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7 Universities Providing Access to Free Literature Courses Online

Free online courses in literature are offered by real schools. Learn which literature courses are available, what topics they cover and which ones lead to real college credit.

Online Literature Courses for Credit

Students who want to earn a degree might look for online courses that offer a path to credit. Free courses don't often lead to college credit, but students can find some courses that charge a nominal fee and have a credited option. The fee for these courses is generally much lower than the course would cost at a college campus.

Education Portal offers two literature courses, English 101: English Literature and English 102: American Literature, each of which offers a low cost and effective path to college credit. Students can read the lesson transcripts for free or become a member and watch all the American and English literature video lessons taught by experts in this field. With a membership, students can also take quizzes that test their knowledge of the subject matter. Chapters in the English 101: English Literature course include:

Chapters in the English 102: American Literature course include:

Free Online Non-Credited Literature Courses

Several universities offer free online courses and course materials in literature. These courses are self-paced, and students don't have to register to view the materials. Media players or document readers might be required to access some of the course materials. None of these courses result in college credit.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

This school offers a variety of literature courses through its OpenCourseWare site. Students may view syllabi, reading lists and assignments, though they will not receive university credit for completing them. Popular Culture and Narrative: Literature, Comics and Culture investigates how more traditional literary texts have influenced comics and vice versa. Assignments in the Reading Fiction course can help students improve their critical reading skills by exposing them to such concepts as character development, historical/political contexts and structure. Some of this course's reading materials can be accessed online.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

The New Jersey Institute of Technology offers online courses via a series of audio and video lectures available for download. World Literature I surveys poetry and fiction from North American, South American, Australian and Caribbean authors, including Pablo Neruda, Toni Morrison and Octavio Paz. The World Literature II course delves into the work of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and European writers. These materials are for independent study only. Students will not receive credit for completing them.

Open University

The Open University offers free course outlines, activities and discussion points along with accompanying documentation. Though this website does offer courses for credit, these options are for self-study only. Approaching Poetry explores such topics as rhythm and alliteration. Techniques for comparing and contrasting poems are also discussed. The 10-hour course, Sam Selvon, The Lonely Londoners, concentrates on the characterization and narrative techniques used in Selvon's novel. Students also examine its themes of memory and migration.

University of Notre Dame

OpenCourseWare at this university offers handouts, discussion questions and lecture notes to students who would like to study topics on their own time. However, students will not receive university credit for completing them. Reinventing the Fairy Tale focuses on ways well-known fairy tales, like Cinderella, have been re-imagined in contemporary texts. The reading list includes links to some selections, though other stories and films will need to be obtained elsewhere.

University of Oxford

The University of Oxford offers a series of audio lectures delivered by the university's English faculty. D.H. Lawrence consists of 7 installments discussing themes in such works as Lady Chatterley's Lover and Women in Love. The George Eliot series consists of 3 lectures covering her literary reputation; they also explore how her narrative structure relates to the classical notions of comedy and tragedy. Students who access these lectures will not receive course credit from the university.

Yale University

Open Yale courses include audio and video files accessible through iTunes and YouTube. These materials can also be downloaded. Students will not receive course credit for viewing them or completing any assignments. Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Faulkner examines these authors' major works and explores their similarities within the contexts of history and modernism. In Introduction to Theory of Literature, students can complete readings and reflect on how theoretical approaches like structuralism, deconstruction and feminism are used to understand and interpret literary texts. Students can also study the poetry and prose of Milton in this course named after the author. Other topics of discussion include his influence on English poetry.

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