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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

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. Study.com offers literature courses that use video lessons taught by subject experts. Students can also take quizzes that test their knowledge of the subject matter.

Students interested in literature can dive into English 101: English Literature which includes engaging chapters such as:

Students may also want to check out English 102: American Literature, which consists of chapters like:

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.
  • Reading Fiction 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.
  • World Literature II 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.
  • 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 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.
  • George Eliot 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.
  • Introduction to Theory of Literature allows students to complete readings and reflect on how theoretical approaches like structuralism, deconstruction and feminism are used to understand and interpret literary texts.
  • Milton discusses the author's famous works as well as his influence on English poetry.

Harvard University

Harvard Extension School offers a wide range of free courses, some of which relate directly to literature.

  • Masterpieces of World Literature takes a look at major literary works from around the world, starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh and leading up to works from the present day.
  • American Poetry from the Mayflower through Emerson explores the cultivation and development of American literature.

New Jersey Institute of Technology

Through the school's OpenCourseWare program, NJIT offers a single class that teaches students about world literature.

  • World Literature explores contemporary global works of literature in various forms, including poems, novels and short stories. The course consists of 22 lectures, with topics and supplemental course readings focusing on geographical regions such as Latin America and Oceania.

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