally enjoyed the lectures. Pleasant way to learn about Francis of Assisi and a little about his world. Both professors communicate very well.
Date published: 2012-02-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Inspiring Short Course Professors Cook and Herzman are very good at providing an inspiring short course on Francis of Assisi in a complimentary tag team manner. Their coverage of his life, St. Claire, the Franciscan Order, and Francis' theology provides awareness so that I desire to know much more.
Date published: 2011-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction to Francis In this brief series of 12 lectures, Cook and Herzman give us a fascinating introduction to the life and times of Francis of Assisi. We hear the familiar stories (very well told, especially by Cook), but also a good deal of substantive analysis of Francis's importance for the history of the Church, Christian theology and practice, and indeed for the history of Western civilization. Cook and Herzman must have been teaching together at SUNY for quite awhile because they operate together almost as a single unit, completing the other's thought or using it as the point of departure for the next stage of their argument. Even if you are not Catholic or even particularly religious (I'm neither), I bet that you will find this series both interesting and rewarding.
Date published: 2011-05-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Needed "Make-Up" Course We all take courses for different reasons. I took this one to make up for the only major mistake of our family's incredible trip to Italy last summer. We used a day in the Tuscan region to do something other than going to Assisi. So, this was a needed make-up! I'm sorry to give Cook and Herzman just a fair grade for this course. I like them and benefited greatly from their course on Dante. If you're looking for a very basic, survey sort of course on Francis, you might be more satisfied than I was. But, if you're looking for a "deeper dive" into the thought, spirituality, and really the less generally known but important aspects of Francis' life and mission, you'll likely not be very generous either. I'm a big believer in professors getting to the meat of the matter as quickly and efficiently as they can, particularly in 12 lecture courses. Here the professors spend four lectures with introductory material and two in conclusion. This is not good. Further, while I enjoy these two teachers, their back and forth in this course includes too much repetition and filler content. A serious student must thirst, for example, for a much more detailed discussion of why Innocent III approved of Francis' mission and why it was important to the Church at that time in history. Throughout, the professors give a sadly light touch to Francis' life. They have important source material, including Bonaventure's biography among many others. Yet, all we get are the relatively frequently covered stories.This is a shame. Even when we get to Dante, the poet whom the professors have taught, they refer to his writing of Francis, but, alas and again, no deep treatment of the text. We do get speculation on what Francis would have thought of such things as Donovan's music and the comic book treatment of him in recent years. We also get very cursory views of Francis' importance to various writers and figures in history. And we get speculation that seems rather shallow that DNA and nuclear fusion are the "brothers and sisters" of our time. This course is ok for a surface ride. I don't recommend it for more.
Date published: 2011-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Course I have just finished listening to the CD format of this course and though it was very good. While it a good summery of St. Francis’s life, don’t expect it to delve too deep; the course is only (12) lectures long. I have had course lectures in college by more that one professor. One would finish his series of talks and the other would take over. In this course the professors, Cook and Herzman, trade off for the entire lecture series. One would finish his thought and the other would jump in or offer an elaboration. It wasn’t what I expected but they did pull it off masterfully. I also like the length of this course, 12 lectures. Most of the courses are considerably longer and take more of a dedication to complete. This is a nice length to ‘slip in’ before making the commitment for a longer course.
Date published: 2011-01-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing The course was poor in content and execution. There was very little attention to St Francis' spiritual development; the lecturers seemed surprisingly ignorant of Christianity in the period. Much time was wasted in folksy banter and waffle. I got very little sense of the man or his theology.
Date published: 2010-12-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from TC needs to offer more courses like this I always enjoy classes from Prof. Cook, so I knew I would enjoy this short course on Francis. It was well presented, and I enjoyed the brief but well laid out historical context for Francis' life. The professors did focus a large part of the course on Francis' influence, but I think it is necessary because he is so devoted today. I thought the course was well done but not the best course the TC has put out. I would like to see more courses like this from the Teaching Company. There are short courses on people like Winston Churchill, Augustine and C.S. Lewis. These courses are useful, affordable and teach the average person the basics of the particular subject. There are many months where I won't buy a course because I don't want to spend the money, but these courses are irresistable because they are cheap.
