Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Plagues, Witches, and War...

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Subject: Plagues, Witches, and War...
Date Posted: 9/30/2013 1:16 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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...is a free, online course on Historical Fiction. I stumbled upon this some time ago and forgot about it until another PBS member indicated in the Games forum that she signed up for this. I couldn't sign up because of a timing issue, but maybe others here are interested. It is taught by a University of Virginia professor and includes guest writers (such as Geraldine Brooks and Katherine Howe) chatting about their work. The course is 8 weeks long and starts on Oct. 15. Here's the link: Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction. I'm really hoping that someone here signs up so I can take the course vicariously!

Date Posted: 9/30/2013 2:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I need a new project like I need a hole in my head, but I signed up, thanks :)

Date Posted: 9/30/2013 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I signed up.  I love Geraldine Brooks. 

Date Posted: 10/1/2013 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 759
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I actually signed up for this a few days ago.   Glad to see more of you are as insane as I am!  cheeky

Date Posted: 10/5/2013 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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I would love to do this but I have so much on right now.  Have fun you guys I hope to hear about it from you all.

Date Posted: 10/9/2013 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2009
Posts: 94
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omg. I so don't have time for this, but I signed up. I love Geraldine Brooks. I also just added The Ghost Bride to my TBR, so glad to see that the author is also participating!

Mary (mepom) -
Date Posted: 10/13/2013 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
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Since I am retired, I will try this. Sounds good.

Date Posted: 10/16/2013 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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The course has begun!  I had some time so I read the first two assigned readings.  They were very good, I thought.  Not sure how many of the postings I will get to.  There are so many people taking the course; it is daunting just looking at the number of posts on the "introduce yourself" thread. 

Date Posted: 10/17/2013 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2010
Posts: 143
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I'm taking it too! I'm a big fan of coursera, this is my 7th coursera course and I really enjoy them. I've basically given up most of my tv watching in order to do my coursera courses ( except for Masterpiece Theater)! The only downside is that the courses have cut into my PBS challenges, but I'm looking for  ways to work the novels into my historical fiction challenge. The biggest help for me in taking these courses was to get an iPad mini so I can watch the videos in a comfortable chair...



Last Edited on: 10/18/13 8:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/17/2013 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I didn't know about coursea before so this is my first.  I am impressed with the quality, depth, and planning that has gone into the course.  I have already started to get a little better grasp on the development of historical fiction and the relation of historical fiction to nonfiction history.  Fascinating stuff for this hf lover.

Date Posted: 10/18/2013 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I just watched the introduction video (cute squirrel in the background ;) ) and am planning on digging into Unit One tonight at home.  Would there be interest in continuing this thread as a small group chat discussion about this course?
Thanks again, Deb!

Date Posted: 10/18/2013 7:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I would be interested, Mimi.  I'm working away at Unit One, too.  Lots of food for thought and my list of "to reads" is growing.

Date Posted: 10/18/2013 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 759
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I'd be interested, too. Hoping to start Unit 1 myself this weekend.

Date Posted: 10/19/2013 1:06 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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Sounds wonderful! Yay!

Date Posted: 11/14/2013 6:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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Just wondering if anyone else is still with the course and, if so, how are you liking it?  I've viewed the lectures and done some of the reading but very selectively.  I loved learning that Anna Katherine Green was the forerunner of those historical mysteries we all love so much and really enjoyed the interview with Katherine Howe.

Date Posted: 11/14/2013 2:47 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,508
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I've totally failed on keeping up with the course, sigh. Maybe tonight I'll listen to some more of the lectures.

Date Posted: 11/14/2013 3:05 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I can understand.  It's hard to find the time.  I'm caught up except that I didn't do all of the readings.  I've already read two of the four novels so that was a help.  And I actually finished the Archive assignment, which I thought was really fun, but then I love that stuff (beats housework)!

Date Posted: 11/15/2013 12:45 AM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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Yes...those of you taking the course, please post away...so those of us on the sidelines can effortlessly benefit from your efforts. We want to know any interesting tidbits, thoughts, ideas, etc. that you've learned in this course.  We're counting on you!

Date Posted: 11/19/2013 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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Today I watched the interview with Geraldine Brooks (I am a huge fan) and it was the best thing in the course for me so far.  She discusses her approach to writing historical fiction in general and specifically her first novel "Year of Wonders."  She talks about hf as being a cross-cultural exploration.  So while she strives for authenticity to a time period, she believes that basic human emotions do not change.  The people of the past were more like us than different from us by virtue of our shared human-ness.  This gives a kind of past-present flavor to her writing.  I am not doing this justice in the re-telling - it was really good!

Date Posted: 11/20/2013 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Thanks for sharing information about this course. Ive read one or two articles that i heard about through people taking the course. It sounds like good stuff.

Some of you may be interested in an upcoming free online course about Richard III. It's called England in the Time of King Richard III (https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/england-of-richard-third-2014) by FutureLearn. It doesn't seem as labor intensive as the HF course. 

I signed up. Anybody wanna join me?

Date Posted: 11/20/2013 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I signed up - thanks Genie.

Date Posted: 11/20/2013 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/6/2007
Posts: 759
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I just signed up for the Richard III course...and I'm woefully behind in this HF class...

Date Posted: 11/21/2013 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Yay, we'll be school buddies now too! LOL

Date Posted: 11/21/2013 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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I really like the Plagues, etc. course.  I only spend about 1 1/2 - 2 hours a week - usually on a Tuesday morning when the lecture for the week is posted.  I watch the lectures or visiting author interviews in one sitting (about an hour), then immediately do the quiz and check out any of the suggested readings to pick and choose what I may want to read.  I spent several hours on the archival assignment simply because it interested me; it could have been completed in much less time.  This course has given me a better understanding of the hf genre - as someone said:  if you want to know what happened, read history; if you want to understand what happened, read historical fiction. 

I'm looking forward to the Richard III course in January.  Should be fun!

Date Posted: 11/22/2013 12:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 929
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The words of Geraldine Brooks from the course seminar which was posted on the professor's blog in response to a question about her view of hf:

"There’s a fundamental rift [among] writers of historical fiction and it’s a rift that runs through other aspects of life too, which is, Same or different? Is what unites us more than what divides us? And as a foreign correspondent in the contemporary world, I would hear people all the time saying, ‘They’re not like us.’ One side saying about the other—white South Africans about black, Palestinians about Israelis—‘Their values are different, they don’t love their kids, they’re willing to sacrifice them, they don’t have the same material needs that we have,’ and it’s all BS in my view. You know, the sound of somebody keening for a dead child, is exactly the same, no matter if they’re in a…New York apartment, or an Eritrean refugee camp. There’s a fundamental belief that the human heart hasn’t changed that much. … At a time when you couldn’t expect to raise your kids, when death was ever present, there would’ve been a different approach to loss. But I don’t think it felt any different, I don’t think the emotion of loss felt any different, and I don’t think hatred felt any different, and I don’t think love did. And so, that for me is, where you start, with believing that human beings have these strong emotions in common. And that, that is more crucial to shaping consciousness than the furniture in the room. So, that’s my conviction about historical fiction, and it … drives everything for me. "



Last Edited on: 11/22/13 12:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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