Turning Points in Modern History

Course No. 8032
Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
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Course No. 8032
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Course Overview

Get a unique and rewarding view of world history by immersing yourself in the fascinating story of the discoveries, inventions, upheavals, and ideas that shaped the modern world.

What do the fall of Constantinople, the French Revolution, the Transcontinental Railroad, and the invention of the Internet all have in common? If any one of these turning points had not occurred, or had occurred differently, the trajectory of modern history—and even your life—would have been dramatically altered.

Each event and innovation sparked a profound change in how entire societies viewed the world while signaling the dawn of a new political, economic, or cultural and social reality. Being aware of these turning points is critically important—but it's even more essential to comprehend the complexity of their causes and effects if you want to fully grasp how we arrived in the here and now. Only by understanding how these and other landmark moments and movements transformed our world and continue to impact it today, and by studying the creative ways humankind has found to adapt, can we get at the heart of what it truly means to be "modern."

Turning Points in Modern History takes you on a far-reaching journey around the globe—from China to the Americas to New Zealand—to shed light on how two dozen of the top discoveries, inventions, political upheavals, and ideas since 1400 have shaped the modern world. Taught by award-winning history professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, these 24 thought-provoking lectures tell the amazing story of how life as we know it developed—at times advancing in one brilliant instant and at other times, in painstaking degrees.

Starting in the early 15th century and culminating in the age of social media, you'll encounter astounding threads that weave through the centuries, joining these turning points in ways that may come as a revelation. You'll also witness turning points with repercussions we can only speculate about because they are still very much in the process of turning.

What It Means to Be Modern

So what is meant by "modern"? As opposed to ancient or premodern, modernity involves a mindset that stresses novelty, breaks with the past, and recognizes change.

In exploring these turning points, you'll see as the attributes of modernity and progress recur again and again, including

  • the growth of technology;
  • the autonomy of the individual;
  • reliance on experimentation and science over the dictates of tradition;
  • new concepts of popular sovereignty and equality; and
  • interconnectedness on an increasingly global scale.

Professor Liulevicius doesn't merely recount the greatest events of history, but rather has carefully selected true catalysts in provoking changes in worldview. Whether you're covering a turning point concerning

  • technological change, like the invention of the airplane, motion pictures, or the atomic bomb;
  • political history, such as the establishment of sovereign nation-states; or
  • social transformation, as in the abolitionist movement or the recognition of women's right to vote,

you'll focus on the impact the event had on its contemporaries and their hopes and fears regarding its effects. And you will see, in spite of the shock of the "new," society's remarkable ability to adapt.

A Unique Understanding of Our Shared Past

Some of the events presented in Turning Points in Modern History, including the discovery of the New World and the fall of the Berlin Wall, will immediately resonate as watershed moments. The global significance of other pivotal events may only become apparent through the professor's guidance, such as the publication of the Enlightenment-era Encyclopédie and the Russo-Japanese War—which has been historically overshadowed by the two world wars that followed.

Whether the events are familiar or surprising, you'll encounter a wealth of eye-opening insights throughout.

  • The voyages of Christopher Columbus: Despite what you may have learned in school, almost no educated European thought the world was flat in Columbus's day.
  • The printing press: Gutenberg's machine played a major role in launching the Protestant Reformation. For centuries, calls for reform within the church were slow to gain acceptance or were ignored. The printing press allowed Martin Luther's message to spread and take hold instead of quickly evaporating.
  • The American Revolution: Even by the time of the Boston Tea Party, few colonists were driving for independence. Most wanted the restoration of their rights as Englishmen.
  • The theory of evolution: Many people actually speculated on evolution before Charles Darwin. After he introduced his ideas, the Nazis and others took the concept in directions he would not have endorsed.

While any one of these or the other turning points featured are fascinating enough to warrant an entire course, this unique format allows parallels and links to be made across centuries and continents. You'll see how the building of the Berlin Wall intersects with the space race; trace how the Anglo-Dutch trade wars led to China's subjugation; and consider whether the Westphalian system of territorial sovereignty established in 1648 still applies in cyberspace as the Internet nullifies borders.

Learn What Might Have Been

As you discover how turning points such as the discovery of penicillin and the opening of East Berlin hinged on chance, accident, and, in some cases, sheer luck, you'll realize how easily history might have played out differently.

