On Sale Through December 28. Announcing 4 New Releases on Sale Now: Playing Guitar Like a Pro: Lead, Solo and Group Performance, The Scientific Wonder of Birds, Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor.
On Sale Through December 28. Announcing 4 New Releases on Sale Now: Playing Guitar Like a Pro: Lead, Solo and Group Performance, The Scientific Wonder of Birds, Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor.
  • Playing Guitar like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance

    Professor Colin McAllister, D.M.A.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD
    Learn to play like the all-time greats! Master the techniques of some of the world’s most influential rockers, including Eric Clapton and David Gilmour; and jazz pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Antonio Carlos Jobim as Dr. McAllister leads you through a variety of styles, techniques, and musical genres—and non-musicians will treasure the anecdotes and backgrounds of groundbreaking guitarists. Whether you want to play like the greats or simply understand what makes the music you love so unique, this is your chance to experience the guitar in a whole new way.
    View Lecture List (33)
    Learn to play like the all-time greats! Master the techniques of some of the world’s most influential rockers, including Eric Clapton and David Gilmour; and jazz pioneers like Django Reinhardt and Antonio Carlos Jobim as Dr. McAllister leads you through a variety of styles, techniques, and musical genres—and non-musicians will treasure the anecdotes and backgrounds of groundbreaking guitarists. Whether you want to play like the greats or simply understand what makes the music you love so unique, this is your chance to experience the guitar in a whole new way.
    View Lecture List (33)
    33 Lectures  |  Playing Guitar like a Pro: Lead, Solo, and Group Performance
    Lecture Titles (33)
    • 1
      Lesson 1—Hot Lava: Van Halen’s Two-Handed Tapping
      Dr. Colin McAllister begins his second guitar course with one of lead guitar's most extravagant techniques: two-handed tapping. Using an original composition inspired by the legendary Eddie Van Halen, Dr. McAllister teaches this elaborate performance tool hands-on and step by step, in an accessible and easy-to-follow lesson. x
    • 2
      Hot Lava Backing Track—Lead
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 3
      Hot Lava Backing Track—Rhythm
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 4
      Lesson 2—Luna Negra: Soloing like David Gilmour
      Here, Dr. McAllister dissects the unique, blues-influenced soloing style of Pink Floyd's lead guitarist, David Gilmour. Along the way, he'll introduce you to some of the band's fascinating history before outlining two playing techniques: vibrato and string bending. As with the other lessons, it includes backing tracks at the end. x
    • 5
      Luna Negra Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 6
      Lesson 3—Barnhill’s Blues: Going Acoustic like Clapton
      Eric Clapton's concert for the MTV Unplugged series is one of the most famous ever played. In this lesson, you're invited to unplug and play bluesy swing rhythms and learn the Hendrix-inspired playing style that balances both lead and rhythm guitar with just one guitarist in order to help fill out the sound of any single-player performance. x
    • 7
      Lesson 4—Grant Green Street: Funk Rhythm and Licks
      Take a trip to 1970s Detroit and master the sound of Grant Green, a funk and blues guitarist for Blue Note Records whose personal life was as colorful as his talent on the six-string. Learn—and learn about—funk-style chord strumming as well as crosspicking, a melodic picking style partly owing its fame to bluegrass. x
    • 8
      Grant Green Street Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 9
      Lesson 5—Fantasía Ibérica: Celin Romero’s Rasgueado
      Dramatically switching genres, Dr. McAllister approachably demonstrates staples of classical acoustic guitar, including rasgueado, or playing with the fingernails; right-hand arpeggios, planting the right hand’s fingers on strings to nimbly traverse the guitar; pizzicato, or playing with the thumb while palm-muting with the hand’s outer edge; and tremolo, sustaining a note by finger-picking rapidly and repeatedly. x
    • 10
      Lesson 6—Sunday Drive: Leo Brouwer–Style Classical
      Cuban composer Leo Brouwer’s one-of-a-kind Afro-Cuban classical guitar style provides the basis for this remarkable lesson. Interweaving slow playing with rapid hammer-ons and open-string licks, Brouwer’s trademark sound effortlessly switches from easy performance to challenging and back quickly and deftly—and it may have just the flair your next composition is missing. x
    • 11
      Lesson 7—Manitou Swing: Django’s Gypsy Jazz
      Dr. McAllister leads a masterful study of one of the greatest jazz guitarists in history—Django Reinhardt. Perfect the arts of staccato chords, fast vibrato, sliding, and other “Gypsy jazz” elements, and bring Reinhardt’s 1930s and 40s to life on your own six-string. x
    • 12
      Manitou Swing Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 13
      Lesson 8—Anselm’s Caper: Bebopping like Tal Farlow
      Start with George Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” or the theme song from The Flintstones, then increase the tempo and add the frenzied playing of Charlie Parker or Tal Farlow. This is the structure for “rhythm changes” jazz. Don’t worry, Dr. McAllister comes through again with examples, theory, and practical use for the aspiring guitarist. x
