Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal [TTC Video]
28 December 2016, 11:59
Course No 863 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 16x44 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB
This course examines the crises of late medieval society (widespread famines in 1315-1317, wars, plagues, popular rebellions) and the manner in which, during the 14th and 15th centuries, men and women responded to these crises by formulating new concepts of love, art, religion, and political organization.
The emphasis throughout is not on a sustained political narrative. The aim of the course is to explore the structure of late medieval society and show how the society, economy, and culture were transformed and refashioned by the upheavals besetting Europe at the onset of modernity.
Thus, in tracing the response to economic, political, and social crises, we also chart the transition from the medieval to the modern world.
Masterworks of Early 20th-Century Literature [TTC Video]
28 December 2016, 11:51
Course No 2539 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.48GB
Perhaps this has happened to you: You've picked up a great novel—James Joyce's Ulysses, Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, or William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! You launch in, ready to discover treasures in this great work of 20th-century fiction.
But the novel is not what you expected. The style is unfamiliar, the narrative is fragmented, and there isn't a clear plot. It's like nothing you've ever read before. If you finish it, you find yourself unsatisfied. What did it all mean? Or perhaps you don't finish at all, and find yourself putting it off until "someday."
Maybe you've yet to attempt one of these great novels. You've always wondered what you're missing, but you know these works are famously difficult, and you've hesitated to start without a guide to help you find your way through this rich but complex tradition.
You needn't wait any longer. Now you can explore this remarkable literary movement and gain insights into the secrets behind Modernism with Masterworks of Early 20th-Century Literature. With Professor David Thorburn as your guide, you'll see how Modernist authors created new techniques to reflect an increasingly complex post-Victorian world. This tradition includes some of the greatest authors world has known—Joyce, Faulkner, Conrad, Woolf, Kafka. Their works are some of the most challenging—yet rewarding—you'll ever encounter.
Each lecture is accessible and engaging—even if you're new to these authors. And if you've studied Modernism before, Professor Thorburn's perspectives will make you eager to return. Filled with fascinating facts and insightful readings, Masterworks of Early 20th-Century Literature is more than just an introduction to the great writers of the period. With Professor Thorburn's expert guidance, you'll understand why these authors were great.
Modernism Made Accessible—and Compelling
Choosing short but representative novels and stories, Professor Thorburn offers a compelling overview of Modernism you'll find intriguing—whether or not you have time to read the works along with him. Each work is introduced with a full plot summary to ensure that readers from all backgrounds will easily understand the lectures.
Guided by the tenet "trust ourselves and trust the texts," Professor Thorburn demystifies the world of literary criticism and demonstrates how a thoughtful, careful reader can find exciting and enriching insights in these works. You'll examine these great novels and stories from all angles, through close readings of selected passages and illuminating discussions of structure, form, symbolism, and character.
You'll also get to know the authors as people in fascinating biographical facts and anecdotes. Here's a sample of what you'll learn:
- Although his writing is often held up as a model of English prose, Joseph Conrad was not a native speaker. English was his third language, after French and his native language, Polish.
- One of Soviet Russia's most revered authors, Isaac Babel briefly worked for the Soviet secret police as a translator. Later he fell out of favor, and in 1940 he was arrested, tortured, and secretly executed by the Stalinists.
- Vladmir Nabokov was a trained lepidopterist—an expert on butterflies and moths—and discovered several new species during his academic career.
- At the time of his death at age 41, Franz Kafka had just finished correcting the proofs of one of his final stories, "A Hunger Artist." The story, which recounts the death by starvation of a performance artist, eerily predicted Kafka's own demise: Sickened by tuberculosis, he was incapable of eating and died of starvation.
A skilled storyteller, Professor Thorburn weaves these and more fascinating details from the authors' lives to show how their personal experiences shaped their literary visions.
Finally, you'll view the works of these great authors through the lens of what went before. Using classic texts from previous centuries—the works of Jane Austen, William Thackeray, and George Eliot—Professor Thorburn provides a striking contrast that underscores the boundaries in thought and expression that were crossed as the 19th century gave way to the modern era.
