How to Read and Understand Shakespeare [TTC Video]

How to Read and Understand Shakespeare [TTC Video]
How to Read and Understand Shakespeare by Marc C Conner
Course No 2711 | MKV, AVC, 1069 kbps, 960x720 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.16GB

Shakespeare—perhaps the greatest literary artist in history—presents a fundamental paradox to his audience. No other Western writer is so celebrated and revered. His plays are seen, read, and studied throughout the world as models of high culture and timeless art. His best-known characters have become mythic symbols in our culture. His poetry and turns of phrase permeate our spoken language. Shakespeare enjoys near-universal agreement among scholars as well as the general public that his works are among the greatest of humanity’s cultural expressions, and that we all should know and understand them.

But appreciating this greatest of writers does not come easily. Simply put, Shakespeare is difficult. His language and culture—those of Elizabethan England, 400 years ago—are greatly different from our own, and his poetry, thick with metaphorical imagery and double meanings, can be hard to penetrate. His theater and the tools of stagecraft available to him can seem quite distant to us. The motives of his characters and the meanings of his philosophical reflections on politics, religion, society, and human relationships are often complex and challenging to reckon with.

Yet, perhaps surprisingly, the keys to understanding Shakespeare are written into the plays themselves. If you can learn to recognize Shakespeare’s own directions to you as a reader and theatergoer—the clues that allow you to engage meaningfully with the playwright’s language, to follow the plot structures and themes that drive his plays, and to track the development of his characters—the plays reveal themselves and become yours for a lifetime of pleasure and meaning.

How, then, do you find these keys to Shakespeare? What are the clues that allow you to truly “get” his great plays—to intimately appreciate their sublime poetry, deeper meanings, and human greatness?

How to Read and Understand Shakespeare, taught by award-winning Professor Marc C. Conner of Washington and Lee University, offers compelling answers to these questions and more, guiding you in an innovative and penetrating exploration of Shakespeare’s plays. He shows you in clear, practical terms how to enter Shakespeare’s dramatic world, to grasp what’s happening in any of his plays, and to enjoy them fully both on the page and the stage.

Interpreting Dramatic Genius

Under Professor Conner’s expert guidance, shaped by decades of studying and performing Shakespeare, you learn a set of interpretive tools, drawn from the texts themselves, that give you direct, immediate insight into Shakespeare’s plays. These guiding principles allow you to follow the narratives of the plays as they unfold, with a clear understanding of how the plays function and fit together. Among them, you learn that Shakespeare’s comedies follow a three-part structure, beginning with a block to love, followed by an escape and a testing of the characters, and ending with a return and reconciliation.

You learn corresponding principles and tools for appreciating his tragedies, histories, and late romances, in an inquiry covering two-thirds of Shakespeare’s dramatic work, including a detailed study of 12 of his greatest plays.

The rewards of the course are both immediate and lifelong—empowering you to grasp the richness and subtlety of Shakespeare’s glorious language, the astounding power of his storytelling, the unforgettable characters that populate the plays, and his visionary insight into the human heart and spirit. These 24 revealing lectures provide the tools that allow you to understand and mine the riches of any Shakespeare play.

Discover the Keys to Shakespeare’s World

Across the span of the lectures, you learn more than 40 interpretive tools that illuminate different aspects of the plays, including these:

  • The Words, Words, Words tool: The most fundamental tool for appreciating Shakespeare. Study the text of Romeo and Juliet, as well as major speeches from many other plays, to uncover and appreciate Shakespeare’s “registers” of language, his use of poetic forms, and his richly metaphorical and symbolic use of English.
  • The Double-Plot tool: In examples ranging from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry IV, Part 1 to The Tempest, see how Shakespeare—in virtually every play—uses the theatrical device of a high (upper-class) plot, contrasted with a low (lower-class) storyline that mirrors or comments on the high plot.
  • The Appearance versus Reality tool: A vital principle for all of Shakespeare’s plays. Highlighting figures including Viola in Twelfth Night, Angelo in Measure for Measure,and Macbeth, Professor Conner shows how Shakespeare’s character-driven narratives hinge on the need to distinguish external appearance from internal reality.
  • The Drama of Ideas tool: Throughout the course, witness how Shakespeare’s plays are filled with serious contemplation of the great questions of philosophy, religion, and politics, as seen in the core theological issues at work in Hamlet, or the ways in which Richard II questions the nature of kingship.
  • The Decisive Third Act tool: As a highly useful structural key, learn to pay close attention to the decisive third act of a Shakespeare play, and see, in The Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, and others, how the third act functions as a pivot point on which the action shifts decisively and the play’s direction is determined.
  • The Arc of Character tool: Observe how Shakespeare’s main characters, from Portia and Hamlet to Falstaff and Lady Macbeth, follow a line of development over the course of a play, such as a movement from ignorance to knowledge, a psychological rise or fall, or an altering of the character’s external role within the story.

