America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]

America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]
America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video] by Mark A Stoler
Course No 8598 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB

It was a transformation unprecedented in global history. In barely more than two centuries, the United States evolved from a sparsely settled handful of colonies whose very survival was in grave doubt into the most powerful nation the world has ever known-militarily, economically, technologically, culturally, politically, and even ideologically.

How could such an implausible metamorphosis have occurred? In a world where power and the willingness to wield it had always determined the fate of nations, what factors enabled our young nation to successfully navigate the corridors of diplomacy and foreign policy from the outset, ensuring not only survival but also eventual status as a superpower?

America and the World: A Diplomatic History addresses these and other penetrating questions. In 24 insightful lectures, award-winning Professor Mark A. Stoler of the University of Vermont-a scholar acknowledged for his expertise in U.S. diplomatic and military history-offers you a fresh view of America's shift from the periphery of international politics to its very center.

Enhance Your Understanding of the History Taking Place Right Now

Although the specifics naturally change as time advances, the basic elements that make up diplomacy's causal machinery are always in place. Throughout history, diplomacy has resolved international disputes and helped chart new directions for political, economic, and cultural growth.

Studying how American diplomacy works not only strengthens your understanding of why the nation's history turned out the way it did but also adds immeasurably to your interpretation of present-day events. Whether reading a newspaper, listening to a news broadcast, or evaluating the assertions of a political leader or candidate, you will find that the story told in America and the World enhances your perspectives on the history taking place right now.

As he guides you through America's ascendancy, Professor Stoler shows that causal machinery at work as he explores the key components of American diplomatic history:

  • The origins of American beliefs about our "mission" and proper place in the world
  • The expansion of the original United States across the North American continent through war and treaty
  • The acquisition of a formal overseas empire in the late 19th century and the subsequent addition of an informal empire
  • The achievement of victory in two world wars and participation in limited but bloody conflicts in Korea and Vietnam
  • The course of-and victory in-the 45-year cold war with the Soviet Union
  • The origins and evolution of famous or significant pronouncements and policies, including Washington's Farewell Address, the idea of "Manifest Destiny," the Monroe Doctrine, the Open Door policy, isolationism, the Marshall Plan, and the "containment" of Communism

Of course, policies and actions are decided by the people whose decisions unleash them, and these lectures bring into clear focus the leaders whose judgments shaped America's path

Learn How and Why Diplomatic History Happens

Presenting history's events as only a single part of a much broader whole, Professor Stoler adds the "how" and "why" to the "what" of American diplomatic history. You learn

  • how America's influence has been shaped and expanded by events and ideas;
  • how key personalities-whether America's own national leaders or those of other nations-have influenced American diplomacy and its practice in the international arena;
  • the key beliefs Americans have developed about international relations and their role on the world stage; and
  • how those beliefs have shaped America's actions through both war and peace.

It's an approach that enhances your grasp of not only the substance of events and their multiple causes but also the implications for the next potential sequence of events.

The course offers an excellent perspective on the many lines of causality that converged to create those historical moments and consequences, including the backgrounds and personalities of foreign policy decision makers, national beliefs, geopolitical strategies, and military situations.

Fresh Perspectives—Even on Familiar Names

Even when the names are familiar, the new perspectives and fascinating episodes offered by Professor Stoler deepen your insight into the careers of these diplomats:

  • John Quincy Adams: Considered by many historians to have been America's greatest secretary of state, Adams was responsible for an extraordinary series of major foreign policy successes—including primary authorship of what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, which asserted the independence of the Western Hemisphere from further European colonization or interference.
  • John Jay: One of the three authors of the Federalist and the nation's first chief justice, Jay was also a major diplomatic figure. The treaty he negotiated with Great Britain in 1794 aroused so much controversy that Jay claimed he could have traveled the entire coastline by night, navigating by the light of the burning effigies of him.
  • James K. Polk: One of the least known of America's presidents, Polk was also one of the most important in the history of the country's expansion—and one of the most controversial.
  • Woodrow Wilson: Although tremendously respected across the political spectrum, Wilson failed to achieve his most important foreign policy goals.

