Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition [TTC Video]
16 January 2016, 04:20
Course No 893 | AVI, XviD, 336x224 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | 4.1GB
Western civilization is closely associated with reason and science, and with exceptional accomplishment in art, architecture, music, and literature. Yet it has also been characterized by widespread belief in the supernatural and the irrational—with mystics who have visions of the divine, and with entire movements of people who wait in fervent anticipation of the apocalypse.
In addition, Western culture has been the setting for repeated acts of barbarism: persecutions of certain groups such as Jews, or accused heretics and witches.
Why has this been the case?
This two-part series invites you to consider what might be called the "underbelly" of Western society, a complex mixture of deeply embedded beliefs and unsettling social forces that has given rise to our greatest saints and our most shameful acts. The "terror of history," according to Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, is a deeply held belief—dating from the ancient Greeks to Nietzsche and beyond—that the world is essentially about disorder and emptiness, and that human beings live constantly on the edge of doom.
We see history as terrifying, so we try to escape it. One strategy is to withdraw through transcendental experiences. Another, unfortunately, is to shift our fears onto scapegoats such as lepers, nonconformists, and other outsiders whom we choose to blame for "the catastrophe of our existence," as Professor Ruiz puts it.
The Renaissance as a Time of Magic and Astrology
This course explores the concept of the terror of history through a study of mysticism, heresy, apocalyptic movements, and the witch hunting craze in Europe between 1000 and 1700. You will examine new sources and think in new ways about events in the centuries from the late medieval period to early modern Europe.
You will be introduced to texts with which you may not be familiar, such as the Zohar, the Book of Splendor, the text of Jewish Kabbalistic mysticism. Or the Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of Witches, a handbook for identifying, interrogating, and trying witches.
You will view the Renaissance not from the perspective that it was the beginning of modernity but that it was a time when many among the educated were fascinated by alchemy and magic, when the Pope depended on his astrologer, when the learned considered the Corpus Hermeticum—a mixture of magic and astrology believed to date from the time of Moses—to be a more valuable text than Plato's Symposium.
You will consider how social, economic, political, and religious climates—especially during times of change and stress—exerted tremendous influence on the prevalence of irrational attitudes and persecutions. For example, between 1000 and 1700, periods of economic trouble were highly correlated with a rise in apocalyptic fervor. Similarly, religious wars coincided with the persecution of witches.
This course is presented by a teacher who displays both exceptional mastery over, and endless enthusiasm for, his subject matter. Professor Ruiz has been named one of four Outstanding Teachers of the Year in the United States by the Carnegie Foundation.
Particularly valuable is his willingness to add his own perspective, both professional and personal, to his lectures. Whether discussing aspects of ancient mystical practices that were common in Cuba during his boyhood, or offering an opinion on whether witchcraft has ever truly existed, Professor Ruiz makes clear that history is a living thing.
Why Witches and Heretics Were Persecuted
Much of The Terror of History has to do with the concept of the "other"—those who are seen by society as different—often by virtue of their sex, economic status, or beliefs—and are frequently persecuted.
These lectures examine the concept of otherness in a variety of ways and examine how certain groups came to be seen as other. Often, this involved the creation of boundaries, either real or imaginary, between people.
For example, the enclosure movement of the 15th century fenced peasants off their land, and the Reformation created a new religious boundary between Catholic and Protestant. This made it easier to accuse those who were poor, or of the wrong faith, of being heretics or witches.
The witch craze provides a way to view the concept of other as women's history. Misogynistic attitudes and a growing antipathy toward the poor created a kind of profiling of witches. A witch was identified as someone who was a woman, past childbearing age, poor, lived on the edge of town, and often had certain kinds of esoteric knowledge, such as the use of herbal medicines. In Essex, England, 278 of 291 people accused of witchcraft were women, and all were over 40 years old.
