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  • Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos

    Professor Colin McAllister, D.M.A.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    The guitar is one of the most accessible, versatile, and easy to learn instruments you can play. Get lessons and tips from expert, such as how a simple group of four guitar chords enables you to play hundreds of songs. Even if you already play the guitar, this course will broaden your knowledge by applying music theory, history, and expanding your repertoire of songs and styles.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Learning to Play Guitar: Chords, Scales, and Solos
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Guitar Basics: Play a Song in 60 Seconds
      Discover how you can play a simple song on the guitar in just one minute. Then study the parts of the guitar, and how to hold the instrument. Play G and C major chords, and review the classic bass line from the song you learned. Finally, practice your song, combining your bass line with a four-note melody. x
    • 2
      Tuning Up, Reading Music, and Dexterity
      Consider important principles of musical learning, the essence of practice, and the importance of performance. Investigate how to tune your guitar, and learn a useful warmup. Observe how pitch and rhythm are notated (written), practice E and A minor chords, and work with a musical number using the chords you've learned so far. x
    • 3
      Classical Guitar Position and Posture
      Explore body posture with the instrument; then, practice your warmup using alternating fingers. Grasp how written music is divided into “measures” and “beats”. Learn fuller versions of G and C major chords, see how they are written in the tablature form of notation, and add a melody to the song from the last lesson. x
    • 4
      Learning How to Practice the Guitar
      Look deeper into how to practice and master each element in the learning process. Explore “shifting”—moving the left hand position in guitar playing. Then grasp how the lower three strings are notated, and practice moving between chords on the instrument. Play a major scale, and use it in the song “Shifting Sands”. x
    • 5
      Playing Fingerstyle Guitar
      Learn about three legends of “fingerstyle” guitar--the technique of playing with the right-hand thumb and fingers. Practice the basics of right-hand fingerstyle technique, with alternating fingers. Study the notation of open strings; then extend your fingerstyle to “fingering” chords. Play a G major scale across three strings, and use your fingerstyle in a song. x
    • 6
      Playing Rhythm Guitar
      Discover the leading lights of “rhythm guitar”, a playing style where the guitarist provides the rhythmic foundation for a band. Review your fingerstyle technique, and play arpeggios (broken chords). Learn to play eighth-notes, and “¾” or waltz-like rhythms. Practice a two-octave scale, some melodic patterns or “licks”, and put these elements together in today’s song. x
    • 7
      The Pentatonic Scale
      Look into the remarkable guitar-playing of Eric Johnson, and his use of the pentatonic (five-tone) scale. Learn a left-hand exercise for “walking” across the fretboard; then study half-step intervals on the guitar and how to read them. Investigate syncopated strumming patterns, the two-octave pentatonic scale, and how to use them in improvising. x
    • 8
      The Blues Scale and Lateral Stretching
      Enter the world of the blues, and learn about some pioneering pre-war blues players. For left hand technique, practice a “lateral stretching” exercise for flexibility. Add the A7 chord, along with syncopated blues strumming patterns and the A blues scale. Last, play “Blues for Art”, incorporating your new strumming patterns and the blues scale. x
    • 9
      Planting for Control and Accuracy
      First, contemplate the principles of tonal beauty, as taught by the great Romero brothers. Study the technique of “planting”, an aid for technical accuracy. Learn the D and A major chords, and how to read key signatures. Then play a new melody in D major, and accompany it in fingerstyle using your new chords. x
    • 10
      Guitar Tremolo: Gaining Speed
      Here, encounter two classical guitar titans, Agustín Barrios and Andrés Segovia, and grasp their contributions to the instrument. Study tremolo, which gives the illusion of a sustained note. Learn to read sixteenth-notes, add the E major chord, the major pentatonic scale, and use your tremolo and finger technique in the “Raindrop Etude”. x
    • 11
      Legato and Power Chords
      Begin with legato technique (also called “hammer-ons” and “pull-offs”), a way of smoothly connecting guitar tones without plucking the string. Then add the two-note “power chord” to your repertoire, a key chord for rock music. Practice some patterns (“licks”) using the minor pentatonic scale, and put all of these elements together in a rock song. x
    • 12
      Travis Picking for Folk, Country, and Rock
