Free College Literature Courses Anyone?

Hey everyone, I’m still working on sorting out when and how exactly to talk about my own writing, and what I want to talk about in the way of writing advice, but as it says this blog will discuss reading, writing, and whatever else is on my mind, so today I’m going to talk to you about something to do with reading.

College is expensive. Which I suppose is a lot like saying the sky is blue, or water is wet. It’s pretty obvious that in the year of our Lord, 2016, college is a helluva investment that might make a desperate student wonder about selling a kidney on the black market. You do have two after all! All kidding aside, any college is going to cost you a chunk of change which means a lot of people, and perhaps even you, Dear Reader, went to college with the mindset of studying something that will get you a job, but not something you’re “passionate” about. Welcome to the sweet, sweet feeling of having your life dictated to you by the fickle whims of society and an unstable marketplace, better known as “adulthood.” But maybe you actually wanted to study something like English, or literature, or you’re at least interested in those topics, but don’t want to shell out thousands of dollars to learn about them. Where does that leave you?

Well, thanks to the internet and the helpful donations (I think that’s the proper word) of dozens of professors and writers you too can get some of that information for free. If you click here you’ll be taken to Better Yourself Online and in this case the page you’ll be taken to is 60 free courses on literature from participating universities. And no, these aren’t questionable “universities” like “the University of Dave” or “My Mom’s Basement College of Fine Arts,” they are universities like Yale, Washington College, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Oxford, among others. I mean, they have a course on Shakespeare from Harvard! The courses on Creative Reading are done by WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS (which, if you’re a literature nerd like me is super exciting), and the course on Creative Writing is a ton of writing advice from major writers of the 20th and 21st Centuries.

And don’t worry, it’s not just umpteen different courses about Shakespeare, there is a huge variety. Want three separate courses about each book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy? It’s there. Actually, there are NINE courses dealing with the works of JRR Tolkien, so if you’re a fan of his work then you are set. But wait, there’s more! (as they say in the TV business) Is science fiction more of your thing? Yep, it’s there. How about modernist writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, or Fitzgerald? You’re covered (all at once). How about some literature after 1945? Got it. Without getting exhaustive in this post, my point is there is enough to satisfy pretty much everyone (Sorry, no Harry Potter erotica fanfic courses though. But who knows? Check back in 50 years and maybe there will be something.)

Now granted, these are free courses, which means your mileage may vary in terms of quality, (I haven’t gone through every one of the courses because hey, I’ve got a life too), but I did start watching the “Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner” course from Yale and it seems pretty promising.

“But Adam, what’s the point of listening to college lectures and reading these books if I don’t get an actual degree out of it?” Valid question, but isn’t the point just to become more knowledgeable about an area you are already interested in without paying? And if you aren’t interested in literature, then why the hell are you still reading this post?! It’s not like I’m gonna start talking about something else this far down! Anyway, back to the question. Sure, you won’t get a degree out of this, but you didn’t have the degree already, plus (if you decide to watch each course) you’ll probably be more informed than you were, and I’d say that’s a pretty fair deal. Besides, it’s never a bad thing to be a little more cultured. Then you can get pretentious literary references! And for anyone reading this who wants to be a writer someday I can tell you from my own experience it does not hurt to know your literature. I’ve grown a lot as a writer from reading the “classics” and the literature courses I took in college were a tremendous help. So what I’m saying is WATCH THE VIDEOS.

One thing I should probably mention before wrapping this up is some of the courses, while free, have to be viewed via iTunes, and I’ll list those right here:

-American Literature 1

-Approaching Shakespeare

-British and American Poetry

-Creative Writing (←Prospective writers: LISTEN TO THEM)

-Epics of Rome

-Fiction for Young Adults

-Genres in Children’s Literature

-History of Children’s Literature

-Introduction to Poetry

-Introduction to Pre-Modern Japanese Lit and Culture

-Literature in English

-Lord of the Rings I, II, and III

-Not Shakespeare

-Post-Colonial Literature for Children


-Science Fiction & Politics


-Shakespeare’s Principal Plays

-The Epic

-The Hobbit

-The Literature of Crisis

-The Silmarillion Seminar


-The Book of Last Tales Part 1 & Part 2

-Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales

-Virgil’s Aeneid

-Watership Down

So if you don’t have iTunes you can’t listen to those, but I’m willing to bet most people have iTunes. The rest are available on YouTube or on a dedicated website if you don’t have iTunes and refuse to download it.

Let me know what you think about this post in the comments. What should my next post be about? If you watch any of the courses let me know what you think. Any you hated? Loved? For now I’ll keep working on what to talk about in the future. As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter or on Facebook. Until next time.


2 thoughts on “Free College Literature Courses Anyone?

    1. Definitely. I think it’s great there are resources out there like BYO for people who want to learn, but are hesitant about dropping big bucks on education. Thanks for reading and the comment!


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