Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World

Course No. 8700
Professor Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
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Course No. 8700
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Course Overview

Starting with the Renaissance, the culture of the West exploded. Over the next 600 years, rapid innovations in philosophy, technology, economics, military affairs, and politics allowed what once had been a cultural backwater left by the collapse of the Roman Empire to dominate the world.

But how—and why—did this happen?

  • How did the decentralized agrarian principalities of medieval Europe remake themselves into great industrial nation-states?
  • How and why did absolutism rise and then yield to democratic liberalism?
  • How did Western science and technology create the first industrialized economics and reduce the power of superstition and disease?
  • How did these centuries create the framework for the escalation of revolutions and the frequent wars between civilizations?
  • Why was colonization—either the conquest of indigenous populations or the transplantation of societies to new territories—such a prevalent enterprise, and how did it fall apart?
  • Why did Europe produce two great antagonist systems: capitalism and Communism?
  • Most importantly: How did we get to where we are in the 21st century?

Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World explores these and other riveting questions. In 48 lectures, award-winning Professor Robert Bucholz of Loyola University of Chicago teaches not only the history of Western civilization but also the meaning of civilization itself.

Offering profound rewards to everyone, this course is

  • a grand narrative of the past five centuries;
  • a coherent context for the period's events and trends; and
  • an analysis of what these five centuries have bequeathed to us.

How Was Our World Shaped?

The story of the West detailed in Foundations of Western Civilization II is the road map that tells you where we came from and what challenges we have created for ourselves in the journey ahead.

For all its diversity, modern American society—in particular its assumptions and forms of expression—is very much a product of the last 500 years of European history and culture. Our system of government, our economic structures, our science and technology, and much of our literature, art, and music are based on or react to European models forged in the crucible of modern Western history.

The history of Europe, moreover, is not just the story of "kings and queens, or their ministers, or their relations with diets, parliaments, or estates," according to Professor Bucholz. "It is also the story of every man, woman, and child who lived, loved, fought, and died in Europe during the period covered by our course," he says. "The story must be told from the bottom up as well as from the top down."

An Extraordinary, Comprehensive View

This extraordinary and comprehensive view of history explores the ideas, events, and characters that modeled Western political, social, religious, intellectual, cultural, scientific, technological, and economic history during the tumultuous period between the 16th and 20th centuries.

Your journey begins with a close look at the backgrounds to the modern Western world and an exploration of how Western Europe transitioned from a medieval mindset to the modern path that would take it through the next 600 years. In addition to looking at the critical role played by factors like climate, topography, and natural resources, you chart the six developments that destroyed the old medieval worldview:

  • the development of Renaissance Humanism
  • the rise of centrally governed nation-states
  • the discovery of the New World
  • the creation of the printing press
  • the Protestant Reformation and its subsequent religious wars
  • the rational and scientific revolutions

From there, Foundations of Western Civilization II plunges into the progress of Western European history. You immerse yourself in the crises of the 17th century, the development of absolutism and constitutionalism, the whirlwind of revolutionary fervor that consumed the West during the 18th century (specifically the American and French revolutions), and the subsequent spread of liberal ideals.

As you emerge into the 19th century, you understand the critical impact of various nationalist movements in Western history, as exemplified in the dramatic stories of the unification of Italy in 1861 and that of Germany in 1871. Nationalism also paved the way for increased tensions in and among nations, and carries us into the violent turmoil of the 20th century and shocking events like the Great Depression, the rise of Fascism and Nazism, the two world wars, the Russian Revolution, and the rise (and fall) of the Soviet Union—all events that would forever alter the course of Western history.

Throughout this historical survey, you get a larger understanding of the political, social, and cultural history of Europe. In addition, you explore the ramifications of these and other events on the rest of the world, including the United States.

Different from other surveys of Western civilization, Foundations of Western Civilization II puts the history of the West into a cultural context as well, with looks into amazing works of art and culture that range from the King James Bible and Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling to Impressionist paintings and Modernist literature like James Joyce's Ulysses.