  • When Enrico Fermi and colleagues attempted to create a nuclear chain reaction in Chicago, no one knew with certainty it wouldn't run out of control. Had it gone awry, would their protection system—a technician with an axe and workers standing by with buckets of cadmium and salt—have been enough to prevent catastrophe?
  • If an "American missile launch" inadvertently detected by a Soviet satellite hadn't been declared a false alarm by a Russian official, how differently might the cold war have ended?
  • If the voyages of "the Chinese Columbus," Admiral Zheng He, had continued and reached the Americas, would we be speaking Mandarin today?

Having lived, studied, and traveled extensively throughout Europe, Dr. Liulevicius is uniquely qualified to draw unexpected connections between events and figures. In Turning Points in Modern History, you'll experience humanity's last 600 years as a sweeping narrative. By the final lecture, you'll see the big picture come into crystal-clear focus and possess an understanding of where we are, where we've been, and where we're headed like never before.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    1433—The Great Voyages of Admiral Zheng He
    Explore the idea of modernity and define “turning point.” Then, consider why Chinese admiral Zheng He’s voyages promoting the power of China’s authority did not continue as part of a larger campaign of discovery—and what the consequences might have been had he reached the Americas. x
  • 2
    1453—The Fall of Constantinople
    Although many educated people think they know about the fall of the Roman Empire, Professor Liulevicius says the end actually happened 1,000 years later with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Delve deeper into this event and learn the trauma the loss created for Europeans. x
  • 3
    1455—Gutenberg’s Print Revolution
    Trace how Johannes Gutenberg’s introduction of a press with movable type sparked a print revolution, becoming a key factor in the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the standardization of vernacular languages. x
  • 4
    1492—The Columbian Exchange
    Without intending to, Christopher Columbus’s search for Asia initiated an event that has been called the most important historical turning point of modern times. Investigate how Columbus’s encounter with the Americas brought distant peoples together politically, culturally, and environmentally in ways that were simultaneously productive and deeply destructive. x
  • 5
    1600—The British East India Company
    The English and Dutch East India companies coexisted in the Spice Islands as they worked to outflank the Portuguese, but their rivalry soon escalated into war. Examine the founding and meteoric growth of the East India Company and the violence that ultimately led Britain to establish an empire on which the sun never set. x
  • 6
    1648—The Treaty of Westphalia
    The Thirty Years War involved some million soldiers and mass civilian casualties. Explore the significance of the Peace of Westphalia, the settlement that ended the war in 1648—a vital turning point that still shapes how international politics are handled. x
  • 7
    1676—Van Leeuwenhoek’s Microscope
    Trace how Anton van Leeuwenhoek’s striking discovery fit into the larger Scientific Revolution and shifted intellectual authority from classic texts to that which is observable and measurable. x
  • 8
    1751—Diderot’s Enlightenment Encyclopedia
    The Encyclopédie was the most ambitious reference work and publishing project of its time. Discover how the editors made knowledge accessible to a mass audience and championed the Enlightenment’s progressive, secular message, despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church. x
  • 9
    1787—The American Experiment
    Learn how America’s founders established a model of a republic through debate, compromise, separation of powers, and a flexible Constitution. x
  • 10
    1789—The French Revolution
    How did France’s fight for liberation from royal authority lead to Napoleon’s rise and even greater despotism? Contrast events in America with those in France to see how attempts at creating modern republics radically diverged. x
