What Are The Great Courses?
The Great Courses are online university-level courses designed for lifelong learning, taught by renowned professors and scholars. These video and audio-based courses have been around for some time, pre-dating the rise of online courses and educational resources on YouTube and other such platforms. The Great Courses cover a huge breadth of topics, from science to philosophy, languages to food and wine courses.
Unsurprisingly, I have always been drawn to their history course selection — particularly the British history titles. I purchase the courses through Audible and listen to them on my phone while at home or in the car on longer drives. The audiobook page on Audible itself then has the relevant course materials and PDFs for download. Considering the length of the courses and the cost per course, I find the Audible monthly price to be a good deal for these (the prices on The Great Courses’ website are much higher). However, I am intrigued by the company’s own app, The Great Courses Plus, and may have to give that a try.
Stirling Castle, Scotland (2018)
The Best History Courses from The Great Courses
I have listened to this course twice now. Through twenty-four lectures, the course goes through the history of the Celtic-speaking peoples, touching on major historical events, art history, the evolution of language, and how this interacts with contemporary politics.
My most recent audiobook from this series, this is a particularly timely course considering the current pandemic. If you are looking for a bit of hope for future culture and society, this course discusses how society grew after the plagues of the Middle Ages. I particularly enjoyed the discussion of women in the Renaissance throughout the course, which covered women of all social standing, from the common people to the upper classes.
Part of a three-part series covering the whole of the Middle Ages, this particular course covers 1300 to 1500. The series discusses not only the Black Death, major wars, the structured social hierarchy, and historical personalities, but also the development of Humanism.
This course focuses on the daily human experiences of society and culture in the Middle Ages. If you are interested in learning about how the common people lived, this is a fantastic option. In order to illuminate such daily life, this course regularly offers literature from the period to offer insight.
Doune Castle, Scotland (2018)
Spanning over 200 years, this course covers 1485 to 1714. It illustrates the development of a feudal system into “the first modern society”. As Mary Stuart is my favorite historical figure, the title of this course obviously drew me in. While she certainly plays a role, the course did not fixate on her. Overall, though, it was very interesting to hear more detail about how these two dynasties ebbed and flowed.
The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest, Professor Jennifer Paxton, Ph.D
The same professor from The Celtic World, this medieval history course covers a thousand-year period of history in England. I particularly enjoyed the way this course weaves the role of legend with the historical record. It focuses on a chronological evolution of the Medieval period and is easy to follow.
Linlithgow Palace, Scotland