Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature [TTC Video]

Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature [TTC Video]
Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature by Thomas A Shippey
Course No 2192 | WMV, WMV3, 640x360 | WMA, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 10.59 GB

Heroes hold a special place in our imagination. Names such as Odysseus, Beowulf, and Queen Guinevere summon up mythic legends, while Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and Huckleberry Finn are some of the most recognizable figures in all of world literature. Robinson Crusoe and Elizabeth Bennet are as real to us today as they were when Daniel Defoe and Jane Austen first created them. Meanwhile, Frodo Baggins, Harry Potter, and Lisbeth Salander are heroes for our age and the legends of the future.

What do these memorable characters have in common? Why do we turn to certain stories again and again? And what impact have they made on world history? The answers to these questions tell us more than you might think. Great heroes have lasting power because they offer templates for behavior by showing us models of courage and fortitude. Whether by reinforcing traditional values or challenging values in flux, heroes reflect the mores of society. Some, such as Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s abolitionist novel, have changed the course of history, while others have inspired countless leaders, writers, and artists.

Heroes and Legends: The Most Influential Characters of Literature is an incredible opportunity to study some of the most memorable and important characters ever created. Taught by Professor Thomas A. Shippey of Saint Louis University—one of the most well-known scholars of J.R.R. Tolkien—these 24 eye-opening lectures give fresh insight into familiar characters and a generous survey of characters we may be less familiar with. We think we know Robin Hood, for instance, but where does his story originate? What made the medieval outlaw popular, and how has he been rewritten for modern times?

Delve into original sources and explore the notable impact of these characters on world history. Get an inside glimpse into the writer’s process and see how authors “write into the gap” to flesh out—or, in some cases, reimagine altogether—old stories, making them new for new readerships with changing cultural values. In Professor Shippey’s words, you’ll “trace the buried power lines of great and successful fiction.”

What does it mean to be a hero?

The word “hero” might bring to mind a strong, fearless warrior who swoops in to save the day. You’ll investigate several of these “traditional heroes,” and by examining what makes them such compelling characters, you’ll see how they provide a window to better understand ourselves.

  • Beowulf, the oversized monster slayer, is a model for the modern-day superhero, yet as he ages—and weakens—the epic poem treats us to a poignant look at vulnerability and the process of attaining wisdom.
  • Sherlock Holmes has a narrow-minded, self-centered, addictive personality, but he also gives us a new sense of human potential. He gives us the chance to outguess him—to see more clearly, to gather more information, to deduce faster.
  • James Bond allows us a certain kind of wish fulfillment: Men want to be him, and women want to date him. But beneath the charisma is a wounded and complex character.

Beyond these traditional heroes—strong, smart, glamorous—this course introduces you to other models of heroism. Characters who are meek, frail, or poor might run counter to our expectations for what makes a hero, but they play an important role in our imaginative world. For instance, you will

  • study Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, whose sexual autobiography perhaps makes her the first complex woman in literary history;
  • see how Sancho Panza’s role as an “antihero” deepens the story of Don Quixote;
  • consider the heroic qualities in Celie, the impoverished and abused protagonist of Alice Walker’s The Color Purple; and
  • reflect on what Harry Potter has to teach us about heroism.

What do heroes tell us about our culture?

Heroes and Legends gives you the chance to study a diverse spread of characters from the beginnings of world literature through today’s bestsellers. In addition to exploring the core of what makes a character successful, the breadth of this course provides a window on our shifting cultural values—and the way historical circumstances pave the way for certain heroes.

Perhaps the best example is Frodo Baggins, the meek hobbit hero of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. In his opening lecture, Professor Shippey explains how, after the horrors of global war, the world was waiting for a down-to-earth hero, someone called to duty rather than born strong and fearless.

Throughout the course, you will analyze stories through the lens of culture and find out how our changing culture and values affect our sense of what makes a good hero, and how our heroes reflect the mores of our society.

  • Trace the way different cultural eras have viewed Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot, from medieval admiration through Victorian prudery to modern sympathy.
  • Look at the relationship between love and romance on one hand and money and social class on the other in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
  • Reflect on Robinson Crusoe and the geography of undiscovered lands.
  • Revisit the American frontier and see what heroes such as Natty Bumppo (from Last of the Mohicans) and Woodrow Call (from Lonesome Dove) tell us about the myth of the Wild West and Manifest Destiny.

