From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]
From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video] by Kenneth J Hammon
Course No 8320 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.46GB

In a world growing increasingly smaller, China still seems a faraway and exotic land, with secrets and mysteries of ages past, its history and intentions veiled from most Westerners. Yet behind that veil lies one of the most amazing civilizations the world has ever known. For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. This course answers this need by delivering a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.

A Civilization so Advanced …

  • China had a theory of social contract, the "Mandate of Heaven," in place by 1500 B.C.E., 3,000 years before Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.
  • It had seen the rule of three classical dynasties before 200 B.C.E.
  • It developed agriculture and writing independently of outside influence.
  • In Confucius and Laozi—among others—it had philosophers of the Axial Age as influential as were Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle in ancient Greece.
  • While the Roman Empire was at its zenith, China's Han dynasty ruled over an empire superior in almost every measurable way, including technological advancement.

… Its Wonders Were Thought to Be Lies

The veil that hides China's extraordinary past from many of us today is far from a new one. When Marco Polo wrote of the wonders he had seen over his 20 years in China, most of his fellow Venetians could not accept his descriptions of a civilization that rivaled their own. They contemptuously referred to the book he wrote about his adventures as "The Millions”—the number of lies they believed marched across its pages. Those Venetians had chosen to turn away from a precious opportunity to glimpse China's wonders and better understand the world.

Every lecture of From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History may seem like a journey across a virgin landscape, for the ground it covers has been largely unexplored in the history courses most of us in the West have taken.

You learn about:

  • The powerful dynasties that ruled China for centuries
  • The philosophical and religious foundations—particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism—that have influenced every iteration of Chinese thought
  • The larger-than-life personalities, from both inside and outside its borders, of those who have shaped China's history.
  • As you listen to these lectures, you see how China's politics, economics, and art reflect the forces of its past.

Explore China's Subtleties with an Expert

Few nations have as long and intricate a history as China. To bring alive the subtleties of that history in only 36 lectures requires a teacher intimately familiar with not only his subject, but the needs of listeners who may well be peering for the first time beyond that curtain that has long veiled the mysteries of China—indeed, of all Asia—from the eyes and understanding of Westerners.

Born and raised in Ohio, Professor Kenneth J. Hammond himself made that intellectual and cultural journey. He has lived and worked in Beijing and established exchange programs with schools in China and Korea.

In guiding you through the five millennia of China's history, he has organized his lectures around several major themes:

  • The evolution of the social and political elite and how they acquired and asserted their power as rulers
  • The history of political thought and the ways the Chinese have organized their society and government from the shamanistic roots of that political thought to the crafting and adapting of the Imperial Order, the rise of Communism, and the introduction of capitalism as China seeks economic growth
  • How the Chinese have thought and written about themselves and the world
  • The connections between economic and social life and the worlds of art, literature, and philosophy
  • The interaction among cosmological ideas, the metaphysical insights of Buddhism and religious Daoism, and the perennial mysticism of popular religion
  • China's history as it relates to the world beyond its borders.

China's Story: From Night Skies Ablaze to Opium

Dr. Hammond's lectures are richly detailed and lead you on compelling forays across many aspects of China's story. From a governing perspective, you'll learn how the short-lived Qin dynasty—with "legalism"as its often brutal ideology of governance—became the first unified empire, laying the basis for an enduring imperial order. And how the implementation of the imperial civil service examination system in the late 10th century gave intellectual issues renewed importance, and made the 11th century flourish with great debate and discussion about literature, philosophy, government, and art. You'll also learn the eye-opening story of how China was betrayed by the Allies at Versailles, precipitating riots in Beijing and helping pave the way for the emergence of the Communist Party.

From an historical point of reference, you'll see how a concubine named Wu Zetian rose to become the first and only empress to rule China . You'll also learn how opium became the commodity that allowed Great Britain to pry open China to the avarice of the West, making millions of Chinese into addicts, inciting the Opium Wars and a profound humiliation for China. You'll also be fascinated by the extraordinary story of a failed examination candidate named Hong Xiuquan, whose certainty that he was Jesus' younger brother drove him to lead a revolution that nearly succeeded in overthrowing the Qing dynasty. And then examine the conquest of China by the Mongols, including a riveting discussion of their culture and tactics.

