Archive for March, 2012

Title: The History of English in Ten Minutes

Provider: The Open University

A funny series of videos about, as the title states, the history of English. It is truly brilliant. The first time I’ve listened to it I literally laughed out loud – loud enough for my friends to stare at me. For me it is especially great because it outlines the history, while at the same time providing examples – and surprising ones, too!

The only drawback is that the podcasts can be a bit difficult for non-english speakers. Covering the whole history of English in 10 minutes is a challenge and it shows in the way the speaker rushes through the text. Fortunately there are transcripts available on the site.

Enjoy ūüôā

by Izabela


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Title: Marxism – Thomas Docherty

Speaker: Thomas Docherty

Provider: Warwick University

The podcast comes from a series entitled “Modes of Reading: Theory” and was very helpful to me. In a class on literary theory I’m taking at my home University we’ve been talking about Marxism and it’s useful to have broader perspective. It was just what I needed to complete my understanding of the subject. Professor Docherty goes over Marxism thoroughly and in a clear and understandable way.

The ideology is discussed on many levels – life, literature and history. For me personally the fact of the podcast is that you cannot look at the text and ignore the author and the cultural background from which the text comes. It does not mean that you should analyse the material through the author as in psychoanalysis, but you cannot escape the ideology of the times he or she was born in. Professor Docherty gives the example of the brilliance of Shakespeare. And yet, with all his outstanding skill he could not have written anything like Beckett – simply because certain ideas, like nihilism, with which the latter is concerned, didn’t exist yet. Even if I do not completely agree with Marxism, this example speaks to me – I cannot deny it’s logic.

It was a great supplement to my classes. A fun and easy way to learn. It is especially great because you cannot always read in a bus – but you can always listen to your mp3 or iPod. As for the quality of the recording it is mostly good, if a little to quiet, so you better use your headphones. And of course it would be nice to see the handout he often refers to, but fortunately it is not necessary to understand the whole lecture.

I can wholeheartedly recommend the podcast, especially to my fellow students at the Institute of English Studies at the University of Warsaw.

by Izabela

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Title: “The Canterbury Tales: Prologue

Speaker: Luke Reinsma

Provider: Seattle Pacific University

I’ve stumbled across the podcast while being lazy – I was supposed to read the complete prologue of “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer and thought that it would be much easier to listen to it. In hindsight it was a bit silly, but now I’m glad – if not for my laziness I would have never heard Middle English. It was from lack of better word amazing – I listened to the first part stunned into silence. I can honestly recommend the recording to anyone who wants to listen to Middle English. You can’t expect to understand much, but it’s fun all the same. It will not be very useful to many people – for me it was barely understandable, but awe-inspiring all the same. Enjoy!

by Izabela

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Title: “Old English: An introduction”

Speaker: Dr. Stuart Lee

Provider: Oxford University

The aims of the course (as in the presentation by Dr. Lee):

  • ¬†Introduce basics of Old English – the language, literature, and culture
  • ¬†Promote an Enjoyment of Old English
  • Point the importance of Old English

This is actually the first series of lectures I have stumbled upon and I’m absolutely¬†stunned. It is delivered in “the finest English faculty in the world” as proclaimed by Mr. Lee¬†himself. The lectures are available both in audio and video, and you can also download¬†the slides. Never in my life have I thought that old English is something that I may be¬†interested in, but Dr. Lee proved me wrong. It is a fascinating series of five lectures about¬†Old English, but not only about the language itself, but about poetry, prose, culture and on¬†the whole the period when it was used.

The lectures are all well structured – Mr. Lee’s presentations remind me of prof.¬†WiŇõniewski’s style – a lecturer at my home university. They are easy to follow and provide a solid base of knowledge about¬†Old English and Anglo-Saxon culture. A plus is, of course, Mr. Lee’s beautiful accent.¬†Since I’m only a first-year, I’m not really an expert but I think he’s pretty close to RP (Received Pronunciation) – so¬†by listening to the lectures you do not only learn about Anglo-Saxon but also improve your¬†accent.

The lectures:

  • 1st – “An Introduction to Old English” – a general introduction, people’s preconceptions¬†about the Anglo-Saxon and the actual truth: when, who, where, what and of course –¬†“why is it so important” – to quote one of the slides.
  • ¬†2nd – “Old English Language” – analysis of literature
  • 3rd – “Old English Poetry” – examples of poetry – more thorough analysis of some poems,¬†oral culture – visualising how the poetry was presented and what was the role of the bard
  • 4th – “Old English Prose” – first documented english ¬†texts in prose
  • 5th – “Old English Then and Now” – how are the Anglo-Saxons portrayed in modern culture

I really hope that it will help someone out there Рand if not help, that someone will be as enamoured with English language, culture, and literature as I am. Anyone?

by Izabela

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