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New Releases on Sale
  • George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons

    Professor Michael Shelden, PhD

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD

    In George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons, join Orwell’s authorized biographer, Professor Michael Shelden, for a 24-lecture journey through the life and times that shaped this profound writer and his eerily prescient masterpieces like Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Blending literary analysis and biography, this course is a one-of-a-kind portrait of the modern world’s greatest champion of individuality.

    View Lecture List (24)

    In George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons, join Orwell’s authorized biographer, Professor Michael Shelden, for a 24-lecture journey through the life and times that shaped this profound writer and his eerily prescient masterpieces like Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. Blending literary analysis and biography, this course is a one-of-a-kind portrait of the modern world’s greatest champion of individuality.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  George Orwell: A Sage for All Seasons
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Real George Orwell
      Begin your in-depth encounter with George Orwell by going back to the dramatic moment in May 1937 when he was almost killed by a bullet wound to the throat. As you'll learn, it was a defining moment that would remake the author and lay the groundwork for his obsession with individual freedom-and his fear of political tyranny. x
    • 2
      George Orwell, Child of the British Empire
      Examine George Orwell's early life as the son of a man who spent his entire working life helping to perpetuate the worst evils of the British colonial system in the empire's Opium Department. Orwell learned early on how corrosive lies and omissions can be when politeness blunts the truth. x
    • 3
      Orwell's Edwardian Idyll
      How did a stubborn sense of English eccentricity take root in the young George Orwell? Find out in this lecture on the author's boyhood at the town of Henley-on-Thames, which gave Orwell a vision of what he wanted to preserve in the face of a 20th century spinning out of control. x
    • 4
      Orwell's Unsentimental Education
      In many ways, George Orwell's school life was a preview of the more ruthless world of oppression he'd set down in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Focus here on a savagely ironic essay by Orwell about his years at St. Cyprian's boarding school, Such, Such Were the Joys," under the rule of the monstrous bully Mrs. Wilkes." x
    • 5
      Orwell, Eton, and Privilege
      Here, Professor Shelden covers George Orwell's years as a King's Scholar at Eton. It was this academic institution where the young man would discover the intellectual freedom of novels by H. G. Wells, the rush of the rugby-like Wall Game," and a haughty indifference to the carnage of World War I." x
    • 6
      Orwell the Policeman
      At age 19, George Orwell threw himself into a colonial career with the Indian Imperial Police-a job for which he was profoundly unsuited. In this lecture, learn what drew Orwell to turn his back on England and serve the empire in Burma, administering a large police operation overseeing matters of life and death. x
    • 7
      Orwell and the Imperial Burden
      In Burma, George Orwell developed a powerful insight: that imperialism enslaved both its subjects and its masters. See this insight at work in the most famous essay to come from Orwell's police experience, Shooting the Elephant," which offers a convincing portrait of a young imperial master who has lost respect for his job." x
    • 8
      Orwell's Lost Generation
      Follow George Orwell to Paris, which helped him drain away some of the anger and disappointment with his years in Burma. Though he's rarely grouped with the Lost Generation of American writers in avant-garde Paris, Orwell, nevertheless, immersed himself in that world so thoroughly it would become the subject for his first book. x
    • 9
      Orwell, Poet of Poverty
      Down and Out in Paris and London transformed George Orwell into one of the 20th century's most eloquent champions of the economically oppressed. Along with a close look at the writing and reception of the book, you'll explore an annotated copy of a first edition and what it reveals about the blending of fiction and fact. x
    • 10
      Orwell and the Battle of Fact and Fiction
      George Orwell struggled mightily to find his voice as a writer in a literary world that valued fiction over fact. Uncover the strain of his awkward efforts to build fictional stories in the novel Burmese Days (a scathing treatment of the English elite in Burma) and A Clergyman's Daughter (an attempt to enter the mind of an ordinary English woman). x
    • 11
      Orwell and England in the 1930s
      Professor Shelden takes you inside two literary works shaped by George Orwell's experiences in 1930s England. The first, Keep the Aspidistra Flying, was a novel that, in effect, criticized Orwell's own tendencies toward self-absorption. The second, The Road to Wigan Pier, would document the plight of the working people and push Orwell closer to socialism. x
    • 12
      Orwell and the Left
      Discover why The Road to Wigan Pier marks the opening battle of George Orwell's long struggle to reconcile the demands of the doctrinaire Left with his own hopes for a world of greater personal freedom and social responsibility. Also, learn about Orwell's surprising marriage to Eileen O'Shaughnessy in the spring of 1936. x