An Engaging, Informative Instructor

Professor Stoler has devoted more than 30 years to the study of U.S. diplomatic and military history. A prolific author of books on American foreign policy and the recipient of numerous teaching awards from the University of Vermont, Professor Stoler imbues these lectures with an enlightening depth and breadth.

Professor Stoler's expertise makes America and the World an engaging look at a unique facet of American history. Weaving together events and personalities, he shows you how and why America gained its current station.

Whether exploring events as diverse as the impressment of American seamen by the British in the early 19th century, the development and execution of the Marshall Plan, or the Cuban Missile Crisis, America and the World presents watershed moments in history through the perspective of foreign policy and diplomacy.

The result is an entertaining course that will not only deepen your outlook on American history but will also prove that not all history is made on the battlefield.

America and the World: A Diplomatic History [TTC Video]

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]
Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video] by Phillip Cary
Course No 6633 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB

He was only one man—a humble monk and Bible professor—yet he sparked a religious rebellion that changed the course of history. Who was Martin Luther? What made his theology so explosive in 16th-century Europe? Was it really his intention to start Protestantism, and with it a new church?

How did this late-medieval man launch the Protestant Reformation and help create the modern world as we know it?

And how should we think of him: hero or heretic, rebel or tormented soul?

Martin Luther is so interesting to study, Professor Phillip Cary believes, because he is so controversial. In fact, Luther may be more interesting to study today because the controversy surrounding him is more complicated—less black-and-white—than when he was alive.

Many Catholics today find things in Luther to respect and admire, while many Protestants reject aspects of his legacy as misguided, embarrassing, or even evil.

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation will help you reach your own conclusions. This course explores Luther's theology, the circumstances surrounding his conclusion that the papacy was "antichrist," and major issues and events in the Reformation as it unfolded in Luther's life after he posted his famous 95 Theses on the door of the church of Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517.

Professor Cary presents Luther as a multifaceted human being, a man with extraordinary virtues and profound flaws. You will meet an inspiring religious thinker who presented the Christian Gospel as a message of comfort, joy, and freedom; as great good news for sinners and God's loving promise of salvation. And you will encounter a leader whose unswerving certainty about his doctrines led him to launch vicious attacks against those with whom he disagreed most infamously and malevolently—the Jews.

What makes this course so involving for students is that it is not intended to leave you with a neutral impression of Luther. Professor Cary wants you to use his lectures—supplemented by your own research and reading—to make your own judgments about Luther, the man and his teachings.

In addition, he encourages you to ponder some larger implications of Luther and the Reformation. How should we view argument and disagreement? Are they opportunities to prove we are right or ways to find the truth? Can we find ways to disagree that could improve relations between religions—between Catholics and Protestants, and between Christians, Jews, and Muslims—and strengthen the quest for faith in a post-modern world?

Luther's Compelling Theology: "Believe It, and You Have It"

This is an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the origin of the controversies associated with Luther: his distinctive doctrine about the power of the Christian Gospel. Throughout these lectures, Professor Cary carefully traces the often subtle and challenging thinking behind Luther's central theological doctrine of justification by faith alone.

You will see how Luther modified the traditional Catholic notion, derived from St. Augustine, of the relationship between God and man. In this Augustinian paradigm, the spiritual life was a journey in which believers drew near to God through a lifetime of expressing love and doing good works.

Luther felt at the bottom of his heart that his love and good works were never good enough. Schooled by medieval practices of penance and confession that arose long after Augustine, Luther could not escape the thought that he was a sinner who must eventually face the judgment of God, all the while incapable of meriting God's love and approval.

In the face of that terrifying thought, Luther believed the only possible comfort was the Gospel of Christ, which is not about what we do but about what Christ does. The Gospel, Luther taught, is God's promise of salvation in Christ (and as Luther insisted, "God doesn't lie"). Instead of works of love meriting God's approval, all that is required to be justified in God's sight is to believe this promise. As Luther often put it, "Glaubst du, so hast du": Believe it, and you have it.