You will also consider how authority—frequently an alliance of secular government and the church—used others for its benefit. The Inquisition and witchhunting were a means to create a sense of community and identity for the populations of emerging nations and to enforce orthodoxy.
Methods of execution, such as hanging, drowning, and burning at the stake, provided multiple benefits: spectacle and entertainment, a sense of shared public purpose, and powerful lessons about the fate of those who deviated from accepted norms.
Have we outgrown the terror of history? Is it behind us?
Professor Ruiz suggests that Western culture can be seen as a pendulum swinging between periods of rational thinking and periods of superstition and irrationality. If we look at the 20th century, it was certainly a time of enormous scientific and technological achievements. On the other hand, it was also the most violent century in history.
The pendulum swings. And the terror of history continues.
Wonders of the National Parks: A Geology of North America [TTC Video]
15 January 2016, 18:42
Course No 1707 | MP4, AVC, 870 kbps, 856x480 | AAC, 135 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.89GB
In 1872, a wondrous region called Yellowstone was set aside as the world’s first national park, giving adventurous travelers access to a geologist’s paradise that seethes with pent-up volcanic forces. As more and more national parks were created—not just in the United States but also in Canada and Mexico—geologists were revolutionizing their field, piecing together a detailed understanding of how the world works. National parks have made these magnificent reminders of the awe-inspiring power of our planet accessible to everyone. Today, there is no better education in the remarkable forces that formed our world than a tour of the national parks of North America. These parks capture a special place in our hearts and draw millions of tourists each year.
From Yellowstone’s bubbling, steaming landscape to the great slabs of granite along Acadia’s shores, each park contributes its own chapter to the story of Earth. Most visitors get only a superficial view of these sites, guided by the informational signposts or tour books, but there is so much more to be discovered. Our national parks offer profound lessons for anyone who loves history, geology, and nature. This course provides in-depth insights, intriguing perspectives, and riveting little-known facts about these treasured places that you won’t find simply by driving through them. And the next time you do drive or hike through a national park, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the forces—geological, historical, and otherwise—that shaped it.
You will learn how our majestic parks provide dramatic evidence of geological processes such as:
- Colliding continents: From Maine’s Acadia National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee, the rolling Appalachians are the eroded remnants of once-mighty peaks formed in the collision of ancient continents.
- Glaciation: The magnificent valley that welcomes visitors to Yosemite National Park is the work of vanished glaciers that were nearly a mile thick. Glaciers sculpted this region and much of North America in a succession of pulses during Earth’s latest ice age.
- Uplift and erosion: Imagine a board lifting into a buzz saw. A similar phenomenon produced the Grand Canyon and other breathtaking chasms in the American West, as the Colorado Plateau rose and fast-flowing rivers sliced through the land.
- Volcanic Hotspots: Deep beneath Yellowstone National Park is a huge magma chamber that erupted as a supervolcano 640,000 years ago and will explode again. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hides a tamer, fiery hotspot.
Formed just 16 years after Yellowstone was dedicated as a park, the National Geographic Society has led the way in securing protection for America’s most important natural wonders. With a connection to the national parks that stretches back all the way to the 1800s, the National Geographic Society has maintained an abiding interest in their creation and preservation, sponsoring scientific and exploratory expeditions; featuring the parks in scores of magazine articles, books, and films; and working to raise awareness and support for national parks at home and abroad. Apart from the National Park Service itself, no other organization has compiled as impressive an archive of maps and images, assembled as knowledgeable a staff, or been as committed to educating the public on the subject of these national treasures.
We are proud to join forces with this extraordinary institution to present Wonders of the National Parks: A Geology of North America, a fascinating introduction to geology that forged North America’s national parks. Beautifully illustrated, these 36 half-hour lectures take you to more than a hundred spectacular sites guided by geologist and former college professor Ford Cochran, who is currently the Director of Programming for National Geographic Expeditions. He is a storyteller and an explorer at heart who specializes in interpreting landscapes for a variety of audiences.