Venture Inside and Outside the Corridors of Power

Throughout the course, Professor Bucholz pauses at many points along the way to show how Western civilization was shaped by the low as well as the mighty, the practical as well as the artistic. As you would expect from a survey of Western history, those at the seat of power—whether through birth, election, or revolution—take their turn at center stage, including

  • Louis XIV: Known as the Sun King, his reign was a constant demonstration of what Professor Bucholz calls "Louis XIV's Five Rules of Absolutism," with the king always being godlike, in control, wealthy, able to enforce religious conformity, and in possession of an army.
  • Napoleon Bonaparte: The brilliant battlefield tactician and magnetic leader whose dreams of unifying Europe through military conquest were foiled, his values of liberalism and nationalism nevertheless spread throughout Europe.
  • Otto von Bismarck: A meticulous diplomat and the architect of German unification, his carefully derived system of interlocking alliances—designed to maintain Europe's balance of power and prevent war—could not survive the swaggering ambitions of the Kaiser who fired him.
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin: A fiery leader, he spent much of his youth imprisoned or exiled but returned to Russia to lead a revolution, topple a government, and lay the foundation for decades of Soviet Communism.
  • Winston Churchill: An author, soldier, and statesman, he emerged from the political wilderness to become Britain's inspirational prime minister during the darkest days of World War II.

But those who had their hands on the clay as our civilization was shaped came from outside the corridors of power as well, including

  • theologians like Martin Luther, an Augustinian priest and professor of theology whose 95 Theses opposing the sale of indulgences by the Church led to the launch of the Reformation when he nailed them to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg
  • Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, whose greatest works revealed new ways to see the individual through their portrayal of real people with real histories and feelings
  • Enlightenment thinkers like Charles Montesquieu, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Denis Diderot, the energetic thinkers known as "philosophes" who built on the work of earlier philosophers like Thomas Hobbes and John Locke
  • Musicians like Beethoven, who redefined musical styles and produced iconic works that we still cherish today

An Essential Toolkit

Oxford-educated, Professor Bucholz has frequently taught a comprehensive Western civilization survey course at Loyola. He has received numerous awards for his teaching, including the Sujack Award for Teaching Excellence (the highest such award presented by the Loyola College of Arts and Sciences) and, twice, the Honors Program Faculty Member of the Year Award. Among his published books are The Augustan Court: Queen Anne and the Decline of Court Culture and Early Modern England, 1485–1714: A Narrative History (with Newton Key).

Taught by an expert historian, Foundations of Western Civilization II is essential to your understanding of the larger depth and breadth of this unprecedented period in world history. In Professor Bucholz's words, the course is "a toolkit for any citizen of the West, a survival kit for any citizen of the world. It is essential equipment for those of us who wish to become civilized and remain so."