You will see how this simple concept—to be justified simply by believing God's promise—exploded like a bombshell in late-medieval Europe. It offered certainty of salvation to ordinary people whose consciences tormented them with the thought of horrific punishment after death. It freed German Christians from financial exploitation by a Roman church that sold Masses, indulgences, and other means of warding off punishment in the next life, and used the profits to fight wars, build ostentatious churches, and keep mistresses.

In addition to this pivotal notion of justification by faith alone, Professor Cary surveys Luther's whole theology as it is expressed in such works as On the Freedom of a Christian, Treatise on Good Works, The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, and The Bondage of the Will.

You will follow Luther from his disturbing early view of justification through self-hatred; to his mature breakthrough in thinking of the Gospel as a sacramental promise; to his later and, once more, disturbing notion of unfree will and predestination, in which a "hidden" God (deus absconditus) chooses, in advance, which souls to save and which to damn.

Throughout, Professor Cary underscores the thought-provoking nature of Luther's theology by emphasizing not only its details, but its larger implications:

  • Why is so much of Luther's thinking based on the writings of one man: St. Augustine?
  • What strengths did Catholicism and Protestantism lose by their separation?
  • Why is the Bible—and certainty about what it means—so important to Luther and Protestantism, and how does that relate to Christian fundamentalism?
  • And, given recent ecumenical thinking, does Luther's theology still offer reasons why Catholicism and Protestantism should remain separate?

Medieval Background, Modern Consequences

This course will enable you to understand Luther in context—to grasp the medieval background and modern consequences of his life and thought. These include:

  • Circumstances surrounding Luther's break with the church: his 95 Theses, his trial at the Diet of Worms, and the Edict of Worms, which declared him not only a heretic but a criminal. You will explore a variety of issues that are often misunderstood. What was Luther's purpose in posting his theses? Was he already a rebel against the Catholic Church, protesting against it? Or was that label thrust upon him by his papal opponents?
  • Controversies within the Reformation: Professor Cary examines Luther's disagreements—on topics such as baptism, the Eucharist, and predestination—with other Reformationleaders: Andreas von Karlstadt, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin. These comparisons will help you appreciate Luther's distinctive location in the Reformation movement, standing between the more conservative Catholic Church and the more radical forms of Protestantism.
  • The Lutheran impact on church and state: For his own protection, Luther aligned himself with local German princes against the authority of the pope. In addition, his "two kingdoms" theology assigned greater authority to the state in protecting the religious life of society. But states that protected rival forms of religion, Catholic and Protestant, were inevitably drawn into bloody religious warfare. The modern principle of separation between church and state emerged as a way for Europeans to stop killing one another in the name of Christ.

Good, Bad, or Somewhere in Between?

This course portrays Luther in a way that is simultaneously critical and sympathetic. Luther offers both wonderful good news and vicious attacks on his opponents. Professor Cary is interested in exploring the connections between these two sides of Luther.

You will learn about Luther the exceptional writer, who did for German what Dante did for Italian by making the deepest concepts of religion accessible to unlearned people in their own language. To translate the Bible, he listened to how ordinary Germans spoke, learning from butchers, for example, the names of animal parts used in biblical passages about animal sacrifice.

In addition, ordinary Christians identified with Luther's affirmation of the spiritual value of marriage and family life. He saw his own wife and children as gifts of God, even in hard times and bereavement; picking up his crying child, he could say, "These are the joys of marriage, of which the pope is not worthy."

On the other hand, Luther's commitment to the certainty of his own beliefs led him to the borders of wickedness and beyond. During the Great Peasant War of 1525, he used his theology to assure German nobility that they could destroy the rebels in good conscience. He refused to retract his views even after the repression led to the killing of women and children.

Luther was given to accusing anyone who disagreed with him, from other Protestant leaders to the pope, of speaking for the devil. He attacked their opinions in harsh and filthy language that his friend Philip Melanchton described as the "rabies theologorum," or the "rabid fury of the theologians."

Luther's fury was at its worst against the Jews, toward whom he was more violent than any other major Christian theologian. Offended that Jews did not recognize the Old Testament as bearing witness to Christ, he came to see them as liars and blasphemers. He called for Jewish synagogues to be burned and property to be confiscated (fortunately, the German authorities ignored him) and rationalized his views by projecting his own hatred onto his victims.

