Learning for the Love of Knowledge

Book pilesI’ve registered for a few free online university classes through Coursera.  Alas, I had to drop some because the workload was not possible for me in January, but right now I am keeping up with Critical Thinking in Global Challenges from Dr. Celine Caquineau and Dr. Mayank Dutia at the University of Edinburgh, and with Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World from Dr. Eric S. Rabkin at the University of Michigan.

I also registered for Property and Liability: An Introduction to Law and Economics from Dr. Richard Adelstein at Wesleyan University, which begins in March.  The first two are about improving thinking and reading habits; the third is to increase my understanding of topics connected to, but not directly part of, my professional work.

The class on Fantasy and Science Fiction requires reading some seminal works and writing short (~300 word) essays to comment on them.  I plan on posting my essays once the grading period for each is over.  The works to read are, by week:

  1. Grimm — Children’s and Household Tales [offbeat resources] [essay]
  2. Carroll — Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
    [offbeat resources] [essay]
  3. Stoker — Dracula [offbeat resources] [and more] [essay]
  4. Shelley — Frankenstein [offbeat resources] [essay]
  5. Hawthorne & Poe — Stories and Poems [offbeat resources] [essay]
  6. Wells — The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, “The Country of the Blind,” “The Star” [offbeat resources] [essay]
  7. Burroughs & Gilman — A Princess of Mars & Herland  [offbeat resources] [additional thoughts] [essay]
  8. Bradbury — The Martian Chronicles  [offbeat resources] [essay]
  9. LeGuin — The Left Hand of Darkness  [offbeat resources] [glossary] [essay]
  10. Doctorow — Little Brother  [offbeat resources] [essay]

All of them seem to be available as free ebooks, which I will link to with my essays.  The “grading” actually consists of peer reviews; each student must review four other participants’ essays every week, meaning of course everyone also receives comments from four peers for each essay they submit.

More to Learn: Post-class reading group on Goodreads.

Photo: A stack of books, by austinevan, Creative Commons license Attribution 2.5 Generic.

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