History of World Literature

Course No. 2300
Professor Grant L. Voth, Ph.D.
Monterey Peninsula College
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Course No. 2300
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Course Overview

In The History of World Literature, you'll sample brilliant masterpieces that reflect humanity's deep need for self-expression. It's a journey that will take you through time and around the world-from the enormous auditoriums of Ancient Greece, to the dazzling courts of Classical China and Japan, to the prison camps of Stalinist Russia, to a quiet study in the home of a 19th-century New England spinster.

Your guide on this enchanting literary tour is distinguished scholar Grant L. Voth. An experienced teacher, critic, and lecturer, Professor Voth provides the perfect introduction to the history of world literature, offering concise summaries and thought-provoking interpretations of each work.

"Tell Me a Story"

As Professor Voth explains, "As long as there have been people in the world, there have been stories." In this course, you'll sample some of the greatest literary expressions the world has known and experience storytelling in its many forms, including poetry, drama, and narrative.

The course begins in the ancient world, where tribal bards created national myths and founded religious texts out of legends, history, philosophy, and local lore.

From there, you'll travel to the Far East to encounter a completely different form of early literature: the brief, suggestive, and deeply personal lyric poets of Classical Japan and China.

You'll also wander the countryside and aristocratic courts of India and the Middle East, collecting stories and folklore of magical men, terrifying beasts, alluring women, and conniving tricksters that live on in today's fairytales and bedtime stories.

Subsequent lectures follow the evolution of the art of the story as it appears in sophisticated narratives such as Wu Ch'eng-en's Monkey and Voltaire's Candide, the poetic masterpiece of Dante's Inferno, the great drama pioneered by Shakespeare and Molire, and other works of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment.

With the coming of the modern world, you'll trace the rise of new forms intent on capturing daily life with scientific precision, from the Realist narratives of Flaubert and Dostoevsky to the groundbreaking drama of Chekhov and Ibsen. The course also explores the experimental modes that followed Realism, including Brecht's politically charged experimental drama, Beckett's Absurdism, and the fragmented Postmodern perspectives of writers such as Borges, Rushdie, and Pirandello.

As you'll soon see, none of these great works stands in isolation. Each is part of a great web of influences and responses, which you'll learn about over the course of this comprehensive survey. With Professor Voth as your guide, you'll follow the trajectory of stories as they are created, passed along, and adapted to suit different cultures and historical circumstances.

