Professor Thomas Shippey (who is a Cambridge-educated expert on Medieval literature and a leading world scholar on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien) gives each of the 24 lectures. Each talk offers important insights into the world's great works of literature and why their heroes have lived on in our hearts and imaginations. How could I not love this series when it started out with a most unlikely hero, Frodo Baggins? Shippey explains why the world needed such a hero at that time in history.
Some of the lectures share additional, unknown information about famous characters (such as Robin Hood). Others walk the listener through the character's most famous story (Odysseus). I enjoyed the variety (In Lecture 16 he explains how people gained a taste for lighter reading. In Lecture 22 he talks about fairy tales and their modern feminist versions.) Although the final lectures include people that I would not have selected as literary heroes (Celie from The Color Purple and Winston Smith from 1984, for example), Shippey argues convincingly for their importance.
Shippey's enthusiasm for his subject keeps you listening. It doesn't hurt that he has a marvelous British voice and dry sense of humor. Although he deals with several indiscreet protagonists, he manages to keep the lectures at a PG level. I appreciated that he wasn't too politically correct to note when a character was helped by faith in God.
(They are ridiculously expensive on the Great Courses site, but are $30 at Amazon/Audible.)