A couple of weeks ago, I checked back on Academic to see if there were any new courses. I was in a bit of a panic because they moved a lot of courses from “History” to “Humanities”. But after I figured it out, I found Yale Professor Joanne Freeman’s course on The American Revolution.
I am partial to the Yale history courses and Professor Freeman tells a really good story. The most educational piece for me was the first lecture, entitled “Freeman’s Top Five Tips for Studying the Revolution“. It included thoughts like – language was different two hundred years ago. Even “democracy” didn’t mean the same thing then that it does now. Another was to keep in mind that we, as students of history, tend to make assumptions based on the knowledge of how things turned out. We have to keep in mind that the colonists and early Americans didn’t have that luxury.
Another good one was “Heroes and Villains“, which told the story of Benedict Arnold. Worth the 45 minutes, particularly if you’ve never heard the story before.
For those of us that have dutifully read our Joseph Ellis and David McCullough, et al, there aren’t many big revelations in the lectures. But there are plenty of great quotes and anecdotes pulled from old letters. More than once, Freeman confesses to re-writing a lecture on the fly because she wants to highlight something different. Just the kind of history geek I enjoy. In fact, I picked up one of the authors that Freeman mentioned at Half Price Books today. Which leads me to a complaint regarding Academic Earth:
One of the things that made me fall all in love with the site was that the syllabus and all of the course reading were also published on the page. I have literally purchased some of these books in the past to read during or after watching the lectures. This course didn’t have them linked. That made me go back to Professor Blight’s Civil War course, which I knew had them posted. No longer. There is a list of “Related Resources”, but a couple of things I recall being assigned were not listed. However, I now see they can be found on the Open Yale Courses website. (And OMG I just found three more courses I want to see!)
But I also have books to read, so the Half Time show is now over.
P.S. Oh! And Freeman says that the HBO mini-series on John Adams was pretty solid.