    • 13
      Orwell and the Spanish Crucible
      In the summer of 1936, Spanish workers took up arms to oppose General Franco's revolt against the country-and George Orwell went to observe and write about the war for the British press. Follow Orwell as he quickly becomes not just an observer, but a fighter who himself takes up arms against Franco. x
    • 14
      Totalitarianism and the Lessons of Barcelona
      A nearly fatal wound in the throat from a sniper's bullet. A heartbreaking series of betrayals from his comrades in arms. Learn why George Orwell's experience in Spain became, for him, a painful lesson in ideological purges, propaganda battles, and Soviet skullduggery that would also open a path to the greatest literary works of his career. x
    • 15
      Orwell and the Last Days of Peace
      Focus on Homage to Catalonia: George Orwell's first real masterpiece, and a book that refuses to accept easy answers. This autobiographical work, a report on the terrible things being done in the name of a Spanish revolution hijacked by Stalin, became a passionate defense of individuals resisting oppression in the name of liberty. x
    • 16
      Orwell at the Outbreak of World War
      In 1939, George Orwell published a novel that served as a farewell to his youth and to any remaining vestiges of pre-war innocence: Coming Up for Air. Examine the novel's provocative road to publication, learn about the Orwell family's wartime misfortunes (including the death of a relative at Dunkirk), and consider how Orwell inspires us today. x
    • 17
      Orwell and the Art of Propaganda
      First, read between the lines of The Lion and the Unicorn, a short book written during the darkest days of the Blitz that serves as a hopeful antithesis to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Then, follow George Orwell's career as an assistant for the BBC, where he was reintroduced to the sobering facts of how large organizations wield the power of censorship. x
    • 18
      Orwell and the Cultural Underground
      Through a series of popular and esoteric essays and reviews, George Orwell became associated with a cultural underground of writers and artists who thrived during the war years. Unpack what some of these fascinating pieces have to say, including Politics and the English Language," an attack on jargon and euphemism in public discourse." x
    • 19
      Orwell and the Fight for Animal Farm
      In just 30,000 words, George Orwell risked his reputation to expose the evils of the Soviet system (and the human character). The result was Animal Farm, a satire of Swiftian proportions that remains a trenchant guide to power politics and how tyranny rises. Place this landmark work in the context of Orwell's beliefs-and fears. x
    • 20
      Orwell's Wife and the Life of Writing
      In this lecture, Professor Shelden brings together the moving story of the last days of George Orwell's wife, Eileen, with the story of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. He considers Eileen's influence not just on these two important works, but also on Orwell's trenchant psychological observations of human nature in his writing. x
    • 21
      Politics and the English Language
      Here, you can spend time in the company of two of George Orwell's most important postwar essays: Politics and the English Language" and "The Prevention of Literature." Both essays, which appeared in 1946, offer an elegantly simple argument: The corruption of society and politics begins, first and foremost, with the corruption of language." x
    • 22
      Orwell's Island Escape
      Almost all of Nineteen Eighty-Four was written on the remote island of Jura, a place where George Orwell could use the past to model his vision of the future. In addition to Orwell's life in seclusion, you'll examine Nineteen Eighty-Four's connection with Gulliver's Travels and Orwell's connection to two women: Celia Paget and Sonia Brownell. x
    • 23
      1984: Big Brother and the Thought Police
      Spend an entire lecture immersed in the world of George Orwell's masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Read this powerful novel as a great work of political and social insight, a timeless vision of man's inhumanity to man, and also an autobiography of Orwell's personal character. Above all, the novel proclaims, the rights of the individual must be sacred. x
    • 24
      Orwell's Long Farewell
      Conclude these lectures with a look at the last years of George Orwell's life, including his marriage to Sonia Brownell and his death from tuberculosis. Also, investigate a curious posthumous controversy surrounding a possible spymaster and a notebook of Orwell's filled with the names of people in the West he considered Crypto-Communists."" x
  • The Pagan World: Ancient Religions Before Christianity

    Professor Hans-Friedrich Mueller, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    In The Pagan World: Ancient Religions before Christianity, you will meet the fascinating, ancient polytheistic peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond, their gods and goddesses, and their public and private worship practices, as you come to better understand the foundational role religion played in their daily lives. Because their religion circumscribed almost all aspects of life both inside and outside the home, it makes a wonderful lens through which to gain a deeper knowledge of their world.
