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 extant...it 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?
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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?