Are you ready for a good story? Join Professor Voth for this tour of The History of World Literature, and prepare for an enriching and satisfying excursion around the world and into the human imagination.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Stories and Storytellers
    Humankind has always sought to understand its existence through stories. In this opening lecture, Professor Voth provides a preview of the literary journey to come, and begins to define the relationship between history and literature. x
  • 2
    The Epic of Gilgamesh
    In this lecture, we examine one of the world's oldest literary works. This ancient poem combines a heroic story of a legendary king with a spiritual quest about coming to terms with the inevitability of mortality. x
  • 3
    The Hebrew Bible
    Blending literature, history, and theology, the Hebrew Bible (or Tanakh) is perhaps one of the most important books ever written. We explore some of the unique elements of this sacred literary text, including its introduction of the concept of monotheism. x
  • 4
    Homer's Iliad
    Through a consideration of Homer's classic poem about the fall of Troy, Professor Voth defines the key elements of the epic and examines how the poem expresses ancient Greek views of heroism and individual honor. x
  • 5
    Homer's Odyssey
    Our consideration of the epic continues with the Odyssey, which follows the 10-year journey of the warrior Odysseus after the end of the Trojan War. x
  • 6
    Chinese Classical Literature
    This lecture features a lyric poem and two prose works that demonstrate how early Chinese literature differed from contemporary works from Mesopotamia, Israel, and Greece. x
  • 7
    Greek Tragedy
    By the 5th century B.C.E., Greek theater had entered a golden age, producing plays that would set a standard of excellence for centuries to come. In this lecture, we explore the three greatest Greek playwrights: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. x
  • 8
    Virgil's Aeneid
    When Virgil (70–19 B.C.E.) set out to write a national Roman epic poem, he took as his model the classic epics of Ancient Greece. Professor Voth illuminates the ways that Virgil both imitated and adapted the epic to express the values of his own culture. x
  • 9
    Bhagavad Gita
    At seven times the combined length of the Iliad and Odyssey, the Mahabharata may be the longest epic poem in the world. In this lecture, we examine one episode of this enormous work, the Bhagavad Gita, which offers a Hindu meditation on the meaning of life. x
  • 10
    The New Testament
    Like the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament can be read as history, literature, and theology. This lecture examines how the various parts of this seminal text reflect the goals of their different authors and the needs of their particular audiences. x
  • 11
    In this lecture, Professor Voth compares the Germanic saga Beowulf with the other heroic epics studied in the course thus far. The poem also provides an opportunity to explore the variety of interpretations that can be made about a single literary work. x
  • 12
    Indian Stories
    We move from epic poetry to prose as we explore the rich narrative strategies of Indian stories in three collections: Jataka (Story of a Birth) , the Pañcatantra (The Five Books or the Five Strategies) , and the Kathasaritsagara (Ocean of the Rivers of Story) . x
  • 13
    T'ang Poetry
    China achieved one of its Golden Ages during the T'ang period (618–907 C.E.), which included a rich tradition of poetry. This lecture examines three T'ang poets to illustrate the deeply personal aesthetic of Chinese poetics. x
  • 14
    Early Japanese Poetry
    While Japanese poetry is indebted to Chinese models, it also boasts some unique features. Using several examples, Professor Voth outlines the key features of the Japanese aesthetic, which include irregular verse styles, simplicity, and the theme of transience. x
  • 15
    The Tale of Genji
    Written by a Japanese lady-in-waiting during the 11th century C.E., The Tale of Genji is believed to be the first novel in literary history. This complex tale presents a new kind of hero, for whom taste and sensitivity count for more than prowess on the battlefield. x
  • 16
    Inferno, from Dante's Divine Comedy
    Considered the greatest poem in the Western world, Dante's Divine Comedy traces the allegorical journey of a pilgrim from the depths of hell through purgatory and into heaven. We examine key features and interpretations of the first part of Dante's masterwork: Inferno. x
