Visions of Paradise

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Teaching Company

While reading fiction is my first love, I do enjoy nonfiction too, although I find less time to squeeze it into my reading schedule (although hopefully that will improve now that school’s out forever, to paraphrase Alice Cooper ☺)

While I tend to avoid audiobooks for fiction, because I enjoy reading the book myself, I am less picky about nonfiction. Thus I have joined The Teaching Company which sells lecture series by college professors. There are so many fascinating lecture series in various categories, but the ones which interest me tend to be in history and archaeology. So far I have ordered 5 series from them: Ancient Greek Civilization (24 lectures on 4 DVDs), The Civilization of Ancient Rome (48 lectures), Early Middle Ages (24 lectures); High Middle Ages (24 lectures), and Late Middle Ages (24 lectures).

I’ve started viewing the Ancient Greek Civilization series, which are simple lectures delivered by Professor Jeremy McInerney of U Penn. The early lectures discuss the Minoan culture on Crete, its height during the Bronze Age and its subsequent fall which precipitated what McInerney calls “the Long Twilight,” akin to the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Roman Empire two millennia later.

From there he goes into the re-emergence of Greek culture and the development of the well-known city-states. While the series might not be appealing to people who prefer video documentaries with lots of images and/or re-creations, for somebody who enjoys getting most of their learning from books, this is fascinating stuff which I highly recommend.

Each series comes with a bibliography which serves as a recommended reading list, but the lectures inspired me to go to the website where I researched the areas which particularly interested me in each lecture.

If the idea of a lecture series right in your living room appeals to you, go to and check out which categories interest you. I am certain you’ll find several that you will enjoy.


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