Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas: An Introduction (FutureLearn)

Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas: An Introduction (FutureLearn)
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Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas: An Introduction (FutureLearn)
Explore the humane realism of Samuel Johnson in a deep dive into his only novel with Theodore Dalrymple as your guide. Explore the humane realism of Samuel Johnson in a deep dive into his only novel. Learn from Theodore Dalrymple. Theodore Dalrymple, the pseudonym of Anthony Daniels, is an English cultural critic of great distinction. He has written extensively on culture, its contemporary neglect, and its enduring potential.

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In this six-week course, Dalrymple will facilitate an encounter with Samuel Johnson, a towering figure of English literature. The course contains the full text and an original audiobook production of The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia, which depicts its hero’s “choice of life.”

The novel will show you that human life, far from being perfect—or even perfectible—inevitably contains a large measure of dissatisfaction. Johnson teaches us that the best way forward is not to ignore this fact and embrace the false hope of utopianism, but rather to accept that life involves many trade-offs. The art of life, for Johnson, is largely about making such compromises.


Understand Johnson’s humane vision of life

As you delve into Johnson’s novel, the elegant explanations given in Dalrymple’s lectures will allow you to understand the importance of Rasselas and to appreciate the ultimate lessons which the novel teaches.

This course will help you see that the “realism” of Johnson’s vision of human life, one constrained by limitations, choices, and trade-offs, is not at all pessimistic. It is, instead, lucid, liberating—and even cheerful.

Throughout the course, you’ll also be able to savor Johnson’s wonderful prose style as read by Dalrymple in the audiobook provided in the course.


Syllabus


Week 1: Introduction & The “Happy” Valley

Week 2: Escape from Paradise

Week 3: Rasselas’ Search Begins

Week 4: Conversations and Excursions

Week 5: Separation and Sorrow

Week 6: The Choice of Life


Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

- Describe Johnson’s Rasselas and the vision of life that it offers

- Apply the perspectives of Johnson's novel to contemporary situations

- Critique the utopianism that Rasselas brings into focus

- Assess Johnson’s understanding of human nature

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in humanities and literature.



MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Course Auditing
39.00 EUR

MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.