  • 17
    Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
    Borrowing techniques from Boccaccio's Decameron, Geoffrey Chaucer narrates a variety of tales through a frame story about 30 travelers who tell stories during a pilgrimage to England's Canterbury Cathedral. x
  • 18
    1001 Nights
    In this lecture, we again consider the narrative technique of the "frame story": a work which includes within it many recounted tales. Complex and encyclopedic, 1001 Nights serves as a crossroads where stories from many different cultures meet. x
  • 19
    Wu Ch'eng-en's Monkey
    Based in history and enhanced by legend and folklore, Monkey tells the story of a Chinese monk on a journey to India, accompanied by fabulous creatures, the most important of which is Monkey, one of the great creations in literature. x
  • 20
    The Heptameron
    Based in history and enhanced by legend and folklore, Monkey tells the story of a Chinese monk on a journey to India, accompanied by fabulous creatures, the most important of which is Monkey, one of the great creations in literature. x
  • 21
    After a brief account of drama in other cultures, Professor Voth considers Shakespeare's place in English drama, focusing on his use of language. A closer look at a famous speech from Macbeth serves to illustrate the Bard's mastery of poetic language. x
  • 22
    Cervantes's Don Quixote
    While not the first novel in history, Don Quixote is one of the first in the Western world and has been by far the most influential. This lecture explores Cervantes' revolutionary use of prose to present a realistic view of life that contrasted to the popular romances of his day. x
  • 23
    Molière's Plays
    This lecture opens with a consideration of the values and dramatic style of the Neoclassical Age (c.1660–1770) in Western literature. A master of theatrical comedy, French playwright Molière used the drama to point out society's foibles. x
  • 24
    Voltaire's Candide
    Why does suffering exist? Why are people prey to human cruelty and natural disasters? In Candide, Voltaire seeks to answer these questions. x
  • 25
    Cao Xueqin's The Story of the Stone
    Recounting the story of an aristocratic family in decline, The Story of the Stone is simultaneously a Buddhist-Taoist meditation on the illusory nature of existence and a gripping and detailed novel of personal relationships. x
  • 26
    Goethe's Faust
    Goethe's Faust is a new version of a story dating back to the 16th century, when the historical Faustus lived. In Goethe's version, Faust becomes the ultimate Romantic hero—one who strives to express his own will and experience all life has to offer. x
  • 27
    Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights
    Brontë's story about the passionate love between Catherine and Heathcliff is perhaps one of the best loved 19th-century novels. In this lecture, we explore the relationship of the novel to Romanticism and discuss Brontë's use of competing narrative perspectives. x
  • 28
    Pushkin's Eugene Onegin
    Alexander Pushkin is usually considered Russia's national poet—the equivalent of Shakespeare in England. In Eugene Onegin, he employed a complicated poetic form to create a witty novel-in-verse that satirizes Romantic excesses. x
  • 29
    Flaubert's Madame Bovary
    An ordinary story about ordinary people told with detachment and objectivity, Flaubert's tale of a bored housewife living in a French provincial town marks a turning point in literature: the rise of Realism. x
  • 30
    Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground
    Unappreciated in its own day, Notes from Underground serves as an excellent introduction to Dostoevsky's later novels. Through his unnamed narrator, the Russian novelist voiced the desire to rebel against the increasingly mass-produced culture of modern life. x
  • 31
    Twain's Huckleberry Finn
    In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain allowed a vernacular, regional character to tell his own story. In this lecture, we explore Twain's narrative achievement and the societal questions raised by his classic travel tale. x
  • 32
    Dickinson's Poetry
    After a brief consideration of Emily Dickinson's solitary life and writing career, we turn to the techniques that characterize her remarkable poetry: the use of common meter stanza form, unconventional punctuation, and grammatical density. x
  • 33
    Ibsen and Chekhov—Realist Drama