      Trace the remarkable life of Merle Travis, who pioneered a distinctive and highly influential fingerpicking style. Refine your descending legato technique (“pull-offs”), a great exercise for strength and finger independence. Study the “Travis picking” style, practice some melodic licks using pull-offs, and try Travis picking in the blues tune “Dusty Blue”. x
    • 13
      Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs
      Hear classic road stories of some great guitar players, as they point to the collaborative roles of the guitar. Learn the B7, C7, and G7 chords (“dominant seventh” chords), and grasp their role in musical harmony. Play the scale of E major across all six strings; then use your legato technique, dominant sevenths, and E major scale in accompanying a singer. x
    • 14
      Finger Independence and Chord Theory
      Explore harmonic tension and resolution, and the dominant and tonic chords, through compelling examples in the music of Richard Wagner. Practice an important exercise for independent movement of the left hand fingers. Discover how three-note chords (“triads”) can be constructed from the notes of the scale. Finally, play an original song using the material from this lesson. x
    • 15
      Crosspicking and Bass Lines
      Uncover the legend and innovations of Doc Watson, the great bluegrass player who was brought out of obscurity by a chance meeting. Study the challenges of playing with a pick while moving across the strings. Then taste “barre” chords, a useful technique you’ll explore further, learn the C major scale, and try a tune inspired by Johnny Cash. x
    • 16
      Piano-Style Guitar and Fingernail Care
      Investigate the musical effects created by the fingernails versus the fingertips, and grasp the basics of nail shaping and care for guitar playing. Then study chord “qualities” (major, minor, diminished), and look at common chord patterns and sequences. In today’s song, practice “piano-style” guitar, playing melody and accompaniment simultaneously. x
    • 17
      Syncopated Strumming and Movable Scales
      Begin with some memorable stories that illustrate the challenges of performance. Practice “chromatic octaves”, for hand coordination and flexibility, and learn to read “dotted” eighth notes. Experiment with different ways to play common chords, study “movable” scales (that use the same fingering pattern), and use these elements in an original tune. x
    • 18
      A New Pentatonic Scale and the Capo
      Explore the work of composer John Cage, as it points to the value of musical “silence”—the space between notes. Then learn to read musical “rests” (silences in the music). Study how to use the capo, a device used to shorten the guitar’s string length. Continue your work with “movable” pentatonic and major scales, and revive your “Travis picking” skills for today’s tune. x
    • 19
      Barre Chords: Movable Chords
      Delve into the original style of jazz guitarist Johnny Smith, and the story behind one of his greatest hits. Then go deeper into barre chords, one of the most challenging guitar techniques. Learn “movable” chord shapes, using the same fingering for multiple chords, and practice two-octave arpeggios (broken chords). End with a reggae-style song, structured in “A-A-B-A” form. x
    • 20
      Flamenco Technique: Rasgueado
      This lecture explores the flamenco style, highlighting the career and historic innovations of Paco de Lucia. Study the flamenco strumming technique of rasgueado. Learn to harmonize melody notes, practice movable A, Am and A7 chords, and expand your work with arpeggios. End with a flamenco-tinged song, using your new rasgueado, chords, and melodic technique. x
    • 21
      Playing with Natural Harmonics
      Learn to play the beautiful, chiming guitar tones called harmonics. First, explore the lives of some great players who featured them. Then play harmonics on all six strings, and see how they’re notated. Practice four-note diatonic seventh chords, and investigate modes, permutations of the major scale. Use your new chords and harmonics in the tune “Harmonic Landscapes". x
    • 22
      Jazz Harmony and Dorian Mode
      Take the measure of guitarist Charlie Christian and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, each of whom transformed jazz and their instruments. Grasp how to work for greater speed and accuracy when playing melodies. Learn “movable” chord shapes for major and minor seventh chords, practice the Dorian modal scale, and use them in a minor blues tune. x
    • 23
      DADGAD Tuning and Lydian Mode
      Take a look at the far-reaching influence of acoustic guitarist Michael Hedges, and his ingenious use of alternate tunings of the instrument. Continue with a two-part cross-picking exercise, for hand dexterity. Practice the Lydian modal scale. Then explore alternate tunings, focusing on Michael Hedges’ “D-A-D-G-A-D” tuning, and use it in the song “Alpine Sunrise". x
    • 24
      Taking the Guitar to the Next Level
      Trace the career of violinist Malcolm Watson, as it illustrates principles of success for musicians, and consider seven habits of highly effective guitar players. Then learn the technique of artificial harmonics. Add half diminished and full diminished chords to your repertoire, play the Mixolydian scale, and finish the course with a jazz and flamenco inspired song. x
  • Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany

    Professor Catherine Kleier, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    If you look around right now, chances are you’ll see a plant. It could be a succulent in a pot on your desk, grasses or shrubs just outside your door, or trees in a park across the way. Proximity to plants tends to make us happy, even if we don’t notice, offering unique pleasures and satisfactions. In Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany, Dr. Catherine Kleier opens our eyes to the phenomenal and exciting world of plant life as she stresses the basic biology, function, and the amazing adaptations of plants.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Plant Science: An Introduction to Botany
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Joy of Botany
      Although almost every child knows the difference between an elephant and a giraffe, few people of any age can name the plants they see out their window every single day. Solve this plant blindness" by learning about the fascinating lifeforms to whom we owe so much: oxygen, food, medicine, materials-but also fascination and joy." x
    • 2
      Plants Are like People
      Although our biology is significantly different than that of plants, scientists are discovering more and more similarities. We share quite a bit of DNA, thrive in moderate temperatures, have a circadian rhythm of rest and activity, require water for life, and can sense our environment and respond. Some scientists suggest that plants might even have developed a type of hearing."" x
    • 3
      Moss Sex and Peat's Engineered Habitat
      More than 425 million years ago, a group of plants called bryophytes developed two special adaptations that allowed them to inhabit dry land. Why are these early plants still so important today, both environmentally and commercially? And how does one of these most ancient species engineer its own habitat to the exclusion of more modern competitors? x
    • 4
      Fern Spores and the Vascular Conquest of Land
      Botanists still struggle to unravel the full evolutionary history of ferns, hardy plants of staggering reproductive and colonization power. With billions of lightweight spores produced by each individual and the vasculature to transport nutrients throughout the plant, ferns are found in low-light and bright-light environments from the arctic regions to the tropics. x
    • 5
      Roots and Symbiosis with Non-Plants
      Photosynthesis might be the star," but what takes place under the soil is just as imperative for plant survival. In fact, the root is so important that it's the first evidence of germination in the seed. Learn how roots physically support the plant, absorb water and minerals, and store carbohydrates, almost always relying on symbiosis with bacteria and fungi." x
    • 6
      Stems Are More Than Just the In-Between
      Learn how the pressure flow hypothesis models the movement of sugars through the plant's phloem and xylem, and what plant structures determine whether the organism will grow in height, girth, or both. And while the stem functions to support the plant's branches and leaves, in some plants the stem is also the site of photosynthesis. x
    • 7
      The Leaf as a Biochemical Factory
      Plants "know" when to shed their leaves or grow new ones via the same mechanism that causes the many developmental changes in our own bodies: hormones. Learn about the hormones that affect leaf growth and abscission -- and the role played by Charles Darwin in their discovery. x
    • 8
      Photosynthesis Everyone Should Understand
      Green plants generate their mass-whether the mass of the smallest blade of grass or the tallest tree on Earth-by synthesizing food from carbon dioxide and water via the energy from sunlight with the help of appropriate enzymes. See how the fascinating details of photosynthesis separate the plants from the animals. x
    • 9
      Days and Years in the Lives of Plants
      How do plants "choose" the best time to flower? Do they sense the daylight hours becoming longer in the springtime? Or do they sense the nights becoming shorter? Learn which pigments interact with sunlight to serve as chemical clocks for flowering plants and what roles are played by messenger RNA and temperature-including their part in climate change. x
    • 10
      Advent of Seeds: Cycads and Ginkgoes
      While spores have continued to provide effective reproduction through the millennia, evolution has led to several successful alternatives. In a little package of embryonic roots, stems, leaves, and nourishment, a seed offers the ability to lie dormant until conditions are right for the highest chance of survival. Learn about the unique properties of the cycads, gingkos, and gnetophytes. x
    • 11
      Why Conifers Are Holiday Plants
      Meet the conifers, well-adapted to snow, wind, fire, and low-nutrient soils. Learn how the unique properties of conifers allow them to claim the largest forest on Earth, the oldest living tree, and the tallest plant-with a growth rate of up to six feet per year. Conifers are also the source of one of the most prescribed cancer drugs on the market. x