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Importance of the West
    This lecture is an overview of the past 500 years of European history and culture—the system of government, economic structures, science and technology, and much of the literature, art, and music. x
  • 2
    Geography Is Destiny
    We look at how the physical realities of Europe and the Atlantic world—its geography and climate—shaped its destiny by affecting patterns of population, immigration, diplomacy, war, and political and cultural divisions. x
  • 3
    Culture Is Destiny
    The "Great Chain of Being" assumed an ordered, hierarchical universe in which humans—like angels, animals, plants, and even stones—were placed in a particular rank by God. As Europe emerges from the Middle Ages, that concept is challenged and strained by forces in politics, society, religion, and culture. x
  • 4
    Renaissance Humanism—1350–1650
    A revived interest in the literary and historical works of classical Greece and Rome unleashes new ideas about the qualifications of a gentleman, the role of women, and the expectations of a prince–with a resulting emphasis on textual accuracy, literacy, education, and the human and practical. x
  • 5
    Renaissance Princes—1450–1600
    The Humanist emphasis dovetails with the rise of a new kind of ruler, with expanding powers in every area of life and seeking to pay for their ambitions by claiming trade routes to the Far East and the Americas. x
  • 6
    The New World & the Old—1400–1650
    The exploration and exploitation of Africa and Asia by the Portuguese, and of the Americas by first the Spanish, then the French and English, change the economies, cultures, and political makeup of these regions forever. x
  • 7
    The Protestant Reformation—1500–22
    The rise of literacy and the development of the printing press make possible the dissemination of powerful new ideas—particularly those of Augustinian priest and reformer Martin Luther. x
  • 8
    The Wars of Religion—1523–1648
    The Reformation splits Europe into opposing camps, producing a series of bloodbaths culminating in the Thirty Years' War, the near-bankruptcy of Spain, and the eventual conviction that perhaps religious matters are best settled peacefully. x
  • 9
    Rational & Scientific Revolutions—1450–1650
    Beginning with Copernicus in the 15th century, European thinkers such as Galileo, Kepler, Bacon, and Newton question old views on how the world works, pioneering the Scientific Method. x
  • 10
    French Absolutism—1589–1715
    Following the disasters of the Wars of Religion, the monarchies of Europe experience a crisis of authority. The French response—ultimately perfected by Louis XIV—of an absolutism that makes the king a virtual god on Earth becomes an object of envy and imitation for nearly every monarchy on the continent. x
  • 11
    English Constitutionalism—1603–49
    The Stuart monarchs of England struggle with Parliament and their own foibles and extravagance. The resulting English Civil Wars culminate in the trial and execution of King Charles I in 1649. x
  • 12
    English Constitutionalism—1649–89
    After the execution of Charles I, England experiments with a republic, a protectorate, and even, once again, a semi-absolutist monarchy, before the Glorious Revolution sets an example of an alternative, more democratic, form of government for Europe and the Americas. x
  • 13
    War, Trade, Empire—1688–1702
    The Revolution of 1688-89 precipitates a series of general European wars pitting the French against the British and Dutch for mastery in Europe and control of trade with colonies in America and Asia. x
  • 14
    War, Trade, Empire—1702–14
    Building on its military success—powered by innovative deficit financing—Britain becomes the most prosperous trading nation in Europe, with much of the foundation of that prosperity built on the misery of Africans forced into the Triangular Atlantic trade in sugar, tobacco, and African slaves. x
  • 15
    War, Trade, Empire—1714–63
    Most of Europe, and France in particular, emerges from two decades of warfare exhausted financially and militarily, but the peace is temporary. A new round of conflicts leaves Britain the undisputed master of the Canadian and Eastern seaboards of North America. x
  • 16
    Life Under the Ancien Régime—1689–1789
    Thanks to commercial and financial revolutions, the middling orders of merchants and professionals are growing in numbers, wealth, and political savvy—and will be key to the coming revolution in European social and economic relations. x
  • 17
    Enlightenment & Despotism
    European thinkers such as Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu, and Rousseau expand the ideas of Locke and others in a movement that comes to be known as the Enlightenment. When even enlightened monarchs fail to change their societies, some Europeans begin to consider an alternative: revolution. x
  • 18
    The American Revolution
    The American Revolution becomes a fight over Enlightenment ideas. The new republic and its constitution represent the first comprehensive attempt to put those ideas into practice and become a model and inspiration to Europeans who want reform. x
  • 19
    The French Revolution—1789–92
    Nearly bankrupted by its participation in the American Revolution, and unable to achieve reform under its existing system, France becomes a constitutional monarchy, with aristocratic privilege abolished and a Declaration of the Rights of Man set forth. But will Louis XVI accept his reduced role? x
  • 20
    The French Revolution—1792–1803
    As the king—urged on by monarchs elsewhere—refuses that new role, the Revolution turns violent, unleashing a Reign of Terror that eventually brings about war with virtually every other monarchy in Europe, a new nationalism, and the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. x
  • 21
    The Napoleonic Empire—1803-15
    Despite a succession of brilliant victories, Napoleon's efforts to conquer Britain and force the nations of Europe into his system meet with eventual defeat. Nevertheless, the sense of nationalism spread by France has changed the political climate, as the Congress of Vienna learns in attempting to restore the Bourbon monarchy. x
  • 22
    Beginnings of Industrialization—1760–1850
    While several factors make Europe the logical place for industrialization to begin, it is Britain's advantages—financial, political, and social—that makes it the best-suited country to exploit those conditions. The result is a host of brilliant inventors, financiers, and managers who bring about the first Industrial Revolution. x
  • 23
    Consequences of Industrialization—1760–1850
    The consequences of the first Industrial Revolution do more to create today's world than any other development studied in this course. But its innovations have a dark side that draws multiple responses from European intellectuals—which we examine in the next three lectures. x
  • 24
    The Liberal Response—1776–1861
    The appalling conditions of life and work for the working class produce a series of intellectual and political reactions in Western Europe, with the best routes to reform the subject of wide-ranging debate among liberal thinkers. x