  • 11
    1838—The British Slavery Abolition Act
    Confront the harsh realities of the African slave trade and consider the role social mobilization played in eradicating the institution across the British Empire. x
  • 12
    1839—The Opium War in China
    Delve into the causes, conflicts, and consequences of the Opium Wars, in which China was psychologically devastated and subjugated by British imperialism. x
  • 13
    1859—Darwin and the Origin of Species
    Discover how a simple observation inspired Darwin’s theories of evolution and natural selection, and why his Origin of Species was eagerly accepted by much of Victorian society. Then, look at how the Nazis and others distorted Darwin’s ideas. x
  • 14
    1869—Binding Continents
    In 1869, two events connected the world through modern technology, giving science vast significance as a source of authority. Learn how the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the United States and the Suez Canal in Egypt revolutionized the way people perceived space and time. x
  • 15
    1893—First Women Voters in New Zealand
    Follow the fight for women’s suffrage in New Zealand and America, as two global trends—the demand for women’s political voice and the growth of settler societies—intersected. x
  • 16
    1896—The Invention of Motion Pictures
    Motion pictures revolutionized people’s view of the world. Survey early movie culture, along with the contributions of Thomas Edison, Georges Méliès, and others, then see how the medium became “weaponized” by Bolsheviks in Russia and Nazis in Germany. x
  • 17
    1903—Kitty Hawk and Powered Flight
    Witness the dawning of the air age and meet the Montgolfier brothers, the Wright brothers, and others who brought humanity’s dream of flying to fruition. Then, explore how aviation shaped the experience of modernity, from the relative ease of travel to the stark reality of “total warfare.” x
  • 18
    1904—The Russo-Japanese War
    To the world’s surprise, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Learn how this conflict fought with industrialized weapons reconfigured world politics by igniting the process of global decolonization, establishing Japan as a great power, and setting the stage for two world wars. x
  • 19
    1928—The Discovery of Penicillin
    The advance of antibiotics occurred amid the larger context of the development of germ theory. Trace how scientists’ understanding of the mechanisms of infection and disease evolved during the 19th century—and see how Alexander Fleming stumbled upon his life-saving discovery. x
  • 20
    1942—The Dawn of the Atom
    When German physicists split the atom, Albert Einstein warned President Roosevelt of the potential for “extremely powerful bombs of a new type.” Chart the course of the nuclear bomb from this letter through the first nuclear chain reaction led by physicist Enrico Fermi, the Manhattan Project, and devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. x
  • 21
    1969—Walking on the Moon
    The moon landing expanded humanity’s sense of the possible. Learn how the space program grew out of advances in rocketry during World War II and advanced rapidly due to cold war paranoia exacerbated by the launch of Sputnik. x
  • 22
    1972—China Enters the World Balance
    Nixon’s meeting with Mao shifted the cold war’s balance and returned China to the world stage. Learn the reasons for Nixon’s trip, the consequences of which still reverberate, and plot the rise of Mao and communism in China. Then, see how Deng Xiaoping’s promotion of private enterprise began a trajectory of growth that continues. x
  • 23
    1989—The Fall of the Berlin Wall
    How did a bureaucratic blunder by a Politburo member lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall? Find out as you examine the surprisingly peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe. x
  • 24
    2004—The Rise of Social Media
    Are the Web and social media making us more globally connected or locking us into niche societies and creating an epidemic of loneliness? Probe both the power and the perils of the Internet—from aiding popular uprisings to rewiring our brains. x

