Visual Literacy Skills: How to See [TTC Video]

Visual Literacy Skills: How to See [TTC Video]
Visual Literacy Skills: How to See [TTC Video] by Professor Carrie Patterson, MFA
Course No 7012 | MP4, AVC, 1136 kbps, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x24 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.27GB

For many of us, seeing really is believing. Your sense of sight is by far the most central and influential sensory apparatus you have. Science tells us that the eyes contain 70 percent of all the sensory receptors in our bodies, and that a full 90 percent of the information our brains process on a daily basis is visual.

This means that, to an astonishing degree, we know and navigate the world with our eyes. Visual perception plays a dominant role in how we experience life—from how we receive knowledge and information and how we perceive nature, art, and the world to the daily visual choices we make about how we present ourselves and how we live.

Unlike reading and writing, our educational system gives us little or no training for our all-important visual capacities, and we don’t usually cultivate the skills of visual literacy. Yet, to do that—to consciously develop your understanding of visual perception, and your ability to deeply observe, interpret what you see, and communicate visually—opens an extraordinary world of experience, deepening your perceptions on all levels, and your capacity to appreciate the richness of the world around you.

But visual literacy has an even greater urgency: The world is becoming increasingly visual. More and more, we purchase things of all kinds based on what we see, and most of the information we receive and make decisions with is visual. Within the huge amounts of visual input we receive, the boundaries between what is representation and what is illusion are increasingly blurred, and the ability of visual input to manipulate us is a fact of contemporary life.

In Visual Literacy Skills: How to See, taught by award-winning Professor Carrie Patterson of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, you’ll take a deep and detailed look at the principles and skills of visual literacy, and how these visual skills directly inform our experience. These 24 compelling lessons teach you the vocabulary of art—line, shape, space, texture, color, and more—and how to see and evaluate them, as well as how to understand and employ the principles of visual design. Further, this course grounds you in how visual perception and visual language operate in art, design, and media, knowledge which increases your powers of communication, deepens your insight into visual persuasion and manipulation, and refines your skill and pleasure in the multi-dimensional world of visual experience.

Whether you’re engaged in art or design, interested in building a personal brand, creating or re-doing a living space, or simply interested in enriching your skill in making visual decisions, this course trains you to see as artists, designers, and architects do, and helps you develop a life skill that has far-reaching consequences in the digital age.

Seeing through the Eyes of Artists and Designers

These lessons train you in a sophisticated level of visual literacy, not just in principle but in practice. The course opens with a deep dive into the physiology of vision, where you’ll explore the mechanics of your eyes, the sensorial experience of sight, and how the brain organizes sensation into coherent visual experience.

Then you’ll move into a deeper level of visual literacy. Here, you’ll uncover how artists and designers perceive and understand the visual world with the intention of creating visual objects and environments. You’ll observe how artists, designers, and architects communicatevisually, creating the visual messages that surround us and influence how we think and live. In the process, you’ll study the tricks of the trade for designing objects that combine function and visual appeal, art that explores the reaches of space and time, and architectural spaces that reflect cultures and shared values.

The final section of the course explores what it means to make your visual skills an integral part of your life. Here, you’ll discover how to develop habits that you, as a visually informed person, can cultivate to create an environment and lifestyle that reflects your unique view of the world, as well as your own style and perspective. By examining the methods and habits of creative people across various disciplines, you’ll build a foundation for any creative work you may undertake.

Visual Language and Visual Communication

Professor Patterson illustrates the course material with hundreds of vivid images, photos, and diagrams, as well as video footage and studio demonstrations. In learning and practicing the skills of visual literacy, you’ll delve into core subject matter such as:

