Stanford Rolls Out Another Podcast Course and a New iTunes Look

Virgil_2Stanford re-launched its iTunes site last week, rolling out a new sleek look and a host of new podcasts.

Among the new releases, you’ll find the latest in a series of full-fledged courses ready to be downloaded to your iPod for free. (See the previous courses we’ve mentioned here, here and here.) This time around, you can access a short course, Virgil’s Aeneid: Anatomy of a Classic (get it on iTunes), which takes a close look at one of the central texts in the Western tradition.  (You can purchase a copy of the book referenced in the course here, or download free web versions in English or Latin, though they won’t follow the correct pagination.) Presented by Susanna Braund, a Stanford classics professor, the course is divided into 5 installments, each running about two hours. For the moment, you can only download the first part. But rest assured that the remaining ones are set to be issued in the weeks to come. The course was originally presented in Stanford’s Continuing Studies program. To learn more about the course, take a look at the course description below.

"The central text in the canon of Latin literature is Virgil’s Aeneid, an epic poem in twelve books composed more than two thousand years ago under the Roman emperor Augustus. The poem was an instant hit. It became a school text immediately and has remained central to studies of Roman culture to the present day. How can a poem created in such a remote literary and social environment speak so eloquently to subsequent ages? In this course we will discover what kind of poem this is and what kind of hero Aeneas is. Our studies will focus chiefly on the poem itself and on wider aspects of Roman culture. It will be essential to commit to reading the poem ahead of time, at a rate of about 100 pages per week. We will use the energetic translation by Robert Fitzgerald."

Find many more University Podcasts here.

See all of Open Culture’s Podcast Collections:

Arts & CultureAudio BooksForeign Language LessonsNews & InformationScienceTechnologyUniversity (General)University (B-School)Podcast Primer


20 Audio Lessons That Will Teach You Spanish, French, Italian and German

As we’ll mention in an upcoming piece, European languages dominate the list of most popular educational podcasts. So we thought that we’d highlight the key podcasts that will teach you the major European languages — Spanish, French, Italian and German. Meanwhile, if you want to learn English online, please see our piece below. Bonne chance.

For our complete collection, see How to Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & Beyond.


  • French for Beginners iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Fun, effective lessons for beginners. Provided by the French Ecole.
  • Le Journal en français facile iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Nightly news from RFI presented in slowly spoken French to assist you with your comprehension.
  • Learn French by Podcast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A well-reviewed series of lessons for beginners and those who want to brush up on their French.
  • Learn French with Daily Podcasts iTunes Feed Web Site
    • These lessons are brought to you by French teachers from Paris. They are best suited for those who already have some beginning French under their belts.
  • The French Pod Class iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A very popular collection that teaches students the French language and different facets of French culture.
  • The Verbcast – French Verbs by Relaxation iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A four-week series of lessons that will allow you to refine your knowledge of French verbs.


  • Deutsch – warum nicht?
  • Slowly Spoken News iTunes Feed
    • Deutsche Welle provides a nightly news broadcast in German that’s spoken slowly so that you can work on your comprehension.
  • GerGermanGrammar iTunes Feed Web Site
    • German grammar lessons aimed at American students.
  • Lernen Wir Deutsch iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Presented in video, these “vodcasts” get high marks for being not only educational but also very entertaining.
  • iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn German phrase by phrase over a course of 20 weeks. The podcasts will cover all the language you need to know to get by on a visit to a German-speaking country. This series is put together by the same people created the popular series “Coffee Break Spanish.”


  • iTunes Feed Web Site
    • A series of Italian language lessons that will get you up and running. I have personally used them and found them effective.
  • Let’s Speak Italian iTunes Feed Web Site
    • This collection will help you learn Italian in small, manageable 5-minute bites.
  • iTunes Web Site
    • Learn Italian step by step over a course of 20 weeks. The podcasts will cover all the language you need to know to get by on a visit to a Italian-speaking country. Created by the same people who put together the popular series “Coffee Break Spanish.”
  • World Languages Podcasting – Italian Podcast iTunes Feed Web Site
    • It’s admittedly a bit of an untraditional way to learn Italian. This podcast lets you listen to conversations about Australian culture in Italian.


  • Coffee Break Spanish iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Learn Spanish in a low-key, effective way. Currently the #2 overall favorite in iTunes’ podcast collection. They must be loaded on iPods everywhere.
  • Finally Learn Spanish – Beyond the Basics iTunes Feed Web Site
    • If you’ve had some Spanish classes and you need experience listening to and speaking the language, then Finally Learn Spanish has a collection of podcasts for you.
  • Insta Spanish Lessons iTunes Feed Web Site
    • Weekly comprehension and grammar exercises for students of all levels. One of the more popular podcasts on iTunes.
  • Learn Spanish Survival Guide iTunes Feed
    • If you’re planning a trip to a Spanish speaking country, and if you don’t know the langugage, this will help get you up to speed.

Where the American Press Went Wrong on the Iraq War: Bill Moyers Returns to TV Next Week

Next Wednesday, at 9 pm, respected journalist Bill Moyers will return to PBS and air a 90-minute presentation called Buying the War. Along the way, he’ll look at how the mainstream American press wound up cheerleading for the Bush administration’s drive toward war in Iraq rather than doing their real job — asking tough questions and providing partisan-free reporting.