    View Lecture List (24)
    In The Pagan World: Ancient Religions before Christianity, you will meet the fascinating, ancient polytheistic peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond, their gods and goddesses, and their public and private worship practices, as you come to better understand the foundational role religion played in their daily lives. Because their religion circumscribed almost all aspects of life both inside and outside the home, it makes a wonderful lens through which to gain a deeper knowledge of their world.
    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  The Pagan World: Ancient Religions Before Christianity
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Early Pagan Religion in Mesopotamia
      Explore the ways in which the ancient peoples of Mesopotamia tried to understand, worship, and cultivate supernatural forces in the world around them. Learn how the Enuma Elish, the great Mesopotamian creation myth, mirrors human concerns we still address today-power struggles, gender issues, family discord-as it explains the origin of the world, its organization, and humanity's place in it. x
    • 2
      The Rigveda and the Gods of Ancient India
      While most of the early religions of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome have been supplanted over time, the early religions of India are still thriving today. Explore the ancient Rigveda, one of the four sacred texts of modern Hinduism. An ancient collection of Sanskrit hymns, it is alive with riddles, paradoxes, and as-yet-unsettled doctrines that leave plenty of room for stimulating speculation. x
    • 3
      State Religion in Ancient Egypt
      Explore how the Egyptian Book of the Dead and a pyramid inscription reveal the existence of Atum, the creator god who rose from primordial chaos to create himself and nine additional gods. But what happens to Atum when the cities of Memphis and then Karnak rise to power? Learn how political power and religion were interwoven in ancient Egypt. x
    • 4
      From Myth to Religion: The Olympian Deities
      While the modern world often thinks of the Greek gods and goddesses as myth, they formed the basis of religion in ancient Greece. Learn about this relationship between myth and religion and explore the fascinating puzzle of Zeus. Could Zeus have been a single god with many persons," perhaps somewhat similar to the single god of Christianity which exists in three persons? Or were there many different gods, each known as Zeus?" x
    • 5
      Household and Local Gods in Ancient Greece
      The daily life of the average ancient Athenian family wasn't dominated by the gods who lived on Mt. Olympus, but by the gods who protected their front door and hearth and blessed the marriage bed. Discover the many ways in which these household gods were woven into the fabric of daily life and who was responsible for the household religious activities. x
    • 6
      Feeding the Gods: Sacrificial Religion
      From the Mediterranean regions to ancient India, animal sacrifice played a central role in the relationship between people and their gods. Learn about the required elements for a proper honorific, atoning, or sacramental animal sacrifice. Discover the many ways in which the sacrifice benefitted the peoples involved-and what the gods required of the animal. x
    • 7
      Prayers, Vows, Divination, and Omens
      For these ancient peoples, signs from the gods existed everywhere-from the shape of sacrificial animal organs and the properties of smoke when they were burned, to the sudden appearance of birds in the sky, dreams, and more. Explore the many ways in which the people and their gods communicated with each other, and why no army would move forward to the battlefield without their soothsayers and priests. x
    • 8
      Delphi and Other Greek Sanctuaries
      Major sanctuaries attracted people from all cities and states and served to unite the Greek world. Explore the fascinating Temple of Apollo at Delphi and the Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus. In addition to the expected altars, you might be surprised to learn about the sporting events, libraries, hospitals, and even racetracks at these significant shrines. x
    • 9
      Cults and Mystery Religions
      Public worship celebrations-such as the annual Panathenaic festival honoring the goddess Athena-provided a political benefit in unifying citizenry. But in addition, some gods were worshipped in private cults requiring membership and initiation rites. Learn about the benefits of such membership, both in this world and the next, particularly for women. x
    • 10
      Philosophical Critiques of Paganism
      While most ancient Greeks worshipped, sacrificed, and celebrated as the state preferred, others had their own ideas. Explore the fascinating outlier philosophies of the Pythagoreans, Orphics, Stoics, Epicureans, and more. Most of these small, isolated groups were not a threat to the state's status quo. But if the state felt threatened, it reacted forcefully, as in the execution of Socrates. x
    • 11
      Greek Funerary Practices and the Afterlife
      The ancient Greeks considered it a solemn religious duty to prepare the bodies of their dead, burn the bodies, and then bury them with a variety of household or military objects. Even long after burial, people continued to bring offerings to the dead, including food and drink. Explore why these rituals were significant to the state and became a powerful force for conservative values opposed to innovation. x
    • 12
      Egyptian Influences on Ancient Religion
      Egyptian religion had a significant impact on the religions of the Mediterranean world, particularly Greek and Roman. Based on pyramid texts, coffin texts, and spells written on papyri, learn what these ancient peoples believed about the potential for a soul to become immortal, the location of the afterlife in the West, and why the dead needed nourishment from the living. x