"Indeed, if the Jews had the power to do to us what we are able to do to them," Luther wrote, "not one of us would live for an hour." Imagine how unsafe Jews must have felt hearing that!

What should we make of all this? That's a central question for Professor Cary, for this course, and for you.

What Do Luther and the Reformation Mean to You Today?

In the last lecture, Professor Cary offers his own assessment of the effects of Luther and the Reformation on the modern and now post-modern world. How have they changed the relationship between religion and public institutions? How have they influenced the value we place on tradition? Can religion offer the certainty that Luther sought? Should it even try? And what can we learn from both the "good" and the "bad" Luther that can help religions argue with one another reasonably, without violence and bloodshed?

Then it's your turn. Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation asks you to evaluate its conclusions and reach conclusions of your own. How do you think Luther fits into the story of Western civilization, and was he in fact good, bad, or a complex combination of both?

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation [TTC Video]

The Vikings [TTC Video]

The Vikings [TTC Video]
The Vikings [TTC Video] by Kenneth W Harl
Course No 3910 | MKV, AVC, 720x480 | OGG, VBR 50 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.2GB

As explorers and traders, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of Western Europe. In this course, you will study the Vikings not only as warriors, but also in other roles for which they were equally extraordinary: merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas.

Professor Kenneth Harl synthesizes insights from an astonishing array of sources: The Russian Primary Chronicle (a Slavic text from medieval Kiev), 13th-century Icelandic poems and sagas, Byzantine accounts, Arab geographies, annals of Irish monks who faced Viking raids, Roman reports, and scores of other firsthand contemporary documents.

Among the topics you will explore in depth are the profound influence of the Norse gods and heroes on Viking culture, and the Vikings' extraordinary accomplishments as explorers and settlers in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. With the help of archeological findings, you will learn to analyze Viking ship burials, runestones and runic inscriptions, Viking wood carving, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork.

From 790–1066, virtually invincible Viking fleets fanned out across Europe, raiding, plundering, and overwhelming every army that opposed them.

By 1100, however, the Vikings had disappeared, having willingly shed their identity and dissolved into the mists of myth and legend. How did this happen, and how should we remember this formidable civilization that, for being so formative, proved so transient?

A Wide-Ranging Story, a Versatile Historian

The Vikings were a people whose history stretched from the Vinland settlements in Newfoundland to Baghdad. Accordingly, the telling of their story requires a historian of Professor Harl's considerable powers.

As he has shown in his other Teaching Company courses, The World of Byzantium, Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor, The Era of the Crusades, and Rome and the Barbarians, Dr. Harl has a special knowledge of Europe and the Near East, from antiquity through the Middle Ages. His expertise on nearly all of the peoples the Vikings encountered enables him to endow his lectures with the nuance and detail only a trained specialist can deliver.

The Past Is Never Dead: Scandinavian Beginnings

Professor Harl begins with a virtual tour of the unique Scandinavian terrain that determined that Viking civilization would be a culture like no other, a land and people apart from the rest of the world. Scandinavia was cut off by dense forests that kept individual settlements isolated from one another. The Scandinavian way of life was inherently temporary, for agriculture would not progress beyond the slash-and-burn technique until the end of the Viking Age. Villages lasted only a generation before soil exhaustion forced their abandonment, negating the possibility of permanent towns or lasting structures, political or otherwise. Anyone seeking wealth rather than mere subsistence had to look to the sea.

In this early part of the course you will also study in great detail the origins of the Vikings' ancient Germanic religion. You will learn the stories of the Norse gods and how the Vikings sought to honor them.

The lectures also examine how Scandinavians venerated their ancestors, great heroes of the past whom they emulated in life. Professor Harl demonstrates how we can glean the ambitions of the great Viking sea kings by examining the legendary exploits of their role models, such as the saga of the great ride of Hrolf Kraki, the 6th-century king of legendary Hleidr, a great Danish hall.

The Viking Edge

But culture only takes us so far. The Viking Age would have been impossible had the Scandinavians not possessed superiority in shipbuilding and warfare, and Professor Harl devotes two in-depth lectures to this achievement.

