Catching up on reading #2

In addition to printed material I’ve been reading, lately, the onset of the summer holidays (still wired for work but with no pressing reasons to be) seemed like the ideal time to continue my poetry education via MOOCs I started way back in January and abandoned part-way through as work life, etc took precedence.  So here’s what I’ve been up to, online:

Robert Burns: Poems, Songs and Legacy (Glasgow University via FutureLearn):

‘Pop Art Rabbie’ by Sheilagh Tennant

Format: a three-week course comprising videos, articles, texts/lyrics, memory quizzes(!) and forum discussions

My verdict: a comprehensive introduction to life and works of Scotland’s bard.  Does what it says on the tin but this one failed to engage me in the way that other MOOCs have done (videos were mini lectures rather than debate between academics or tutor-student workshops/tutorials and I felt ‘talked at’).

Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing (The University of Warwick via FutureLearn):

Format: a six-week course comprising video discussions, poem/novel/play texts, articles, surveys (for research purposes) and forum discussions.

My verdict:interesting discussions on the physiology and treatment of stress, heartbreak, bereavement, PTSD and trauma, depression and bipolar, ageing and dementia, and the benefits of reading/sharing literature for therapy and wellbeing.  What niggled me: Stephen Fry’s dismissive remark regarding ‘free form’ poetry during a week 1 video discussion (in fact, the wealth of contemporary poetry was largely ignored throughout the course).

Whitman’s Civil War: Writing and Imaging Loss, Death & Disaster (The University of Iowa via

I’m a late starter to this MOOC (week 3 of which starts tomorrow), but the beauty of this beast (as far as I’m aware) is it’s available year-round and one can begin at any time (provided you don’t wish to join in the discussions on the online forum – which I don’t).  I’m currently engaged in week 1: Circumstance & Documentary.  Each week there’s an introductory video (engaging discussion between academics; approx 40 mins) followed by a series of reading texts including study notes and afterwords, then a question for discussion via the forum.

I’ll let you know how this one goes but, in my experience of MOOCs to date, UK universities have much to learn from those in the USA.

Still on my MOOC To Do list is Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Anderson Centre via FutureLearn).

I’m also looking forward to a return visit to ModPo in September (I intend doing ModPoPlus, this time around).

Which MOOCs are you currently engaged in, have enjoyed to date or are looking forward to this coming autumn?  I’d love to hear your views and choices via the comments box below.

6 thoughts on “Catching up on reading #2

  1. I keep an eye on what’s available MOOC-wise too 🙂 And like you i almost always stick to watching the videos. Currently I am watching that Walt Whitman & the Civil War one you mentioned. I’ve listened to previous writing & poetry courses from Iowa and they do a great job with the videos. I’ve listened to these two men before and enjoy them And yes, I plan to dip into ModPo again and yes probably the Plus videos.

    The other MOOC I am enjoying this week is from Coursera The Modern World Part 2 : Global History since 1910 – . And again again , I’ve listened to the professor (in part one of the course, a year or so ago) and he makes history VERY interesting – bringing up questions of “why” things happened. He’s an excellent presenter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Elly, I’ve seen one of the Whitman presenters before (it might have been for How Writers Write Poetry?). I think ModPo’s Al Filreis and his students/course TAs take some beating, though 🙂 The global history MOOC sounds interesting. I like the freedom, with MOOCs, to participate as much or as little as I wish and to revisit course material at any time. Enjoy it all! x

      Liked by 1 person

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