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Christmas lectures from The Teaching Company

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I’m a major fan of The Teaching Company. They’re an amazing business which takes the cream of the crop of University professors and records their best lectures on audio and/or video:

The Teaching Company brings engaging professors into your home or car through courses on DVD, audio CD, and other formats. Since 1990, great teachers from the Ivy League, Stanford, Georgetown, and other leading colleges and universities have crafted over 200 courses for lifelong learners. We provide the adventure of learning, without the homework or exams.

I’ve bought several courses from them and have listened to a few more from my local public library. I’ve been consistently impressed.

On occasion, they give away a lecture or two, usually to celebrate a holiday. I just received an e-mail from them with links to two free lectures on the history of Christmas:

Season’s greetings! To thank you for being our customer, we have specially commissioned two holiday lectures by Professor Patrick N. Allitt. Our free gifts to you, “Christmas in Victorian Britain” and “Christmas in 19th-century America” are available for download or streaming right now.

Included in the e-mail was an invitation to forward it to friends. I figured this was the best way to get the word out. πŸ™‚

In “Christmas in Victorian Britain,” Professor Allitt explores the celebration of Christmas as we know it today, with decorations, music, and lavish gift exchanges, and where it began–Victorian Britain. While the holiday had older traditions such as those that celebrated the winter solstice, the Victorians enhanced and clarified the religious elements of Christmas and at the same time commercialized it.

After familiarizing yourself with the origins of modern-day Christmas, explore “Christmas in 19th-century America.” How did different ethnic groups in America celebrate Christmas in the early 19th century? Why did New Englanders often want to avoid all forms of celebration while Pennsylvania Germans dressed up, visited each other, and drank heavily? After the Civil War, Christmas celebrations began to be standardized throughout the nation under the influence of the new department stores, which ran the Christmas-oriented marketing campaigns we are familiar with today.

About the professor:

Professor Patrick N. Allitt is Professor of History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born and raised in central England and received his B.A. in British and European History from Oxford University. He earned his Ph.D. in American History from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Allitt has served as a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard Divinity School and at the Princeton University Center for the Study of American Religion.

Please download and enjoy these sample lectures. I’m sure you’ll be sending a hunk of your income to The Teaching Company as soon as you get hooked. πŸ™‚

Incidentally, the links on this page are lifted directly from the e-mail, complete with what appears to be referral information specific to the e-mail campaign. I do not get referral fees from The Teaching Company.

Written by Michael DeBusk

November 23rd, 2007 at 7:51 pm

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