  • The Phenomenon of Visual Perception. Building on the anatomy and physiology of sight, follow the complex processes through which the brain creates meaning from visual experience. Note how the way we interpret visual perception through our bodies lays the groundwork for how we interpret our own lives.
  • Representation vs. Illusion. Observe how we value both representation and illusion in art; how artists, designers, and photographers create illusion in their work; and how photography and screens alter our experience of the world. Grasp how media and visual communication can blur the line between fact and fiction.
  • Visual Foundations. Study visual syntax—the underlying structure of visual communication—across five lessons; delve deeply into the formal elements of art, beginning with line, shape, and value; also learn the principles of three-dimensional art and design, and investigate visual storytelling.
  • Visual Time. In a fascinating ramification of visual experience, observe how the element of time manifests in the perception of art; witness how artists evoke both fixed moments in time and the passage of time, and learn to express time visually.
  • Principles of Design. Investigate the core principles of visual design that are at work in the creation of any object or artwork, such as emphasis, balance, proportion, and scale. See how these elements work together in visual composition and communication, and learn to compose visually like an artist.

Build Habits of Creativity

In the final section of the course, Professor Patterson offers you a rigorous and penetrating look at the parameters of creativity. An engaging and informal speaker, her teaching reveals an amazingly detailed knowledge of the principles of art, design, and visual communication, together with far-reaching insight into the creative process, innovative thinking, and what it is to embody creativity in daily living.

Here, she offers you a rich range of methods for developing your own creative habits and practices. Among these, you’ll explore:

The Art of Observation: Study techniques for suspending ordinary visual perception, cultivating powers of detailed observation and alternative ways of seeing, and making active observation a valuable life skill.

Pushing the Limits of Thinking: Take a provocative look at how innovative thinkers intentionally seek out new ways of thinking about and seeing the world. Learn practical methods for becoming a visual explorer in your daily travels, and for generating original thought.

The Creative Act: Learn detailed guidelines for becoming a creator of your own art, design, or visual communication. Apply the skills you’ve built in exploring the inspiration, the joy, and the satisfaction of creative work.

Visual Literacy Skills: How to See takes you on a remarkable perceptual journey, revealing and unpacking visual experience to a depth that most of us rarely engage with. In looking deeply at how we experience reality through visual perception, and the extraordinary ways we benefit from refined visual knowledge as consumers, communicators, and creators, you’ll learn to turn your visual skills into a visually literate and enriched life.

Visual Literacy Skills: How to See [TTC Video]

Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Readers and Writers [TTC Video]

Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Readers and Writers [TTC Video]
Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Readers and Writers [TTC Video] by Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black, PhD
Course No 2323 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x32 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 8.11GB

Short stories offer readers the unique opportunity to experience a powerful piece of literature in a deceptively small package. The constraints of a few thousand words can give the best works an economy of storytelling that distills the power of the written word in astonishing ways. The brevity of short fiction belies its emotional and intellectual complexity.

While short stories exist in traditions all over the world, American short stories are a genre all their own. Emerging from the clash of cultures—and the collision of oral and print traditions—that began during the arrival of European settlers in the 16th and 17th centuries, the short works that emerged have served many functions. They have entertained, certainly, but they have also helped foster identity, shape morality, and build the foundations of the American mythos for nearly four centuries.

Whether you want to write short stories, simply want better insight as a reader, or even if you are looking for a new lens through which to view American history, the 24 rich and informative lectures of Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Writers and Readers will show you the ins and outs of this infinitely adaptable—and intrinsically American—literary form. Professor Jennifer Cognard-Black of St. Mary’s College of Maryland guides you through the technical aspects of the short story, while also digging deep into the history of the form in the United States. Along the way, you will discover why the short story became so deeply connected to American identity and how it continues to evolve alongside the nation itself.

American Mythos

Literary traditions have helped shape American identity from the very beginning. When the United States established its independence from Britain, one of the earliest concerns of the new nation was creating a literature of its own, one free from the powerful influence of Europe. Writers tried their hand at many forms, but only one emerged as a patently American genre: the short story. Much like the nation itself, the American short story has continually changed and evolved to reflect the ideas, conflicts, and demographics of each era.