    • 14
      Anselm's Caper Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 15
      Lesson 9—Blue 13: Wes Montgomery’s Octave Melodies
      Journey back to the meat and potatoes of improvisational music—the 12-bar blues structure—and spice it up with additional chord progressions and octave-based melodies popularized by jazz legend Wes Montgomery. Fine-tune your thumb strumming and master the style of this legend. x
    • 16
      Blue 13 Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 17
      Lesson 10—Moto Perpetuo: Andy McKee-Style Workout
      Andy McKee’s percussive use of the body of the steel-string guitar, coupled with his right-hand tapping and slapping harmonics, defies categorization. The first guitar sensation on YouTube, boasting 100 million views, Andy’s lovely and unconventional playing led him to open for Prince. Learn several of his innovative techniques today and how to “play outside the box.” x
    • 18
      Lesson 11—Way Beyond: Intervallic John McLaughlin
      Broaden your musical horizons with this lesson inspired by John McLaughlin, a prominent jazz fusion guitarist who featured on Miles Davis’s "Bitches Brew." Dr. McAllister uses McLaughlin as evidence to enlighten the viewer about cross-rhythms, interval-based music, and changing time signatures. x
    • 19
      Way Beyond Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 20
      Lesson 12—Sketch for Barbara: Pat Metheny’s Influence
      This lesson focuses on the modern jazz waltz, utilizing arpeggiated improvisation and cross-rhythms in the vein of Pat Metheny. Metheny is known for his blend of highly technical yet swinging play style in jazz and blues, adding a distinct flavor to each genre—especially during the changing musical scene of the 1970s and ‘80s. x
    • 21
      Sketch for Barbara Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 22
      Lesson 13—Cinq de Blanc: The Police’s Quintal Harmony
      Thanks to guitarist Andy Summers, most songs by The Police are instantly recognizable. His focus on fifth intervals and reggae-style playing gave the band their signature sound, and hits like “Message in a Bottle” and “Every Breath You Take” give excellent context to this study and insight into your own songwriting. x
    • 23
      Cinq de Blanc Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 24
      Lesson 14—Tarsus: Power Arpeggios of Alex Lifeson
      Unleash your inner progressive-rock beast with this Rush-inspired exercise of shifting time signatures, power chords, and crosspicking. The intrinsic and dynamic qualities of the prog-rock subgenre are laid bare here in an easy-paced, digestible format for you to ramp up your technical game. x
    • 25
      Tarsus Backing Track—Lead
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 26
      Tarsus Backing Track—Rhythm
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 27
      Lesson 15—Samba Sonrisa: Playing Brazilian Style
      This lesson covers the lovely subgenre of Brazilian-style bossa nova. Bossa nova, which includes “The Girl from Ipanema,” surged in the early 1960s thanks to guitarist João Gilberto and pianist/composer Antonio Carlos Jobim. They developed its smooth acoustic plucking and syncopation into a cool, slowed samba irresistible to master guitarists. x
    • 28
      Lesson 16—Cumulus: A Tribute to Joni Mitchell
      Dr. McAllister teaches the viewer how to make use of open D tuning and switch between strumming and playing slur-based melodies, enabling him or her to emulate Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. “Cumulus” gives you the opportunity to adapt the full, rich sounds of the legendary artist and the 1960s-70s folk movement. x
    • 29
      Lesson 17—Gog Magog: Bluegrass and Flatpicking
      It’s quicker than a fighter jet and more intricate than an Agatha Christie murder mystery, but you’ve got this! Apply everything you’ve learned so far from this course about hammer-ons and pull-offs (or “slurs”), open notes, speed, and precision to tackle a lightning-fast—and seemingly intimidating—American musical creation: bluegrass. x
    • 30
      Gog Magog Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
    • 31
      Lesson 18—Whisper Creek: American Folk Music
      Ballads of America’s downtrodden. Post-Dustbowl hardships. Empty bottles. It may not seem flashy or glamorous at first glance, but the viewer crosses the finish line with this snapshot of a nation, a people, a time. Complete your journey of guitar edification with folk music—that most humble, somber, and sincere of American working-class genres. x
    • 32
      Bonus Lesson: Echo Park
      American Surf Guitar. Revisit the early 1960s sound of surf rock by freshening up on the rapid picking and steady 16th-note rhythms that dominated the beach. Dr. McAllister shows you how to play like Dick Dale and The Beach Boys, while enlightening you about everything from the Rendezvous Ballroom fire to Brian Wilson's nervous breakdown. x
    • 33
      Echo Park Backing Track
      Practice playing along with this backing track. x
  • The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales

    Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    No matter what you are hoping to discover in this magnificent region, The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales is the perfect guide. Taught by acclaimed Professor Patrick Allitt, a British-born scholar who teaches at Emory University, these 36 engrossing lectures give you an insider’s take on traveling through Great Britain.