You will explore in detail how the design features of Viking ships allowed them to ride the waters rather than fight the waves, to be dragged across land from river to river, and to be beached in any port and sail almost anywhere. Many Viking victories resulted from the fact that their ships could sail several times faster than opposing armies could move on foot.

Contrary to the stereotype of slashing homicidal maniacs in horned helmets, Professor Harl discusses a precise, organized, battle-hardened army of men trained in warfare since boyhood. Vikings were extraordinarily fit, skilled in boarding ships, in leaping and jumping, archery, swordsmanship, and the wielding of axes. Even more frightful, they were fearless, regarding battle as a state of ecstatic joy and expecting thrill in victory or glory in Valhalla as they rushed at their foes.

Traders and Raiders

Viking warfare wasn't driven by any primitive, atavistic malice, or undirected rage. To them, it just made economic sense. We go a long way towards understanding Scandinavians' motivation and debunking popular stereotypes by seeing Viking raids as a logical extension of trading activities.

You will follow the Vikings as merchants who exploited trade routes in the Baltic, the North Sea, and on the river systems of Western Europe. They operated from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, selling everything from sealskin, whalebone, and amber to slaves.

Raiding was simply trade by other means. Vikings raided towns throughout the Latin West, and then set up impromptu markets to sell back the booty. They were indeed shocked to find a novel commodity in abbots whom the Christians paid handsomely to get back.

In Professor Harl's lectures we see the great adaptability of these Scandinavians, their willingness to evolve according to their local environment. Consider the divergent fortunes and destinies of just a few of the Northern peoples that left their Scandinavian homeland:

  • Under a deal negotiated with King Charles the Simple by their sea king Hrolf, the Vikings were awarded land in Normandy in exchange for protecting the Franks. Hrolf's descendants preserved their military prowess; they conquered England and Italy, eventually cutting off their ties to the sea and adopting the French language.
  • Swedish Vikings, known as "Rus," established outposts in Kiev and Novgorod. They used their Slavic subjects to clear the forests, allowing market towns to evolve into great cities, and a Rus king, Vladimir, would adopt Christianity as the official religion of the Rus state.
  • In a lightning campaign, the mostly Danish Great Army conquered three English kingdoms from 865–878 and settled in the northern half of England. They exerted a profound influence, transmitting 600 words into modern English and innovating the jury system that eventually passed into English law.

Because stereotypical images of the Vikings have long obscured the Vikings' importance in European history, you may learn something new in nearly every minute of these lectures. Did you know that:

  • We have Iceland to thank for preserving most of our information about what a pure Viking society was like. Icelanders preserved the old Norse traditions through storytelling during the long Icelandic winters. They eventually wrote down these poems, myths, and legends to create literature considered to be one of the miracles of the Middle Ages, deserving a place beside the Greek and Roman classics in the Western tradition.
  • Iceland functioned successfully without cities, taxes, or a complex government. You will study the simple yet effective political system—the Thing, the Althing, and the Law Rock—that made Viking Iceland a remarkable experiment in self-government.
  • An early Icelandic settler, Helgi the Lean, once remarked with characteristic Viking pragmatism and typical Icelandic wit, "On land I worship Christ, but at sea I worship Thor." A jest though it may have been, it seems prescient in light of the Scandinavian tendency to slough off the ancient gods at the water's edge.

The Beginnings of Modern Scandinavia

In the last part of the course, Professor Harl discusses how a variety of factors—wealth gained through Viking adventures, the creation of ever more professional Viking armies, increasingly better ships, and notably, conversion to Christianity—enabled Scandinavian monarchs to impose control and set up territorial kingdoms.

The creation of kingdoms and national churches was a testimony to the organizational skills of the Scandinavians, who lacked a history that connected them to the benefits of urban-based Roman civilization.

Who were the Vikings? Much more, perhaps, than you may have thought: raiders, seafarers, kings, and writers, a people who truly defined the history of Europe, and whose brave, adventurous, and creative spirit still survives today.

The Vikings [TTC Video]

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