    In this lecture, we examine the works of two very different Realist playwrights. For Ibsen, Realism entailed bringing to the stage contemporary people and social concerns. For Chekhov, it required discarding the standard forms of the "well-made play" for a more realistic imitation of life. x
  • 34
    Rabindranath Tagore's Stories and Poems
    Absorbing the influence of Realist authors, Tagore adapted this literary style to reflect life in his native India. Through his short stories and poems, he criticized those who exploited the caste system, suppressed women, and benefited from the sufferings of the poor. x
  • 35
    Higuchi Ichiyō's "Child's Play"
    Although she had no exposure to Western Realism, Ichiyo pioneered a Japanese version of this literary movement in "Child's Play," her novella about children living in and around the pleasure district of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). x
  • 36
    Proust's Remembrance of Things Past
    In this elegiac novel, Proust sought to reject Realism and recreate the novel as an exploration of personal impressions. Influential to later writers, Proust's novel took a revolutionary approach by attempting to capture life as it is experienced. x
  • 37
    Joyce's Dubliners
    In a context of experimentation in all of the arts, we consider the contribution of James Joyce's Dubliners to the modern short story, focusing on Joyce's device of the epiphany, or revelation. x
  • 38
    Kafka's "The Metamorphosis"
    In this lecture, we consider the bleak, darkly comic work of Franz Kafka. In "The Metamorphosis," a man wakes up to find that he has been transformed into a gigantic insect—an absurd premise that reflects the alienation of modern life. x
  • 39
    Pirandello's Six Characters
    This lecture discusses the rebellion against Realism in drama exemplified in the work of Luigi Pirandello. In Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello created a world in which fictional characters argue that they are more "real" than living human beings. x
  • 40
    Brecht's The Good Woman of Setzuan
    Bertolt Brecht continued the rebellion against Realism by using theatrical techniques to create a critical distance between audience and play. An examination of The Good Woman demonstrates how Brecht used this technique to critique capitalist society. x
  • 41
    Anna Akhmatova's Requiem
    Written in response to Russia's Yezhov Terror of 1937 and 1938, the poem Requiem describes a sick society in which the poet must speak for voiceless victims everywhere. Professor Voth explores the aesthetic and historical contexts that helped shape this poem. x
  • 42
    Kawabata Yasunari's Snow Country
    Adapting Western techniques to suit Japanese sensibilities, Yasunari created a Modernist work, using such techniques as a disciplined point of view and stream-of-consciousness in his story of a detached man and his love for two women. x
  • 43
    Faulkner—Two Stories and a Novel
    Using the short stories "A Rose for Emily" and "Wash," in addition to the novel As I Lay Dying, Professor Voth examines the literary achievements of William Faulkner, an author who sought to capture the "whole truth" of life in all its comedic, grotesque, and heroic glory. x
  • 44
    Naguib Mahfouz's The Cairo Trilogy
    The Arabs did not really have a novel tradition until the 20th century. In his career, Arab writer Naguib Mahfouz encompassed all of the novelistic traditions, from historical romances to Realist novels to experimental narratives. x
  • 45
    Achebe's Things Fall Apart
    Achebe's novel is a reaction against Western novelistic depictions of Africans, exemplified in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In this lecture, we examine this tale of a native people, the Igbo, and their heroic but flawed leader Okonkwo. x
  • 46
    Beckett's Plays
    In this lecture, we take up our first Postmodernist writer, Samuel Beckett. His works, including Endgame, Waiting for Godot, and Happy Days, illustrate Beckett's view that humankind lives in an absurd world which provides no clear definition of life's meaning. x
  • 47
    Borges's Labyrinths
    Our examination of Postmodernism continues with Jorge Luis Borges, whose comic, often magical stories attempt to express the untranslatable gap between reality and the human constructions of logic and language. x
  • 48
    Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories
    The final lecture considers Salman Rushdie's children's book about the importance of stories in our lives, and it closes with William Faulkner's idea that stories are one of the ways in which humans can not only endure, but may even prevail. x