    • 12
      Secrets of Flower Power
      Flowering plants arrived relatively late in geological time, between 290 to 145 million years ago. But once here, they evolved quickly and often displaced many other types of plants. In fact, in terms of species, flowering plants are the dominant plant form on Earth today with more than 300,000 types. Learn how their unique reproductive mechanisms led to this explosion of speciation in such a relatively short time. x
    • 13
      The Coevolution of Who Pollinates Whom
      Which came first-the pollen or the pollinator? Learn about the special evolutionary relationship between specific flowers and the insects, birds, and mammals that play a necessary role in plant reproduction. The flowers' morphology, color, and quality and quantity of scent are all related to their" animals' body shape, sense organs, method of movement, and more in this never-ending co-evolutionary tango." x
    • 14
      The Many Forms of Fruit: Tomatoes to Peanuts
      If you think you know the difference between a fruit, a nut, and a fungus-think again. Learn the real difference between nuts, fruits, and seeds, and why so many foods we eat carry misleading common names. As for those beautiful and tasty fungi, you might be surprised to find out they have more in common with you than with plants! x
    • 15
      Plant Seeds Get Around
      The evolution of the seed was a major advantage for land plants. But unlike gymnosperms, the flowering plants produce a fruit around that seed, aiding in germination, dispersal, or both. Learn about the many fascinating ways seeds are dispersed-from animal deposition, to wind and water dispersal, to seed explosion. x
    • 16
      Water Plants Came from Land
      Learn how seagrasses, mangroves, and other aquatic plants evolved to tolerate low light levels, anaerobic and nutrient-poor sediments, and the difficulty of getting CO2 into submerged leaves and stems. They also benefit surrounding ecosystems by keeping excess nutrients from the ocean, trapping river and ocean-floor sediments, and providing habitat and protection for animals. x
    • 17
      Why the Tropics Have So Many Plant Species
      From the shade-adapted plants living on the rainforest floor to the epiphytes in the top of the canopy-and the myriad plants and animals in between-tropical regions are the most diverse ecosystems on land. In fact, by some estimates, about 40 percent of all plants live in just the canopy of the tropical rainforest. Learn about the unique ways in which bromeliads, orchids, and lianas, among others, make their living" near the top of this diverse ecosystem." x
    • 18
      The Complexity of Grasses and Grasslands
      The grassland ecosystem-steppe, prairie, savanna, and rangeland-is found on every continent except Antarctica. Estimated to cover almost one-third of the land area of the planet, grasses developed unusual adaptations related to the location of their growth tissue and their specific mechanism of photosynthesis. Learn how these adaptations have allowed grasses to flourish and play a major role in the development of human society. x
    • 19
      Shrublands of Roses and Wine
      Not an herb and not a tree, shrubs' in-between status carries ecological advantages allowing them to grow almost everywhere-in the under-story of forests, above the tree line in alpine regions, and in the desert. Many are fire-adapted, some communicate through volatile organic compounds released by the leaves, and others exude chemicals from their roots that prevent other plants from growing nearby. x
    • 20
      The Desert Bonanza of Plant Shapes
      From tiny desert annuals, to 200-year-old 50-foot Saguaros, Joshua trees, and the baobab, deserts contain the largest variety of plant shapes on earth. Along with these multiple morphological adaptations to a lack of water, desert plants have also developed an alternative pathway to photosynthesis, opening their stomata at night, storing the CO2, and using it during the day with closed stomata, thereby avoiding daytime water loss. x
    • 21
      How Temperate Trees Change Color and Grow
      Trees-the largest, oldest, and tallest organisms on planet Earth-are a wonderful example of convergent evolution, with the form showing up in hundreds of unrelated plant families. While many trees are evergreen and others are drought deciduous, temperate trees lose their leaves in the winter because the trade-off of keeping a leaf from freezing doesn't offset the photosynthetic gain. But even after the leaves turn color and drop, the tree roots of some trees can still forage through the soil for nutrients. x
    • 22
      Alpine Cold Makes Plants Do Funny Things
      Alpine plants face a short growing season, freezing nights almost year-round, extraordinarily high light levels on cloudless days, fierce wind, and severe lack of moisture in some locations. Learn how the unique rosette and cushion morphologies allow alpine plants to thrive in this environment-as well as provide a sheltered place for other plants to germinate-and how heliotropism aids in pollination. x
    • 23
      Bad Plants Aren't So Bad
