Free Online English Literature Courses To Make You Pass Out



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There is a difference between reading a work and analyzing it critically. We are all used to reading and appreciating published work. The study of English literature covers the part where we analyze, discuss and critically cover the themes of the work. This can include a wide range of work, from fiction to poetry to plays. If you are bored in quarantine and want to be energized with information about your favorite books, you can check out some of the many free online literature courses.

Maybe you just associate literature lessons with reading a dense classic and ease the process by hearing it broken down by an enlightened teacher. Free literature courses, however, offer more range than you might think. They can help you savor poetry and provide context for its glorious metaphors. You can also explore topics like the feminist movement with the help of various published books. Without further ado, let’s see where to find these free online English literature courses and what to expect from them.

Free Crash Courses in English Literature Online

Intensive courses are educational and compact. They contain valuable and insightful information that is delivered over a relatively short period of time. My favorite crash course in online literature is Crash Course Literature started by the Vlogbrothers, John and Hank Green. John Green begins the course by making us think about why we read. He tries to answer them throughout the course by examining the historical context and modern relevance of famous literary works. He talks about these works in an accessible, interesting and engaging way.

Free online literature courses offered by universities


Coursera offers a wide range of English Literature courses offered by universities around the world. Most of the courses are free and accessible in their content. If you want the certification of the course, you can pay the required fees.
Some free and fascinating literature courses that I have come across on Coursera are:

1) Modern and contemporary American poetry offered by the University of Pennsylvania – This course features videos that show actual classroom interaction. Teachers discuss individual poems written by classical poets like Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Students bring their interpretation, perspective and individual understanding to the various works discussed.

2) Plagues, Witches and War: Worlds of Historical Fiction Offered by the University of Virginia – This course provides context for the study of historical fiction. Some famous historical fiction writers discuss their famous works with the teacher during certain modules of the course. Some of them include Fever by Mary Beth Kane and Danish deliverance by Katherine Howe.

You can also check out the free online English literature courses offered by edX.

University websites

Many universities offer top-notch free courses on their course websites. Here is a small list of some of these universities and some of the best English literature courses they offer. Keep in mind that since the courses are free, they cannot be taken for college credit. However, they will pique your curiosity and expand your literary horizons in unexpected ways.

Harvard University:

1) Masterpieces of World Literature – This course explores how literature from around the world intertwines with global culture. He does this with works by Homer, Voltaire, Jhumpa Lahiri, Lu Xun, and more.

2) Modern masterpieces of world literature – This course explores global works that range from medieval tales to contemporary novels. He does so with works by Jorge Luis Borges, Eileen Chang, Orhan Pamuk, and more.

Yale University:

1) Introduction to the theory of literature – This free English literature course helps students think about how approaches such as structuralism, deconstruction, and feminism can be used to interpret literary texts.

2) The American novel since 1945 – In this course, a wide range of works from 1945 to the present day will be explored. This will include works by Richard Wright, JD Salinger, Toni Morrison, Cormac McCarthy, and more.

Oxford University:
Who said that literature courses can only be experienced in the form of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)? Tune in to these incredibly educational podcasts from the University of Oxford!

1) Georges eliot – This podcast consists of three lectures covering his literary reputation. It also explores how its narrative structure relates to classical notions of comedy and tragedy.

2) Fantastic literature – These audio lectures delve into famous authors of fantasy literature including, but not limited to, CS Lewis, Elizabeth Knox, and Susan Cooper.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

1) Popular culture and storytelling: literature, comics and culture – This course studies how more traditional literary texts have influenced comics and vice versa.

2) Reading Fiction: Dysfunctional Families – Take this course to analyze works of fiction through the prism of “dysfunctional families”. This theme is explored through the works of Arundhati Roy, Mary Shelley, James Baldwin, and more.

3) Medieval literature: medieval writers – This course serves as an introduction to medieval European literature from the point of view of women writers. Some of the most famous women of the time such as Hildegarde de Bingen, Héloïse de Paris, Marie de France and Joan of Arc will be studied, as well as others less well known.

4) Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies – The introductory session will talk about black issues and the importance of black languages. The theme will be deepened with works by James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, and more.

Open university

1) Explore Children’s Books: Words and Pictures – The course description says it best: “you will learn how children’s books use words and pictures together in a remarkably sophisticated way to communicate to both young and old readers, drawing on examples from classics, such as that of Beatrix Potter. Tales of Peter Rabbit, and contemporary children’s writers like Anthony Browne, author of Gorilla.

2) Icarus: entering the world of myth – This free online English literature course will introduce you to the classical myth of Icarus and its various tales in later periods.

I hope this article serves as a starting point for you to embark on free online English literature courses that best suit your interests. Go ahead and discover the fascinating literary elements or immerse yourself in the vital role of books in historical movements.

For more resources for your literature exploration, check out our articles: Who Was Virginia Woolf? and 16 stories by Jane Eyre.


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