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  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 200-page printed course guidebook
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  • 200-page printed course guidebook
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Your professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

About Your Professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford...
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Reviews

Turning Points in Modern History is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 55.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very, very Light! In this series of lectures, Professor Vejas Liulevicius endeavours to discuss what he describes as ‘turning points’ in modern history. Actually, a turning point implies both movement and a change of direction. The topics selected by Professor Liulevicius certainly do not all match this definition. Though, say, the American and the French revolutions may rightly be considered so, how does the invention of motion pictures qualify (and not radio or television broadcasting)? It would be best to speak of ‘milestones’ or perhaps even of vignettes. Professor Liulevicius reads his text out loud, what does not prevent him from making multiple repetitions and leads him to awkwardly emphasize certain words. His speech is marred with countless mistakes that would be unworthy of a high school graduate. For instance: • he locates Istanbul between two 'oceans'; • he mentions the 'Victorian' sensibilities of Queen Victoria; • he speaks of the 'discovery' of the Theory of Evolution; • he refers to a scientist named 'Father Gregor Mendel'; • he states that ‘Darwin’s father was a scientist and, however, his mother was also from a family of scientists’; • he speaks of ‘dormitories for sleeping’; • he mentions an airplane flew 'through' the Golden Gate Bridge; • he underscores that ‘Lilienthal ended up "being" a fatality’; • he says ‘total war became absolute’; • he talks of ‘a turning point that was not permanent’, of ‘a turning point within a turning point’ and of the ‘turning point of turning points’, what is enough to make anyone dizzy! Sadly, the reasoning behind the lectures often appears to be as muddled as the English: • Professor Liulevicius announces that the first turning point that he addresses actually did not produce any long term effects ... and thus was not a turning point; • he conjectures that if the Chinese had landed on the Pacific coast, Mandarin would be the common language in the United States; following that logic, why then is not Norwegian commonplace since the Vikings landed in North America long before the British? • Professor Liulevicius claims that before the transcontinental railway, the only way from the East Coast to California was by boat around South America; has he never heard of settlers’ wagon trains ... or seen them in movies ? • Professor Liulevicius appears fascinated by both H. G. Wells and Jules Verne whom he quotes again and again without apparently realising that fiction writers are not historical sources; • in lecture 16, Georges Méliès is introduced twice_ almost with the same words : once at the beginning and again past the mid-point; • the anecdote regarding Zhou Enlai’s opinion of the French Revolution is debunked in lecture 12 and quoted as valid in lecture 22! • when discussing the fall of communism in 1989, no mention is made of Solidarnosc, John Paul II or Poland altogether; • odd links are evoked at the end of each lecture as a teaser for the following; for instance : cinema makes you dream, flying is an age-old dream, we'll speak of flying in the next lecture. If a regular Teach12 course can be compared to a textbook, this rendition is analogous to a popular magazine, and a light one at that.
Date published: 2013-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing View of the Changes that Define Modernity By looking at Modern History through a series of turning points, Dr. Liulevicius shows how major changes that occurred over the last 600 years have led to the key attributes of globalization, quests for comprehensive knowledge, ubiquitous media/communications, and a never ending movement toward a civil society in our modern world. This approach to studying history makes it much more exciting and utilitarian than simple event based approaches. By the end of each lecture one can clearly see how the world fundamentally changed toward the global society we recognize today. There is much eye opening information in the material which adds flavor to the key points. Routinely, Dr. Liulevicius refers back to concepts, characters, and events from earlier lectures (and time periods) that appropriately tie the turning points together. He also leaves one with the challenge to think how on-going changes may result in turning points today and into the future. One can almost sense his desire for a modern H.G.Wells to emerge to make bold predictions about turning points in the future. I purchased the DVD version of this course. While I am sure that with the speaking capabilities of Dr. Liulevicius, much can be learned from an audio only version, there are many maps, illustrations, photographs, videos, text banners, and quotations in the video version that really add to this course. Dr. Liulevicius is a very engaging speaker who uses his vocal inflection, body language, and emotional energy to emphasize key points. He is obviously relying on a teleprompter and he is the most comfortable lecturer I've seen yet with this technology. He does not simply read from the prompter but uses it as a guide to make his points. He never misses a cue to move from one camera to the next such that he is always looking directly at the viewer. The course production is done quite well. The graphics are of high quality and support the points being made. This courses makes judicious use of the "flashing" on screen text unlike some of the other recently produced courses where it is overdone. The text banners and text boxes used on screen support the lecture nicely. The course guide provides very good summaries of the lectures, a detailed historical timeline and a strong bibliography. Biographical notes on the various personalities in the lectures would have been nice to have. There is little to criticize about this course. The lecturer, the production, the content, and the course guide are all first rate. Perhaps future editions could include more lectures with turning points on Luther and the Reformation (touched on briefly in the Gutenberg lecture), Norman Borlaug and the agricultural revolution, and the Sequencing of the Human Genome/Genetics revolution. I am sure that Dr. Liulevicius has these and several others in his back pocket for a extended edition sometime down the road. I will look forward to viewing that course as well when the time comes. In summary, I heartily recommend this excellent course. It not only gives a fascinating education on modern history, but it makes one contemplate where humankind is headed next.