    View Lecture List (36)

    No matter what you are hoping to discover in this magnificent region, The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales is the perfect guide. Taught by acclaimed Professor Patrick Allitt, a British-born scholar who teaches at Emory University, these 36 engrossing lectures give you an insider’s take on traveling through Great Britain.

    View Lecture List (36)
    36 Lectures  |  The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales
    Lecture Titles (36)
    • 1
      Welcome to Britain
      See why Great Britain offers so much as a travel destination. From thousand-year-old castles and cathedrals to contemporary art museums and scenic hikes, there is something for everyone. Begin your tour with a look at the scope of all Britain has to offer-and a few off-the-beaten-path ideas for getting to know England, Scotland, and Wales. x
    • 2
      Prehistoric Britain
      Great Britain's history begins 5,000 years ago with a mysterious ancient people whose only vestiges are earthworks and stone circles like Stonehenge. Because of Stonehenge's massive popularity, you may want to consider visiting other ancient ruins such as Avebury or Maiden Castle. x
    • 3
      Roman Britain
      The next era in Britain's history is the Roman conquest. In the first century B.C.E., the Romans invaded and spread their territory to the Anglo-Scottish border. There, Hadrian's Wall marks the edge of the empire. Consider the Roman impact on Great Britain, from the city of Bath to the island's long, straight roads. x
    • 4
      Anglo-Saxon and Viking Britain
      After the Romans left Britain, a number of Germanic tribes stepped in to fill the power vacuum. With the help of the Venerable Bede and other contemporary sources, explore the Anglo-Saxon conquests. Then turn to the Viking attacks in the Middle Ages. Be sure to add Offa's Dyke and the monastery of Lindisfarne to your travel itinerary. x
    • 5
      Britain's Medieval Castles
      Medieval castles and cathedrals are some of the most striking sites in all of Britain. Here, survey the development of castles built between 1066 and 1500. As you reflect on the evolution of the stone keep and outer wall, concentric design, and more, your tour takes you to such crowd-pleasers as Tower of London, Caerphilly in Wales, Dover Castle, and more. x
    • 6
      Britain's Medieval Cathedrals
      Like the medieval castles, Britain's cathedrals are astounding sites and an absolute must for any visitor to the island. Here, Professor Allitt explores the major milestones in cathedral architecture, from the Romanesque style of Durham Cathedral to the gothic style of Canterbury. He also takes you to the world-renowned Westminster Abbey. x
    • 7
      Tudor Britain
      From the end of the Wars of the Roses in 1485 to the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, Britain experienced severe political upheavals. Among other events, Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church to found the Church of England. Witness how the era's architecture-including Hampton Court Palace, Hardwick Hall, and Sulgrave Manor-reflected the political turmoil. x
    • 8
      Magna Carta and Civil War
      Continue your study of the political shifts during Renaissance Britain, a period when kings were gradually forced to share power with Parliament. This tension broke bounds in the 17th century, when Charles I, defeated in a civil war, was beheaded at the Banqueting House in London. After Oliver Cromwell's quasi-military dictatorship, the crown was restored to Charles II-but political tension persisted. x
    • 9
      Enlightenment Britain
      Some of the greatest sites in Britain today are products of the Enlightenment. Delve into some of Christopher Wren's architectural achievements, including the Royal Observatory and the splendid St. Paul's Cathedral. Then move beyond London to explore the great country estates of Kedleston and Calke Abbey. x
    • 10
      Industrial Britain
      Britain was home to the Industrial Revolution, driven by advancements in textiles, coal mining, and iron. Tour the country to see some of the monuments to industry, including Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, and the Big Pit in the South Wales village of Blaenafon. Visit and travel on the nation's canals and railways from the same era. x
    • 11
      Victorian Britain
      Victorian Britain is a fascinating architectural period, which witnessed a revival of many older styles, culminating in the Neo-Gothic. Visit such masterpieces of the Gothic Revival as Manchester Town Hall, St. Pancras Station in London, and the Museum of Natural History. Then tour Kensington, where the Royal Albert Hall commemorates Victoria's husband. x
    • 12
      20th-Century Britain
      Conclude your survey of British architecture with an overview of the 20th century-a period when, according to Professor Allitt, some of the nation's worst buildings were constructed. The early part of the century saw striking achievements, such as Arts and Crafts style country houses, but the post-World War II era was an age of Brutalist concrete, from which we are only just escaping today. x