Just as history shapes heroes, so, too, do heroes shape history. From creating narratives that define a nation to redefining our sense of self and our relationships, great heroes have changed the course of history. Professor Shippey surveys a wealth of memorable stories, helping us understand why such heroes were necessary and how they continue to influence us today.

  • The mythical journey of Aeneas created a cultural history for ancient Rome and helped define its new imperial image.
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe furthered the abolitionist cause with her saint-like Uncle Tom.
  • Winston Smith, the unlikely hero of George Orwell’s 1984, reinforced the need for vigilance against state control.
  • Writers such as Angela Carter who rewrote fairy tales in the 1970s constructed a new morality better suited for modern times.

Storytelling at Its Finest

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the course is that it covers the high and the low. Rather than employing the traditional academic approach to “theme” and “symbolism” and dense critical language, Professor Shippey is interested in story, with its entertainment value and memorable characters.

As such, he covers some canonical favorites—Homer, Virgil, Chaucer—but he also gives considerable attention to characters often ignored in academia, such as the “New Romancers” of the late 19th century and the fantasy writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The result is an enjoyable approach to the great stories across the ages.

At the heart of the course is Professor Shippey himself, a charming, top-notch storyteller who is as engrossed in (and moved by) these stories as we are. But as a true authority on his subject, he offers a unique viewpoint and fresh insights to every lecture, making this course a memorable—and moving—experience.


Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition [TTC Video]

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition [TTC Video]
Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition by Grant Hardy
Course No. 4620 | M4V, AVC, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | 11.91GB

Western philosophy is a vast intellectual tradition, the product of thousands of years of revolutionary thought built up by a rich collection of brilliant minds. When most of us study philosophy, we're focusing only on the Western intellectual tradition brought about by people such as Aristotle, Descartes, and Nietzsche. But to understand the Western intellectual tradition is to only get half of the story.

Just as important, and just as valid a contribution to philosophy, is the Eastern intellectual tradition. Eastern philosophy is also the product of thousands of years of thought and was also built up by a distinct group of brilliant thinkers. Among these are

  • the Buddha,
  • Confucius,
  • Gandhi, and
  • Zarathustra.

Their ideas demonstrate fascinating, wholly different ways of approaching, understanding, and solving the same fundamental questions that concerned the West's greatest thinkers, such as

  • the existence of God,
  • the meaning of life,
  • the nature of truth and reality,
  • the organization of government and society,
  • the significance of suffering, and
  • the roots of a well-lived life.

To explore Eastern perspectives on these issues is to embark on an illuminating journey into the heart of grand, but often unfamiliar, civilizations. It's also a thought-provoking way to understand the surprising connections and differences between East and West, and to strengthen your knowledge of cultures that play increasingly important roles in our globalized 21st-century world.

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is an epic, comprehensive survey of the East's most influential philosophers and thinkers. In 36 lectures, award-winning Professor Grant Hardy of the University of North Carolina at Asheville introduces you to the men and women responsible for molding Asian philosophy and for giving birth to a wide variety of spiritual and ideological systems, including Hinduism, Daoism, Confucianism, Sufism, and Buddhism. By focusing on these key thinkers in their historical contexts, you'll witness the development of these rich traditions as they shaped and defined Eastern cultures through the rise and fall of empires, the friendly and hostile encounters with each other and with the Western world, and the rapid advancements of the modern age.

Eastern Philosophy Made Clear

When compared with the West, Eastern philosophical thought is much more inextricably linked with spiritual concepts and beliefs. To help you make sense of the unfamiliar nature of Eastern philosophy and its strong ties with spirituality, Professor Hardy has organized this course into four basic parts.

  • Part One traces the origins of Eastern philosophy in the cosmological and theological views that arose in India and China beginning around 1200 B.C., including Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, and Daoism.
  • Part Two explores the famous developers of legalism, Mahayana and Chinese Buddhism, yoga, and other intellectual schools that emerged during the age of early Eastern empires and built on the foundations of the past.
  • Part Three focuses on the great thinkers who flourished starting in the early 12th century, many of whose schools of thought—including Sikhism, Vedanta Hinduism, and Neo-Confucianism—revolutionized cultural notions of society, aesthetics, and faith.
  • Part Four delves into the modern era, when the convergence of East and West spurred the development of philosophical beliefs that became even more politicized and blended with independence movements and that reacted to ideologies such as Communism and capitalism.

