Turning Points in American History [TTC Video]
25 February 2016, 18:01
Course No 8580 | M4V, AVC, 640x480 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 48x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 15.39GB
1777: The colonial victory over British troops at the Battle of Saratoga persuades France to provide financial and military support that will prove vital to the success of the American Revolution.
1862: The Homestead Act makes more than 600 million acres of land available to be settled, sparking the largest migration of Americans in the nation's history.
1933: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal launches a series of unprecedented laws and programs that will relieve the stress of the Great Depression and reshape American society.
2001: The 9/11 terrorist attacks spark a complex and controversial war against terrorism both domestically and internationally.
These are just four of the many turning points in the relatively short history of the United States—landmark movements that irrevocably altered the direction of the nation and signaled the dramatic start of a new historical reality.
Whether they took the form of
- groundbreaking political and philosophical concepts,
- dramatic military victories and defeats,
- nationwide social and religious movements, or
- technological and scientific innovations,
these and other turning points are the veritable backbone of the American experience. They forever changed the character of America politically, socially, culturally, and economically. Sometimes the changes brought about by these events were obvious; sometimes they were more subtle. Sometimes the effects of these turning points were immediate; other times, their aftershocks reverberated for decades.
Regardless, these great historical turning points demand to be understood. Knowing what these events are, how they came about, and their dramatic effects is essential to grasping the full story of this great world power. It may even offer you vital clues as to where America is headed in the coming years and decades.
Turning Points in American History is your chance to relive the most powerful and groundbreaking moments in the fascinating story of the United States of America. These 48 lectures, delivered by masterful historian and dynamic Professor Edward T. O'Donnell of College of the Holy Cross, offer you a different perspective on the sweeping narrative of U. S. history. Spanning the arrival of the first English colonists to the chaos of the Civil War to the birth of the computer age and beyond, this course is a captivating and comprehensive tour of those particular moments in the story of America, after which the nation would never be the same again.
Encounter Recurring Themes in American History
Professor O'Donnell has selected these specific historical turning points based on his expansive knowledge of American history and his decades of experience as a professor and lecturer to a wide variety of audiences. What makes these specific events turning points, regardless of the form they take, is the fact that they signal times when American society made a break with its past and entered a new phase of development.
"Turning points mark decisive 'before and after' moments in history," he says at the start of his course. "Before Shays's Rebellion, for example, Americans lived under the Articles of Confederation. After Shays's Rebellion and the constitutional convention it inspired, Americans lived under a new federal government and enjoyed the protections articulated in the Bill of Rights. Put another way, America became a very different place after this event."
Throughout Turning Points in American History, you'll encounter a series of recurring themes that will put your understanding of U. S. history—and even history itself—into a larger, more informed context. Some of these themes are these:
- Surprises: Few people in any historical era are prepared for what's coming, whether it's a war, an epidemic, a revolution, or an invention. Who, 20 years ago, could have expected the astonishing impact of the personal computer on everyday life in America?
- Agency: History is often made by towering figures like George Washington and Martin Luther King Jr. But it's also made by many nameless and faceless people—slaves, workers, farmers, suffragists—who take matters into their own hands and achieve historical change.
- Crisis: Historical crises are, more often than not, opportunities for great change. American history is filled with moments when a terrible crisis—such as the Civil War or the Great Depression—led to a sudden and radical change for the better.
Experience Both Familiar and Unfamiliar Turning Points
Taking a chronological approach, Professor O'Donnell gives you new ways to understand American history and to appreciate it as a grand narrative pinpointed with key moments that changed things forever. Each of his lectures focuses on a single turning point, explaining the conditions that led up to it, immersing you in the experience of the event itself, and exploring its immediate and long-term ramifications.
Here are just five of the great turning points you investigate in depth throughout this course:
- The Trial of John Peter Zenger (1735): A free press has played a central role in American history, and it wouldn't be possible without the arrest and prosecution of a little-known New York printer. While the trial did not establish any new legal precedent, it did popularize the ideas that freedom of the press is essential to liberty, that true statements cannot be libelous, and that a jury should decide both the facts and the law in libel trials.
- The Election of 1800: Many Americans in the months between the election in November 1800 and inauguration day in March 1801 feared that violence might engulf the new republic. Would the Federalists cede power to the winners of the election, the Republicans? In the end, a peaceful transfer of power between the two rival political parties took place, marking a precedent-setting moment in the history of the still-young republic.
- The Battle of Antietam (1862): This bloody Civil War battle stands out among others such as Bull Run and Gettysburg as a critical turning point for several reasons, including the fact that it allowed for President Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation and it eliminated the possibility of England and France intervening on behalf of the Confederacy.
- The Picketing of the White House by Suffragists (1917): Thanks to the increasingly radical tactics of suffragists led by Alice Paul and the National Women's Party beginning in 1917, Congress and President Woodrow Wilson eventually cast their support behind the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that, when ratified in 1920, granted women voting rights and dramatically expanded American democracy.
- The Watergate Scandal (1974): The most significant crisis of the 1970s, this turning point signaled a heightened level of public distrust toward elected officials—but it also illustrated the power of the news media and proved that the Constitution's system of checks and balances truly worked to stop the abuse of executive power.
