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Introduction to Great Books

Learn about great books/core curriculum education, what makes a great book great, how to read a great book, and more.
5.0 (4 ratings)
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98 students enrolled
Created by David Clemens
Published 11/2013
$15 $20 25% off
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  • 3.5 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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This course consists of eight video Lessons lasting around four hours. Introduction to Great Books is for anyone wishing to learn more about great books/core curriculum education, the difference between reading and viewing, what makes a great book great, how to read a great book, and more.

Who is the target audience?
  • Any adult student can understand the concepts and discussions.
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What Will I Learn?
By the end of the course, students will be able to explain concepts such as "great books," "great ideas and perennial questions," and "the great conversation."
View Curriculum
  • Ability to read and comprehend first year college materials.
Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 8 Lectures Collapse All 8 Lectures 03:41:33
My Lectures
8 Lectures 03:41:33

Lesson One presents the history of the Great Books/core curriculum approach to higher education and answers such questions as: Who advocated for Great Books? What was their reasoning behind such a course of study? What conditions led them to their conclusions. Included are John Henry Newman, Edward Yeomans, and Robert Hutchins.

Preview 28:17

Lesson Two briefs you on how the act of reading itself differs profoundly from watching, a cognitive shift with sociological implications comparable to the move from oral communication to typographic communication.

The Cognitive Style of Reading

This Lesson answers the question posed by author and University of Virginia Professor Mark Edmundson in his book Why Read?

Why Read?

Lesson Four answers the most common and vexing Great Books question--how do you decide that any book is "better" than any other book? Who is to say? Based on what?

What Makes a Great Book Great?

Lesson Five argues that reading Great Books is essential to the preservation of a democratic way of life. Northwestern Professor and translator Clare Cavanagh argues in Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics that a form of political resistance is Soviet-controlled Eastern Europe was . . . lyric poetry because it assumes a unique, inner, private self beyond the reach of the State.

Great Books and Democracy

Critics of Great Books and core curriculum education are legion. They make several accusations about Great Books: that they are elitist, racist, sexist, irrelevant, and so on. We examine each objection and provide a response.

Answering the Critics

Reading is in many ways unnatural and must be learned. Reading challenging texts is even harder. Lesson Seven takes you on a journey through Mortimer Adler and Charles van Doren's timeless advice about how to take on a daunting book.

How to Read Great Books

Lesson Eight provides a discussion of one particular great book, Herman Melville's Billy Budd. Certainly, you would profit from reading Melville's "inside narrative" first but you can also benefit from my observations about this masterpiece.

Billy Budd, Billy Budd
About the Instructor
5.0 Average rating
4 Reviews
98 Students
1 Course
Founder and Coordinator of the MPC Great Books Program

David Clemens, BA and MA in English from Sonoma State University; MPC, 1972; former chair, CTA/NEA/CCA Tenure and Academic Freedom committee; Region 3 Co-Director of the English Council of the California Two Year Colleges (2010-current); Modern Language Association Delegate Assembly, Special-Interest Delegate for Two Year Colleges (2013-2016); Chair of Monterey Peninsula College Academic Freedom Committee; published in Academic Questions, Teaching English in the Two Year Colleges, Informal Logic, inside english, Chronicle of Higher Education, San Jose Mercury, San Francisco Chronicle, CCA Advocate, Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers Forum on Reading at Risk; blogger for the National Association of Scholars (NAS), frequent contributor to NAS and the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy’s Clarion Call; founder and coordinator of the MPC Great Books Certificate Program; Apgar Foundation Grants Director 2009-2012; Colloquium Director, “Imaginative Freedom and Political Freedom” with Mark Edmundson, Clare Cavanagh, Mark Bauerlein, and Zachary Mason (2011); Colloquium Director, “Great Books and Democracy” with Robert Pinsky, Victor Davis Hanson, and Dana Gioia (2010); Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006); subject of Monterey County Weekly cover story, "Big Ideas" (2005); named Monterey County Weekly’s “Best Reason to Go Back to School” (2004); Faculty and Staff Advancement Grant (2011); George Faul Academic Excellence Grants (2003-2011); Future Teachers "Outstanding and Inspirational Teacher Award" (2004); California Teachers Association WHO (We Honor Ours) Award;appearance in Indoctrinate U (film, 2008); interviewed on The David Gold Show (radio, 2000), Our American Heritage (TV, 2009), College Connection (radio, 2009), Your Town Radio and TV Program ( TV 2009), and by author Bruce Bawer for The Victims’ Revolution on identity politics in higher education (2010); (2009); The National Association of Scholars (2009); The Monterey County Weekly (2009); Monterey Herald (2008); California Educator (2008).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

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