Given the overwhelming amount of stuff on line, I consider it a gift to have found a site called Open Yale Courses. I cannot tell you exactly how I stumbled across this grand virtual place, but if you have an academic bent and the curiosity to follow a semester's worth of lectures and reading assignments, go there. Free. Yes, you can be a Yale student--well, minus the transcript and those bothersome exams and written assignments--for nothing but the paper and ink to print out the materials. And if you choose a course in your own area of interest, mine being poetry, you may have some material on hand. My old, much used poetry books are helpful, if not all inclusive, for Modern Poetry, taught by Langdon Hammer in 2007. That sounds a bit dated here in 2010, but the great Modernist poets have been dead for years, so any information and insight is still useful. They won't be changing their style or content.
I started this course on Dec. 29th, and so far I've listened to four lectures, so I've done two weeks in one. I can move as quickly or slowly as I want. No waiting for the twice-weekly class schedule to roll around. If I need to shuffle pages in a book, I can stop the video, and Dr. Hammer resumes his talk at my request. If the dog wants out, I can attend to that need and not miss a word. This is better than squeezing into a cramped desk in a lecture hall. How else could I go to a 300-level lit class in my robe and slippers?
Most of the dedicated writers I know love to learn, whether it be the wiring of plot lines or the making of radial tires, anything that feeds their work, that enriches the world of thought and feeling that makes writing exciting. Now I'm about to check out renting textbooks on line at Coursesmart.com, Textbookmedia.com, and Chegg.com. I don't have room on my shelves for more books, but renting sounds like a good reason to take more courses. Look at me, I'm studying at Yale.