You'll also explore how select artistic and intellectual events shaped China's history. For example, learn about the great ceramic center at Jingdezhen, which, in the 12th century, became one of the first true industrial cities in world history, its massive production lines setting the night sky ablaze with the glow from their great kilns. You'll be introduced to the Neo-Confucianist teachings of Zhu Xi, one of the great figures in Chinese intellectual history, whose sharply divergent commentaries on classical Confucian texts placed an emphasis on moral self-cultivation and the role of the individual. And finally, you'll visit the golden age of the Ming dynasty, when art and literature flourished amid economic growth and the revival of a great merchant class, including the invention of a postal system that became the foundation of a great trading network.

China: A Major Player

China continues to reassert itself as a major force. These above samplings can only hint at the fascination of this course and the immensity of its scope. However, the full course offers the history of this vast nation, reminding us that China is no stranger to that stage and, indeed, has more often than not been the most extraordinary player on it.

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History [TTC Video]

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]
How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video] by Kimberlee Bethany Bonura
Course No 1931 | MP4, AVC, 1024x576 | AAC, 64 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.3GB

Wouldn’t it be great if you could wake up every morning full of life and enthusiasm for a brand new day? If you loved going to work, and got a positive charge out of all your relationships? If you always had an unending reserve of energy?

Most of us no doubt feel energetic some of the time, but as we get older, the stressors and responsibilities of life, and the weight of our myriad obligations, inevitably take their toll, leaving us feeling tired, worn out, and generally depleted.

While energy is a limited resource within the body, there are things you can do to help you conserve the energy you have and tap into hidden energy reserves.

  • Perform daily exercises, breathing rituals, and meditations to recharge your batteries.
  • Adjust your diet and sleeping habits to operate more efficiently from one day to the next.
  • Re-allocate wasted energy toward higher priorities, such as your family and friends.
  • Find purpose in your work and relationships to boost your energy for the long run.

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy offers a step-by-step curriculum for tapping into those hidden wells of energy and injecting your life with a much-welcomed jolt of vitality—that joie de vivre we all wish we had. Taught by Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, a highly acclaimed fitness and wellness consultant, these 12 accessible lectures serve as a toolkit for a more energetic you. Dr. Bonura shows you a series of practical exercises that will increase your energy in the short term, and you also learn how to make a personalized blueprint for long-term success.

When physicists talk about human energy, they talk about calories and joules, whereas most of us simply want to feel good and charged up. There is a science behind that ineffable sense of vitality, and Dr. Bonura shows you the latest research on everything from sleep to mindfulness to the importance of play and emotional well-being. How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy shows you how a few simple strategies could mean the difference between guzzling coffee while slouched over the breakfast table and walking out the front door with a spring in your step.

Learn Strategies for Self-Care

There are no shortcuts to an energetic life—no miracle tonic or 10 superfoods you must eat every day—but like weeding a garden for optimal growth, daily self-care is nonetheless critical to maximizing your energy. Dr. Bonura reveals several practices that can make a profound difference in how you feel throughout the day. In this course, she examines energy’s relationship to:

  • Breathing: Facilitate relaxation through meditation and mindfulness.
  • Work: See how to manage and protect your energy on the job.
  • Relationships: Make sure your social life nurtures your energy levels.
  • Environment: Streamline your life by simplifying daily decisions.
  • Diet: Discover a few sensible guidelines rather than obsessing over calories.

You might be surprised to learn that one of the simplest ways to increase your energy is by sleeping eight hours a night. We’ve all heard that recommendation, but research confirms that people who get enough rest are in fact more alert, and more precise in their thinking, than those who only sleep a few hours a night.

Such advice is simple—eat well, sleep eight hours a night, nurture good relationships—but rather than being a luxury for those with unlimited time, proper self-care is a matter of self-preservation. Following Dr. Bonura’s guidelines will be a powerful step toward invigorating your life.

Discover a Toolkit of Practical Exercises

This course’s goal is ambitious: it seeks to help you build a more meaningful, enjoyable life. But these lectures also constitute a practical toolkit, offering a wealth of exercises you can try right away in your living room alongside Dr. Bonura, including:

  • Meditation and mindfulness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Restorative yoga
  • Acupressure

You’ll also discover some “quick fixes” for an immediate boost of energy, such as chewing mint gum, drinking a glass of water, or simply walking in place. These exercises integrate physical well-being with mental health, helping you maximize your energy on all fronts.

Consider How to Live a Purposeful Life

While self-care is crucial for boosting energy from one day to the next, sustainable physical and mental energy is only possible within the framework of a meaningful life. An energetic life is a purposeful life, so Dr. Bonura challenges you to think about how you spend your days: are you satisfied with your career? With your relationships? What does success mean to you?

