I had the opportunity (we’ll call it) to embark on a lovely, 10/11 hour drive back home from Kansas City yesterday, and in between listening to a couple of Crooked Media podcasts and complaining loudly to myself about my disappointing dinner (I was looking forward to it so much, and it –– both the food and the service –– was so not what I needed, seven hours into the drive), I listened a few lectures from one of those Great Courses, you know, the ones that all start with the classical music (I CAN NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIND).
Anyway, I’m listening my way through Jewish Intellectual History: 16th to 20th Century, and – holy shit, how is it $130 on there? Thank God for the library. Anyway, I’m listening to this class and it’s super fun. Hard, mind, to keep focused on it occasionally (like when a deer decides to run across Highway 2 in the dark), but I do enjoy lectures and learning, and this topic is going nicely with my reading project, and is, in fact, giving me many more books to add to the list (which is both a blessing and a curse).
I’d listened to the first half of another ‘Great Course,” Mystical Tradition: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam last summer during my “trip,” and enjoyed that as well.
I don’t know that I’d ever pay for them, though all of the so called “Great” courses I’ve ever listened to were from the library, the only Great Courses lecture books I ever read were also from a library (albeit the small library in my high school history teacher’s room). I’m fine that they charge for these, in truth: I want people, even tenured professors who probably don’t need the money from this (though maybe they pay them a lot? I assume it’s nominal, which is why I’m writing it like that, but maybe it’s rather a lot?), to be paid for their work. I like it when people are paid. But they’re a bit like undergraduate survey courses (which I think is the point), which means that you’ll get something, but not really much in-depth (maybe I just haven’t found the right ones?). Anyway, this kind of information is what libraries are for.
I took a Victorian Lit class with a wonderful professor (who my girlfriend at the time accused me, perhaps correctly, of having a huge crush on), and we had to do project using materials from the special collections for our final paper. It was a cool-ass project, even in my effort in that class was perhaps less than what it should have been (sorry, Dr. Fox, I had some other shit going on that semester).
As a part of our “Intro to the Special Collections” in the library, one of the head librarians explained not only what the special collections were, how they came to be, etc., (which was all news to me at the time), but also that librarians considered themselves “generalists,” knowing a little bit about a lot of things. And I loved that (see, “#iamnotspecialized,” also, I apologize for all the intra-linking today).
So the Great Courses are great so far as general knowledge-building, and libraries are great ‘cause libraries, therefore getting Great Courses at libraries is the best (because I think they charge a lot, but then, I am also not very wealthy, and maybe they’re trying to get wealthier listeners than me).
p.s. – I couldn’t remember what the background music for the intros was, and I sat on the Great Courses help line for over 20 minutes while writing this post to ask them what it was. As of this writing, I am still waiting on the line. EDIT: I gave up.