Development of European Civilization

Course No. 8215
Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett, Ph.D.
University of Toronto
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Course No. 8215
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Course Overview

For anyone living in the Western world, Europe is so much more than just a varied mix of travel destinations, an inspiring example of different cultures living side by side, and a set of historical events that forever altered the history of Western civilization. Europe is, in fact, as much an idea as it is a place.

Understanding how Europe evolved is essential for anyone seeking an in-depth grasp of both the history of Western civilization—and its future—for a variety of reasons:

  • Almost all of the West's important political, social, cultural, and economic institutions and ideologies either came from Europe or evolved in reaction to it.
  • To witness how European civilization developed is to understand why and how the entire Western world became who and what it is.
  • Finally, such an understanding is essential if you are to have a nuanced grasp of the important events that dominate the daily news.

In short, and in almost every way that matters, historical Europe was the laboratory in which the world you now live in was conceived and tested. And you'll be living with the consequences of those experiments for the rest of your life.

The Development of European Civilization leads you through the doors of that laboratory and guides you through the development of Europe from the late Middle Ages through the eve of World War II. In these 48 lectures delivered by University of Toronto Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett, whose award-winning teaching skills have been evident in the classroom, in books, and through video lectures for more than 30 years—you'll finally grasp the amazing results of that European laboratory over more than 600 years of history.

Experience the Mosaic of European History

As you follow Professor Bartlett through the dramatic story of European history, you'll learn

  • the major ideologies and "isms" that bubbled forth from Europe's constantly fermenting cauldron of debate and conflict, including absolutism, scientism, rationalism, capitalism, nationalism, liberalism, and totalitarianism;
  • the forces that intermingled to create the Industrial Revolution and the accompanying economic and social upheavals that would, in turn, create so many more;
  • the changing technologies of communication and transportation that would spread the European experience and ideas far and wide;
  • the European ideologies of government, including the rule of law, the concept of "the consent of the governed," taxation, an independent judiciary, and other concepts;
  • the new roles for religion in European life, from the end of the traditional union of altar and throne to great upheavals such as the Protestant Reformation and the Great Schism; and
  • the evolution of the European class system, which influenced the social forces that swirled around it just as much as it was influenced by them.

With The Development of European Civilization, one important idea will become crystal clear to you: Although history may well be made up of events taking place over time, the true meaning of history can never be discerned through a linear recitation of those events. That's because history, as every lecture of this remarkable course proves, is a mosaic—and to grasp that mosaic's meaning is to learn to see history in its entirety; to understand the ways in which ideas, institutions, and social forces have interacted to paint each tile, set it among the others, and, when necessary, shatter them into fragments to replace them with others.

Change the Way You Understand History

To learn to see history in this way requires a course designed to teach it this way, and Professor Bartlett's lectures take an unusual and profoundly thoughtful approach that make The Development of European Civilization an ideal complement to more traditional presentations of European history.

Rather than offering you a laundry list of dates, events, and famous individuals, Professor Bartlett leaves you instead with an understanding of historical and social causality and a stronger appreciation of just why events took place. You'll learn why and how institutions evolved as they did, and what the ideas, culture, and institutions born in Europe have meant—and will continue to mean—to the rest of the Western world. More important: You'll experience Europe's development from a European perspective, further enhancing your existing understanding of both modern Europe and Western nations outside Europe, whose own traditions and institutions have drawn so much from the European experiment.

Although key events and individuals are included in these lectures, they take their importance in this course from their impact on the ideas of their time and the roles that they played in bringing about the key ideas and forces of the events that were yet to come. You'll learn how to see names like Diderot, Calvin, Darwin, Marx, Luther, Mill, Newton, Robespierre, Hitler, Mussolini, Wilson, and so many others in startling new ways. These and other figures, you'll discover, are not only participants in history's great pageant but characters created by forces beyond themselves—forces whose resonances would echo well into our own time.

Witness History in the Making

Each lecture focuses on a particular moment in time and analyzes the circumstances that would drive the evolution of the ideas, forces, and institutions that created European history.