    • 13
      Ancient Roman Ancestor Worship
      How did the descendants of the shepherds and criminal outcasts who founded Rome on the hills above malaria-infested swampland conquer the entire Mediterranean? According to the Romans themselves, their single greatest strength was their religion. Learn about the cultus deorum and how precise relationships with dead ancestors, as well as the gods, allowed the conservative Roman culture to flourish. x
    • 14
      Gods of the Roman Household
      Roman gods were involved with every aspect of daily life. Explore the great pantheon of gods that influenced everything from doors hinges to meals to sex. Learn how women's religious activities reflected their societal roles in that patriarchal culture-from the involvement of four goddesses and two gods to oversee the consummation of marriage, to the use of terra-cotta uteruses as votive offerings. x
    • 15
      Gods of the Roman State
      Rome was remarkable in antiquity in that this sexist, classist, and slave-owning culture incorporated conquered peoples into the Roman body of citizens. Discover how they also incorporated the gods of the conquered in a practice known as interpretatio Romana. Of course, summoning a deity from an enemy city was a formal process, as you'll see through the fascinating stories of Juno and others. x
    • 16
      Priests and Ceremonies in the Roman Republic
      Whose responsibility was it to care for the plethora of Roman gods and goddesses, maintaining appropriate worship and relationships? Learn what roles the four collegia of priests, the pontiffs, and the Vestal Virgins played in Roman religion. They played a crucial role in maintaining stability by calming the deities and keeping them on the side of Rome. In fact, the state's survival depended on them. x
    • 17
      Religion, Politics, and War in Rome
      Is it possible that one of the world's greatest empires was based in great part on the art and science of birdwatching? Absolutely. The calls of the raven and owl, flight patterns of eagles and vultures, the eating styles of chickens-all were signs from the gods. Explore the college of priests, the Sybilline Oracles, and the detailed rituals of divination required before state officials could take any decisive action. x
    • 18
      Rome's Reactions to Foreign Religions
      Rome incorporated many of the gods of its conquered peoples. But it could not tolerate people assembling on their own to worship without state supervision, or sexual activity that could undermine property rights. Examine the Bacchanalia, and see why Rome considered worshippers of Bacchus an existential threat to the state, and why the practice was violently suppressed. x
    • 19
      The Roman Calendar and Sacred Days
      The college of pontiffs was responsible for keeping track of all the gods and their holidays; the necessary public festivals and the seasons; as well as the days, weeks, months, and cycles of the Moon. But by historical times, the calendar was completely out of sync. Learn how and why Julius Caesar reorganized the calendar into a version very close to what we use today. x
    • 20
      Julius Caesar: A Turning Point in Roman Religion
      Julius Caesar began his public religious career as a teenager, and early in his political career announced that he was descended not only from kings, but from the gods Venus and Mars. Learn how he used his priesthood and political success (based in part on disregard for constitutional conventions) as well as military and financial success (primarily drawn from plunder and the slave trade) to become a dictator and have the Senate declare him a god after his death. x
    • 21
      Emperor Worship in Rome
      The deification of Julius Caesar represented a turning point in Rome's religion. The polytheistic, state-sanctioned pantheon made room for new gods: the Caesars. Learn how and why Octavius, Caesar's adopted son, instituted a monarchy that appeared to be a republic, and how the worship of his family and his personal authority transformed traditional religion. x
    • 22
      Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians
      Before Christianity, two major monotheistic religions existed in the ancient Mediterranean area. Explore the similarities and differences between Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and emerging Christianity, and how the empire initially accommodated their teachings and actions. You'll also learn about the grievances on all sides. x
    • 23
      Popular Religions of Late Antiquity
      In late antiquity, even after the initial emergence of Christianity, the majority in Rome and Italy held to the traditional religion and ancient gods. Explore the relationships between paganism, Manichaeism, and Isis worship at the time of the rise of Christianity and learn why Rome's rulers could not accept or tolerate Christianity. x
    • 24
      The End of Paganism in the Roman Empire
      Individually, it was relatively easy for people to convert to Christianity because it offered many familiar aspects of traditional religion-life after death, community gatherings, a sacred meal, etc. But at the state level? Explore the many fascinating reasons why, after so many centuries of success with its own state-sponsored religion, the Roman Empire finally adopted Christianity as its official faith. x
  • America after the Cold War: The First Thirty Years

    Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Instant Video, DVD
    America after the Cold War: The First Thirty Years offers you the chance to step back and look at the complex and ever-evolving story of the United States from 1990 to 2019. Taught by esteemed professor and Great Courses favorite Dr. Patrick Allitt of Emory University, these 12 fascinating lectures tie all the threads of contemporary life together and give you a rich understanding of the world we live in today.