    • 13
      Edinburgh and Glasgow
      Scottish nationalism is one of the more intriguing phenomena in today's headlines. Here, look beyond the news reports to investigate Scotland's two great cities: Edinburgh and Glasgow. While giving you a tour of the cities, Professor Allitt also introduces you to some of Scotland's most famous figures, including Walter Scott, Adam Smith, and David Hume. x
    • 14
      Wild Scotland: Beyond Edinburgh and Glasgow
      Continue your tour of Scotland with a look beyond the cities. You'll visit the Scottish Highlands, which is the least densely populated part of Europe, and explore the great history of this wild land. Your investigation takes you to the tragic and beautiful valley of Glencoe; the Spey Valley, a mecca for Scotch whiskey lovers; and the beautiful Scottish islands. x
    • 15
      North Wales
      Shift your attention to the other country within the nation. Beginning with Offa's Dyke and touring a ring of castles-including the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Conwy Castle and Harlech-this tour of North Wales is an ideal introduction to the Welsh landscape, history, and heritage. x
    • 16
      Cardiff and South Wales
      Head south to the capital city of Cardiff, where impressive civic buildings and the National Museum of Wales await you. The architecture of this city is magnificent, and offers much to see, from the polychromatic fantasy rooms of Cardiff Castle to the dome over the National Museum. Then turn to the South Wales towns of Tredegar and Swansea, home of Dylan Thomas. x
    • 17
      The North of England
      England is a nation of regions, and the wild Pennine Hills in the north-Wuthering Heights country-is one of the must-see stops in your travels. Here, cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, and York were industrial dynamos in the 19th century-and the National Railway Museum in York is one of Professor Allitt's top-rated destinations for visitors. x
    • 18
      The English Midlands
      You might be tempted to skip the English Midlands, but if you have the time in your itinerary, the region has much to offer. Home to Josiah Wedgwood's pottery, quaint villages, and Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest, the Midlands have a fascinating heritage and offer an incomparable look into the British story. x
    • 19
      East Anglia
      Continue your survey of the great regions of England with a look East Anglia. A rural district that has inspired nature lovers and scientists for generations, East Anglia is also home to stately country houses such as Blickling and Houghton Hall and country towns like Norwich. This quiet region warrants at least a day's visit. x
    • 20
      England's West Country
      Look now to the dramatic landscape of the West Country. The sleepy villages of Somerset and Dorset give way to the colorful towns of Devonshire and Cornwall, which has become a magnet for visual artists. The hilltop island church of St. Michael's Mount and the ancient fortress of Tintagel should not be missed. x
    • 21
      The Museums of London
      In this lecture, trade the calm of the country for the bustle of the city. Professor Allitt takes you to some of the world's finest museums, including the British Museum, home to the controversial Elgin Marbles, once plundered from the Parthenon in Athens. You'll also visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery, and the Tate Modern. x
    • 22
      London's Streets and Parks
      Learn how to navigate London by tube and foot. Go inside the underground stations and learn why the tube is the best way to get around the city. Above ground, discover the urban retreats of Regent's Park and Hyde Park, and the shopping hub that is Regent Street. With so many museums, parks, and attractions, London has never been a more interesting and fun city to visit. x
    • 23
      Buckingham Palace and Parliament
      Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament are two of the most popular tourist destinations, and they embody the government of Great Britain. See why these buildings are such a draw, learn about their architecture and renovations over the years, and reflect on the nature of Britain's constitutional monarchy. x
    • 24
      Oxford and Cambridge
      Step away from teeming London into the famous university towns of Oxford and Cambridge. Both house venerable academic institutions, each with its own distinct mood and atmosphere. Learn about some of the famous graduates from each university, and tour a sampling of their beautiful chapels, libraries, rivers, and gardens. x
    • 25
      Literary Britain: Chaucer and Shakespeare
      Great Britain is home to one of the world's great literary traditions-and literature is a terrific way to frame your tour through the island. In this first of four literary lectures, reflect on the work of two of Britain's most-prized poets, Chaucer and Shakespeare. Retrace the pilgrims' path of The Canterbury Tales, visit Shakespeare's Globe Theatre beside the River Thames, and more. x