Below, you can find a video excerpt from next week’s show. To briefly set the stage, Bob Simon of of 60
Minutes talks here about "the reporting he
was seeing and reading out of the beltway, and John Walcott and Warren
Strobel of Knight Ridder newspapers (now The McClatchy Company),
discuss their work burrowing deep into the intelligence agencies to
determine whether there was any evidence for the Bush Administration’s
case for war." (Note:
You can get more information on the expose from this PBS page, and you can subscribe to feeds for Bill Moyer’s podcasts here.)

How Web 2.0 Will Transform the Humanities

Digital_campus_2Contrary to popular belief, there are a few professors out there who actually have their own accounts on FaceBook, much to the horror of their students. Now you can hear their take on new media and the university in a biweekly podcast, Digital Campus.
The series features a panel of new media scholars at George Mason University discussing how Web 2.0 techonologies will change humanities teaching and research. Topics so far have included Wikipedia, YouTube and this week’s episode on social networking (mp3feedwebsite). As the most recent show points out, Web 2.0 is rapidly making it to the academic primetime–the University of Michigan now offers a master’s degree in social computing.

The flip side of new media technologies is how they will transform research into more traditional humanities subjects. The Digital Campus crew are all involved in the emerging field of digital humanities. On the podcast they discuss many of the challenges of transferring old media knowledge to digital archives and structuring those archives to make searching easy. In addition to airing these questions in the podcast, Digital Campus is promoting a new wiki designed for newcomers and veterans alike.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play Ready to Download and Sync

When you think Broadway, you don’t necessarily think first about plays that make science its point of focus. Or at least

you didn’t before Copenhagen hit the stage in 1998 and dramatically told the story of Niels Bohr’s shadowy meeting with Werner Heisenberg back in 1941. Since then, science plays have been going strong. Just take this for example: L.A. Theatre Works recently launched its Relativity Series, a “monthly broadcast featuring plays that explore the impact of science on individuals and society.” You can download the series as a podcast (iTunesFeedWeb Site), and it so happens that the series kicks off with a Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning play called Proof, starring Anne Heche.

Written by David Auburn in 2001, Proof is not as academic as it sounds. The New York Times called it “An exhilarating and assured new play . . . accessible and compelling as a detective story.” And Hollywood turned the play into a film in 2005, with Gwyneth Paltrow playing the lead. So you shouldn’t have any reservations about immersing yourself in this dramatic work. Download it, sync it, and get ready to listen to a tale of love and death, intellectual adventure and paranoia, and a sprinkling of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Tell a Friend About Open Culture

Dig into Open Culture’s podcast collections.

2007 Pulitzer Prizes Announced

Here’s the list in Letters, Drama and Music (see full list here):

Podcasts That Book Fans Can Groove On

Somewhat unexpectedly, the proliferation of audio podcasts has been a boon for book lovers and writers. Looking around the digital landscape, you’ll discover a number of podcasts that enhance the experience of reading good old fashioned books. Let’s quickly have a look at the lay of the land.

The New York Times now notably puts out a podcast (iTunesFeedWeb Site) that complements its beloved Sunday Book Review section. Hosted by Sam Tanenhaus, the Book Review editor, this podcast runs about 20 minutes, and it gives Sam a chance to have substantive chats with authors, editors and critics who figure into
the weekly print edition. Along somewhat similar lines, NPR Books (iTunesFeedWeb Site) brings together the network’s many book reviews and author interviews in a nice audio collection. C-Span’s After Words (iTunesFeedWeb Site) serves up interviews with important authors of recently published hardback non-fiction, and Slate sponsors an Audio Book Club (iTunes –  FeedWeb Site), although it unfortunately updates the podcast rather irregularly. Meanwhile, over in the UK, The Guardian (iTunesFeedWeb Site) produces a quite robust podcast that features regular talks with well-known authors, many of them British. The Times, another English paper, does the same (iTunesFeedWeb Site), but its collection is noticably slimmer, though good.

Quite smartly, publishers and bookstores have also started churning out podcasts for the literati, using the digital medium as a marketing tool for their paper goods. Simon & Schuster produces Simon Says (iTunesFeedWeb Site), a weekly podcast that features new books and audio books coming out of the New York publishing house. Random House (iTunesWeb Site) similarly lets listeners check out excerpts from new releases. And then on the bookstore front, Barnes & Noble presents Meet the Writers  (iTunesFeedWeb Site), a podcast that features authors discussing their favorite books, influences, and the reasons they write. And similarly Amazon Book Clips (iTunesFeedWeb Site) lets you keep tabs on both bestselling and up-and-coming authors. You can find other Amazon podcasts here.

Lastly, the book lover always has access these days to a growing list of free audio books. We’ve sifted through many of them and included the classics in our Audio Book Podcast Collection. You can also find a broader, more extensive collection over at Librivox.

iTunes Freebies From Around the World

Here’s a quick heads up: (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) posted a nice feature that offers a new slant on what we often do here at Open Culture. They scanned the different international iTunes stores and identified free music, video, and audio books available to users in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Britain and New Zealand. If international culture is your thing, then definitely mosey on over.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.