  • 25
    The Romantic Response—1789–1870
    In the face of half-hearted or partial solutions to the problems of the Industrial Revolution, Romantic writers such as Wordsworth, Blake, and Shelley urge revolution, forever altering how Europeans and, later, Americans, perceive the world. x
  • 26
    The Socialist Response—1813–1905
    The urgings of early Socialists for voluntarily sharing wealth eventually give way to the demands of Marx and Engels for more radical action. Though Marx's critique is influential, several factors prevent industrial Europe from ever experiencing the revolution for which he calls. x
  • 27
    Descent of Man; Rise of Woman—1830–90
    Industrialization is the material product of an age of scientific advance. But science, with its emphasis on empirical evidence, reason, and experimentation, also revolutionizes how Europeans think, as one after another, fundamental beliefs and traditions are challenged. x
  • 28
    The Industrial Revolution is primarily a northern and western European phenomenon. Elsewhere, the big issue is nationalism, and the failure of the Congress of Vienna to take nationalism and liberalism into account leads to revolutions across Europe throughout the next 30 years. x
  • 29
    Despite the rise of nationalism on the continent, the balance of European power remains stable. It is not until the unification of Germany at the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 that this fragile balance is affected for generations to come. x
  • 30
    Imperial Rivalry—1870–1914
    The European powers, as well as the United States, seek new empires overseas. The resulting competition for colonies breeds conflict between nations that otherwise have no reason to fight, a factor that in the long run contributes to World War I. x
  • 31
    Industrial Rivalry—1870–1914
    The second Industrial Revolution creates, for most people, a cornucopia of opportunities and new products. Internationally, two new industrial giants arise to challenge Great Britain, and tensions with one help to frame World War I. x
  • 32
    The Alliance System—1872–1914
    A series of interlocking treaties devised by Otto von Bismarck to ease conditions in the Balkans prevents nationalistic and economic pressures from exploding into full-scale European war, but new tensions eventually grow to overwhelm it. x
  • 33
    Decadence & Malaise—circa 1900
    The start of the Great War is greeted by cheering crowds and floods of volunteering men all over Europe. For some the reasons involve nationalism and patriotism; for others it's a chance to flee a stagnant economy or find answers for a society and culture in flux. x
  • 34
    The Great War Begins—1914–16
    The rapid mobilization of Russia and the determined resistance of France ruin Germany's plans for quick victory. The new inventions of the second Industrial Revolution give the defensive side all the advantages, and the armies of Europe are locked into a bloody stalemate of trench warfare. x
  • 35
    Breaking the Deadlock—1915–17
    Both sides try in vain to break the deadlock. Germany's sinking of merchant ships inevitably draws America into the war. In 1917, the Germans play another card as they attempt to foment revolution in Russia. x
  • 36
    The Russian Revolution—1917–22
    The most backward and repressive nation in Europe, terribly overmatched in the war, experiences the overthrow of both its czar and the republican government that succeeds him before suing for peace with Germany and establishing the world's first Communist government. x
  • 37
    The End of the War—1917–22
    Its final effort to win the war thwarted, and facing food and fuel shortages, Germany finally agrees to an armistice. The ensuing peace conference produces a treaty that will weaken the German economy and breed tremendous resentment. x
  • 38
    Recovery & Depression in the West—1919–36
    The world economy only slowly recovers from the Great War. America emerges as both Europe's creditor and the world's wealthiest nation, with the collapse of the stock market having a disastrous ripple effect. x
  • 39
    Totalitarian Russia—1918–39
    Lenin's early experiments with forced collectivization at home and revolution abroad are disastrous for the Soviet Union's domestic and foreign policy and even worse for its people. When Lenin dies, a vicious power struggle results in the rise of Josef Stalin. x
  • 40
    Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany—1922–36
    The disillusionment in Europe with democracy and, later, capitalism following the Great War and the Great Depression make alternatives seem reasonable. Mussolini and Hitler seize power and create states that boast full employment—at a price. x
  • 41
    The Holocaust—1933–45
    The Nazi regime embarks on the extermination of Jews, Slavs, homosexuals, and other "undesirables" in Europe. The lecture concludes with a meditation on the meaning of this crime and its implications for the concept of Western civilization. x
  • 42
    The Failure of Diplomacy—1935–39
    In both the Far East and Europe, aggression brings the world closer to war. Following its earlier invasion of Manchuria with an invasion of the rest of northern China in 1937, Japan has joined the Axis powers, and Hitler marches a rearmed Germany into the Rhineland, Austria, and then Czechoslovakia. x
  • 43
    World War II—1939–42
    This first lecture on World War II begins with Hitler's Blitzkrieg invasion of Poland and continues until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler's decision to declare war on the United States. x
  • 44
    World War II—1942-45
    From 1942 on, the sheer size of the Soviet Union and its army, combined with the industrial might of the United States, guarantee an Allied victory—but the cost will be very high. x
  • 45
    American Hegemony, Soviet Challenge—1945–75
    The two undisputed superpowers threaten each other with nuclear arsenals and fight proxy wars for global dominance. Americans use their leadership and wealth to establish democracies in Germany and Italy and to restore Western European economies through the Marshall Plan. This lecture doesn't address the end of the Cold War. x
  • 46
    Rebuilding Europe—1945–85
    The great nations of Europe are forced to re-evaluate their positions. Gradually, often reluctantly, and sometimes violently, they divest themselves of overseas colonies, accommodate themselves to a precarious existence between the superpowers, and concentrate on rebuilding their economies. x
  • 47
    The New Europe—1985–2001
    After the fall of the Soviet Union, the nations of Europe form a European Union with an aim to reshape the politics and economics of the region and the world, even as it deals with many new challenges. x
  • 48
    The Meaning of Western Civilization
    At the dawn of the 21st century, the European legacy of democracy, capitalism, and relative freedom for the individual is challenged by internal and external movements, including the rise of religious fundamentalism, international terrorism, tensions over immigration, and integration into a global economy. Will European ideals survive? x