Engage with Shakespeare’s Deepest Meanings

As a core strength of Professor Conner’s approach, the interpretive tools bring you into direct contact with the ultimate ends that the plays serve. Critically, you find that one of Shakespeare’s most seminal, underlying themes is that of self-transformation—that while his great comic characters reveal the capacity to reformulate their identities and to balance extreme desires, his tragic plays concern the failure to achieve balance and wisdom.

Through an in-depth study of Measure for Measure, you contemplate Shakespeare’s “problem plays”—those that seem to be neither comedies nor true tragedies—and the significance of these unusual works in his dramatic cycle. Finally, with The Tempest you discover the world of the playwright’s “late romances,” which poignantly reveal his thematic concern with forgiveness, reconciliation, and regeneration.

Drawing on nearly 20 years of teaching Shakespeare, including both literature and drama courses, as well as extensive experience in directing and acting Shakespeare, Professor Conner also reveals fascinating details of the playwright’s era, which shed further light on the plays and on the way his audiences perceived them—aided by archival illustrations, paintings, and maps of Elizabethan London. You learn about the colorful, raucous world of the theater in Shakespeare’s time, how his contemporaries conceived of history, and about the surprising Elizabethan customs of courtship and marriage that help explain Shakespeare’s comic plots.

Enjoy These Great Plays for a Lifetime

For over 400 years, Shakespeare’s plays have enthralled, moved, and enriched each new generation of readers and theatergoers. How to Read and Understand Shakespeare builds the skills that allow you to reach your own understanding of the plays—to deeply comprehend Shakespeare’s transcendent poetic language, the spellbinding world of his great characters and stories, and his revelatory reflections on human experience. The tools you learn are yours for years of enjoyment of these monumental treasures of our culture.

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything [TTC Video]

Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything [TTC Video]
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything by Dorsey Armstrong [TTC Video]
Course No 2133 | AVI, XviD, 986 kbps, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.06GB

For thousands of years, writing has been a powerful way for us to communicate with one another, to share our distinct thoughts and ideas through the power of words. Even in today's technologically saturated 21st century, we still express ourselves in writing almost every single day. And oftentimes, we write to argue our viewpoints, persuade others that we're right, and share our unique experiences and perspectives.

But all writing—whether it's a powerful essay, a persuasive letter, a detailed business report, or an autobiographical story—is at its most effective and memorable when it's built on the fundamental critical and analytical skills that transform your words from "good" writing to "great" writing. Regardless of your subject, your goal, or your occasion, these skills are the heart and soul of engaging and effective writing. They include the ability to

  • organize your thoughts into a coherent piece that never leaves your reader behind;
  • make a persuasive argument rooted in solid facts;
  • draw on the styles and characteristics of various literary genres;
  • make responsible use of research materials and outside resources; and
  • avoid common grammatical errors that could cost you your credibility.

You'll find the secrets to these and other concepts and methods for clear and strong writing in the 24 accessible and practical lectures of Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything. Delivered by Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University—whose work with students involves the art and craft of analytical and persuasive writing—this course immerses you in the elements of successful writing. With its engaging literary and everyday examples, inspirational prompts, and unforgettable insights, Analysis and Critique makes the perfect reference guide for both professional and casual writers.

Five Literary Genres, Endless Insights

One of the essential keys of effective writing: understanding literary genres and the ways their unique styles and characteristics can shape and inform your own voice. Professor Armstrong spends the first lectures of her course guiding you through the five major literary genres and the ways some of their most enduring examples can show you the path to stronger persuasive and critical writing.

  • Fiction: By learning how to actively read a range of short stories and novels by authors including Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, you'll strengthen your ability to understand how a writer creates his or her "voice," and how a writer conveys particular information to his or her audience.
  • Essay: Of all the literary genres, the essay is the richest resource for studying the characteristics of a powerfully written argument. You'll discover how essays such as Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and Henry David Thoreau's "Walden" demonstrate effective strategies for starting, organizing, supporting, and concluding your arguments.
  • Poetry: Somewhat surprisingly, poetry has much to offer nonpoetic writers looking to strengthen their craft—especially its command and flexibility. In examining the work of poets such as William Carlos Williams, John Donne, and e. e. cummings, you'll learn how to tap into the power of figurative language, careful word choices, and dramatic word ordering.
  • Drama: Speeches, conference papers, and other writing intended for oral presentation offer their own set of challenges to everyday writers. By using selected excerpts by William Shakespeare, history's greatest playwright, Professor Armstrong gives you invaluable tips for mastering the art of tone, timing, and delivery of writing meant to be spoken out loud.
  • Autobiography: Writing that draws on your life to achieve a goal or enhance your credibility isn't as daunting as it may seem. Detailed looks at excerpts from autobiographies by Benjamin Franklin, Frederick Douglass, and others offer helpful hints about how much personal information to include, how to take the most effective approach, and more.