After a brief introduction to the short story as a literary form, Professor Cognard-Black leads you through the evolution of the short story, beginning with the influence of the oral tradition in the earliest days of the American colonies, proceeding to the initial story experiments after the Revolutionary War, and then traversing the many changes in style and taste that have defined and redefined the genre with every new generation of Americans. Some of the prominent literary periods and styles you will tour include:

  • Sentimental fiction. The early- to mid-19th century saw the rise of fiction that intentionally stirred emotion to sway readers’ hearts and minds, utilizing sentiment as an effective tool in shaping the way Americans thought about slavery, temperance, class relations, social justice, and more. This period was also defined by the rising power of female writers.
  • Realism. The school that would eventually be called realism held sway from the end of the Civil War and into World War I. Closely tied to the growth of print journalism across the nation, realism was a “boys’ club” that resisted the activism of sentimental storytelling in favor of immediacy—even banality—to pursue truth that some writers saw as more democratic than earlier styles.
  • Modernism. In the wake of World War I, many Americans were disillusioned about the state of the modern world. In response, this new school of writers turned away from realism, leaning in to an intentionally fragmented and artificial style that some considered more “literary” than realism, but that also managed to capture the rapidly changing, disorienting atmosphere of the early 20th century.

These and other phases of literary production in America are reflective of the social and political climate of their time and place. As you progress from traditional stories into more experimental styles and genres, you will see how each generation tests the limits of the short story form. And, with guidance from Professor Cognard-Black, you will see how each of these loosely defined periods can give readers a unique view into the American character through fiction.

Form and Function

Storytelling has a direct influence on the brain, triggering the release of the feel-good chemical oxytocin. This chemical reaction means good stories affect us profoundly, giving stories immense power to influence how we see the world and the people in it. But this impact can only be maintained if readers truly believe in what they’re experiencing, which is why the best short story writers manage to disappear from their work. Essentially, every aspect of a story must be tightly controlled and deeply considered, yet the author’s fingerprints should be completely absent from the page. This invisibility on the part of the writer is accomplished through the many choices made when crafting a story.

Even the most fantastic elements of a story need to feel true to life in order for readers to find a connection. So how do you use fiction to create a world that is believable—one that feels true but is also more interesting than the mundane realities of everyday life? And how do you make a short story feel like it contains an entire world over the course of just a few pages? The answer lies in how writers use the tools of the trade to create work that feels effortless, but actually requires a great deal of thought and planning. Some of the technical aspects to consider include:

  • Setting/donnée. The world in which the story takes place has to be immersive and believable. The donnée (“that which is given”) is not just the scenery, but the very fabric of the story; it is intrinsic to the characters themselves and their point of view.
  • Character. Fictional characters must be both vital and true. In other words, you must not just show how your characters function in a given story but also find a way to reveal who they are when no one else is looking.
  • Dialogue. Believable dialogue in fiction works differently than speech in the real world. Writers must tread a fine line between what is concise and engaging and what reads as true to life.
  • Point of view. Who is telling the story? Is it told from the interior perspective of a single narrator? Does it step back and look at the larger picture? Point of view directly affects how readers engage with a story and where their sympathies lie.
  • Style. Though difficult to define, style is at the core of what it means to be a storyteller. Essentially, it is the culmination of all the many aspects that define the craft and how each writer puts them to use in unique ways.

As you will see throughout the lectures, these and other tools can be taught, but to truly understand them, you have to put them into practice. As Professor Cognard-Black says, “The only way to know the nuts and bolts, as well as the power, of American short stories is to read them; the only way to craft a story worth telling is to write them.”

Style and Substance

Over the course of these lectures, you will be introduced to a range of writers who have shaped the American short story around the country and across generations. Beginning with the early sketches of Washington Irving, you will progress through the centuries to engage with work from writers of different styles, eras, origins, and levels of fame, including:

  • Writers who use genre fiction to tell stories about the real world, like Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott, and Ursula K. Le Guin;
  • Authors who specialize in realist and naturalist stories, such as Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, and Edith Wharton, as well as more experimental authors like Jean Toomer and Donald Barthelme;
  • Writers who have shaped the very fabric of literature in America, such as Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner; and
  • Contemporary short story writers that engage with the many complicated facets of the American experience, including Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Annie Proulx.