"On or About December, 1910, Human Nature Changed."
No picture of Modernism is complete without an understanding of the forces that helped bring it about. As Virginia Woolf so famously noted, the modern era represented a new way of thinking about humankind and its place in the world. The Modernists lived during a time of innovative breakthroughs and awareness that affected all realms of life.
It was the world of Einstein and Marx, Freud and Wittgenstein. From the theory of relativity to perceptions on the depths of the human psyche, new discoveries overturned time-honored assumptions about humankind.
You'll see how innovative scientific pronouncements called into question old notions about the nature of existence, and how Freudian psychology focused attention on ordinary people and the mysterious psychological forces that compelled them. Stunning ideas about the way the world works—such as Darwin's theory of evolution and Marx's ideas about economics—created a new image of a hostile world order.
How did these forces affect the great artists of the day? What kind of art could capture the newly fragmented, alienated sense of self of the Modern era?
To begin to answer these questions, Professor Thorburn explores the world of visual arts. Examining contemporary works in Impressionism, Postimpressionism, and German Expressionism, he shows how these striking paintings provide an illuminating visual counterpoint to the literary works you'll be studying.
Seeing the World through Modern Eyes
In this context the great literature of the Modernist era will come alive. You'll explore the techniques these great artists employed—stream-of-consciousness narration, fragmented plots, unreliable narrators—that helped capture their sense of uncertainty in a world unmoored from traditional beliefs. And you'll explore the dominant themes of the age—the sense of alienation and nostalgia for an irretrievable past, and the commitment to capturing the experience of ordinary people.
Each author brings unique insights and innovative techniques to bear on this new understanding of the human condition. You'll encounter experimental forms of narrative and you'll see how these authors contend with the fallen idols of an earlier age. From the echoes of Greek mythology in James Joyce's wandering hero of Ulysses to Joseph Conrad's indictment of the European mission to "civilize" the peoples of developing nations in Heart of Darkness, these authors remade tradition to reflect a new, fragmented world order.
You'll also sample the rich variety the tradition holds. For some authors, Modernism represents a bleak vision of human existence, as in "The Metamorphosis," Kafka's dark story of a man transformed into a repulsive insect. But other authors find hope—or at least consolation—within the new order, as in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.
You'll meet indelible characters—Conrad's megalomaniac explorer Kurtz and Vladmir Nabokov's mad academic, Kinbote, among others—and you'll travel around the world, from James Joyce's Dublin to Rudyard Kipling's Afghanistan to the crumbling aristocratic estates of the American South.
But the real journey is into the modern sensibility as it was transformed and expressed by some of the world's greatest literary artists. With Masterworks of Early 20th-Century Literature, you'll discover a new appreciation for this rich literary tradition and witness the birth of ideas about life and art that still resonate today.
European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century [TTC Video]
24 December 2016, 00:52
Course No 4423 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 3.59GB
This course is an opportunity to explore the major thinkers and historic challenges that shaped the mind of Europe in the 19th century. Intellectual history emphasizes the exchanges of ideas and debates that went on among people from other places and times. But it also stresses the importance of a continuing dialogue between the present and the past.
This course in intellectual history, therefore, seeks to expand our capacity for engaging in informed "dialogue" with the intellectual world of 19th-century Europe.
The thoughts of that world are still with us today, powerful forces in the cultural, intellectual, and political debates of the early 21st century.
In fact, 19th-century Europe was the crucible for most of the ideas, institutions, and "isms" that now shape the life of our entire planet, including:
And the list goes on.
Thought and Life from the French Revolution to the Fin de Siècle
How did these ideas begin?
Who first thought of them, and why?
How did the particular conditions of Europe between the French Revolution and the First World War shape these thinkers' ideas, the thoughts of their critics, the progress of the debates that went on between them, and the wider hearing that all received?
Professor Lloyd Kramer takes a judicious, dynamic approach to these questions. Through his lectures you follow the ebbs and flows of European thought during this key period.