  • The Crusades: These fierce medieval wars were far more than a series of religious conflicts. They were perhaps the single most important cause of the shift away from a manorial economy to a money-based economy. Moving knights to the Holy Land required massive concentrations of capital, the establishment of trading cities, and the mobilization of vast numbers of skilled people. None of this could have happened without reliable coinage and systems of commercial law.
  • The Industrial Revolution: The consequences of the Industrial Revolution in England reached into almost every aspect of life. This period's great gears meshed not only with the machinery of the economic world but also with that of urbanizing populations, the flow of information, changing beliefs about social justice, new religious freedoms that made practical and scientific information available to nonconformists, and new laws designed to enhance this unprecedented explosion of progress.
  • The Dreyfus Affair: The unjust accusation of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, for selling secrets to the Germans in 1894 was a defining moment in the history of modern France. In this single case of military justice gone awry, you see the intersection of forces such as anti-Semitism, military insularity, religion in public life, and support for monarchism.

An Accomplished Professor, a Masterful Historian

One of Professor Bartlett's greatest accomplishments in crafting The Development of European Civilization lies in his ability to sustain his focus on ideas, institutions, social forces, and other abstract concepts without ever being dry, and without losing sight of the human beings around whom those abstractions swirled.

A terrific storyteller, he teaches with great enthusiasm and flow, making his lectures a pleasure to watch or listen to and making it plainly evident why his teaching skills have won him numerous awards and accolades, including the 3M National Teaching Fellowship from the Canadian Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the President's Teaching Award from the University of Toronto. Moreover, as he effortlessly leads you through general historical trends and specific defining events, Professor Bartlett never leaves you stretching for understanding.

