Monday, March 02, 2009

Yale without the homework

I bookmarked this site some time agomaybe after seeing notice on Kevin Levin's blogand tonight I took a little time to investigate. Yale is offering this free, introductory course from Professor David Blight spanning the entire Civil War era, antebellum through Reconstruction. I am intrigued by how various top-flight historians choose to condense such a monstrous topic into a series of distinct lectures, each with a beginning and an end. In this case I have high hopes for many succinct summaries of Blight's unique analysis, but will settle for an utterly masterful synthesis of the work of others. Short of that, I'll give thanks for a series of refreshing naps. It's a win-win, and the price is right.

Someday I'll check out the 48-part lecture series by Gary Gallagher, on sale at the teaching company for $250 (audio download) or DVD ($519), but if I had a few hundred extra bucks in my pocket today, I'd have bought a
Kindle by now.

In the meantime, this series of lectures by Professor Blight is just what the doctor ordered.
Back in October of 2007, I posted a blog entry on iTunes U, highlighting the selection of complimentary downloads from various prominent universities giving something back to the community. I'm sure the offerings have grown considerably by now, and the "Open Yale Courses" series is probably listed there. You can also download directly from the Yale site. I love the flexibility they offer with high bandwidth (500 MB), medium bandwidth (200 MB), and simple audio MP3's (60 MB).

Tooling down the freeway with the volume cranked up on lecture 21, "Andrew Johnson and the Radicals," is just about as nerdy as you can get with digital media, but someone's got to do it. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? [click on the image below for a more readable view]

From the Yale site:

About Professor David Blight

David W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including A Slave No More: Two Men Who Escaped to Freedom, Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory (for which he received the Bancroft, Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass prizes), and Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War. He is also the co-author of the bestselling American history textbook, A People and a Nation.

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