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Your professor

Robert Bucholz

About Your Professor

Robert Bucholz, D.Phil.
Loyola University Chicago
Dr. Robert Bucholz is Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where he has taught since 1988. He earned his B.A. in History from Cornell University and his D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University. Before joining the faculty at Loyola University, Professor Bucholz taught at numerous universities, including Cornell University; California State University, Long Beach; and Loyola, Marymount University. He is a...
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Foundations of Western Civilization II: A History of the Modern Western World is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 145.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good with a few caveats I am glad I watched this video course, and enjoyed it. I had the impression the material is heavily weighted towards politcal history and military history, so I would not expect to get a healthy does of cultural or intellecutal history of western civilization. The professor has a nice presentational style, and he has excellent enthusiasm for the topic. That makes the courses pleasant to listen to. I tend to prefer a more conversational style of presentation, rather than reading from a teleprompter or notes. But it was not enough to be distracting. On balance, I am glad I watched this course.
Date published: 2019-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The lecturer was excellent. This course was extremely interesting. The material was delivered with humor, great knowledge and obvious love of the topic. We will continue to purchase other Great Courses.
Date published: 2019-03-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not a good survey course If you are looking for a good survey course, this isn’t it. Objectively, there are at least two problems with the course. One, histories of different countries were not integrated temporally. Periods of, for example, French history, are described and then a similar period period in Spain is described but there is no explanation of how these two histories relate to each other in any detail. Two, the Holy Roman and Ottoman Empires which, as I know from other Great Courses, are very important in Western Civilization are barely mentioned. Russia, Italy or the Balkans don't seem to exist until they are important. Subjectively, a balanced survey approach was not employed and instead a very subjective approach was taken. The discussion of Galileo’s imprisonment is distorted. Only a portion of the story is told, the portion of the story that makes Galileo look like a saint and Pope look bad. Fortunately, the Teaching Company has another course, Science and Religion, that gives a much fuller and objective discussion of Galileo’s interaction with the Church. Fascism is described as a right-wing phenomenon. That would be a surprise to the father of Fascism, Giovanni Gentile, an avowed Italian socialist. Or to Mussolini, who when asked to define Fascism, relied “Me!”. And to call the Nazis right-wing when their name includes the word Socialist seems to ignore reality. Two perhaps petty critiques are the singing and reading poetry for large portions of some of the lectures and the need to describe the mud in WW I. The experience of running cross country in the mud of Europe to the experiences of soldiers in WW I is disrespectful to the soldiers.
Date published: 2019-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than the courses than I took in College Full of information that will allow challenging for credit
Date published: 2019-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great course, even better teacher I love this teacher. Have ALL his courses, and would like to see more.
Date published: 2019-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Brave Attempt Professor Bucholz knew what he was taking on here. It was no less than a Cliff's Notes on five centuries or so of human civilization. The best anyone could hope for is something very wide and with relatively little depth. In that, I would submit that he has succeeded. The mere fact that he had 48 lectures gave him little room to hide behind. I have no problem, as have some other reviewers, that Professor Bucholz has apparently laid bare his own very subjective judgments on modern European history. No historian, regardless of stature, has dodged that bullet. The lectures were, I found, a useful launch pad for greater self-exploration. By the way (and I have noted this critique in other lecture series as well), Professor Bucholz has not managed to avoid the too obvious fact that he is reading from a teleprompter. Why can't lifetime teachers manage to avoid this? I realize a transcript is generated for those who wish to pay for it, but please find a way to cater your delivery so that you come off a teacher rather than a mere narrator. For this reason, I believe the audio version of this course might have mediated my view on this. With all of this, I would still recommend this effort as being carefully and sincerely crafted.
Date published: 2018-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect overview While I thought I was well versed in this area - turns out I still had a lot to learn. I have since drilled down with other courses to fill in the weaker areas of my understanding. Will likely listen to this again and again.
Date published: 2018-12-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from liberal, PC, and biased I had a hard time stomaching his pompous attitude and political correctness (e.g. "history or herstory"). He seems to hate the West.
Date published: 2018-12-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Soon to Tell You're requesting a review only 1-2 weeks after sending me the multi-disc course. That's not reasonable--I don't have a useful opinion yet, and won't for several weeks.