Date published: 2013-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Don't miss this one I've purchased about 20 great courses so far, and this one is my absolute favourite. The professor is extremely engaging, and the subject matter fascinating. There are some courses that I've had to push myself to get through, but this is a course that I wasn't able to stop watching. I went through it on one weekend! I might take exception to the selection of some of the turning points discussed, but of course this is bound to be somewhat subjective and doesn't detract at all from the overall excellence of this course. Don't miss this one!
Date published: 2013-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Keeping in the tradition of the Teaching Company's Turning Points in American History, this course is also excellent. Hoping for some more Turning Point course from either professors. Thanks.
Date published: 2013-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High points of the past 600 years History courses that focus on a particular country or period have to stick to a fairly traditional narrative, but a course with a title such as "Turning Points in Modern History" allows a professor much leeway in the topics to discuss. I could think of no better prof in the TGC lineup to tackle this project than Liulevicius, who is energetic, creative, and a good communicator. The turning points he chose vary from inventions and discoveries to wars, laws and treaties. He explains each one in depth, makes convincing arguments for its place in history, and usually links it to one or more of the OTHER turning points in the course. This course shows that TGC is taking steps forward in terms of visuals and studio production. The Prof interacts well with the camera and the updated set, and the visuals are more technologically advanced (although I could have asked for more of them, especially in the 20th century "turning points"). You may debate some of the points the Prof has chosen to include, but I don't think you'll argue that this is an engaging and informative addition to the TGC catalog.
Date published: 2013-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Terrific Course - Great Pleasure To Listen To This is my first GC course. I could not be more delighted. I was a history major in college, but my focus was on American social history in the 20th century. Thus, I lacked familiarity with many of the topics covered by Prof. L. He is a polished lecturer and he gives you a real sense of the personalities and motivations at the time of the events discussed. Much to my surprise he maintained certain themes and showed how these turning points led to other turning points, so the course had a sense of continuity to it, as opposed to just being lectures on separate events. What a joy to listen to this course. I actually looked forward to Mondays because I knew I would listen to the lectures as I drove to work. The only slight negative I would give is that when he reached modern times and turning points with which I was familiar (such as the landing on the moon and the fall of the Berlin Wall), I found the lectures to sometimes be a bit basic and I wondered if I would have enjoyed the course as much if I had greater familiarity with the subject matter. But even with these late turning point lectures I still always learned something new and his presentation was fantastic. I really like this guy and I am thinking of getting his World War 1 course, even though that is not a subject I would have normally considered. He's that good. I strongly recommend this course.
Date published: 2013-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from See History Disco Come Alive! Spell Bound history course. Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius unique style, witty enthusiasm and research are out of this Universe. He builds enthusiasm from the very first lecture and makes sure he refers to the key points again in every lecture. Spectacular, Bravo, Goal, Goal, Home Run. Professor Vejas is the Maradona + Pele of History. All the viewers of this course will be Turning corners and heads for many years ahead. Once again thanks to The Great Courses and Professor Vegas for this nimble, scintillating, brilliant, prehensile, trenchant, well-informed, agile disco course. The Great Courses- Taste It. Love It. Crave It.. We love The Great Courses. Regards, Adil
Date published: 2013-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Entertaining A wonderful review of important turning points in world history with a wealth of little- known information and anecdotes to flesh-out the drier aspects with personal histories. Very memorable for both content and analysis.
Date published: 2013-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Was Fun Finding the most important turning points of the last 400 years is an essentially quixotic pursuit, but who does like tilting at windmills every no and again? The Professor lists 24 turning points ranging from the obvious (Guttenberg's printing press) to the not so obvious (movies). For each of these he ties in both prior events, and shows how the turning point changed future events. The two themes that tie together most of the turning points are the advancement of technology, and the rise and fall of colonialism. Each individual lecture is entertaining and enlightening. The lecturer has done the research to provide plenty of context for the various turning points. The problem and the opportunity of the course is its brevity. With only 24 lectures, a lot of potential turning points half to be left by the wayside. I thought that the development of artificial fertilizer and air conditioning should have been included. But that is half the fun. By stimulating thought about what we would leave out and what we would leave in, the course becomes more interactive. More than just a recitation of facts and stories, this course provides the opportunity for the listener to practice critical thinking skills. If you like this course, you will really like the same Professor's class on War, Peace, and Diplomacy.
Date published: 2013-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Course from Dr. Liulevicius Like all of Dr L's courses, this course is a clearly presented and well organized review of the great world historical events since the 1400's. I especially liked how information from earlier lectures was constantly interwoven with subsequent material. Much of the material included tidbits of fun information. I viewed the video version of the course and felt that the maps, images, quotes,etc. we're very useful, although the audio version would probably work pretty well. Fun and informative.
