Self Paced

The Great Poems Series: Unbinding Prometheus (OpenLearning)

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote “Man is born free, but he is everywhere in chains.” Poet Percy Shelley believed words could be stronger than shackles, and wrote poems intended to free mankind from their chains. Some have argued that poetry can do nothing--or as W.H. Auden said, "Poetry makes nothing happen." Yet Henry David Thoreau, Karl Marx, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela were inspired by Shelley's words to live in the service of freedom and dignity, and they changed the world. The Unbinding Prometheus MOOC investigates both what Shelley's words have meant over time, and what his words might mean for us today.

NO previous background in literature is required--simply the patience and persistence to read poetry, discover beauty and find meaning in a community of learners. Join us and experience the power of poetry. Prometheus Unbound. Read the poem. Change the world.

Over 8 weeks, we will encounter and discuss one long poem, Percy Shelley's Prometheus Unbound.

Shelley wrote this as a lyrical drama, most likely intending its performance primarily to be in the minds of his readers. Marcia Hepps, Peter Schwarz and Jim Schlatter of the Unbinding Prometheus team are producing an abridged live concert performance at Kelly Writers House at the University of Pennsylvania on September 18th, 2014. This course will make use of the performance video to consider and discuss aspects of the performance of Shelley's work. Additionally, Unbinding Prometheus is also producing a complete, unabridged studio recording of the entire poem. Our MOOC students will thus be able to utilise a complete, multi-part audio-video-text alignment to assist their studies.

Our video-recorded lessons are various. About half consist of a mix of short lectures, interviews and conversations with literary critics and scholars, poets, as well as philosophers, actors, directors, historians, and groups of students.

Another half are collaborative close seminar readings by the Unbinding Prometheus seminar group, led by Eric Alan Weinstein. These offer sample models of readers' engagement with, and interpretations of, this unique and powerful poem.

Finally, twice a week there will be opportunities to participate in live, global, online seminars where you get to join us, and become part of our course's shared video content. You do not need to participate in these live events if you would prefer not to---but we gently encourage you to do so. They're fun!