The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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September 18, 2014

A little learning


Do you ever take classes?  Academic ones? I don't, and I wish I did.  I should. I'm so much the kind of person who would take classes.  :)

I sometimes tell myself that as a reader (and one who reads a reasonably broad range of things), I can 'learn' on my own, without them.  But I'm not sure I have the self-discipline to do that in any deep or organized way.  I also tell myself I don't really have time, though that's probably not a valid excuse either.

I've been experimenting a little with Coursera, and edX, and their online courses -- I wonder if any of you have tried them? -- but (it's that self-discipline thing again) I have yet to follow one all the way through.  Then, over the past year, there were two or three that were really tailor-made for me, and I didn't even manage to start them. I regret that.

Poetry in America, coincidentally taught by a Harvard professor, was one of them, and I'm so glad it's being offered again. The first six-week session started last week, and focuses on the poetry of early New England. So up my alley. We're going to be reading Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor and Michael Wigglesworth (who wrote a poem of 224 stanzas about the Day of Judgment which was so widely and frequently read that  'we have no full copies of the poem was literally read to pieces'). I must have read all of them in college, but I don't remember much about them. I especially like the fact that it seems as though we'll be reading the poems with some attention to their historical and cultural surroundings, which is the way I most like to read things. And I loved this:  there was a little bit of controversy on campus last year because the faculty teaching the actual class asked the students not to ask questions during the lectures so it wouldn't interfere with the filming. Hee hee.  Hold me to this, OK? 
. . . . . . . .

I'm watching The Roosevelts:  an intimate history too, all 14 hours of it.  It's a real time commitment, but it feels like the best kind of homework. I've read a little about Franklin and Eleanor, but I'm realizing I know very little about Teddy.  Are you watching? Isn't it good?



Fleur Fisher said...

I wish I had the time. There was a lovely online course about literature and country houses earlier in the year, but I spotted it too late. If it runs again I will definitely make time.

Cosy Books said...

Oh Audrey, one of these days...but until then I learn all sorts from reading blog posts. Take a peek at the iTunes U app and you will find handfuls of really interesting lectures from the likes of Harvard and Oxford. Best of all, it's free and you can learn while out on a stroll or from the sofa!

JoAnn said...

I investigated Coursera a year or so ago, but that's as far as I got... it's a discipline thing ;-)

Darlene's comment about iTunes U is intriguing. Will check that out later today.

We're enjoying The Roosevelts, too, but are a couple of nights behind now. Had to DVR the Wednesday and Thursday installments.

Bellezza Mjs said...

It is good, the Roosevelt "shows". Of course, I love practically anything Channel 11 (WTTW) presents. I know we can't wait for Downton Abbey to start Season Five! As for classes, I love them, too. Hopefully, I can take a few literature classes at the university of Chicago when I retire. Right now, my days are too full.

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