      About 600 species of plants eat animals. Others are outfitted with poison-injecting hairs you do not want to trigger. One plant provides a home for ants-a wonderful symbiosis, but not great for the animals who stroll by and take a bite. And then there are the everyday" poison oak, ivy, and sumac. But the real plants to fear? The invasive species that have taken over millions of acres, to the detriment of species diversity, animal habitat, and entire economic systems." x
    • 24
      Modifying the Genes of Plants
      Genetically modified organisms are in the news almost every day. They are lauded for solving numerous agricultural problems and reviled for their perceived Frankenstein" nature. But what is the truth about GMOs? Learn what scientists have accomplished, what might be possible in the future, and the very real dilemmas we face in this brave new world of plant science." x
  • The Apocryphal Jesus
    Course  |  The Apocryphal Jesus

    Professor David Brakke, Ph.D., M.Div.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    Much of what we know about Jesus today comes from apocryphal sources rather than the Bible. The Apocryphal Jesus is your chance to learn about the early Christian world from a variety of sources—many of which have been considered heretical. Over 24 revealing lectures, Professor Brakke explores the stories and ideas that shaped the foundations of early Christian thought—and continue to influence Christianity today.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  The Apocryphal Jesus
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Influence of Apocrypha
      The term “apocrypha” comes from the Greek and means “hidden” or “secret.” The apocryphal writings of early Christians have a reputation for being heretical because they are not part of the New Testament’s 27 canonical books. But as you will learn in this first lecture, these early Christian writings have contributed greatly to Christian culture and doctrine. x
    • 2
      Jesus and Mary in the Proto-Gospel of James
      Begin your foray into the early Christian apocrypha with an extended reflection on the Virgin Mary. You may think you know her from the New Testament gospels, but you might be surprised to find out that much of her life's story actually comes from the Proto-Gospel of James, which fills in many of the gaps from the canonical gospels. x
    • 3
      Young Jesus in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas
      The Infancy Gospel of Thomas is considered a bizarre book, offering what some see as troubling insight into the childhood of Jesus, portraying him as both amazingly divine but also troublingly human. Delve into some of the scholarly debates around this book and find out why it was so popular in the Middle Ages. x
    • 4
      Joseph and the Magi in the Apocrypha
      The New Testament gospels leave many questions on the table: Why was Mary a virgin if she was married to Joseph? How did Joseph feel about his wife bearing the child of the Lord? In this lecture, see how many early Christian apocryphal works humanize Joseph and resolve some of the questions—and contradictions—of the New Testament. x
    • 5
      The Apocrypha and the Cult of Mary
      While Mary is present in the canonical gospels, it's really in the early Christian apocrypha that she becomes the leader among the saints. Explore several key texts to uncover what we know about Jesus' mother, her relationship with the disciples, and what makes her unique among New Testament figures. Better understand her special place in Christianity today. x
    • 6
      Lost Gospels and Fragments
      Not all apocryphal works have survived, and many of the ones we have today exist only as fragments. Survey several important fragments and lost gospels—how we discovered them and what they say—to gain a fascinating glimpse of early Christian beliefs and controversies that we would not know about otherwise. x
    • 7
      Sayings of Jesus from the Gospel of Thomas
      The Gospel of Thomas is the most famous—even infamous—apocryphal gospel, suppressed by the Church for its supposed heresy. As you’ll find out in this lecture, the gospel compiles the sayings of Jesus and is modeled on the wisdom books from the Old Testament. This “living Jesus” provides a radically different angle on the meaning of Jesus’ life and teachings. x
    • 8
      Jesus's Statements beyond the Gospels
      Not all of Jesus’ words come directly from the canonical gospels. These words—known as “agrapha”—come from numerous sources: books of the New Testament other than the gospels, the works of early Christian authors such as Origen, and alternative manuscripts of the New Testament gospels. Examine several of these sources to gain new insights into Jesus. x
    • 9
      Conversations with the Living Jesus
      The gospel writers recorded much of Jesus’ life, but they also acknowledged that they didn’t record everything. Much of what he said is recorded in so-called “dialogic gospels,” accounts of Jesus in lengthy conversations with one or more of his disciples. Study three of these unique works and gain new theological insight into Christianity. x
    • 10
      The Gospel of Judas's Gnostic Vision