    View Lecture List (12)
    America after the Cold War: The First Thirty Years offers you the chance to step back and look at the complex and ever-evolving story of the United States from 1990 to 2019. Taught by esteemed professor and Great Courses favorite Dr. Patrick Allitt of Emory University, these 12 fascinating lectures tie all the threads of contemporary life together and give you a rich understanding of the world we live in today.
    View Lecture List (12)
    12 Lectures  |  America after the Cold War: The First Thirty Years
    Lecture Titles (12)
    • 1
      1990: America's New World Order
      The end of the Cold War was an inflection point in history. No one expected the rapid collapse of the Soviet Union, but starting with the fall of the Berlin Wall, everything changed. Delve into the American story in the early 1990s, when conflicts in Kuwait and Bosnia tested America's new role in a post-Soviet world. x
    • 2
      The Clintons and the 1990s
      Bill Clinton's presidency dominated the domestic news in the 1990s. From his dramatic showdown with Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress's Contract with America" to the Monica Lewinsky scandal and Clinton's subsequent impeachment trial, this was a presidency of high drama. Survey this tumultuous decade in American history." x
    • 3
      A New Millennium, George W. Bush, and 9/11
      The end of the Cold War may have reshaped the world order, but 9/11 and the subsequent War on Terror completely transformed America. Go back to the contested election of 2000 and trace the events leading up to the terrorist attack on American soil on September 11, 2001. Learn why 19 hijackers of three airplanes attacked America, and what happened next. x
    • 4
      The U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
      Historians will long discuss and debate the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. As you will learn here, the war in Afghanistan had some justification, given the role of al-Qaeda in 9/11. Professor Allitt also reviews the facts surrounding the war in Iraq-the path to war, the deterioration on the ground, and the war's effect on the United States. x
    • 5
      The U.S. Economy: Long Boom to Big Crash
      The 1990s through the mid-2000s have been called the great moderation," a period of generally low inflation and stable growth. Within that period, the dot-com boom and bust created ripples, but it was the mortgage crisis that struck a seismic blow to the U.S. economy. Witness the booms and busts of this fascinating period in business." x
    • 6
      Obama, Hope, and Polarization
      In 2008, America was tired of war and entering a deep recession. President Obama was seen as a beacon of hope, yet his administration soon ran into intractable foreign and domestic challenges. Examine the major events of his presidency, from the bank bailouts and health care reform to the Arab Spring and the rise of ISIS. x
    • 7
      African American Paradoxes after 1990
      Despite progress from the Civil Rights movement a generation earlier, race is a dominant theme in American history through the 1990s and 2000s. Here, Professor Allitt investigates the paradoxes and racial conflicts of the last 30 years, from the Rodney King riots to the Black Lives Matter movement. He also spotlights positive developments. x
    • 8
      Science and Technology in the Internet Age
      The last 30 years of American history have been a golden age of inventions. The personal computer, social media, the smart phone, and apps have changed everything about how we operate in the world. Meanwhile, scientists of all kinds-astronomers, paleontologists, geneticists-have redefined our understanding of humans and our place in the universe. x
    • 9
      U.S. Energy Independence and Climate Change
      Industrialization requires energy, but energy comes with a host of negative side effects, from local pollution to global climate change. Explore the shifting status of energy in the U.S. through the 1990s and 2000s, from the Kyoto Protocol to the IPCC and from cap and trade" policy efforts to policies promoting solar, wind, and hydroelectric power." x
    • 10
      Putting U.S. Education to the Test after 1990
      Is America a society where no child is left behind? As this analysis of American policies toward education demonstrates, the U.S. education system leaves much to be desired, even as our universities remain among the very best in the world. From standardized tests to charter schools, take a tour of America's school system. x
    • 11
      A New Golden Age of American Culture
      From the old guard of Philip Roth and Saul Bellow to the next generation of novelists-Donna Tartt, Junot Diaz, Viet Thanh Nguyen-American fiction is livelier than ever. But it isn't just books: Television, the visual arts, architecture, and even theater (with productions like Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton) are enjoying an artistic golden age. x
    • 12
      The Trump Upset
      History truly is full of surprises-and is still being written. In this closing lecture, you'll survey one of the most surprising political events in recent decades: the election of President Donald Trump. From his use of social media to controversial policies and more, review the milestones of Trump's presidency (so far). x