In most lectures, Professor Hardy focuses on two key individuals, often taking a comparative approach to their lives, their views, and their legacies on various schools of thought. The result is a learning experience that makes a seemingly intimidating stretch of time and a diverse cast of characters approachable and understandable.

Throughout your chronological journey, you'll spend a majority of time among the three major countries that form the core of the Eastern intellectual tradition, exploring their unique philosophical themes and spiritual paths.

  • India: The concepts of reincarnation, cosmic justice, and liberation; a focus on logical analysis and direct insight (often achieved through yoga or meditation); the union of religion and politics; and more.
  • China: A constant appeal to the past in guiding the present; practical views that highlight harmony, balance, and social order; a keen appreciation of the cycles of nature; a form of politics that balances legal constraints with personal ethics; and more.
  • Japan: The adaptation and transformation of Confucianism; a distinct philosophy of aesthetics; a focus on group identity and consensus; an openness to adaptation from the Western world; and more.

You'll also travel to places like Korea, Tibet, and Iran, exploring their own contributions to the East's grand philosophical dialogue.

Meet Familiar—and Unfamiliar—Geniuses

So who exactly are the greatest minds in Eastern philosophical thought?

While there are probably too many to count, Professor Hardy focuses on several dozen major figures who have had the greatest impact on Asian intellectual history, and whose influence has often extended beyond cultural borders.

"I am confident that the great minds who have been included in this course will give you a basic understanding of Asian intellectual history and a good foundation for further studies," he says.

Among the many sages, mystics, poets, revolutionaries, critics, novelists, politicians, and scientists you encounter in Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition are some you may have heard of before but have never gotten an in-depth introduction to.

  • Zarathustra: This ancient Persian priest was the father of Zoroastrianism, a belief system that spread throughout the near East and parts of the West. Zarathustra's greatest insight was that the universe is characterized by dualism, with good and evil locked in a cosmic conflict in which individuals must choose one side or the other.
  • The Buddha: Born Siddhartha Gautama around 563 B.C., the Buddha achieved a profound state of enlightenment after meditating under a bodhi tree. Although he retained classical ideas from Hinduism, he sharply differed from it when he taught that nothing has a soul and that any grasping at permanence ends in suffering and failure.
  • Confucius: A contemporary of the Buddha, Confucius is the most significant philosopher in Chinese history. He developed a program for lifelong moral growth that would influence the culture for more than a thousand years. Confucius saw the answer to the increased violence and lawlessness of his society as rooted in the social standards of sages, not revelation.
  • Gandhi: Best known for the concept of satyagraha (nonviolent resistance), this Indian independence fighter changed his philosophical ideas over time in response to particular situations. His overarching goal, however, was a more humane way of life based on self-government, self-sufficiency, and a deep connection to one's community.

Many of the great minds in this course will undoubtedly be new to you, but despite their unfamiliarity, you'll learn that their lives and views held just as profound an influence on the course of Eastern philosophy and history. Four of the many figures you'll come face to face with are

  • Ashoka, the Indian ruler and Buddhist convert whose role in the spread of Buddhism is similar to that of Emperor Constantine's in Christianity;
  • Prince Shotoku, one of the most admired individuals in Japan and author of a 17-article constitution that, unlike the U.S. Constitution, was a list of moral injunctions on leadership;
  • Patanjali, the Indian philosopher who developed yoga as a means not for stress reduction or flexibility but for people to escape life's suffering and achieve spiritual liberation; and
  • Nanak, a contemporary of Martin Luther who became the first Sikh guru and taught that salvation comes when the soul, after cycles of reincarnation, is finally united with the One God.

A Powerful Gateway into Eastern Thought

Professor Hardy is renowned for his expertise on Eastern culture and his passionate teaching skills. The University of North Carolina at Asheville honored him with its distinguished Teacher Award for the Arts and Humanities Faculty, and named him to a prestigious Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship. Whether he's describing the tiniest evolutionary change in Japanese philosophical schools, unearthing the hidden pearls of wisdom in ancient Chinese koans and poems, or breaking down the complexities of the Hindu pantheon, Professor Hardy is an authoritative guide who will no doubt intrigue and enlighten you.