Frequently, the lectures are enhanced with writing prompts and practice examples—such as rewriting a passage in five different styles or writing an idea from different narrative perspectives—designed to help you better understand how to use and apply the insights found in these five genres.

Explore the Fundamentals of Rhetoric

From there, Analysis and Critique turns to a series of lectures that focus on the art of rhetoric (the foundation of argumentation) and the ways it can help you adapt your writing to a variety of different situations. And make the most of them.

Rhetorical ideas are so deeply woven into the fabric of Western culture that it's easy to miss out on opportunities to maximize their benefits in your writing. Knowing this, Professor Armstrong not only explains them thoroughly but also shows you how to use them regularly and systematically to make your writing stronger and more persuasive. Some of the most applicable rhetorical concepts you explore in this part of the course include

  • deductive reasoning, a form of reasoning that moves from the knowledge you already have to the knowledge that has yet to be discovered and articulated;
  • commonplaces, which are well-known words and phrases that can easily communicate your theme or topic to your audience; and
  • pathos, which works to inspire emotion in your readers (particularly feelings of sympathy).

The increased awareness of classical rhetoric you gain from these particular lectures will go a long way to helping you become a stronger writer by calling your attention to the basics of compelling analytical writing. You may never use terms like "commonplaces" and "pathos" in your actual writing—but understanding how they work will enhance the importance of what you write and the way you write it.

Get a Step-by-Step Guide to the Writing Process

What about the act of writing itself, which can often be daunting to the most seasoned writer? You can be drafting a work presentation, a cover letter for a job application, an editorial for your local newspaper, or a persuasive letter for a public official—in any case, knowing how to approach the act itself can reap many rewards.

The final section of Analysis and Critique is a fascinating, step-by-step guide through the writing process. With her keen eye for providing helpful strategies and using real-world examples, Professor Armstrong provides answers to frequently asked questions about each of writing's four major stages:

  • Researching: How do you determine what your research goals are? Where should you look for reliable sources of information? How do you narrow your research focus?
  • Writing a First Draft: How long does a productive brainstorming session last? Why is it OK to write a deliberately bad first draft? What are good ways to conquer writer's block?
  • Editing: How long should you wait before you start editing your writing? How can you tell when you've used too many quotations? What grammatical errors should you watch out for?
  • Rewriting: What makes a rewrite different from an edit? What specifics should you pay attention to in rewriting? How do you recast supporting points to better fit your argument?

Writing Made Effective—and Fun

As a university professor with years of experience, the instructor of a general education writing course at Purdue University, and a distinguished editor, Professor Armstrong spends nearly every day in the company of writing—both good and bad. She knows which techniques work and which do not. She knows the common pitfalls, concerns, and fears that most writers have. And she knows just how important effective writing skills are in expressing yourself successfully to others.

But even more important than her experience working with writers and her knowledge of the craft is the way Professor Armstrong makes writing feel like a fun process of self-discovery. Her lectures are always engaging, always accessible, and always filled with information and takeaways that you can use any time you need to write.

So tap into the power of effective writing with Analysis and Critique, and learn what it's like to have a masterful and supportive instructor standing right by your side as you learn the ways to write about practically anything.

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills [TTC Video]

Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills [TTC Video]
Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills [TTC Video] by Steven Novella
Course No 9344 | WMV, WMV3, 640x480 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 9.03GB

What should you think? Who should you believe? Could you be deceiving yourself? These are questions that all critical thinkers of any age must constantly ask themselves. There is no more important skill in today's world than being able to think about, understand, and act on information in a way that is both effective and responsible. Critical thinking transforms you from a passive member of society into an active participant in the ideas and issues of the day. It empowers you to better understand nearly every single aspect of everyday life, from health and nutrition to science and technology to philosophical and spiritual belief systems.