Date published: 2018-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Remarkable breadth of knowledge of this faculty As you can imagine, this course is a heavy lift. The breadth of knowledge of this faculty member is remarkable. He makes the learning so enjoyable I listen to each lecture several times before moving to the next one.
Date published: 2018-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Hegemony and hubris I've just spent 45 minutes reading reviews of this very good history survey of the foundations of our (western) civilization (civilisation?)...there are more than 100 (111) going back 10+ years. I've read some gushing, over-the-top praise of Dr Bucholz, followed by those accusing him of political bias, ignorance of economic concepts, too simplified, and (my personal favorite) not knowing east from west. Some reviewers seem to want to rewrite the course in their own words. But, hold on. What are these reviews intended to do? The Teaching Company has gone to great lengths to provide a fine summary and even breaks down each lecture into thumbnail summaries. We reviewers don't need to do it again (admittedly, I've done a bit of that myself). So I offer this: - those out there who are interested in taking this course are need to know that the lectures are well-organized and presented by a learned professor who knows his stuff (it's the student's job to fill in the gaps, according to her/his interests). - they need to know that the lectures cover nearly 700 years (668 years as I write this)...that's about 14 years/30 minute lecture or about 0.46 years/minute. History doesn’t work like that. Any lecturer is bound to miss or overlook something. - they want to know if they will be entertained as they learn...this is my second time through the lectures. I had a grand time...both times. Maybe you will as well. These lectures are 13 years old, have things changed since they were written? (see lecture 48 for the answers). - they want a bargain. Watch for sales and coupons. This one takes patience because it's highly rated. Recommended, audio is good enough.
Date published: 2018-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great overview I studied Western history in college over 40 years ago, one course from ancient times till the end of the Roman Republic and a second from the beginning of the Roman Empire until somewhere in the 13th century. I always wished I had taken the next course that ran through the French Revolution. After hearing a number of lectures elsewhere about various aspects of the periods covered by this lecture, I decided to try it as a foundation course. Probably the one weakness of the course was the portion on the 20th century, which looms large in our time and would have been hard to cover even in an entire 48 lecture series. But what I needed to know for my purposes was the history until the start of WW I. So from that perspective, the course was terrific.
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Interesting but biased On one hand the course is quite interesting, but on the other hand the professor is very leftist, and there is quite a bit of propaganda in it. The westerners are always the mean guys and the Muslims and Indians etc the good guys etc. But still there is a lot to learn from the course, even though I think it would be much better if it was taught by a more centrist professor
Date published: 2018-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent video We are utilizing this video as the primary resource for a high school world history course instead of a textbook. My daughter who has always disliked history actually enjoys it now after viewing these lectures. She says that Professor Bucholz explains thoroughly, and that he has developed a good combination of historical facts and stories. He is able to hold her interest. I am very pleased to have found this course.
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Expectations far too high on audience The professor presents himself well in bearing and speech. His erudition is without question. But he signals his excessive expectations of the audience repeatedly from the beginning, often prefacing a comment with "As you know" or something along these lines. Well, I don't know. I have no idea who or what 90% of these names refer to. That's why I'm taking this course. There are too many names flown around every minute to keep up with what's important. The mind doesn't work in such a way as to comprehend so much in so little time. We need background, we need context, we need salient features.
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Pleasure to Watch Beautifully presented, excellent instructor, makes learning history a joy.
Date published: 2017-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An outstanding and entertaining course I bought this course to listen while commuting to work. Buchholz is an engaging lecturer, and I even found myself disappointed by the last lecture that the course had ended. A very large survey for such a big topic, but I learned a lot and will look for more of his courses!