    • 26
      Literary Britain: The Romantics
      Continue your literary journey through Britain. From the great Scottish writers Walter Scott and Robert Burns to Wordsworth's evocative descriptions of the Lake District, the Romantic writers of the 18th and 19th centuries created an enduring mood and style that still resonate today. Also tour the quiet villages where Jane Austen worked and the Jurassic coast at Lyme Regis. x
    • 27
      Literary Britain: Poets and Novelists
      Shelley, Keats, and Byron are three of the world's finest poets, and their work is steeped in the history and landscape of Britain. Reflect on the land that inspired their finest works, and then turn to the world of the Bronte sisters in the North and Charles Dickens in the South, whose novels evoke not only the land but also the people of the 19th century. x
    • 28
      Literary Britain: The 20th Century
      Round out your study of British literature with a survey of the 20th-century masters. Check out the Baker Street of Sherlock Holmes, visit the rural Dorset villages of Thomas Hardy, and then pop over to Bloomsbury in London to see where Virginia Woolf and her comrades created a new kind of literature. x
    • 29
      Artistic Britain: Painters and Sculptors
      Britain has a distinguished artistic tradition along with a set of museums that house many of the world's greatest visual masterpieces. Examine the lives and works of some of the great painters and sculptors, including William Hogarth, Joseph Turner, Thomas Gainsborough, Henry Moore, and Barbara Hepworth. x
    • 30
      Britain's Estates and Gardens
      Because of its mild and wet climate, Britain is well suited for flowers, and England has a proud history of gardening going back to the 1500s. In this visually rich lecture, tour some of the most stunning gardens in the nation today, including the Botanic Garden at Oxford University; Kew Gardens in London; and others, grand and obscure, throughout the provinces. x
    • 31
      Legacy of the British Empire
      From the 17th through the 20th century, Britain's empire spanned the globe, giving this small island an outsized role on the world's stage. But while Britain was making an impact in India, New Zealand, Canada, and elsewhere, these nations were having an impact on Britain. Explore the ethnic and cultural diversity in Britain today. x
    • 32
      Seafaring Britain
      Britain became a world power thanks to its domination of the seas in the 18th and 19th centuries. Visit the historic dockyard in Portsmouth, where you can see some of the ships that helped put Britain on the map. Then discover some of the less well-known but equally impressive ports and ships, plus some of Britain's many coastal lighthouses. x
    • 33
      Britain's War Memorials
      As a world power, Britain fought many wars-which it has commemorated in many ways. Among other memorials, this lecture takes you to Blenheim Place (commemorating the Duke of Marlborough's defeat of a great French and Bavarian army in 1704) to Trafalgar Square in London (with its memorial to Horatio Nelson), to Hyde Park Corner (the best place to see war memorials in England), and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. x
    • 34
      Hiking England, Scotland, and Wales
      While you need a car, train, or boat to get a comprehensive tour of Britain, arguably the best way to explore the nation is by foot. England, Scotland, and Wales are home to some of the best hiking paths in Europe, from the Lake District that inspired the Romantic poets to the Southwest Coast Path to the demanding Pennine Way trail up the spine of northern England. x
    • 35
      Britain's Sporting Tradition
      Soccer, cricket, tennis, golf: These sports were invented in Britain and play a major role in the nation's culture today. Whether you are a rabid Man United nut or occasionally enjoy a match at Wimbledon, Britain has something for every sports fan-and the timing of sporting events may be something to consider when planning your great tour. x
    • 36
      How to Think about Visiting Britain
      Tourism is a good test of self-knowledge: Why do you want to travel in the first place? While Britain is an ideal place to travel, it behooves you to spend a few minutes reflecting on why you want to go there so that you plan the most meaningful trip. Professor Allitt ends with a few practical tips to help you get the most from your travels. x
  • Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor

    Professor Steven Gimbel, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    In the 24 insightful and—yes—humorous lectures of Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor, Professor Steven Gimbel guides you through philosophical theories of humor, from blatantly obvious puns to sly twists of language. Rooted in the observations of thinkers like Aristotle and Sigmund Freud, this course will leave you with a stronger appreciation of the jokes you tell and the jokes you hear.