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Your professor

Grant L. Voth

About Your Professor

Grant L. Voth, Ph.D.
Monterey Peninsula College
Dr. Grant L. Voth is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College in California. He earned his M.A. in English Education from St. Thomas College in St. Paul, MN, and his Ph.D. in English from Purdue University. Throughout his distinguished career, Professor Voth has earned a host of teaching awards and accolades, including the Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching, and he was named Teacher of the Year by the...
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History of World Literature is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 71.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another "Star" in TTC's constellation Who can sit still for a lecture course on the History of World Literature? Well, you can, when it is delivered by the intoxicating analysis and delivery of Professor Grant Voth. As a denizen of Northern California, I did not know that I only lived scant miles from such a teaching luminary. Beutifully and seamlessly delivered, this course moves us across 5,000 years of world literature; from The Epic of Gilgamesh to Salmun Roushde's Haroun and the Sea of Stories; all the while dropping little known tidbits about how this technique works in prose and how poetry is stitched together, how plays are staged and leaving us with a new vocabulary with which we, ourselves, can describe literary works of art. Prof. Voth propels us chronologically and thematically through the different movements in epic poetry, poetry, the emergence of the novel and literary works on the stage. We've all heard the cliche' about the book being so good "I couldn't put it down". Well during this course, it was so good, I once lost the remote control to the DVR. But no matter; so good, I kept on watching til the end of the disk. There is a lot of background "glow" in the heavens of literature lectures but this one stands out as another "Star" in The Teaching Company's Constellation of Great Courses.
Date published: 2011-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow ! excellent ! This provided a fascinating journey through the various ages and types of world literature. I really enjoyed the entire series (all 48 parts). I listen to the mp-3 sessions while I'm exercising - and wanting to listen to the next sessions sometimes forced me to do my walking exercise even when the weather outside wasn't that nice... I definitely recommend this course if you are interested in learning more about literature and storytelling.
Date published: 2011-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Extremely diverse literature course Professor Voth does an admirable job in covering and analyzing literature from virtually all nations, and his coverage of subjects ranging from the Tale of Genji to Tang dynasty poetry to Homer to Franz Kafka and Bertolt Brecht was what drew me in. He summarizes each story in the greater context of its place in society and history, and is able to get to the point. He also delves into the world of poetry, including Emily Dickinson, and the world of theater, such as Brecht, Beckett, and Chekov. I would recommend this to those looking for an overview of both Western and Eastern literature.
Date published: 2011-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whets the appetite for a good read I am normally reluctant to review courses that I haven't completed but I am forced to make an exception in the case of this wonderful course. The problem I am having is that I am trying to read and appreciate the wonderful literature that Professor Voth "sells" so well while following the course. Given, the sheer volume of the material covered this is not really feasible!! Read all the other positive reviews, buy this course cancel the cable TV subscription and you are set up for life.
Date published: 2010-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Reading List for the Rest of Your Life As a retired professor (science, not literature), I have experienced university level courses from both sides of the lectern. Good courses are well-organized and carefully-prepared; they have dominant themes that weave and stitch the lectures together. Bad courses are disjoint jumbles of unconnected facts. Professor Voth’s course is one of the former, and I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking for a survey course on world literature. Despite the wide range of topics, Professor Voth manages to maintain a narrative thread that leads from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Salman Rushdie. In his course, we learn, for example, of the development of the hero (Gilgamesh, Achilles, Odysseus and Aeneas). Voth introduces us to the concept of framing – placing a series of stories within a single narrative (The 1001 Nights, The Canterbury Tales). The idea of a story told within a story leads us from ancient Indian literature through Don Quixote (who at one point in the second part of the novel picks up a copy of Don Quixote Part One in a book shop!) all the way to Borges’ Labyrinths and Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. On the way, we learn of the complexities of Chinese and Japanese poetry, the passion of Emily Bronte and the subtleties of Emily Dickinson. If you want a reading list to last the rest of your life, get this course.
Date published: 2010-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Storyteller This is one of a least three TCC courses on literary canon. While maybe not the best, it is still excellent. Dr Voth does a great job. In fact, as soon as I learned he had another course coming out: MYTH IN HUMAN HISTORY I immediately bought it!. Certainly this is the most diverse of the Canon courses, with lots of material on middle and far eastern literature. Dr Voth main theme is the importance of the storyteller in world culture. He makes this case most profoundly in the last lecture of the course. Certainly Voth himself is an exceptional "story teller". Excellent course, don"t miss.