Energy is a limited resource, and may be wasted if channeled unproductively. The good news is that you can consciously choose where and how to allocate your energy. Practicing mindfulness, making time for play, considering your emotional perspectives, and reducing your cognitive load all help you move from a quick boost to sustained energy. The key is making choices that promote a happy life.

Whatever your age and whatever your health circumstances, How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy is an invaluable guide for increasing your ability to do the things you want to do in life.

How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy [TTC Video]

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]
The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video] by Kenneth R Bartlett
Course No 3032 | MP4, AVC, 784 kbps, 1024x576 | AAC, 68 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.45GB

“You may have the universe, if I may have Italy.“ — Giuseppe Verdi

Anyone who is familiar with Italy—its glorious architecture, epic history, exquisite fine arts, and majestic landscape—understands Verdi’s passionate words. For centuries, Italy has been an irresistible magnet for people from all corners of the world, attracting the most illustrious men and women of every age as well as visitors from every walk of life. Today, it remains a mecca for cultural travelers, uplifting, fascinating, and enchanting all who travel there.

But what is behind Italy’s remarkable appeal? What makes this country such an inexhaustible place of discovery, unforgettable to so many?

Historically, Italy is one of the central fonts of Western culture, as the center of the Roman Empire, the cradle of Christianity, and the place where the Renaissance flowered. The sheer geographical density of masterpieces of art is one of the marvels of the world. Italy contains a stunning mix of history, architecture, art, and culture, all within settings of astonishing beauty. From its fabulous panorama of history and art, dating from ancient times to the modern, to its luminous landscapes and incalculable jewels of architecture, it would be hard to exaggerate the riches of this extraordinary country.

  • Rome — A majestic, one-stop compendium of Western civilization, encompassing wonders from the ancient Palace of Domitian and the great Colosseum to landmarks of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the modern era in multilayered profusion
  • Assisi — The lovely Umbrian hill town whose Church of St. Francis is one of the greatest monuments in European art
  • Florence — A matchless treasure house of Renaissance, Gothic, and Baroque art and architecture, where the masterworks of Michelangelo, Bernini, Brunelleschi, Caravaggio, and numerous others abound
  • Pompeii — An amazingly preserved ancient time capsule, revealing the intimate realities of daily life in the Roman Empire
  • Venice — A city that is itself a sublime work of art, and whose magical waterways and exquisite architecture give us one of the world’s most romantic and historically rich destinations

The Great Courses, in collaboration with the renowned Smithsonian, brings you The Guide to Essential Italy, your own grand tour of Italy that focuses on the most historically and artistically compelling sites. A world expert in cultural travel for over 45 years, Smithsonian Journeys, the Institution’s worldwide travel program, has created an Italian itinerary that has been honed over time to present a fascinating picture of this amazing destination. With their experts, we created a circuit that explores some of the most culturally significant landmarks, gives the opportunity to view countless impressive masterworks of artistic genius, and examines the impact of Italian history on the rest of the world. A breathtaking travel journey, this 36-segment course is a video tour and travelogue that lets you walk the streets and savor the heritage of Italy’s premiere destinations of Rome, Tuscany, and Venice, with side trips to additional treasures of Italian civilization.

The Guide to Essential Italy is a specially tailored journey of a kind no guidebook anywhere can offer—a personally guided tour that lets you explore the most famous and culturally important sites: splendorous palaces, grand piazzas, dazzling statuary, glorious cathedrals and churches, monumental artworks, and much more. In the process, you’ll take time to visit hidden gems and less traveled byways, and to make unusual and fascinating discoveries.

Your guide is Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett of the University of Toronto, an esteemed historian and scholar who knows these remarkable places in intimate detail, having traveled to Italy every year since 1970. As a cultural tour leader there for decades, Professor Bartlett knows Italy like few others do, and demonstrates a special talent for uncovering its most memorable historic, cultural, and artistic riches.

Professor Bartlett introduces you to the essential sites of these incredible cities, using location footage from the Smithsonian Journeys program as well as plenty of detailed maps so that you always know exactly where you are. In superbly illuminating commentary, he reveals the history and cultural significance of these places in detail, and offers viewing tips for appreciating what you’ll experience—whether you’re planning a trip to Italy, thinking of traveling there, or would simply like to discover this superlative culture from your armchair. Each lecture in this course is organized as a detailed walking tour, which you can take with you and listen to as you walk through the vias of Italy, as well as follow and enjoy as a spectacular visual journey from the comfort of home. Plus, the Smithsonian provides travel advice that appears at the end of every lecture: dozens of expert suggestions for off-the-beaten-path opportunities to explore more about the art, architecture, history, culture, and landscape. These tips build upon the professor’s vivid insights and offer fresh nuances to consider.