Date published: 2017-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Renaissance to the Turn of the Century (21st) I took this course as a follow-up to Professor Noble’s series of lectures focusing on Classic (and Pre-Classic) times through the Renaissance and Reformation. At the same time I was listening to Professor Weiner’s “The Long 19 Century”. Naturally this course has some overlap with the other two, but surprisingly very little repetition, no doubt because excellent teachers present their material according to their own views and emphasize points according to what they believe to be important and to what interests them the most. Professor Bucholz spends quite a bit of his allotted time discussing how events affect the common man, while Dr. Weiner pretty much gives us a “great man” approach to the history of the 19th century. I don’t believe that one approach is superior to the other, as the intent of what is being presented is different (although I really like learning how changing times affect everyone). The course just on the 19th century is of course much more detailed than this one, but that does not mean that Dr. Bucholz does not occasionally present a fair amount of detail. But in the end, this is a survey course, just as is “Foundations I”. The pace is fast enough that I think some knowledge of this history is almost a precondition for getting a reasonable amount out of the course. Often Professor Bucholz spiels a list of names, dates or places that he assumes we can all put in context. For example a passing reference to Voltaire assumes some knowledge of his writings. However for some other thinkers such as Locke, we are given quite a bit of background. To be sure, the course covers so much (politics, economics, art, literature, music, philosophy, science and engineering, living conditions and agriculture) that mere mentions of some topics (most music references for example) are all that time permits. For me, attempting to put many things in context is a reasonable approach for a survey course. While I knew much of the content of this course in isolation, Dr. Bucholz put these things in a context that helped me to understand their interdependence in ways that had not occurred to me. Many reviewers liked “Foundations I” better while others preferred this course. I found that Professor Noble was a bit more technical and detailed, while Professor Bucholz was more empathic. I liked both approaches, giving Bucholz’s animated, sometimes passionate delivery a bit of an edge. In this I particularly lecture 48, and most especially lecture 41. The former explains what civilization means to Professor Bucholz, why he considers it important and why we must be on guard to keep it from decaying. He also explains that his biases will necessarily creep into his lectures, something I think some reviewers have missed. Lecture 41 deals with The Holocaust. I found it to be both factual and emotional and one of the best single lectures I have listened to while taking 100 courses.
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Perfect Accompaniment to Foundations I I've not yet finished these lectures, and that's a good thing: They are immensely enjoyable. Professor Bucholz is erudite and entertaining, peppering his lectures with specifics in philosophy, science, theology, literature, art, etc. He is, at times, spellbinding. So, I will take my time with this course, enjoying the remarkable achievements of mankind over the past 500 years.
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great lecturer and content! This is my third Great Course and I am delighted to have found not only great content, but also a great lecturer (The lecturers for my first 2 courses drove me batty with their poor delivery). It just goes to show that great historians can be great lecturers as well. Please, Great Courses, find more great lecturers.
Date published: 2017-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Second Listening. Looking Forward to the Third. There are a special few courses from this company that I have listened to for a second time, with delight: anything by Robert Greenberg and Anne Curzan; Bob Brier's great Egypt course; and this wonderful exploration of western culture by Robert Bucholz. As a history teacher myself, I gained an extraordinary amount of knowledge. More importantly, I gained an appreciation for the stance and design with which I can approach this great period of human history. All of it was delivered with Professor Bucholz's delightful speaking style. I listened to this course on long walks, for leisure or on the way to work. Each time I loaded up my iPhone and heard the introduction, I felt as if I was returning to a treasured teacher for an enjoyable class. I can't wait to listen to his series on the history of London.
Date published: 2017-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Subject I bought this course because I liked Professor Bucholz's course History of England, From the Tudors to the Stuarts. I started viewing this course and I was not disappointed. I love the social and political perspective. I learned a lot. There are things to be proud of. There are also things which he did not skim over to be ashamed of. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2017-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Course on the Progression of Western Europe Great overall course that provides an enthralling historical narrative covering European history from aprx. 1500-2000 focusing on how countries that have contributed the most to the political system and ideals of the U.S. (Great Britain, France, Germany, etc.) transformed themselves from feudal agrarian serfdom states to modern industrious societies with democracy, capitalism, free education, free press, and civil rights and liberties as their foundations. Topics discussed included: o Renaissance Humanism o 16th century voyages and colonialism (Africa, Asia, the Americas) o The Protestant Reformation o Wars of Religion (including the Thirty Years War) o Rational & Scientific Revolutions o How France became an Absolute Monarchy and English became a Constitutional Monarchy and the wars between the two in the 17th and 18th century o The Enlightenment o The American Revolution o The French Revolution o The rise and fall of the Napoleonic Empire o The Industrial Revolution o Nationalism leading to the unification of Italy and Germany o European powers and United States seeking new empires overseas (Africa, Asia, Australia) o World War I o The Russian Revolution of 1917 o Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany o The holocaust o World War II o The Cold War o The fall of Communism Professor Bucholz is an excellent teacher. I fell in love with his teaching style when I took "A