Simply put, Professor Bartlett is an accomplished teacher and a masterful historian. With The Development of European Civilization, this popular Great Courses professor has crafted an extraordinarily integrated learning experience that is sure to be one of the most pleasurable and informative experiences of historical learning you'll ever have.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Idea and Place of Europe
    Begin your understanding of Europe as not only a place but as an evolving laboratory of ideas. Learn how these ideas—whether adopted, transformed, or the source of opposing tensions—continue to animate human life not only in Europe, but throughout much of the world. x
  • 2
    Feudalism and the Medieval World
    Gain a firm foundation for understanding the medieval world with this introduction to feudalism. Learn how the need for protection and justice became paramount concerns with the disappearance of Roman rule and the absence of a central authority's ability to impose rules and order. x
  • 3
    The Three Orders of Medieval Society
    Plunge more deeply into the medieval world by grounding yourself in its three components: the "first estate" of the clergy, the second of the nobility, and the third of everyone else—the vast majority of whom provided all of society's labor. x
  • 4
    The Manorial Economy
    See how insufficient coinage and localized allegiances made the organization of agriculture the economic foundation of most of the continent. This lecture explores life on the manor and prepares you for the transition from feudalism triggered by the growth of towns and the emergence of money. x
  • 5
    The Growth of Trade and Towns
    Many forces coalesced to ultimately doom feudalism. Learn how factors as seemingly disparate as the Crusades, the collapse of two great banking houses, and the Black Death helped redefine the balance of power and pave the way for a new era of great cities and their influence. x
  • 6
    Humanism and the Italian Renaissance
    Empowered by the enormous wealth generated by the Crusades, a powerful merchant class made Italian city-states increasingly independent of the feudal barons who ruled the countryside. Learn how the merchant class's need for a different kind of ideology led to the cultivation of humanism and a breathtaking cultural movement. x
  • 7
    Crisis in the Church
    A detailed examination of both the Babylonian captivity and the Great Schism brings the forces dividing the church into sharp focus, preparing you for a firm grasp of the causes and impact of the Reformation that was to follow. x
  • 8
    Christian Humanism
    A discussion of the lives and writings of both Erasmus and Thomas More—and the importance of Gutenberg's new moveable type to making their thoughts widely available—highlight this exploration of the ideas that needed to take root before that Reformation could become reality. x
  • 9
    The Ottoman Threat to Europe
    Follow the aggressive expansion of the Ottoman Empire, with many Europeans reacting in terror at the transformation of the Mediterranean into a "Turkish lake." Learn how fear of both the Turks and Islam drove the later voyages of discovery to expand not only Europe's influence but also that of Christianity. x
  • 10
    The Expansion of Europe
    Learn why, with the collapse of the Italian trading monopolies and the dangers of sailing Turkish waters, Europe was forced to seek new trading routes and different opportunities for expansion. In the new world, especially, expansion meant conquest, and the gold sent back home shifted the balance of European power. x
  • 11
    The Continental Reformation—Luther
    A discussion of Luther's teachings offers insight into the full context—not only theological, but political and social—in which his religious rebellion took place. You grasp how it opened the door for further protests against not only the Catholic Church, but Lutheranism itself. x
  • 12
    The Continental Reformation—Calvin
    The breaching of Catholicism's walls allowed new voices of change to emerge. This lecture focuses on two of them, the Swiss priest and Christian humanist scholar Ulrich Zwingli, and the French lawyer John Calvin. See how the reforms advocated by each would have devastating consequences. x
  • 13
    The Wars of Religion
    The Roman church sought to address the challenges posed by Protestantism. But its reexamination largely rejected Protestant demands, and the founding of the Jesuit order revealed a new zeal in preserving orthodoxy. This lecture examines the permanent rending of European Christianity and the terrible violence that resulted. x
  • 14
    The English Reformation
    Discover how, while the continental Reformation and wars of religion fragmented the continent, England embarked on its own reformation. England's, however, was driven by the intricacies of royal succession, which in the fullness of time would breed the seeds of England's own religious wars. x
  • 15
    The English Civil War
    Explore the different forces—religious, political, and personal—that doomed the reign of Charles I. Those forces drove England into a cycle of civil war, repression, and royal restoration that would ultimately produce a nation very different from the one Charles had first ruled. x
  • 16
    The Thirty Years' War
    Gain a new understanding of the causes and results of the most terrible of the internal religious wars that ravaged Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. After these conflicts, during which religious causes were ultimately superseded by dynastic, political, and strategic concerns, Europe stood transformed. x
  • 17
    The Absolute Monarchy
    This lecture offers fresh insights into the idea of absolutism, beginning with the theory as set forth by Thomas Hobbes and concluding with an examination of absolutism in practice—the France of advisers like Richelieu, Mazarin, and Colbert and their monarchs, Louis XIII and Louis XIV. x