Date published: 2010-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding survey I listen to many Teaching Company sets while making my 40-mile drive to and from work. I am also a college professor, so I have some knowledge of teaching. I am not an expert on world lit, which is why I bought this set. This set is outstanding. The lectures and the entire course are well thought-out and presented. Professor Voth has a gift for describing and explaining the novels, poems, plays, etc, he discusses in such a way that one is convinced they understand the work. He also maintains a series of themes and threads that pull the entire course together and make it a developing sequence, rather than just a set of independent lectures. Finally, he manages to cover a wide range of literature from many cultures. I have looked forward to and greatly enjoyed every one of the lectures.
Date published: 2010-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A course I didn't want to end. One of the courses I wished was 60 or 84 lectures. I didn't want it to end. Professor Voth is one of the great additions to the teaching company. Clear presentations, does a wonderful job of connecting the movements in literature and shows how they fit into the grand mosaic of world literature across national and cultural boundaries. For instance - the influence of Flaubert and Proust on modernist and post-modernist writers from many different regions. Many assets as a speaker: pleasant voice, judicious use of quotations, good inserts of humor where Voth laughs along with the audience, making the teaching style more endearing. Even with some of the better professors, interest will occasionally flag in spots, not with Professor Voth, he is truly one of the great teachers, and I hope he is contracted for more courses.
Date published: 2010-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I teach AP English, and I may use some of these lectures with my High school students. Dr. Voth's lectures are engaging and informative., and I found a few new books and stories I want to read now. The lectures kept me company for several weeks while commuting to work. I was sad the course was finished.
Date published: 2010-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful In The History of World Literature, Professor Voth discusses books that have had historical significance as literary forms. By that definition, the works discussed are not necessarily the best literature in history. For example, Emily Dickenson’s is the only poetry mentioned from the last few hundred years, although one could argue that it is not the very best poetry written over that time. It is included here for more reasons than its quality. And now I’ve left a teaser for you to learn what was her historical significance. This historical perspective of literature was a wonder for me, as a history buff. To hear the opinion that “Don Quixote” was the most significant novel in history startled me, inspiring me to read a book I might never have bothered with. Most of us, as casual readers, say, “Oh, I’ve heard that story – on TV, in a move, etc – so I don’t need to read the book.” But Prof. Voth counters that complacency with a promise of riches in the magnificence of the poetry, dialogue or prose forms over and above the story lines, and discusses with infectious energy how fresh an impact these books had when they first appeared. This is a course I plan to enjoy repeatedly over the years. The lectures are extraordinarily well organized and Prof. Voth’s presentation is scholarly and engaging. I highly recommend the course to anyone willing to take a serious look at literature.
Date published: 2009-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of World Literature This is the BEST of all the CDs I have purchased. Prof. Goth's love of his subject comes through his excellent voice tone as well as his content. He has me reading books I might never have read, prior to listening to him. I now have TWO copies, so I can lend one. Wish he'd do another series.
Date published: 2009-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More like this needed A very enlightening and superbly presented course. Professor Voth does an excellent job of comparing and contrasting the different themes and techniques used in the various literatures of the world. However, more non-Western literature would have been nice, as well as the inclusion of Native American lit. Overall, though, I highly recommend Professor Voth and this course to anyone who wants to get out of the old "West is best" way of thinking and who has any curiosity about the literatures of the other 80% or so of the world which one never hears about in most lit. courses. If anything, we need more like this course.
Date published: 2009-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Sampling of Storytelling - not just Western The Teaching Company has so many wonderful courses on Western Literature -- both general surveys, studies of specific genres, or detailed examinations of specific works -- that I have been hoping for a course that also included some works from the non-Western canon, important works with which I was not very familiar. Finally, here is such a course! Of course, with such a broad selection of poems, stories, novels and plays, the best one can do is choose some general themes, and then pick-and-choose a few select works to examine and illustrate your points. But Professor Voth does an excellent job, given the daunting task. It was quite a joy to hear his discussions of works with which I was familiar (Gilgamesh, Dante's Inferno, Candide, Huckleberry Finn, Beckett's plays) described in relation to the works of authors with whom I was not familiar ("The Tale of Genji", Wu Ch'eng-en, Tagore, Yasunari, Achebe, Anna Akhmatova). Voth is an excellent lecturer, and he clearly loves his work -- both musts for an excellent course such as this. Is this a detailed study of all world literature? Of course not: such a task would be impossible in only 48 lectures. Consider it more like a tour through the history of storytelling, from the earliest religious texts to Rushdie, sampling specific pieces from some immense buffet of works from around the world. By the time I was finished with this course, not only did I have a better sense of how various literary movements affected writing from one part of the globe to another, but I had a list of new authors and works that I wished to explore on my own.