No previous background in geology or science is needed to experience the thrill that these lectures offer, just a sense of curiosity as you unravel the mysteries of some of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet.
Learn about Every National Park…and More
The scope of this course is truly astonishing. Professor Cochran covers every national park in the United States, together with exceptional state parks, national monuments, historical parks, marine sanctuaries, and other preserves, plus a number of outstanding parks in Canada, Mexico, and beyond. Anyone planning a trip to one or more of these sites, whether a weekend outing or a transcontinental expedition, will find their experiences immeasurably enriched by Professor Cochran’s insightful and entertaining presentation. And just staying at home watching the series is an adventure itself!
As a special bonus, three of National Geographic’s top experts appear in interview segments following many of the lectures. Photojournalist Chris Johns was the first journalist onto Mount Saint Helens after it erupted in 1980, and he recently stepped up from Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic magazine to oversee all editorial content creation at National Geographic. Biologist and wildlife documentary producer John Francis is currently National Geographic’s Vice President for Research, Conservation, and Exploration. And Kaitlin Yarnall is one of the gifted cartographers behind National Geographic’s famous maps, now serving as Executive Editor for Cartography, Art, and Graphics at National Geographic magazine as well as Director of Cartography for the Society. These three creative professionals add their fascinating perspectives to Wonders of the National Parks, rounding out the experience to provide truly enriching lessons.
The Greatest Spectacle on Earth
Many visitors to national parks never go beyond the most accessible sites, but this course shows how to experience the breathtaking diversity of these places in depth. You learn how each park fits into the geological epic of North America—a story of mountain ranges created by the collision of tectonic plates, of oceans rising and drowning the lowlands, of volcanoes raining ash and liquid fire, of glaciers growing to towering heights and scouring the terrain down to the bedrock, of desert sands burying entire regions, of earthquakes transforming the land in an instant, and of the tenacious, erosive power of flowing water. If it sounds like the greatest spectacle on Earth, it is!
Drawing on his wide experience as a field geologist and National Geographic expedition lecturer, Professor Cochran has plenty of recommendations for must-see attractions and activities. Here are just a few:
- Driving: A National Geographic staffer once told Professor Cochran that Canada’s Icefields Parkway was “the most spectacular drive anywhere.” He took the trip and discovered why. The largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains, it stretches from Banff National Park to Jasper National Park along the Continental Divide.
- Hiking: Among the many hikes suggested by Professor Cochran, he especially loves the West Rim Trail at Zion National Park. The awe-inspiring views of the sandstone canyons carved by the North Fork of the Virgin River are well worth the walk.
- For the more adventurous:
- Canoeing and kayaking: A tranquil river trip takes you through the dramatic badlands of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, retracing a portion of Lewis and Clark’s epic voyage.
- Rock climbing: One of the oldest rivers on the continent, paradoxically called the New River, has worn a gorge into a uniquely hard form of sandstone that is a nearly perfect rock for climbers, who flock to New River Gorge National River to test their skills.
Remind Yourself: “This Is Real!”
In addition to geology, Wonders of the National Parks also touches on botany, zoology, atmospheric science, and other disciplines as they relate to specific protected areas. The course also explores the role that humans have played in these distinctive landscapes. For example:
- Gettysburg: Gettysburg National Military Park provides a geology lesson wrapped up in a history lesson. Little Round Top, Cemetery Ridge, and other key sites in the three-day battle owe their existence to the rifting that opened the Atlantic when the supercontinent Pangaea split apart.
- Gold rush: Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve includes gold formations mined during Alaska’s great gold rush. Just as in California’s gold fields, seafloor subduction and other tectonic forces created the right conditions to concentrate the glittering element in rocks near the surface.
- John Wesley Powell: One of the founders of the National Geographic Society was John Wesley Powell, who led the first expeditions through the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon. His vivid reports brought these future parklands to public attention.