Date published: 2010-07-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very illuminating course I'd always thought of Francis as sort of a blithe spirit, chatting with the birds, not particularly living through any sort of challenging times. (Goes to show what you learn in elementary school!). This course really brought out the culture and political environment of the times and how Francis reacted to them. He challenged the conventional thinking in a really radical way and certainly lived as he taught. Very well presented by two professors who clearly know the subject - and each other - very well. Loved it.
Date published: 2010-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from St Francis isn't for the birds In the twisted story of western civilization and thought St. Francis of Assisi was a seminal figure with significant influence, in addition, Francis was an individual in the original sense of the word. Indeed, this gentle man was an original. I do not know if he talked to birds but he spoke with people and changed their lives and the times they lived in. His impact on the religious tenor of his era was truly significant. It says a lot about his age that a person of true humility and gentleness made such an impact on his contemporaries. One wonders how St. Francis would fare in today's electronic world of information and misinformation. It is well worth knowing Francis and Dr Cook's course is a wonderful introduction to him. Don't miss out on this course - TC is having a firesale on this saint. This course like it's subject is a joy and now it's also a bargain.
Date published: 2010-05-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good course on St Francis This course provided a good summary of St Francis of Assisi's life and his influence during and after his life. On the positive side, both professors tagged-team very well and their descriptions are clear and interesting. Summary of events and insights are both covered satisfactorily. An example of a good insight offered by the professors are: Francis preferred experiencing to gaining knowledge (e.g., his Christmastime preaching in Greccio in 1223); and Francis' emphasis on humility, poverty & simplicity which came through the increasing trends (during Francis' time) of feudal aristocracy, wealth, and complex intellectual/Aristotelian arguments. I also like the discussion (in one lecture) on Claire of Assisi, as well as her relationship and her comparison to Francis. I only wish that both professors spend more time on Francis' actual life rather than his influence after his death. 5 out of 12 lectures cover his life, and the rest cover 'other matters' including the societal background in Francis' life and post-death influences of Francis on the world. I think more stories/anecdotes about his life in (say) 8 or so lectures out of 12 would be more appropriate.
Date published: 2010-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Stories! Professors Cook and Herzman are the Teaching Company's resident tag-team presenters. They also team up on St. Augustine and Dante. The combination of a professor of English and a professor of History works extremely well and helps illuminate every subject they touch. I knew some of the stories surrounding Francis of Assisi, but this course provided an amazing array of stories, history, theology, and pleasurable context. Probably the greatest revelation for me was the connection between Francis and renaissance art. In fact, the word "Connections" is a great one for this course. The professors do something similar to what the popular science and history series Connections did on PBS. The focus on St. Clare is also worthwhile. They trace interesting threads through history touching on a number of disciplines, full of great stories and insights. If you have yet to experience this wonderful tag-team, then the 12 lectures of Francis of Assisi is a perfect place to start.
Date published: 2010-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from San Francisco of Assisi I was full of doubt that 12 hours on Francis of Assisi could/would hold my attention and leave me wanting more---and I was wrong. Knowing one of these two Profs spurred me to get the CD version and I've since lent it to a priest friend of mine who was equally impressed. The only 'problem' was that so many parts of the various presentations were so interesting that it was all too easy to drift off into thought but that was easily remedied by pausing and backing up the CD in order to regain the thread of the presentafion! It was not 'day-dreaming' which all too often was the case in college...it was having new and interesting phrases and facts that caused the listener to encounter Francis and the Franciscan way in a whole new way. A wonderful encounter with an 800 year old Saint!
Date published: 2010-01-24
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