Often regarded as impenetrable, Eastern philosophy is surprisingly more accessible (and sometimes more familiar) than you may have imagined. And Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition is a powerful gateway into a unique collection of customs, ideas, beliefs, and attitudes—and the brilliant individuals responsible for them.

Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition [TTC Video]

New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System [TTC Video]

New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System [TTC Video]
New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System by Frank Summers
Course No 1823 | AVI, XviD, 720x544 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.47GB

In recent years, cutting-edge telescopes, satellite imaging, and unmanned spacecraft have led to a fascinating series of discoveries that have changed our picture of the Sun and the family of objects that orbit it—including Earth. This new perspective has grown out of many intriguing findings such as these:

  • The reclassification of Pluto as a dwarf planet, one of countless icy bodies—and not even the largest—in the outer solar system
  • The 2005 landing of the Huygens probe on Saturn's moon Titan, which revealed a bizarre world where liquid methane acts like water does on Earth: falling as rain, carving channels in the landscape, and collecting in lakes
  • One of the largest radiation and particle storms from the Sun ever recorded, which blasted interplanetary space in 2003 and offered a vivid demonstration of the ferocity of space weather
  • The detection since the 1990s of several hundred planets orbiting other stars, allowing us to compare for the first time our solar system with other planetary systems

New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System is a visually stunning and richly detailed investigation of what we know about the solar system today. Illustrated with insightful diagrams, amazing computer animations, and scores of spectacular images from telescopes and spacecraft, these 24 lectures show you a new and exciting way to view our celestial neighborhood—all under the guidance of astrophysicist and top astronomy educator, Dr. Frank Summers from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

Welcome to the 21st-Century Solar System

Often cited as the most profound change in our view of the solar system, the Copernican revolution of the 16th century proposed the philosophical shift that Earth and the planets orbit the sun instead of the universe revolving around Earth, as appeared to be the case from our vantage point.

But Dr. Summers, whose work at the STScI's Office of Public Outreach presents the findings of the Hubble Space Telescope and developments in general astronomy to the public through various media and educational outlets, suggests another candidate for the biggest change in our views.

"I think the space age is the most important epoch," he says. "It brought us new ways to observe the solar system in more wavelengths with bigger telescopes, new ways to analyze with better data and faster processing, and also a new way to explore, both with robots and with our own eyes."

Remodeling the Solar System

Not only does New Frontiers allow you to see the solar system with fresh eyes, it also offers you a new model to serve as an organizing guide. Gone is the familiar diagram you find in many old reference books depicting the Sun and nine planets forming a neat, straight line. Dr. Summers provides key points as to why this perspective is so outdated:

  • A straight-line alignment of the planets occurs only every three quadrillion years—600,000 times the present age of our solar system!
  • The distances between planets and their relative sizes compared to the Sun are wildly out of scale.
  • Most importantly, there is so much more to the solar system than just these 10 objects.

You discover what Dr. Summers, an expert astrophysicist who headed the development of exhibits for the opening of the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space, calls the "21st-century solar system." He suggests that, instead of a straight line, the solar system is best seen as a bulls-eye with six concentric circles, each of which represents the six families of objects in our solar system. Working outward from the center, you have the following alignment:

  • The Sun: The only star in our solar system.
  • The rocky planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Composed of rock, they are close to the Sun and have few or no moons.
  • The asteroid belt: A band of small, mostly rocky bodies between Mars and Jupiter.
  • The giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Orbiting far from the Sun, these large planets have gaseous atmospheres, rings, and moons.
  • The Kuiper belt: The region beyond Neptune now known to be the reservoir of the short-period comets containing mostly icy bodies (including Pluto).
  • The Oort cloud: The reservoir of the Sun's long-period comets, located almost a quarter of the way to the nearest star.

The Usefulness of the Modern View

This modern view of the solar system is useful in many ways. Foremost, it provides you with a bigger picture of the solar system, organizing and classifying its objects based on similar characteristics and offering a better understanding of how they are grouped and structured.

In addition, it underscores the enormity of the solar system. Not only is the recently discovered Kuiper belt object Eris larger than Pluto, its orbit takes it almost twice as far from the Sun. The Oort cloud extends 500 times farther than Eris.

