Teaching Company lectures

March 27, 2007

Along with audio books I listen to on my iPod from Audible, I also listen to a lot of Teaching Company lectures.  I recently finished a series of lectures on The Illiad and The Odyssey by Elizabeth Vandiver, an assistant professor of Classics at Whitman College.  I did this while doing some companion reading, something I do occasionally, by reading Robert Fagles’ translations of the same works (recommended, by the way).  

The Teaching Company offers a variety of lectures on subjects in science, history, philosophy & religion, political science, and literature.  Their customer service is very good and,  important to me in the instant gratification era, offer not only downloadable content but very fast shipping of media via FedEx.  Lectures are usually 30-40 minutes long, and come in CD, DVD, and downloadable format, though there are a few still in-stock lectures on discontinued cassette.  TeachCo offers recommendations for the best listening format in the class summaries.  For example, a DVD format might be recommended for a lecture with lots of maps, pictures, and so on.  For me, DVD format defeats the purpose of mobility in the car, so I usually go with a CD format as most lectures translate well into that format anyway.  TeachCo also provides a small outline booklet, and for additional cost, transcripts.

Teaching Company lectures are expensive at first glance, but if you’re patient enough to wait for a sale as I do — and some are always, always on sale —  they’re generally in the $50-80 range.  A good resale selection can also be found on eBay. 

So far, I’ve listened to Ancient Greek Civilization; From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History; The Ethics of Aristotle; No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life; Thomas Jefferson: American Visionary; Einstein’s Relativity and the Quantum Revolution (DVD); Famous Romans; The Lives and Works of the English Romantic Poets; Buddhism; The World of Byzantium; and, as I said, The Iliad and The Odyssey of Homer.

Currently on the “to do” shelf is a series of lectures on the History of Ancient Egypt, and The Aeneid of Virgil.  I also have Joyce’s Ulysses, and a new series called Emerson, Thoreau and the Transcendentalists, which I plan to listen to while reading Susan Cheever’s American Bloomsbury

And there’s my own lecture for the day.


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