  • 18
    The Scientific Revolution
    The Scientific Revolution provided a way for extending knowledge and discovering truth without reliance on the church. Focusing on the thought of Bacon, Descartes, Galileo, Newton, and Locke, this lecture places the Scientific Revolution in context with the religious revolutions already studied, as well as the subsequent intellectual and political revolutions it made possible. x
  • 19
    The Enlightenment, Part 1
    Deepen your grasp of two of the Enlightenment's most influential voices, Voltaire and Montesquieu. Although French, they were deeply influenced by their observations of England. Written in the lingua franca, their work—especially Voltaire's—was vital in spreading the ideas of thinkers like Newton, Locke, and Bacon. x
  • 20
    The Enlightenment, Part 2
    Continue your exploration of the French Enlightenment with Denis Diderot's Encyclopédie and the impact of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau's upturning of the ideas of Hobbes and Locke would, a decade after his death, make him in many ways the ideologue of the French Revolution. x
  • 21
    France in 1789
    A deep look at each of France's three estates in 1789 sets the stage for understanding the revolution that would follow. Ironically, the active beginnings of that violence would happen at the same time as many of the reforms demanded were being put into place. x
  • 22
    The French Revolution
    Although the early policies of the revolutionary government reflected a commitment to measured and reasonable steps, they were soon overtaken by violence. This lecture traces the creation of a radical republic and the revolution's descent into the period known as the Reign of Terror. x
  • 23
    The Age of Napoleon
    Gain an appreciation of the extraordinary accomplishments of the minor Corsican noble and artillery officer who became a military hero, self-crowned emperor of the French people, and architect of enduring societal change in not only France, but all of Europe. x
  • 24
    The Congress of Vienna
    Learn how, after the downfall of Napoleon, the leading powers convened to award compensation, arrange a balance of power, and, above all, restore deposed monarchies. But the allies understood—their victory notwithstanding—that there were still Napoleonic reforms that could never be undone. x
  • 25
    The Industrial Revolution
    The French Revolution had altered the face of Europe forever. Yet the consequences of the Industrial Revolution were even greater. This lecture reveals the many agricultural, social, technical, and economic forces that came together, especially in England, to forge one of the transformative events of European history. x
  • 26
    The Industrial Working Class
    Just as the Industrial Revolution was altering the shape of England's economy, so, too, was it altering the lives of the working-class laborers who were powering it. You examine not only those often-miserable lives, but the many factors that worked against any easing of that misery. x
  • 27
    Capitalism and European Society
    Follow along as the Industrial Revolution forced the development of new credit and banking systems and remade the face of capitalism. But even as a changing society created a swelling middle class, pressures on the working poor increased, with little solace offered by religious and societal structures that blamed them for their own plight. x
  • 28
    The Middle Class
    As the middle class grew, so did its self-awareness, especially in England and France, where it had a powerful political and economic influence. Learn how that self-awareness expressed itself, particularly through the presentation of one's home and inherent values and the class identification of one's clothing. x
  • 29
    Liberals and Liberalism
    Enjoy a detailed exploration of liberalism and its defining principles, focusing first on the work of John Stuart Mill and then on the core tenets of the liberal movement as set forth by L. T. Hobhouse in his classic Liberalism. x
  • 30
    Liberal Government
    This lecture explores the translation of liberal principles into liberal policies. Examine the different paths the transformation took in England, under the leadership of figures like Disraeli, Bright, and Gladstone, and in France. There, Napoleon's nephew, Louis Napoleon, instituted progressive change, first as president and then as Emperor Napoleon III. x
  • 31
    Science and Progress
    The 19th century reinforced the Enlightenment idea of progress, with the world now envisioning change not as a means of restoring what had been lost, but of moving forward. Learn how science, exemplified by men like Comte, Pasteur, and Koch, led the way. x
  • 32
    19th-Century Optimism
    Grasp the full impact of science, technology, and liberal concepts of social responsibility as you see the lives of Europeans—even the poor—become progressively better. But even as the wealth of nations increased, so, too, did the competition among them, precipitating a headlong rush toward imperialism and empire. x
  • 33
    Nationalism and 1848
    Another driving factor of the 19th century—one that would ultimately lead to the Great War—was nationalism, the belief that people of similar backgrounds and traditions should rule themselves. Explore how this force, sometimes combined with powerful cultural movements like pan-slavism, kindled mid-century revolution throughout Europe. x
  • 34
    The Unifications of Germany and Italy
    Europe's 19th-century nationalist movements unleashed powerful programs of self-determination. The two discussed in this lecture created new states linked by language, culture, and ethnicity. One, however, emerges as a great power; the other as weak but ambitious, with its national mission still incomplete. x
  • 35
    Darwin and Darwinism