Date published: 2013-03-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Skillfully Presented and Provocative Having enjoyed two of Prof. Liulevicius’s previous Great Courses, I was interested in how he would treat his 24 chosen modern historical turning points, as listed in the course outline. These are selected major events encompassing inventions (the printing press and the microscope), exploration (Columbus and Chinese Admiral Zheng He); discoveries in science, technology and medicine (nuclear energy, the space program, antibiotics like Penicillin); political changes brought on by the results of wars (the American and French revolutions, and lesser conflicts (the Opium War and Russo-Japanese War); and social changes reflecting the evolution of human society (the end of slavery and women’s suffrage). Some of these selections had more impact than others in effecting lasting change, and other historians would doubtless have picked some difference events. For example, in the war-prone 20th century, WWI and WWII are not cited (presumably because as horrendous as they were, the outcome did not result in a major change in the world order), but rather the Russo-Japanese war of 1905-6 is presented as a turning point in that the Japanese victory ushered in Japan as a world power and exposed an aggressive demeanor that later encouraged the attack on Pearl Harbor that started WWII in the Pacific. Arguably the Russian Revolution a dozen years after its war with Japan precipitated even greater change, but was not offered as a turning point. Dr. Liulevicius’s descriptions and arguments are convincing, informative and entertaining. There is also an element of counter-factual history in this course, as in how our history might have been completely different if Admiral Zheng He had not turned back before discovering the Pacific coast of North America 160 years before Columbus discovered the Atlantic coast.
Date published: 2013-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Mixed Bag [Audio Version] An entertaining but perhaps overly ambitious attempt to identify and interpret the causes of major changes for humans over the last 500 years. I sensed the professor might have chosen the easiest, most obvious events and tech inventions, kind of like picking low-hanging fruit. While Dr. Liulevicius makes a compelling case for miscellaneous technology as catalyst (e.g., Gutenberg’s press), he is much less persuasive with political events. A 30-minute lecture requires tremendous compression and often misses the necessary deep context and critical detail for world-changing events (e.g., the French and American revolutions). Implicitly, throughout the course, ‘power to the people’ is always assumed to be good and worthwhile. Little attention is paid to the ease with which the masses can be manipulated and exploited by tech demagoguery. Truth be told, quantity often waters down quality. When we bite off too much to chew, it can be a serious problem––and this is a major problem with this otherwise fine and imaginative course.
Date published: 2013-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredibly Informative What an amazing course coupled with an amazing professor! I am so impressed with every aspect of this course! The way Professor L presented the information is simply phenomenal! He is incredibly excited about the topics, and provides clear structures and outlines, gives ample information, presents plenty of pictures and maps to help bolster his lectures. Everything that he lectures on ties together just beautifully. Great quality and I love the fact that my money was well-spent on this! :)
Date published: 2013-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Turning Points in Modern History We own about 20 courses and this may be the best yet. What a treat it was. Normally take a while to go thru 24 lectures, but did these in less than 2 weeks. I love history and this is a great approach. Professor starts with a description of point in history and moves on from there. Great insights. I was especially 'on the edge of my seat' with the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I'm old enough to remember when it went up, what all happened and when it went down. Learned lots more and turns out Vejas actually was there, taking sledge hammer to the wall. And the last lecture on the Rise of Social Media is really about so much more. Basically wrap up of modernity and wonderful approach to what will this mean in the future. Lots of food for thought. Thank you for this one!
Date published: 2013-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Joined up history I have to confess that I was initially somewhat reluctant to purchase Professor Liulevicius' new course "Turning Points in Modern History". I am not a great fan of history as told from the point of view of "turning points" or "great men/women". And I wondered what added value he could bring to his list of 24 "turning points", all of which have been exhaustively researched and documented throughout the ages. But his previous course on "Europe, 1500-200" had been very impressive, so I took the plunge. As I moved through the lectures, I realized that my prior views had been completely misguided. Sure, the individual lectures are anchored in discrete historical turning points. But Professor Liulevicius makes masterly use of these to unlock and illuminate how other forces and movements happened to intersect with his chosen event. This is joined up history at its best and most challenging! Even more engaging is that these turning points are not treated merely as singular, disconnected events in chronological time, however interesting and important in themselves. Accounts of later turning points are skillfully linked to further evolution of earlier points. The "turning points" are more like way-marks that signal inflection points in a continual, evolving narrative. Perhaps this is best illustrated by a specific example. Consider Lecture 3 (Gutenberg's Print Revolution) and the final Lecture 24 (The Rise of Social Media). On the one hand, each lecture treats factual issues that are reasonably well understood, but also succeeds in widening out discussion to illuminate how printing and social media both influenced history, and how they were also themselves affected by historical forces. But on the other hand, where Professor Liulevicius really excels is in his ability to link turning points across the ages in ways that can be surprising and unexpected. The impacts of social media are interpreted in the light of the much earlier impacts of the revolution in printing, thereby deepening and enriching both accounts. Knowing something about Gutenberg's world and what Gutenberg achieved with simple technology makes it possible to understand better what exactly the sophisticated technological underpinnings of the new social media have contributed to how we process knowledge. As well as conveying factual and interpretative material, Professor Liulevicus is constantly challenging his listeners to probe even deeper into the meaning and further implications of his material. For example, in his last lecture he poses the dilemma of vertical versus horizontal communication. How can we reconcile the powerful talking down to the weak with the chaotic democracy of the world of Google and blogging? Perhaps the lecturing technique of Professor Liulevicius points the way forward? His quiet, undramatic, illuminating presentations serve to empower our own personal search for meaning in history, mediating between top-down and horizontal interchange and learning.
Date published: 2013-02-14
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  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 105.38ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

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