Then there are the other events—ones that you may have only cursory knowledge of, or may not even have considered to be such integral parts of America's story. Among the many that you'll investigate in these lectures are
- the founding of the Rhode Island colony (1636), which established the principle of religious pluralism—an idea that was eventually enshrined in the First Amendment;
- the Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison (1803), which cemented the role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter in deciding a law's constitutionality;
- the establishment of the first national park (1872), which was the first time that any nation in the world set out to preserve acres of natural land for posterity; and
- the start of the Manhattan Project (1939), which led to the creation of atomic weaponry that ended World War II—but also started the cold war with the Soviet Union.
Along the way, Professor O'Donnell often dispels some intriguing myths and half-truths about American history and provides an honest, unabashed look at the subject matter. These lectures are packed with unfamiliar anecdotes, stories, and side notes that just may change your views on the grand narrative of American history. You'll learn, for example, that
- few Founding Fathers considered the Declaration of Independence a work of significant importance, and only in the 1800s was the document firmly enshrined in U. S. history;
- most Americans who participated in the westward expansion did not aspire to be merely subsistence farmers but were entrepreneurs who were tied to national markets and were eager for profits;
- African American soldiers were responsible for seizing San Juan Hill during America's war with Spain and not President Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders; and
- Albert Einstein did not actually work on the Manhattan Project, despite writing an influential letter to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt warning of Hitler's pursuit of an atomic bomb.
Embark on a Riveting Historical Adventure
With his expansive knowledge, his intriguing perspectives on how we seek to understand the importance and the lessons of past events, and his undeniable passion for sharing his knowledge with others, Professor O'Donnell is a masterful guide through the more than 350 years of American history. Throughout his career, he has taught thousands of students, delivered lectures to a range of audiences, and served as the lead historian for the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching American History grant.
In Turning Points in American History, Professor O'Donnell has taken the story of the United States of America and crafted it into a riveting adventure—complete with triumphant stories whose lessons may inspire you, sobering moments that may challenge your perceptions of the greatest country in the Western world, and powerful insights that will undoubtedly expand and illuminate your knowledge about the true greatness of America. It is, in short, an unforgettable course that only an engaging and insightful historian and professor could create.
Art across the Ages [TTC Video]
25 February 2016, 17:53
Course No 7150 | AVI, XviD, 640x432 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 48x30 mins | 7.51GB
Have you ever regretted not having the time to take an art appreciation or survey course in college and wished you could somehow gain the knowledge you missed? Or found yourself wondering, even if you did take that course when you were younger, how much more your years of experience and maturity would have added to your appreciation of art's creative wonders? Or have you simply wished to indulge yourself in a feast for the eyes and mind, enjoying more than 800 images of the Western world's glorious heritage of painting, sculpture, architecture, and other examples of art's constantly evolving definition?
In Art across the Ages, Professor Ori Z. Soltes has crafted a course in Western visual art that serves as both a mind-broadening survey and an essential introduction. It is designed to give anyone interested in Western art a firm familiarity with its basics, acquainting you with major artists and styles in various media and providing a broad foundation for deeper exploration.
By giving you a ready grasp of the substance and significance of a vast range of artists and their work, along with a solid knowledge of how those artists and their work fit within art's continuum, this course will add immeasurably to your next visit to a museum or exhibition or simply enhance your pleasure in the art you encounter in your life.
The Big Questions of Philosophy [TTC Video]
20 February 2016, 18:13
Course No 4130 | M4V, AVC, 2500 kbps, 640x360 | AAC, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 22.26 GB
We have all pondered seemingly unanswerably but significant questions about our existence—the biggest of all being, “Why are we here?” Philosophy has developed over millennia to help us grapple with these essential intangibles. There is no better way to study the big questions in philosophy than to compare how the world’s greatest minds have analyzed these questions, defined the terms, and then reasoned out potential solutions. Once you’ve compared the arguments, the final step is always deciding for yourself whether you find an explanation convincing.
This course gives you the tools to follow and create logical arguments while exploring famous philosophers’ viewpoints on these important questions. Although progress has been made toward answers, brilliant thinkers have continued to wrestle with many big questions that inspire thoughtful people everywhere. These questions include:
- What is knowledge?
- Can religious belief be justified?
- Does God exist?
- What is the nature of the mind?
- Do humans have free will?
- What is morally right and wrong?
- How should society be organized?
The philosophers who have confronted these mysteries include Plato, St. Anselm, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Kant, Mill, Smith, Marx, Rawls, and Nozick, among many others. And while it is easy to think of philosophy as a catalogue of great names such as these, it is really a collection of big questions and the arguments that try to answer them.
The Big Questions of Philosophy is your chance to engage in this intellectually exciting pursuit as you address issues that have preoccupied great minds for millennia. Your guide is philosopher David Kyle Johnson, an award-winning teacher and nationally recognized scholar, author, speaker, and blogger, who is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at King’s College in Pennsylvania.