The Eternal City

Your Italian journey begins in the phenomenal urban landscape of Rome. In a full fourteen lectures on this center of Western civilization, you’ll delve into historic treasures such as these:

  • At sites such as the Forum Romanum, the Colosseum, the Claudian aqueduct, and the massive Baths of Diocletian, appreciate the majesty and power of the Roman Empire as well its astounding feats of architecture and engineering.
  • Explore great Renaissance and Baroque palaces evoking the lavish opulence of the Roman nobility, including the Chigi Palace and Palazzo Borghese, among the grandest private houses in all of Rome, and the Villa Farnesina,one of Rome’s most glorious jewels.
  • Among triumphs of civic architecture, admire theCampidoglio, Michelangelo’s masterpiece of urban planning; the Piazza Navona, crowned by Bernini’s spectacular Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the 19th-century Victor Emmanuel Monument.
  • Experience the splendor of the Roman church at the Capitoline, the papal basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and Basilica of St. Peter, and Bernini’s superlative Cornaro Chapel.

Florence and Tuscany

Here, embark on the glorious Florentine streets as you uncover the dramatic history of the city-state and savor the masterworks of art that have defined Florence for the ages.

  • Chart the development of the Florentine republic at sites such as the majestic Bargello and Palazzo della Signoria; stand in awe of the Medici monarchy at the Palazzo Vecchio, Fortezza da Basso, and the Chapel of the Princes;
  • View Botticelli and da Vinci at the renownedGalleria degli Uffizi, Rubens and Raphael at the Palazzo Pitti, and the genius of Michelangelo at the Accademia, all among the greatest repositories of art in the world.
  • Admire the extraordinary Duomo, whose dome is one of the wonders of the entire Renaissance; Ghiberti’s golden doors for the Baptistery, which Michelangelo declared worthy to be the Gates of Paradise; and the Boboli Gardens, among the most uniquely beautiful gardens on earth.
  • On your way to Florence, stop at the hill towns of Orvieto, noted for its religious architecture; Siena, where you’ll enjoy the most beautiful piazza in all of Italy; and San Gimignano, with its celebrated medieval towers.

Venice: “La Serenissima”

In the course’s final section, you’ll experience the ethereal beauty and historic magnificence of Venice, a city like none other in the world.

  • Investigate the history and ethos of the Venetian republic and its trading empire, as you view triumphal public architecture on the Molo of Venice, the Piazzetta San Marco, and the Piazza San Marco, attesting to Venetian glory and independence.
  • Explore the Gothic masterpiece of the Doge’s Palace, with its resplendent decoration exalting the Venetian state, and the Byzantine-style Basilica of San Marco, with its exquisite Door of the Flowers, elaborately adorned façade, and transcendent gilded interior.
  • Travel by vaporetto on Venice’s romantic canals and waterways, and visit wondrous churches constructed by merchants to proclaim their power and influence, sumptuous Baroque palaces and waterside museums, and imposing commercial buildings from Venice’s maritime past.
  • Walk the winding backstreets of this most dreamlike of cities, and discover jewels such as the beloved Rialto bridge, the splendid Augustinian church of San Stefano, and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, a treasure trove of art and one of Venice’s greatest wonders.

A Journey to the Heart of Italian Culture

As a notable benefit of the course’s walking tours, you’ll discover exceptional gems that most tours don’t have time for. You’ll encounter the remarkable “talking statues” of Rome, explore daily life in a Florentine Renaissance palace, and visit the prison cell in Venice where Casanova was held—until, of course, he escaped!

Vivid 3-D maps allow for clear understanding of the sites, and special-access video footage takes you inside museums, numerous architectural landmarks, and brings alive additional side trips to the volcanic ruins of Pompeii and the idyllic hill towns of Arezzo and Perugia. Each lecture includes the Smithsonian’s travel insights, which are carefully crafted to lead you deeper into Italian art and culture with additional on-the-ground experiences.

In The Guide to Essential Italy, you’ll travel through the towering human achievements and the ravishing beauties of this extraordinary country—its incomparable art, romantic streets and piazzas, glories of architecture, and multifaceted history. These 36 richly enjoyable lectures form a unique resource for both the traveler and the appreciator of an endlessly fascinating culture.

The Guide to Essential Italy [TTC Video]

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