      Judas Iscariot is one of the most infamous figures in the Christian Bible, but the Gospel of Judas gives us a new perspective on this traitorous disciple. In this lecture, Professor Brakke introduces you to Gnosticism and shows how, in this gospel, Judas' betrayal of Jesus points to a greater truth about divinity and the material reality of the world. x
    • 11
      The Gospel of Peter and the Talking Cross
      Jesus designated Peter as the founder of the Church, which arguably makes him one of Christianity’s most important disciples. The Gospel of Peter, however, adds some complexity to Peter’s story—and it reframes the story of the Crucifixion to help make Christianity more compatible with the politics of the Roman Empire. x
    • 12
      The Apocrypha and Pilate's Sanctification
      In the early centuries, Christianity became a Roman religion, which created awkwardness given that the Roman Pontius Pilate crucified Jesus. Find out how certain apocryphal texts—including the Gospel of Nicodemus, also known as the Acts of Pilate—dealt with this problem by recasting Pilate as a sympathetic figure and, ultimately, a Christian saint. x
    • 13
      Dialogues with the Risen Jesus
      The New Testament tells us Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the apostles before ascending into heaven. While the canonical gospels left Jesus' words a mystery, many apocryphal writers filled in the gaps. Examine several of these dialogic gospels to learn what Jesus told his followers after the resurrection. x
    • 14
      Hope and Adventure in the Acts of John
      Many of the apocryphal gospels were essentially novels written during the early Christian era, and they were filled with adventurous tales of shipwrecks, necrophilia, self-mutilation, and other wild stories. Dive into the Acts of John to consider this fascinating genre of literature and what it offered audiences of the time—as well as historians today. x
    • 15
      Social Disruption in the Acts of Paul
      Historians agree that this fragmentary work presents us a largely invented character, yet the Acts of Paul also gives us a remarkable challenge to the basic structure of Roman society—the household, the city, the empire, and even the Church. Examine this subversive book and discover a version Christianity that completely upends the reigning social order. x
    • 16
      Thecla: Independent Woman of the Apocrypha
      Continue your study of the Acts of Paul and turn to his disciple, Thecla, who is one of the most interesting women in early Christian writing. Although she likely did not exist in real life, she represents many women who did, and her story gives us a powerful look at the role of women in early Christian society. x
    • 17
      Miracles and Magic in the Acts of Peter
      As you have seen, Peter may have been the first leader of the Church, but he was a flawed leader. The fragmentary Acts of Peter builds on his story from the canonical gospels and shows us a fascinating, if somewhat troubling, figure. Learn more about Peter and his miracles, and find out why he was crucified upside down. x
    • 18
      Peter versus Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines
      Each of the surviving apocryphal acts of the apostles make one apostle its hero, but they don't disparage the other apostles. However, the Pseudo-Clementine texts present a dramatic fight surrounding the early Church. This theological mess may pose a problem for historians, but it is nonetheless an important piece of early Christian literature. x
    • 19
      The Acts of Thomas and the Mission to India
      How did Christianity get to India? Did Thomas really travel across the Middle East and preach the gospel in South Asia? Historians debate these questions and more, but regardless of the literal truth, the Acts of Thomas provides spiritual guidance about humanity's place in the world and challenges us to liberate ourselves. x
    • 20
      Spiritual Love in the Acts of Andrew
      While it was not the most profound of early Christian writings, the Acts of Andrew contains some of the strangest stories in all of early Christian literature, including tales of cannibals, myriad seductions, jilted husbands, and a human-killing giant serpent. Learn about some of these exciting stories, consider the book's genre, and reflect on the role of women. x
    • 21
      Forged Letters of Jesus and the Apostles
      The letter is one of the most important forms of Christian communication, from the New Testament letters of Paul through today's Papal addresses. In the early Christian world, apocryphal letters abounded, many of them forged. Examine the content of some of these letters, including ones purportedly written by Jesus. x
    • 22
      Revelations That Didn't Make the Bible
      The New Testament Book of Revelation is not the only apocalypse narrative from the first centuries of the Common Era. In this lecture, you'll explore the content and theology of several other Christian apocalypses and consider why the Revelation to John made it into the canon while the many other apocalypses did not. x
    • 23
      Tours of Hell before Dante
