Past Masters: Classics of Western civilization at your fingertips

2/1/2007 | By: Staff Report  |

How did Aristotle explain the world's oceans being composed of salt water?
What were Thomas Aquinas' thoughts about buying and selling on credit in the 13th century?
Need a scholarly edition of Machiavelli's 'The Prince' for a course assignment?

One of the easiest ways for professors to become heroes with their students is by saving them money on the cost of books for a course.

Past Masters is a collection of electronic books that can help University faculty achieve heroic standing with their classes.

Various interdisciplinary works in the Past Masters collection offer faculty a wide range of readings for courses in the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. These include:

  • Aristotle's Rhetoric
  • G. W. F. Hegel's Aesthetics Lectures on Fine Art
  • The Collected Works of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
  • The Works of Mary Wollstonecraft

Long before today's nature programs and geographic documentaries, explorers, missionaries, tourists and other world travelers shared the mysteries of distant lands with the people back home through their autobiographies, letters and other writings.

The Past Masters collection includes a large assortment of travel literature and other kinds of primary sources ranging from Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth's letters as a tourist in early 19th century France and Switzerland to Dr. David Livingstone's ethnographic notes during his years in Africa.

History and political science students might be intrigued by Karl Marx's letter to Abraham Lincoln on the occasion of his presidential re-election. Literature and the environment students might enjoy Charles Darwin's 'Diary of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle'

Types of primary sources available include diaries, drawings, journals, and poems

For students of the theatre, our Past Masters holdings include plays by:Aphra Behn, Frances Burney, and Mary Shelley

The completely revised third edition of the 'Oxford Classical Dictionary' (1996) is also available online via Past Masters. This edition reflects the breakthroughs in research about near eastern history and women in the ancient world that occurred after the second edition was published in 1970, as well as the more contemporary interdisciplinary approach to classical studies.

From Sir Walter Raleigh's "Of the Falls of Empires" (within The Emerging Tradition: 1500-1700 section), to David Hume's essay, "Of the Liberty of the Press" (within the Political Philosophy: Machiavelli to Mill section), Past Masters is a convenient online resource that can support a wide range of academic disciplines, including, but not limited to:

  • biology
  • economics
  • history
  • literature
  • philosophy
  • political science
  • speech communication
  • theatre
  • women's studies

With its selection of biographies, diaries, fiction, memoirs, plays and poetry, anyone seeking quality recreational reading should keep this collection of e-books in mind, too.


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