    View Lecture List (24)

    In the 24 insightful and—yes—humorous lectures of Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor, Professor Steven Gimbel guides you through philosophical theories of humor, from blatantly obvious puns to sly twists of language. Rooted in the observations of thinkers like Aristotle and Sigmund Freud, this course will leave you with a stronger appreciation of the jokes you tell and the jokes you hear.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Take My Course, Please! The Philosophy of Humor
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Universality of Humor
      Starting with the first “joke” most of us experience (“peek-a-boo!”), explore the underlying nature of humor in different cultures and at different times in our lives. Consider whether or not humor is culture-dependent, and how societies view humor as both an expression of life and a mark of vice. x
    • 2
      The Objectivity of Humor
      Most people would say that humor is subjective, but this claim is entirely false. In this lecture, Professor Gimbel explores the objectivity of humor by first considering what philosophers mean by “objectivity,” then by drawing several important distinctions between the subjective and objective notions of laughter, funniness, and humor. x
    • 3
      The Science of Laughter
      Consider some thought-provoking questions about laughter and its relationship with humor. What happens in the brain to trigger laughter? What environmental factors make it more likely for us to laugh at something? Why do human beings develop the ability to laugh? What social functions are served by our laughter? x
    • 4
      Truth and Humor
      Jokes aren't intended to be statements conveying new information about the world-and yet they can be true. Start building a clear definition of humor by examining the relationship between truth and humor, rooted in the four main philosophical accounts of truth: correspondence theory, coherence theory, pragmatism, and subjectivity. x
    • 5
      Comedy and Tragedy
      We’re told that “comedy equals tragedy plus time.” Here, probe the fascinating relationship between comedy and tragedy. Central to this lecture is Aristotle’s Poetics (in which tragedy and comedy are distinct forms) and the ideas of Arthur Asa Berger (who sees comedy as a reaction to a tragic world). x
    • 6
      Irony and Truth
      Perhaps the place where humor and philosophy most strongly overlap is with the notion of irony, and, in fact, a lot of humor employs irony. From the ancient Greeks to the ironic humor of the present day, consider how irony can make humor not just silly—but profound. x
    • 7
      Satires, Parodies, and Spoofs
      Visit a corner of the world of humor that takes itself very seriously: satire. Topics include ancient Greek satyr plays; the philosophies of satire put forth by Horace and Juvenal; Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal (one of the most famous modern works of satire); and the relationship between satire, parody, and spoofs. x
    • 8
      Stop Me If You've Heard This One: Jokes
      Most of the work involved in the philosophy of humor centers around jokes: speech acts whose structure and mechanisms are easy to see. Professor Gimbel guides you through some of the many logical mechanisms used to generate verbal humor, including accidents, burlesque, facetiousness, stereotypes, and more. x
    • 9
      Theories of Humor
      Begin your search for a theory of humor with an introduction to the philosophical methodology best suited for the task: analytic philosophy. This methodology, as you’ll learn, seeks rigorous and clean accounts of what we mean by the words we use—so we can tell which questions are real questions. x
    • 10
      Superiority Theory
      When we tell a joke, we're making fun of someone or something. In this lecture, investigate superiority theory: the view that humor is the expression of one's superiority over another. Consider ideas put forth by thinkers like Plato and Hobbes, as well as possible arguments against this theory. x
    • 11
      Inferiority Theory
      Inferiority theory, which is the inverse of superiority theory, posits that we find humor funny because we’re bringing ourselves down mentally to the level of the butt of the joke. Is this idea successful as a humor theory? Is it necessary—or sufficient? Find out in this lecture. x
    • 12
      Play Theory
      What makes play theory unique among humor theories is that humor is not in the joke (or the reaction to the joke) but in the relationship between joker and audience. Humor, as you'll learn, can be seen as a sort of play that makes for a well-lived human life. x
    • 13
      Relief Theory