Date published: 2009-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A 6-Star Course! This is a splendid course -- a perfectly satisfying experience. Of the many fine TTC courses I've enjoyed so far, this one provided the most pleasure. To start, the variety of literature discussed here is impressive. Stories, tales, poetry, novels, and drama are drawn from historic cultures across Europe, the Near East, China, Japan, India, Africa, and North & South America. I thought I was relatively widely read, but boy do I have much to learn. In addition to covering many well-known works, Professor Voth discusses several books and authors I had never even heard of. Secondly, the course is enlightening. Each lecture provides insights into a story's plot, characters, background, or meaning. For several works that I had already read, the good professor offered new points of view that increased my understanding. Other lectures were complete eye-openers. I now am eager to read books that I hadn't been curious about before (not to mention those other works I hadn't known of). My brain is still buzzing from the epiphany moment I had during the professor's analysis of Borges's Labyrinths in Lecture 47. Finally, Professor Voth has a beautiful speaking style -- his words flow like poetry. Listening is a genuine pleasure. Each lecture is packed with information -- concise, focused, and clear. There are no digressions. Every spoken sentence has meaning. There is scarcely a wasted word. I became so caught up in each lecture that I was often surprised when it ended -- the alloted 30 minutes passed so very quickly. Not once did my mind wander, which probably is the highest compliment for a teacher. If I could award six stars, this course surely would deserve it. I recommend these lectures to every person, of any age, with enthusiasm; listening is an experience that might change your life. (And another course by Professor Voth would be very, very welcome!) The audio CDs worked fine for me. happy commuting!
Date published: 2009-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally satisfying The course covers a wide variety of literary endeavors throughout history in a well thought out progression. Professor Voth summarizes the important themes and techniques of each work, and analyzes them in context. I discovered new facets of old favorites and introductions to unfamiliar works. Highly recommended for anyone who has any interest in literature!
Date published: 2009-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from you won't want to leave your car! Professor Voth presents each lecture with passion and humor. He is a true raconteur.
Date published: 2009-02-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Finally a Suvey that Includes Non-Western Sources! Grant Voth is quite a find for the Teaching Company. His love of stories is reflected in his ability to tell and interpret them so plausibly for us. That is a large part of what the Teaching Company is all about. Yet he also leaves room for us to think on our own, by not filling every inch of space with too many ideas and concepts. We can become interested enough to examine the literature on our own, which he heartily endorses at the very end. Grant's 48 lecture course is an incredible effort, to proceed through all of literary history with just one professor. Such previous courses have needed anywhere from five to ten different lecturers in order to provide that kind of range. I seriously doubt if any other them could have stepped in to cover a World Literature course, especially since they were concentrating so much on western texts. Until recently I had thought philosophy courses were the most complicated available from the Teaching Company. When I listened to Louis Markos' course "From Plato to Post-modernism: Understanding the Essence of Literature and the Role of the Author," I realized literary theory was just as complex. Grant Voth does present these complexities in all their glory, but makes them accessible enough to not fear any misunderstandings, and generates a desire for investigating literature on your own. I was dreading the postmodernism lectures, but found a new interest in them not that I understand their perspective more clearly. We can only hope for more encores from Grant Voth.
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of World Literature This is certainly worth the purchase...and the time spend listening and learning. Professor Voth connects the world of literature in one well well choregraphed master work... He enables the student to understand that one piece of literature in one part of the world...is connected to another, somewhere else... I am inspired to read all the works and then some.. Thanks you!
Date published: 2008-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Teaching Company Course I'm a great admirer of the courses produced by the Teaching Company, and this course was absolutely the best I've heard. Professor Voth talks about so many works that are outside of mainstream with such enthusiasm that you want to read them right away. He definitely can hold your interest and attention, I wish he would do more courses for the Teaching Company.
Date published: 2008-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! It motivated me to read outside my normal reading box (Western novels and poem) And explore and enjoy the literature of Japan, India and China
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shed new light on texts previously read and opened my eyes to new works, some of which were completely new to me.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Grant Voth is an excellent lecturer and makes the material come alive.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This wa truly an inspiring course. Grant Voth came across as a brilliant and generous person with enormous understanding.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I enrolled at Monteaey Peninsula College upon retirement. Prof. Voth's Teaching ability got me into Shakespeare and other literature. How fortunate for me and others in my status.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr Voth is a gifted and engaging teacher with a great knowledge and love for his subject.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I was surprised by how much I learned from this course that was very enjoyable as well.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This was an excellent course that contains some familiar works (authors in a comprehensive context and introduced remarkable and unfamiliar works/authors in that cohesive framework)
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a wonderful course taught by an outstanding instructor! From start to finish you won't want to put it down!
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Voth is an outstanding instructor- the best lecturer we have watched so far in our Teaching Company experience.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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