These authors and many, many more offer you an introduction to a wide range of small stories with big impact. And you will explore not just their stories, but also the larger movements and cultural influences that shaped their work and that have helped to make American short stories an ongoing, interconnected—and increasingly democratic—narrative of the American experience.

The “great American novel” is often the lofty goal of writers who want to achieve literary immortality. But from the opening sentence to the lingering denouement, American short stories can both capture the world as it is and help envision what could be. Each is unique, and yet each is a part of a larger chronicle: the story of America.

Great American Short Stories: A Guide for Readers and Writers [TTC Video]

The Real History of Secret Societies [TTC Video]

The Real History of Secret Societies [TTC Video]
The Real History of Secret Societies [TTC Video] by Professor Richard B Spence, PhD
Course No 8680 | MP4, AVC, 1372 kbps, 960x540 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 12h 21m | + PDF Guidebook | 8.0GB

The first rule of this course is you don’t talk about this course. The second rule of this course is YOU DON’T TALK ABOUT THIS COURSE. Welcome to The Real History of Secret Societies, a historical look at the true-life groups which, if you believe the myths, are the unspoken power behind some of the world’s major turning points, from controlling the British crown to holding back the electric car and keeping Martians and Atlantis under wraps.

Prepare yourself. In this course, brought to you in partnership with HISTORY, you will be visiting some of history’s deepest rabbit-holes, across centuries and continents, in search of secret societies in all their varieties. You will journey to some very dark places and, frankly, some odd and sometimes silly ones as well. During 24 eye-opening lectures, Dr. Richard B. Spence, professor of history at the University of Idaho, guides you through the always fascinating, often mystifying—and sometimes disturbing—world of brotherhoods, sisterhoods, orders, cults, and cabals that have influenced human culture from ancient times to the present.

Not-So-Secret Societies

Despite the name, “secret” societies have permeated popular culture and become symbols of wonder, mystique, and rumormongering. Thanks to phenomena like Dan Brown’s best-selling novels, hit movies such as Skull and Bones, or hit songs by Madonna, the idea of secret societies has become utterly mainstream, allowing the general population to think they know about the most important parts of this clandestine underworld.

However, the commonly known groups barely scratch the surface of the number of real-life secret societies that exist. In fact, if one didn’t know better, one might think the popularization of a few groups is a conspiracy, in of itself, to cover up for the many that are never acknowledged…

With help from the archives of HISTORY, Professor Spence leaves no society uncovered, and will open your eyes to the history and evolution of factions you think you know, introducing you to fascinating and illuminating stories and insights. Consider:

  • The Illuminati—A group so pervasive in popular culture that their name has become synonymous with any generic conspiratorial group—noted throughout literature in everything from Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel Frankenstein to Marvel comic books. There are a variety of global groups which considered themselves Illuminati—or at least affiliated with them—but the Illuminati initially took root with a young lawyer who was obsessed with secrecy, rank and order, and creating a New World Order that echoed the promises of communism.
  • The Shriners—Founded by a wealthy New York Freemason, named William Florence, who enlisted a group of well-heeled masons to establish Mecca Temple, the first lodge of the Mystic Shrine. Exclusivity added to the mystique, growing the membership of The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine to hundreds of thousands over time. They adopted a motto of “Fun and Fellowship,” and they are known for wearing red fezzes and seen riding small bikes or cars in parades, though they also founded a number of children’s hospitals.
  • The Freemasons—A group known for secret rings and handshakes, subtle symbology, dangerous initiation rituals, and a complicated hierarchy. You’d think with all this secrecy and protection of the group, the last place you’d find them is being parodied on The Simpsons. But the truth is that they are a hard organization to keep hushed up because there has never been just a single school of Freemasonry; many variations exist and they don’t play by the same rules.