- Ansel Adams: The world’s most revered nature photographer did his most famous work in the parks of the American West. Professor Cochran takes Adams’s classic view of Yosemite Valley and reads it like a book, pointing out the riveting geological story it tells.
With a career at National Geographic spanning more than 20 years, plus his professional training in geology, Professor Cochran is the ideal lecturer for this course: a deeply knowledgeable scientist, an experienced and enthusiastic traveler, and a consummate storyteller who lives and breathes the Society’s mission to “inspire, illuminate, teach.”
You may even be able to detect Professor Cochran’s background in English literature, which he pursued as an undergraduate before falling in love with geology. He often peppers his lessons with quotes and stories, adding an additional dimension of elucidation. For example, in his lectures on Yosemite, he quotes the great author and naturalist John Muir, whose eloquence helped preserve Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in the 1890s. Professor Cochran has a similar way with words, describing one of the Yosemite hikes as follows: “The soaring scale and beauty of the granite landscape from this portion of the John Muir Trail are so extraordinary that, though you’re there and seeing it—actually seeing it—you still have to remind yourself: This is real!”
The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking [TTC Video]
15 January 2016, 18:32
Course No 9231 | AVI, XviD, 2318 kbps, 720x540 | AC3, 1926 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x35 mins | 14.77GB
There’s a strong sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from cooking your own meals; from taking ingredients and combining them to create eye-catching and mouth-watering dishes that can please you and your family and friends. The only problem: For many of us, cooking looks so complex and frustrating that it doesn’t seem worth our time.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, all it takes to build confidence in the kitchen is a firm grasp of the basic concepts, methods, and techniques used every day by chefs. While cookbooks are pretty to look at and cooking shows are certainly entertaining, neither of them truly teaches the lost art of cooking; neither of them truly demonstrates the fundamentals and step-by-step strategies that go into creating a wide range of dishes.
With just a bit of education, you can master how to cook and forget about being anxious in the kitchen. You’ll be able to
- transform everyday ingredients into restaurant-quality dishes,
- create delicious meals for both casual weekday dinners and large holiday celebrations,
- learn how to work with unique tastes and ingredients to expand your palate,
- avoid spending money on expensive meals or unhealthy fast food, and
- rediscover the joy of cooking and eating.
Of course, it’s rare to find a truly gifted chef who can actually show you how to cook; who can engage your mind to think about food in new ways. Now, The Great Courses has joined forces with the prestigious Culinary Institute of America to give you just that. The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is a course of 24 highly visual and instructional lessons in which you’ll learn about and build all the foundational culinary skills you need to turn out delicious and impressive meals. Filmed on location at the CIA’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley, California, and delivered by Chef Bill Briwa—one of the CIA’s experienced instructors and a chef with more than 35 years of professional experience—these lessons show you how to cook and evaluate dishes, from starters and main courses to desserts and vegetarian meals. They also offer a master chef’s insight into tips, tricks, and secrets that will elevate any dish you make from good to great.
Master the Skills for a Great Meal
Even though cuisine changes constantly and tastes come and go, there’s a stable foundation on which all cooking rests. It is this foundation that Chef Briwa shows you how to build. To do so, he’s developed these lessons around three broad themes:
- Working with high-quality ingredients and knowing what those ingredients can and cannot do
- Understanding basic cooking techniques and knowing when to use them
- Tapping into—and appreciating—the intriguing interaction between taste and flavor
- And it all begins with a thorough introduction to building your essential kitchen. To get you more comfortable in your surroundings, Chef Briwa demonstrates how to organize your kitchen so that you can make the most of what space and cooking surfaces you have. He’ll help you become savvy with picking and using a kitchen’s most important tools, including knives, pots and pans, and cutting boards. He’ll also give you tips on managing the mess that cooking can sometimes make, preparing your ingredients in advance, and much more.