What's more: At no point in human history have we had access to so much information, with such relative ease, as we do in the 21st century. Information is literally everywhere around you; in newspapers and magazines, on the radio and television, and across the Internet. But as the amount of information out there increases, so too does the amount of misinformation. So it's more important than ever before to become a better critical thinker—someone who can analyze and construct arguments and arrive at more sound, more informed opinions. And the key to success lies in

  • understanding the neuroscience behind how our thinking works—and goes wrong;
  • mastering the fundamental skills behind logic, reasoning, and argumentation;
  • avoiding common pitfalls and errors in thinking, such as logical fallacies and biases; and
  • knowing how to distinguish good science from pseudoscience.

All this and more you can find in the 24 rewarding lectures of Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills. Dr. Steven Novella of the Yale School of Medicine—an academic neurologist, award-winning instructor, and public educator—equips you with the knowledge and techniques you need to become a savvier, sharper critical thinker in your professional and personal life. By immersing yourself in the science of cognitive biases and critical thinking, and by learning how to think about thinking (a practice known as metacognition), you'll gain concrete lessons for doing so more critically, more intelligently, and more successfully than ever before.

Explore the Inner Workings of Critical Thinking

Our brains, according to Dr. Novella, are our greatest strength as critical thinkers. But they can also be the source of many weaknesses and impairments in critical thought. In Your Deceptive Mind, you'll take a closer look at the neuroscientific details of critical thinking and how the (often unfamiliar) ways in which our brains are hardwired can distract and prevent us from getting to the truth of a particular matter:

  • The neuroscience of critical thinking: Approach the act of thinking not as some abstract concept but as an action rooted deep within your brain. In clear, easy-to-understand language, Dr. Novella takes you deep inside this powerful organ to examine how you form beliefs, perceive your surroundings, and remember events.
  • Biases and problems in critical thinking: The key to success as a critical thinker lies in understanding the range of biases and problems that can stand in the way of reason and truth. You'll encounter—and learn how to deftly sidestep—fallacies such as retrofitting of evidence, collective wish fulfillment, reliance on "factoids,"and ad hominem arguments.
  • Science and pseudoscience: Knowing how to separate science (the foundation of critical thought) from pseudoscience is of the utmost importance to any well-rounded critical thinker. Here, you'll investigate common examples of pseudoscience that surround us every day—from the denial of established evidence to the belief in grand conspiracies.

Along the way, you'll sample a range of illuminating case studies, experiments, and observations from nutrition, science, technology, mass culture, and even politics; all of which vividly illustrate the core components of (and threats to) responsible critical thinking. These include

  • how purported sightings of UFOs, ghosts, and Bigfoot are, in reality, plagued by a host of cognitive flaws that also reveal secrets about how we all make sense of unexplainable events;
  • how functional MRI scans have demonstrated that different parts of our brain work together to construct an aggregate consciousness and sense of reality;
  • how a 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds so easily incited mass hysteria in listeners and actually convinced them that an alien invasion was at hand; and
  • how reactions to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy illustrate the inherent tendency in human beings to fall into the cognitive trap of grand conspiracies.

Unpack the Critical Thinker's Toolbox

Throughout Your Deceptive Mind, Professor Novella provides you with a critical thinker's toolbox that you can use to better assess the quality of information or to make a more informed decision.

  • The smaller the scientific study, the greater you should be concerned about the potential for statistical noise. Larger scientific studies are often needed for the random effects to average out so that a more reliable answer can be arrived at.
  • While it's important to remember that emotions have an influence on an individual's thought processes, it's dangerous to completely deny them when analyzing information or trying to make an informed decision.
  • Learn to be comfortable with the uncertainty of the world. The truth is that there is no single guarantee of legitimacy when it comes to scientific information, only solid indicators of legitimacy.
  • Be particularly on guard when dealing with controversial subjects frequently covered in the media. The more controversial a topic, the greater the chances are that information about that topic is skewed in one direction or another.

These invaluable tips, techniques, and strategies are only a few of what you'll find in these lectures.

And that's not all. Your Deceptive Mind's greatest strength lies in Professor Novella's delivery and engagement with the material. In addition to being a master teacher, he is an expert on critical thinking and its intersection with science. President and cofounder of the New England Skeptical Society and the host of its award-winning show, The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, Professor Novella has dedicated himself to increasing the public's ability to use critical thinking skills to better navigate the mass of information (and misinformation) in today's highly mediated world.

And the world is only going to get more and more saturated with information. So take the initiative and become better prepared to make sense of it all with this intriguing and rewarding course. While these lectures can't read the news or make decisions for you, they'll undoubtedly give you the concrete knowledge for doing so more intelligently.

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