      You might be surprised to learn the canonical New Testament does not present a single consistent picture of the afterlife in general or hell in particular, yet visions of damnation exist in much of the early Christian apocrypha, including the Apocalypses of Peter and Paul. Take a tour of hell through several of these works and review their continued influence. x
    • 24
      Apocrypha after the New Testament
      Although the New Testament was codified in the fourth century, apocryphal books continued to be written into the Middle Ages. Round out the course by surveying the later Christian apocrypha and witness the way the creative flourishing of Biblical writing continued through the Middle Ages and even into the present. x
  • The Art of Debate
    Course  |  The Art of Debate

    Professor Jarrod Atchison, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    The Art of Debate offers you the ultimate how-to guide for hashing out differences of opinion and making stronger arguments based on reason and compromise. In 24 stimulating lectures, Professor Jarrod Atchison of Wake Forest University helps you develop your command of logic, construct clear arguments, recognize the fallacies in others’ reasoning, and sharpen your own strategic thinking skills.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  The Art of Debate
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Hidden Value of Debate
      Find out what we mean when we talk about "debates," and how immersing yourself in the techniques of formal debate can have a dramatic impact on how you make decisions in every aspect of your life. From the business world to the bar room, the process of exchanging ideas will make you a better thinker and citizen. x
    • 2
      When and How to Use Debate
      Debate gives you an honest assessment of an idea, and is therefore a powerful decision-making tool. Here, Professor Atchison walks you through the structure of a formal debate and explores when debate can help you the most. As you will learn, big and future-oriented decisions are ripe for formal discussion. x
    • 3
      The Proposition: Choosing What to Debate
      Now that you know when to debate, shift your attention to what to debate. The "proposition"–the idea up for debate–is one of the most important concepts to understand, and in this lecture, you will survey how to structure the proposition most effectively-and consider who is making the ultimate decision. x
    • 4
      The Structure of Argument
      The claim, the evidence, and the warrant: these three elements provide the structure of a strong argument. Unpack each of these elements by studying what they are, how they work, and how they come together to produce an argument. Then home in on the warrant, which is often the most vulnerable part of an argument-and therefore the element easiest to challenge. x
    • 5
      Using Evidence in Debate
      Examine the strengths and weaknesses of three primary types of evidence: narrative evidence, empirical evidence, and evidence based on authority. As you review each type of evidence, you will see them in action as Professor Atchison applies them to debates about gun control, climate change, and physician-assisted suicide. x
    • 6
      Fallacies in Your Opponent's Research
      To be a great debater, you must not only learn to recognize argument fallacies, but you must also learn to combat them during the debate. This first in a two-part lecture series offers insight to help you identify fallacies that stem from flaws in your opponent's research, including the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, hasty generalizations, and more. x
    • 7
      Fallacies in Your Opponent's Arguments
      Continue your study of fallacies with a survey of fallacies that stem from the actual debate itself. To make their case, debaters often resort to false analogies, straw men, and ad hominem attacks. Fortunately, once you learn to recognize them, you will be well prepared to combat them and score points to win the debate. x
    • 8
      Elements of a Good Case
      No debate is won without consideration of the audience-of the ultimate decider or the judge. If you can't connect with this audience, you won't be able to win them over. After considering how to make such a connection, you'll then sharpen your skills in creating a well-researched case with enough nuance to argue your point. x
    • 9
      Arguing for the Affirmative
      The affirmative side of a debate must do three things: stay relevant to the resolution, indict the status quo, and offer a proposal designed to solve the problems you have identified with the status quo. Discover how to meet these obligations and build a winning affirmative argument. x
    • 10
      Building Affirmative Cases
      Now that you know how to develop a strong affirmative argument, apply your skills to a specific debate. Taking a resolution about campus carry laws as an example, Professor Atchison walks you through each of the steps to indict the status quo and offer a tenable solution to the problem. x
    • 11
      Arguing for the Negative