Another advantage to this new model is that it tells you the story of the formation and evolution of the solar system:

  • Rocky planets formed near the Sun, where it was too hot for ices and gases to condense.
  • Asteroids populate a zone where planet formation was disrupted by Jupiter's gravitational field.
  • Jupiter and the other giant planets accreted in the region beyond the "frost line," where gas, ice, and rock were all available.
  • The icy objects in the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud coalesced in the super-cold, low-density conditions beyond Neptune.

With a better grasp on this new picture of the solar system, you explore the space-age solar system as we now know it. This approach is comparative, reflecting the way that planetary science is conducted today: where the same phenomena are examined in all their variety from world to world. You consider these and other examples:

  • Craters: These are found throughout the solar system. On the moon, craters can be dated to reveal a period of bombardment following the formation of the solar system. On Earth, one recently identified crater is thought to be the smoking gun in the demise of the dinosaurs.
  • Weather: Weather on other planets can be markedly more severe than weather on Earth. Jupiter has a gigantic, centuries-old storm that could swallow several Earths, and the air temperature on Venus is more than 460° C.
  • Moons: Moons are rich worlds unto themselves. Among the seven large and 160 small moons, our moon is unusual in that it is one-quarter of the size of its planet. Computer simulations show that it probably formed when a Mars-sized body smashed into the forming Earth.

Get Breathtaking Views

New Frontiers is illustrated with the many exhilarating views of the solar system afforded to us by continued advances in space technology. Indeed, there is no better guide for this visually rich journey than Dr. Summers, whose own work with scientific imagery (in the Academy Award–nominated IMAX film Cosmic Voyage and the IMAX short film Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time) reflects a deep understanding of and passion for the role that visualizations play in comprehending our universe.

From the celebrated rovers on Mars and the Galileo probe orbiting Jupiter or Cassini at Saturn to the lesser-known missions studying asteroids and comets, the pictures taken from ground-based observatories, space telescopes, and satellite missions help give you a clearer idea of just how critical the technological advancements of the space age have affected our views of the solar system. They also reflect the profoundly sublime nature of its diverse characteristics.

Fittingly enough, the course ends with a stunning movie from the Messenger spacecraft as it left Earth on its mission to Mercury—a movie that captures our slowly rotating planet growing ever smaller and that demonstrates a truly breathtaking new perspective on our solar system.

It is a perspective that continues to evolve as astronomers peer further into our galaxy and continue to explore the hundreds of planetary systems discovered around other stars. The stunning point of view on display in New Frontiers shows you just how much more there is to uncover about your true place among the stars.

following alignment:

  • The Sun: The only star in our solar system.
  • The rocky planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Composed of rock, they are close to the Sun and have few or no moons.
  • The asteroid belt: A band of small, mostly rocky bodies between Mars and Jupiter.
  • The giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Orbiting far from the Sun, these large planets have gaseous atmospheres, rings, and moons.
  • The Kuiper belt: The region beyond Neptune now known to be the reservoir of the short-period comets containing mostly icy bodies (including Pluto).
  • The Oort cloud: The reservoir of the Sun's long-period comets, located almost a quarter of the way to the nearest star.

The Usefulness of the Modern View

This modern view provides you with a bigger picture of the solar system, detailing the story of the formation and evolution of the solar system and organizing and classifying its objects based on similar characteristics, offering a better understanding of how they are grouped and structured:

  • Rocky planets formed near the Sun, where it was too hot for ices and gases to condense.
  • Asteroids populate a zone where planet formation was disrupted by Jupiter's gravitational field.
  • Jupiter and the other giant planets accreted in the region beyond the "frost line," where gas, ice, and rock were all available.
  • The icy objects in the Kuiper belt and Oort cloud coalesced in the super-cold, low-density conditions beyond Neptune.

Get Breathtaking Views

New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System is a visually stunning and richly detailed investigation of what we know about the solar system today. Illustrated with insightful diagrams, amazing computer animations, and scores of spectacular images from telescopes and spacecraft, these 24 half-hour lectures help give you a clearer idea of just how critical the technological advancements of the space age have affected our views of the solar system. The stunning point of view on display in New Frontiers shows you just how much more there is to uncover about your true place among the stars.

New Frontiers: Modern Perspectives on Our Solar System [TTC Video]

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