Professor Spence also looks at groups who have become so ubiquitous in our history that it’s impossible to think of them as being secret, such as the Ku Klux Klan, the Mafia, the IRA, or the Nazi Party. But as Professor Spence explains, these were the groups which began to organize behind closed doors, and their original, secret—or at least exclusive—status was likely an impetus in the group’s successfulness and omnipresence. After all, half the power and draw of a secret society stems from the fact that everyone (secretly) wants to join one.

Myth and Reality

The time period from 1890–1930 is known as a “golden age of fraternalism,” when hundreds of lodges, mystical orders, and fraternal organizations came into existence in the United States. During this time, America accounted for more than half of the world’s Freemasons. And, millions of Americans were affiliated with lesser-known, oath-bound orders such as Odd Fellows, Red Men, Woodmen of the World, Knights of Columbus, B’nai B’rith, Elks, Owls, Eagles, and the Moose.

Some groups were organized to promote fellowship, mutual aid, or political and social causes during a trying time for the U.S. economy. Other groups took advantage of desperate times to turn groups of humans against each other, encouraging supremacy or separatism. Still, others simply came into existence for solely self-serving reasons and were not considered legitimate, yet their stories and reputations endure. Consider these groups:

  • U. S. Secret and Civil Service Society, Self-Supporting Branch—Founded by Arthur Rochford Manby to “combat nameless evils that regular authorities couldn’t, or wouldn’t, handle.” This society was a cover for Manby to receive money, deeds, and mortgages from his followers in order to partake in bootlegging, extortion, fraud, robbery, and murder for hire. It also solidified the secret society mantra of “join or die,” as Manby preyed on well-to-do citizens and then showed the new initiates how broken oaths of silence or obedience would result in a beheading.
  • The Learned Elders of Zion—A super-secret group of Jewish leaders purported to be bent on world domination through subverting the morals of non-Jews and by taking control of the press and the economy. Henry Ford fueled the fire of the Elders by paying for 500,000 copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be printed and distributed in the United States in a fit of anti-Semitism. This guide was also taught by German school teachers after the Nazi’s came to power. The real history? This group never existed and the Protocols were a hoax.
  • The Priory of Sion—An uber-secret society claiming to be the restoration of an order dating back to the First Crusade in the 11th century that was created to protect the bloodline of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The society’s objective was supposedly to restore a descendant as the ruler of a unified Europe. However, it was nothing more than the concoction of a career con man, who had developed a complete pseudo-history that was picked up and repurposed by the likes of Leonardo da Vinci; Victor Hugo; Claude Debussy; and most recently, Dan Brown.

Secret societies, real or not, were often a mirror of their times, in some cases, reflecting exclusionary practices with religious, racist, or classist overtones. In other cases, they could be considered America’s first social welfare system, as many groups established programs to bridge the very divides caused by others.

But as much as these societies echoed the consciousness of America, they were fundamentally un-American. As Professor Spence points out, John F. Kennedy said in 1961: “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”

A Personal Connection to History

Professor Spence opens each lecture with a story—a specific glimpse at another time, another place, and a real person or group who is connected in some way to the secret society being examined. This approach introduces you to these societies from both the inside-out and on a personal level. You’ll also get unprecedented access to images, photographs, and more, provided by HISTORY, which give you a true picture of what these societies looked like and how they were organized.

As you uncover secret and often now-defunct societies from around the world—including Ancient Greece, Japan, Korea, Ireland, Russia, France, Germany, and more—you’ll feel like you are there with them, whispering in underground meeting rooms or conspiring around a table in Bavaria. You’ll get to know the founders, leaders, and famous and influential members associated with these groups. And you’ll follow many of the well-known clandestine conspiracies back to their roots, through their uprising, their unearthing, and into the new secret societies that almost always sprang up to take their place.

Secret societies have attracted some of history’s most brilliant, and some of its most evil, minds. Often demonized by their enemies, many secret societies have become the stuff of myths and conspiracy theories. Why do they exist? And when they are invented or imagined, why would someone pretend they exist? What do secret societies believe? Who do they recruit? Most important, what influence do they have? Buckle up and get ready to find out.

The Real History of Secret Societies [TTC Video]

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