      Turn now to relief theory (or release theory), a purely response-side theory of humor that focuses on how humor affects the mind of the listener. Thinkers you'll turn to for a better understanding of this include the Reverend Francis Hutcheson, Sigmund Freud, and contemporary philosopher Robert Latta. x
    • 14
      Incongruity Theory
      Take a poll of contemporary philosophers of humor and they'll overwhelmingly say they support the incongruity theory. Learn how this particular theory takes as its central concept the incongruity of two things that don't connect with one another, and how it helps us understand how verbal jokes work. x
    • 15
      Cleverness Theory
      Here, analyze Professor Gimbel's own theory of humor, called the cleverness theory. According to this theory, humor is a conspicuous act of playful cleverness in which there's no necessary connection between humor and laughter, and jokes can be used to make yourself attractive, to distract from the truth, and more. x
    • 16
      Humor Theory Revisited
      Take a more holistic view of the six different approaches to humor theory you examined in earlier lectures. Using a joke that introduces the lecture, Professor Gimbel walks you through how each humor theory would account for the humor of that particular joke to arrive at a possibly synthetic idea of humor theory. x
    • 17
      Humor Ethics: Boundaries and Limitations
      Is there a moral responsibility to think about when we tell a joke? Are there rules to joking? Are there only jokes certain people can tell, or times and places where joking is wrong? Can joking be a morally good act? These and other questions are the subject of this lecture. x
    • 18
      Who Can Tell Ethnic Jokes?
      In this lecture, take into philosophical consideration ethnic jokes, or jokes that have as their butt an entire group. Are they always impermissible? Are they just jokes? Are they only sometimes allowed? Work through the arguments for several versions of each possible stance, making the best case for each. x
    • 19
      Comic Moralism
      Some philosophers argue the morality of telling a joke depends on how funny it is. Others believe the funniness of a joke depends on its morality. Explore the quandary of comic moralism with a close look at three types of positions: comic moralists, comic immoralists, and comic amoralists. x
    • 20
      Situational Ethics and Humor
      Investigate three ways in which the situation may be relevant to the morality of joke-telling. You’ll consider the ideas of a comedic “waiting period” for a joke, the ethics of places where jokes are morally forbidden (like funerals), and topics that some philosophers consider to be ethically off-limits. x
    • 21
      The Necessity of Humor
      Ponder the notion of whether humor is not just good but necessary to human life. Using the work of thinkers like Kierkegaard, examine whether we’re wired for humor, and how the necessity of humor depends upon the picture we have of the human soul—or the human mind. x
    • 22
      Comedian Ethics
      Professor Gimbel offers possible answers to these questions about comedy as an art form: What are the moral differences when a joke is told by someone hired to entertain us? Should we hold comedians to higher moral standards, or do they get a longer moral leash because of their profession? x
    • 23
      Socially Progressive Comedy
      Another way to look at humor is as a (possibly skewed) instrument of change, a tool of liberation, and a means of progressive activism. Study the history of American humor as a way confront oppression and to humorously expose the inequities of society. x
    • 24
      Ridiculousness and the Human Condition
      Is it true that laughter is the best medicine? Conclude the course with the relationship between humor and living a good life. Using insight you've gained from previous lectures, consider how to think of humor as a medication allowing you to live your life to the fullest as a biological being. x
  • The Scientific Wonder of Birds

    Professor Bruce E. Fleury, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Accompanied by exceptionally rich visuals, from vivid color images and diagrams to video clips of bird behavior, animations, and moving graphics, The Scientific Wonder of Birds unfolds as a thrilling and many-sided panorama of avian life. Ultimately, this course offers you remarkable insight into some of the most beautiful and extraordinary of living creatures.

    View Lecture List (12)

    Accompanied by exceptionally rich visuals, from vivid color images and diagrams to video clips of bird behavior, animations, and moving graphics, The Scientific Wonder of Birds unfolds as a thrilling and many-sided panorama of avian life. Ultimately, this course offers you remarkable insight into some of the most beautiful and extraordinary of living creatures.