      A good critique is a necessary way of testing out an idea, but developing a good negative case requires immense creativity to disprove the affirmative argument. Delve into the key arguments available to the negative: the disadvantages of the affirmative case, counterproposals, and critiques of the affirmative's assumptions. x
    • 12
      Building Negative Cases
      The three-part attack from the previous lecture is an extremely effective way to challenge the affirmative proposal, but the arguments don't attack the affirmative case directly. Here, learn several approaches to confronting the affirmative case head-on, including "inherency," attacking the harms of the affirmative, and attacking the proposal's solvency. x
    • 13
      The Crucible of Cross-Examination
      Once each case is built, it's time for a cross-examination-a chance to interrogate your opponents to better understand their arguments, identify holes in their reasoning, and keep the audience engaged. This first of three lectures explores the history of debate and reflects on the goals of cross-examination. x
    • 14
      Asking and Answering Leading Questions
      Continue your study of cross-examinations with a detailed look at "leading questions." Useful for identifying holes in an argument, leading questions also represent persuasive arguments in and of themselves. Learn the rules of creating a good leading question and how they can help you win the debate. x
    • 15
      Open-Ended Questions: Setting Traps
      Round out your study of cross-examinations by turning to "open-ended questions." Designed to help you understand your opponents' arguments, open-ended questions give you the opportunity to shift your position, thus maximizing strategic flexibility. They also allow you to set traps for your opponent. Find out how to craft-and answer-open-ended questions. x
    • 16
      Essentials of a Persuasive Rebuttal
      No plan survives contact with the enemy, which means no matter how well you've constructed your case, you will need to defend it. Fortunately, there are several straightforward elements of a good rebuttal-assessment, organization, and emotional appeal-and Professor Atchison guides you through each element in this lecture. x
    • 17
      Dealing with the Unexpected in Debate
      We all need to deal with the unexpected in our daily lives, so learning the secrets to navigating the unexpected in a debate has far-reaching applications. Here, see what it takes to slow down, diagnose, analyze, and respond to unexpected arguments. By following a few simple steps, you can easily find your way back to terra firma. x
    • 18
      Even If Arguments: The Essential Weapon
      Now that you have explored the ways to build and defend a strong case, it's time to move on to varsity-level debate skills, starting with "even if" arguments. By starting with the premise that your opponent is right about everything, you can then explain why you should still win the debate-an extremely effective argument if performed well. x
    • 19
      Debate Jujitsu: Flipping the Warrant
      In many great debates, there is a devastating moment where one side clearly out-maneuvers the other. "Flipping the warrant," which requires the highest level of analytic argument, allows you to destroy your opponent's argument by showing that their proposal, rather than solving a problem, will actually make things worse. x
    • 20
      The Power of Concessions
      The best debaters understand the need for strategic flexibility, and concessions are one of the most powerful strategic moves in the playbook. As you will find out in this lecture, conceding points allows you to focus on your best arguments, or get out of a difficult spot, or even set a trap for your opponent. x
    • 21
      Conditional Argumentation
      Although they are two separate fields, the art of debate sometimes employs formal logic with great success. In this lecture, see how "conditional argumentation," a way of employing if-then statements to argue a point, lets you acknowledge a point without agreeing to it-a line of argument that pairs well with "even-if" arguments. x
    • 22
      Line-by-Line Refutation
      Conclude your study of advanced debate techniques with a survey of line-by-line refutation. First, learn how to map out the "flow" of a debate using shorthand. By distilling key ideas, you will be well prepared to respond to all points. Try to map out the "flow" of a test case here. x
    • 23
      Judging Debates: The Art of the Decision
      Debates aid decision-making, and you may one day find yourself in the role of a judge needing to make the big decision. Survey the best way to communicate your reasons for a decision, starting with a short thesis statement followed by an explanation of your reasoning. As an example, consider a nonprofit faced with a difficult business decision. x
    • 24
      Winning the Cocktail Party
      Formal debates have clear structures, but we often debate ideas in informal settings-unpredictable, complicated, ambiguous conversations with blurred lines between judges and participants. Conclude your course with a few handy tips for how to win a debate at a cocktail party-and when to bow out of the discussion. x
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