Explore a Range of Cooking Methods
From there, you’ll explore in depth each of the major cooking techniques any chef must know. You’ll follow Chef Briwa as he explains what makes each technique so different and how it can have a dramatic impact on the look and taste of your food. In each instance, you’ll make a range of delicious dishes and gain the skills to practice cooking on your own.
- Roasting: Try your hand at this classic cooking method that uses dry heat, avoids fat, and requires just a small amount of patience. It’s an elegant art, as you’ll see by roasting a classic meal of chicken and potatoes.
- Grilling: Traditionally reserved for summer, grilling can be done any time of the year with the right equipment. Gain insight into how to grill steak, mahi-mahi, and vegetables to get the right amount of tenderness, texture, and juiciness.
- Poaching: A cooking method that pairs perfectly with a handsome cut of fish, poaching’s use of moist heat delivers a powerful taste payoff. In addition to poaching monkfish, you’ll discover how you can use the remaining liquid to create the perfect accompanying sauce.
- Stir-frying: This classic Asian cooking method using hot oil in a wok is a great way to whip up a quick meal—but it demands organized preparation. Learn how to make traditional stir-fry dishes, including a Vietnamese noodle salad and Ma Pa Tofu.
What’s more, in many cases, Chef Briwa deliberately makes small mistakes to show you what happens when a technique isn’t done properly and to teach you how to avoid them in your kitchen. By comparing successful cooking methods with unsuccessful ones, you’ll become better informed about the steps involved in cooking—in a way you can’t by watching a cooking show on TV, where mistakes are often left on the editing room floor.
Learn to Handle Any Ingredient
The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking shows you how to adapt these methods to every major type of ingredient you’re likely to cook with in everyday life. With Chef Briwa’s insider tips and helpful demonstrations, you’ll find yourself able to handle with confidence these and other ingredients.
- Broths and sauces: Offering depth of flavor and a culinary flourish, broths and sauces can take any dish to a new level. Learn how to use broths to braise and stew large cuts of meat, and whip up international sauces, including a French béchamel sauce and a Thai curry sauce.
- Meat and seafood: Spend several lessons focusing on selecting, preparing, cooking, and serving different meats and seafood and avoiding the mistakes that can make them tough and inedible. Get recipes for everything from the perfect pork chop and hamburger to roasted fish with fennel and mussels with white wine and shallots.
- Herbs and spices: Start making more sense of the vast range of herbs and spices available in the marketplace, and tap into the ways that many of them—including herbs de Provence, Indian spices, and saffron—can enhance your dishes in bold and subtle ways.
- Pasta and grains: Oftentimes the perfect side dish, pasta and grains are amazingly versatile ingredients. In addition to learning how to make your own pasta, you’ll put your cooking techniques to use making pasta soups, rice pilaf, and a risotto with wild mushrooms.
Plus, you’ll see how a master chef plates dishes, pairs wine with particular flavors, and even prepares an entire three-course meal. The result of all these lessons is a comprehensive reference to everything you need to know to become the great cook you’ve always wanted to be.
Discover Lasting Confidence in the Kitchen
Whether you’re learning how to roast a medley of vegetables, make a perfect French onion soup, or poach eggs for a mouth-watering breakfast, you’ll always be engaging your senses in The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking.
Because you’re learning from one of the CIA’s best professional instructors, you’ll be getting a first-hand education in the essentials of cooking from an expert who’s not just entertaining, but trained to teach how to actually cook. Chef Briwa has devoted his entire career to showing audiences around the world the craft behind cooking, gastronomy, and flavor dynamics. A former chef at several California restaurants, he’s also spoken, presented, and judged at professional cooking conferences and competitions, including the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference and the National Restaurant Association Show.
And since these lessons were produced in the kitchens of the CIA, you’ll be seeing this chef instructor in his natural environment, cooking right in front of your eyes. Taken all together, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is a masterful course that lets you peer over the shoulder of a master chef, invites you to participate in the joy of cooking, engages your senses, and leaves you with the lasting confidence you need to make the most out of every meal you cook.