Ideas and Social Experience
Professor Kramer's goal throughout these lectures is threefold:
- to help you deepen your understanding of the ideas of influential 19th-century European intellectuals
- to reflect on the interactions between ideas and social experience
- to think critically and creatively about how the ideas of 19th-century Europe's leading thinkers and writers still raise a host of cogent questions for our own time.
To make for the most comprehensive treatment possible within a 24-lecture framework, you will examine not only famous thinkers like Marx, Darwin, and Nietzsche, but a number of important though less well remembered figures.
These include the romantic author Germaine de Staël,the positivist Auguste Comte, the novelist and feminist George Sand, the political theorist Benjamin Constant, and many others.
In no case does Professor Kramer treat a thinker in isolation. Instead, each is placed in a context and linked both to other creative thinkers and the major issues of the time.
Consciousness and Context
In inviting you to view intellectual history as a series of overlapping, interconnected dialogues, Professor Kramer makes two important assumptions:
- It is ideas—like Hegel's, for example—that shape history.
- Social, political, and economic realities—like the Industrial Revolution, for example—affect how those ideas appear, gain influence, and become, like Hegel's thoughts, historical forces in their own right.
This approach allows you to avoid the twin dangers of reductionism, which collapses consciousness into context, and abstraction, which ignores the connection between ideas and the full complexity of lived human experience.
While important texts cannot be said simply to "reflect" the contexts in which they appear, it remains true that creative thinkers have always interpreted and reacted to the concrete historical world in which they live.
From this course you learn to grasp in detail precisely how that process of interpretation, redefinition, and "dialogue" with reality takes place in the still-vibrant works of many of the best minds modern European civilization has ever produced.
Three Dialogues: Enlightenment, Revolution, and the City
Your approach to the topic is organized around three key themes:
- the response by educated Europeans to the cultural legacy of the Enlightenment
- the questions raised by the massive social and political impact of the French Revolution and its aftermath
- the broad issue of the Industrial Revolution and the challenges posed on many levels by the rise of modern urban, industrial mass society.
Professor Kramer begins by laying out basic premises and explaining what makes intellectual history a distinct field of study.
He then continues with three lectures exploring the 18th-century Enlightenment, its legacy, and its connection to the French Revolution.
That uprising is still the "framing event" for modern political life. It is the source, in fact, of commonplace political references like "left," "right," and "ideology."
Professor Kramer then devotes a set of six lectures to the political and cultural theories offered by writers such as Burke, Goethe, Bentham, Fichte, and Herder in response to the Enlightenment and the Revolution.
These ideas shaped the famous "isms"—conservatism, liberalism, nationalism, romanticism, etc.—that interpreted the new post-Revolutionary social and political world, and which remain current today as the symbols we use to organize our reality.
Industrialism, Feminism, and the Problem of Mass Culture
Beginning with Lecture 11, you turn to the cultural impact of the other great upheaval of the era, the Industrial Revolution.
Interpretations of the new economy ranged from the pro-capitalist responses of classical economists to the critiques of various strains of socialism. You examine the full range from Adam Smith to Karl Marx.
This section also considers the movement for human rights in the new industrial society, including the rights of women, as championed by John Stuart Mill and George Sand.
And you examine several cultural issues raised by modern, urban "mass" societies that go beyond the large institutional questions about economic and political arrangements:
- What was the individual's place in this new impersonal, rationalized world?
- Would new forms of literature come forth to describe it?
- Should positive science, or perhaps history, be the key to understanding and guiding the human situation?
- Was heroism still possible?
Closing the Circle
The European dialogue touched on all these issues and more, and Professor Kramer analyzes the contributions of figures that range from John Stuart Mill, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Matthew Arnold to Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, Herbert Spencer, and Auguste Comte.
The section and the course close with a lecture on Friedrich Nietzsche.
Professor Kramer explains how you can use Nietzsche's thought as a vantage point, either looking forward to the 20th-century themes that already preoccupied him, or back to the dialogue with the Enlightenment he had in mind while formulating his own view of what he called "the crisis of European civilization."