    View Lecture List (12)
    12 Lectures  |  The Scientific Wonder of Birds
    Lecture Titles (12)
    • 1
      Birds and Dinosaurs: The Origin of Flight
      Begin by contemplating the integral connections between birds and dinosaurs. Examine mounting evidence that birds not only evolved directly from dinosaurs, but also they are themselves dinosaurs. Consider how bipedal reptiles gained the ability to fly, becoming birds, and how the cursorial (from the ground) and arboreal (gliding) theories of the origin of flight may intersect. x
    • 2
      Birds and Boeings: The Magic of Flight
      Delve into the fascinating aerodynamics of bird flight. Grasp how a bird's wings operate as an airfoil; study the forces of lift, weight, thrust, and drag, and how birds take off, land, and glide. Then explore the astonishing properties of bird feathers, as they control speed, altitude, and direction. Learn about the structure, the types, and the many roles of feathers in bird behavior. x
    • 3
      Burning Bright: Avian Adaptations for Flight
      Discover the remarkable physiological features of birds that undergird flight. First, note how and why feathers evolved. Then, investigate the high metabolism of birds—they must burn energy at an astounding rate. See how birds are adapted for flight by many weight-reducing factors, and how their respiratory, circulatory, and excretory systems, as well as heightened senses, keep them airborne. x
    • 4
      Orientation, Navigation, Migration: Bird Road Trips
      Take account of the miraculous feats of navigation performed by birds, as they migrate huge distances with amazing accuracy. Uncover the ways in which birds use visual landmarks, magnetic fields, Sun position, and the position of constellations in their migratory travels. Consider why birds migrate, the diversity of their migration patterns and habits, and the perils of these epic journeys. x
    • 5
      Bird Brains: Tool Wielders and Snack Stealers
      Humans have tended to underestimate the intelligence of birds. Examine the structure of the avian brain and the extraordinary forms of intelligence birds show, such as memory, complex spatial mapping, and ingenious strategies in food foraging. Observe the role of instinct in bird behavior, their astonishing use of tools, and how bird behavior is correlated with the seasons. x
    • 6
      Birds of a Feather: Flocking and Foraging
      Track the intriguing behavior of birds when they form flocks or colonies. Grasp the diverse benefits of group foraging, and how birds form mixed-species foraging flocks. Investigate group roosting and breeding behavior, and study fossil evidence that suggests some dinosaurs nested just like modern wading birds. Assess why birds form colonies and investigate the advantages and perilous disadvantages of the colonies. x
    • 7
      Avian Turf Wars: Defending a Territory
      Witness the complex nature of competition among birds. Study “display” behavior, which sends a message regarding territory, courtship, or perceived threats. Observe the ways in which birds defend territory, for breeding and feeding, nesting and roosting. Note how territorial defense is highly ritualized and uses a series of recognized signals, and how birds’ territoriality enhances survival. x
    • 8
      Bird Songs and Calls: Music with a Message
      Explore the multifaceted phenomenon of birdsong, distinguishing between birds' songs and calls. Grasp the physics of song/call production, and how some birds can actually sing two songs at once. Learn about the innate versus the learned components of birdsong, how birds need to practice and perfect their songs, and the amazing variety of the individual and social functions of birdsong. x
    • 9
      Avian Mating: Lady's Choice
      Compare models which may explain female birds’ choice of mates. Observe how females “test” potential mates and how males provide a basis for choice, through courtship displays or offering prime territory. Study the intricacies of avian monogamy and polygamy; take account of pair bonding in birds, extra-pair mating, sexual role reversal, and the avian equivalents of “adultery” and “divorce.” x
    • 10
      Avian Mating: Singles Bars and Bachelor Pads
      Investigate three forms of avian polygyny, where one male mates with several females, and the factors that make it a useful adaptation. Then discover “leks,” courtship arenas where males compete for mates, and witness the dramatic courtship displays of some male birds. Marvel at the Australian bowerbirds, who build elaborate, decorated structures whose only purpose is to attract a mate. x
    • 11
      Nests and Eggs: A Home in the Sticks
      Learn how birds mate; then examine the structure of bird eggs, how they are laid, and how laid eggs develop. Observe how nests are constructed, the diverse materials used to build them, the types and functions of nests, and the range of ingenious avian nesting behavior. Finally, explore how birds incubate their clutch, and study brood parasites, who lay eggs in the nests of other birds. x
    • 12
      Parental Care: Bird Family and Friends
      Close with a look at the hatching process and the contrasting conditions for altricial chicks (born naked and helpless) versus precocial chicks (born ready to leave the nest). Delve into how birds feed their young, and the process of educating fledglings for life in the wild. Study the adaptations of siblicide (nestlings killing each other), unmated young who help raise broods, and avian communal breeding. x