An ideal entry point into this vital subject, The Big Questions of Philosophy gives you direct contact with classic problems that philosophers have grappled with over the centuries. Along the way, you meet scores of key figures, both ancient and modern. In addition, the course’s broad scope, wealth of examples, and many comparative arguments will appeal to those more experienced in philosophy—including those who already know the difference between abduction and deduction, between Occam’s Razor and Pascal’s Wager.
A Modern-Day Socrates
In 36 mesmerizing half-hour lectures that will challenge your old assumptions and recharge your current thinking, Professor Johnson plays a role much like Socrates in Plato’s dialogues. He is good-natured, lucid, and dogged in his search for the truth. You start each lecture with a question that is often transparently simple, but that grows increasingly subtle and complex as you consider and object to possible solutions. Professor Johnson’s approach is surprisingly entertaining and easy to follow as you wade through philosophical issues such as these:
- Miracles: Could an eyewitness report ever justify the belief that a miracle had occurred? You learn that the laws of reasoning place miracles outside the bounds of verifiable knowledge. Miracles can never be established as matters of fact and can only be accepted as matters of faith.
- Free will: Do we really have a choice in what we do? Theologically, free will seems impossible if God knows the future. Philosophically, it’s impossible in both a deterministic and an indeterministic universe. And biologically, free will seems incompatible with our understanding of neuroscience.
- The self: What makes you the same person today that you were in the past? The challenge of answering this question, which bears on everything from legal culpability to the prospect of an afterlife, inspired Professor Johnson to major in philosophy as an undergraduate.
- Thinking machines: Can machines think? Philosopher John Searle proposed a thought experiment which suggests that computers can simulate thinking, but without understanding. This “Chinese Room” argument became one of the most heated philosophical discussions of recent times.
Think Like a Philosopher
How are these issues decided? In the first four lectures of The Big Questions of Philosophy, you learn the tools of philosophical analysis. Contrary to popular belief, philosophy is not just “a matter of opinion.” It is the systematic quest to discover truth and reject falsehood, for which a number of powerful principles and techniques have evolved over the centuries, among them:
- Truth is not relative: A belief is true if it matches the way the world is. If two people disagree, it can’t be that both are right—that what each believes is “true for them.” To prevail in a debate, an opinion must be informed by the relevant facts and based on sound reasoning.
- Aristotelian logic: The traditional route to sound reasoning is Aristotelian logic, which stresses deduction as the only way to achieve knowledge that is mathematically certain. Less certain but very powerful is inductive reasoning, which is used in fields such as science.
- Abduction: A form of inductive reasoning, abduction appeals to criteria such as simplicity, testability, and conservatism. In other words, a hypothesis should be preferred if it is simpler than other explanations, can be tested, and doesn’t contradict established knowledge.
- Fallacious reasoning: To be avoided at all costs, fallacious reasoning comes in many forms and is unfortunately very common. One example is “mystery therefore magic”—when the inability to prove that something has a natural explanation is given as grounds for a supernatural explanation.
Indeed, these guidelines lead to fruitful results not just in philosophy, but also in every sphere of life. Whether you are puzzling over politics, investments, a new purchase, a career move, or any important decision, it is indispensable to think critically and reason from valid principles.
Philosophy Is All Around You
Socrates found grist for his philosophical discussions in the everyday life of Athens in the fifth century B.C. Similarly, Professor Johnson takes many of his examples from the world around us, including popular culture. These situations show that philosophical problems are everywhere and that our intuitions about what seems right can help guide us toward answers to the big questions:
- Skepticism: Descartes’ struggle with skepticism led him to a single, indubitable truth, “I think, therefore I am.” Movies such as The Matrix and Inception push skepticism even farther, questioning the boundary between dreaming and reality and throwing into doubt the prospect of ever acquiring knowledge.
- Knowledge: Plato’s definition of knowledge—”justified true belief”—has been tested in innumerable thought experiments that show we can have good evidence for a true belief but still lack knowledge. Johnson considers several such “Gettier problems,” including one involving the U.S. Open Tennis Championship.
- Personal identity: The teleportation machine in Star Trek is an endless source of thought experiments involving personal identity. Discover intriguing answers to scenarios in which the transporter splits, duplicates, fuses, and otherwise transforms the persons who enter it.
- Meaning: Philosophy is popularly thought to deal with the meaning of life—and indeed it does. Professor Johnson closes the course by seeking a genuine solution to the famous problem in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, concerning “the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.”
Illuminate Life’s Greatest Mysteries
Given the longevity of these big questions, it should be no surprise that many controversies are far from settled. In fact, by the end of the course you may be even less sure of the right answers to some of the questions than you were at the beginning. But being a philosopher means constantly testing your views—giving a reasoned defense if you believe you are right and modifying your ideas when you realize you are wrong.
You will experience this cycle many times with The Big Questions of Philosophy. You’ll discover that great thinkers before you have offered convincing answers to hard questions, philosophers after them have made equally persuasive objections, and then still others have refined the debate even further—causing the issue to come into sharper and sharper focus. Professor Johnson offers this illuminating simile: “Thinking philosophically is like having a powerful flashlight that you can shine into the darkness that seems to surround life’s greatest mysteries—a flashlight that can reveal the answers to the big questions, and one you can use to find your way forward.”