History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts" and was so happy to see he would be teaching this course. I had a hard time getting into the "Foundations of Western Civilization" course but was ecstatic when I saw Professor Bucholz would be teaching this one. He is a very clear speaker and easy to understand. He does not rush his sentences nor dwells on his points. He explains the basics very well (does not assume prior knowledge) but provides profound insights as well. For example after multiple lectures on the Renaissance and Humanism in "Foundations of Western Civilization" I still was left without a general sense of what the Renaissance truly was or what it encapsulated. In just a few sentences from Professor Bucholz I was able to grasp what the Renaissance was all about in an instant "got it" moment. Would love more course offerings from him. Another thing he does well is paint the picture of a specific scene (such as life in a factory at the onset of the industrial revolution or the trenches of World War I), really placing yourself there which only increases your understanding and perspective. He did a good job of defining and bringing together the actual foundations of western civilization in the last lecture. Until then I was wondering why the course wasn't named "History of Western Europe 1500-2000"? i.e. where was the conversation on the "foundations" of western civilization? What were these "foundations"? But boy did it all come together in the last lecture. Democracy, civil rights, a free and open society, free press, liberalism, capitalism. All of these topics were discussed in previous lectures but it hadn't sunk in to me that collectively they represent the Foundations of Western Civilization. Sometimes you can live right in the middle of something and not be able to define it or see its distinguishing characteristics. Professor Bulcholz pulled it all together. Very minor minuses to the course: - Would’ve liked a little more time spent on both the battles and treaties of some of the wars such as the Thirty Year’s War, the Crimean War, the Russo-Turkish, and the various colonial wars in Africa (such as the Boer War) and Asia (such as the uprising in India in 1857): How were they won and what did they settle? - While of course most of the course focused on Great Britain, France, Germany, and Russia (and deservedly so) and the professor warned in lecture 2 the course would focus on these countries, it would’ve been nice to have some additional insight into the progression of some of the other countries such as Spain, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, etc. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in history, western Europe, or the story of the progression and transformation of these countries into modern civilizations and the political and economic foundations that define "western civilization".
Date published: 2017-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course is absolutely amazing! I can not even begin to comprehend how good Professor Bucholz is in science. A must get!
Date published: 2017-03-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding lecturer! Professor Bucholz exhibits not only a through mastery of the subject but projects an enjoyment of history that is contagious.
Date published: 2017-02-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific course It is a pleasure to watch and listen to Professor Bucholtz. He seems to be doing what he was born to do: to share his extensive knowledge with passion, wit and logical organization. The course proceeds methodically, each segment building on what has already been presented. As the professor says, he believes in establishing a strong pedestal on which to erect the statue of knowledge he is building for his students. This is a comprehensive course and very much worthwhile.
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from western civilisation well worth the time to listen and watch this series. The fact that one can go back several times if desired to fully grasp the facts in the lectures is invaluable . Great teaching as well. Judy Honeywell
Date published: 2016-09-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional Professor, outstanding course. I believe Professor Bucholz represents the ideal of what a teacher should be: inspiring a yearning for learning by making it so enjoyable. I have no particular interest in 16th century English history yet I will now go and buy his course on Tudor England. I hope he publishes more. If this course was taught in all schools by teachers like Professor Bucholz, I think the world would be a much better place. Absolutely recommended to all. Even if you don’t have a great interest in history I feel Professor Bucholz may just spark one in you! I listened to the audio download version.
Date published: 2016-09-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from FOUND A MISTAKE IN LECTURE 6 OF COURSE #8700 !! The mistake was repeated in both the DVD presentation and in the supplied text (page 35). Basically, Prof Bucholz said that the demarcation meridian of the Tordesillas treaty was placed 370 MILES EAST of the Cape Verde Islands. NO! The treaty actually states that the line is 370 LEAGUES WEST of the Cape Verde Islands. The Professor's location would have transferred Brazil, the Cape Verde Islands, and probably a thin strip of West African coastline from Portuguese to Spanish control!
Date published: 2016-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Foundations of Western Civilization II A very comprehensive outline of all aspects of Western Civilization by an extremely knowledgable professor. Covers a large portion of world history that has affected our current daily life. While it takes a substantial amount of time to cover the entire course, very worthwhile for anyone interested in history..
Date published: 2016-09-07
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