Thursday, February 27, 2014

The author of PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL is teaching a free online course!

This month Dan Ariely, Duke Professor and New York Times bestselling author of Predictably Irrational, is offering a special opportunity to take a free course on the effect of psychology on economic decision-making.  The course, “A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior,” is being offered through Coursera beginning on March 11th.  The only requirement for enrollment in the 8-week course is “curiosity about human nature,” so that leaves…well hopefully everyone.

Known for challenging our preconceptions about the ways humans behave, Ariely will introduce you to his three books Predictably Irrational (2008), The Upside of Irrationality (2010), and The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (2012). Each week, he will cover a new topic relating to the study of behavioral economics, starting with irrationality, moving through dishonesty, and ending with applications of his research to real world scenarios.

As a special offer to promote this amazing course HarperCollins has created an ebundle of Ariely’s influential books, which you can purchase here.

To see Dan Ariely describe one of the many practical applications of the course (The Secret to Kicking Procrastination) watch below.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Course Suggestions for Thornton Wilder's THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH

The Skin of Our Teeth By Thornton WilderTime magazine called The Skin of Our Teeth "a sort of Hellzapoppin' with brains," as it broke from established theatrical conventions and walked off with the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Best Drama (Wilder’s remarkable third win). Combining farce, burlesque, and satire (among other styles), Thornton Wilder departs from his studied use of nostalgia and sentiment in Our Town to have an Eternal Family narrowly escape one disaster after another, from ancient times to the present.

Suggested Course Use

Thomas P. Adler, renowned American drama scholar, called The Skin of Our Teeth (1943) “the seminal text of self-consciousness in the American theater”—casting the play firmly into the sphere of “epic theatre,” popularized by Germans Erwin Piscator and Berthold Brecht. Even more so than Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth relied on illusion-blasting techniques to constantly remind his audiences that they were watching a play, shattering the “fourth wall” so popular in American theater at the time, and scandalizing theater-goers in the process.

But Wilder was not the only playwright drawn to this new dramatic form—during the years of the worldwide depression, leading into World War II, “epic” productions became increasingly popular throughout the world, and especially the United States. How did the tenets of the “epic” stage production seek to respond to the fear surrounding the depression, the rise of fascism, and the Second World War? Why was the genre’s aversion to “escapism” important? How did the political messages of American epic plays seem to shift as the U.S. actually became involved in the War (i.e. How is The Skin of Our Teeth different from its pre-war predecessors in tone and overt political message)? To answer these questions, it might be helpful to examine Brecht’s own Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), Paul Green and Kurt Weill’s Johnny Johnson (1936), Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock (1937) in your course.