    If political and social progress had posed a fundamental challenge to the foundations of European thought, the challenge posed by Charles Darwin was no less than seismic. Explore the ideas that would come to define European thought as either pre- or post-Darwin. x
  • 36
    Social Darwinism
    Darwin's theory opened a Pandora's box of social, political, and racial attitudes among Europeans, who applied it to situations it was never meant to describe. Grasp how it was misused to justify imperialism, brutality, lack of social concern, and, ultimately, Europe's darkest hour. x
  • 37
    Socialism and Utopianism
    Explore some of the pre-Marxian images of Socialism, including the imposed equality of Francois Babeuf, the terrorist urgings of Louis-Auguste Blanqui, and three very different visions of utopianism as set forth by the Count Henri de Saint Simon, Charles Fourier, and Robert Owen. x
  • 38
    Marx and Marxism
    Enjoy an intimate look into Karl Marx's world and gain new insight into his difficult personality. Learn how he developed his theory of "scientific Socialism" and observe his involvement—and constant dissatisfaction—with those who attempted to achieve in practical terms what they believed his ideas to be. x
  • 39
    Reactions to Rationalism
    The Enlightenment had promoted the application of reason to the problems of society, but the belief that reason and science would point the way to progress was far from universal. Gain fresh perspective on the opposing view through examples drawn from science, literature, and music. x
  • 40
    Fin de Siècle
    Grasp the situation in Europe as it makes the turn into a century that would soon explode into unprecedented violence. Reviews of the situation in Britain, France, Germany, and the Habsburg Austrian Empire reveal a continent fearful of what might come, but unprepared to do anything to prevent it. x
  • 41
    World War I
    Understand the Great War by an appraisal of its nearly incomprehensible impact. By war's end, at least 15 million of the 70 million who had taken up arms had been killed, and the European continent had been changed more profoundly than by any event since the Black Death. x
  • 42
    The Treaty of Versailles
    Determined to impose total defeat on Germany and her allies, Britain, France, and the United States ignored the lessons of the Congress of Vienna. The terms they dictated set into motion forces none could imagine, missing any opportunity for a workable peace. x
  • 43
    The Disintegration of the Established Order
    Explore the chaos that descended on Germany as the war was lost, peace terms were imposed, and order and the economy collapsed. Learn how the tensions and violence that overran Germany set the stage for the rise of a young Army corporal named Adolf Hitler. x
  • 44
    The Bolshevik Revolution
    A review of Russia's history during the 19th century sets the stage for enhanced understanding of Russia's role in World War I and its subsequent vulnerability to takeover by the Bolsheviks—first led by Vladimir Lenin and then by his successor, Josef Stalin. x
  • 45
    Fascism in Italy
    An examination of post-unification Italian history explains why Fascism arose in what would seem to be a country ill-suited for it. You also learn why its embrace of Fascism was led by a man who had begun public life at the opposite end of the political spectrum, a radical Socialist journalist named Benito Mussolini. x
  • 46
    The Nazi Regime in Germany
    Find new insights into why the Nazis were able to gain power. In addition to viewing Nazism from the perspective of a perversion of many themes examined in the course, the lecture also addresses the question of why a sophisticated people could allow it to happen. x
  • 47
    Europe between the Wars
    Europe between the wars was hardly a celebration of democracy. A look at life in its various states reveals not only the dark forces affecting the vanquished, but also how many on the victorious side had come to believe that the sacrifices of WWI might have been in vain. x
  • 48
    The New Europe
    The course comes to a close with an examination of how each of the major forces discussed has left its mark on Europe's nations, and how those forces will shape the Europe still to come. x

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Your professor

Kenneth R. Bartlett

About Your Professor

Kenneth R. Bartlett, Ph.D.
University of Toronto
Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett is a Professor of History at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto in 1978. He was the first director of the University of Toronto Art Centre and founding director of the Office of Teaching Advancement at the university, a position he held until 2009. Much of Professor Bartlett’s career has been devoted to bringing...
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Development of European Civilization is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 51.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Worth Your Time Another winner from Professor Bartlett, who gave us that splendid Italian Renaissance course. He is a great lecturer, not perfect (who is? )and makes it his business to hold one's interest. You will truly learn a lot from this course. Don't be scared off by those few nay-sayers -- over the years I have done over 250 Great Courses and can confidently recommend this one.
Date published: 2012-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History 101 not History 1 The reviews have been all over the place but my place is with the 5 star crowd. This course wonderfully augments one's background in European History but is not an introduction to the subject. Each lecture is a nugget of knowledge that puts the historical record in the perspective of how ideas 'developed' out of the events and personalities that molded European civilization. The TC's two courses on Western Civilization or similar courses would be nice prerequisites to Dr. B's lectures. The professor's teaching is excellent and his humor is wry. This combination adds up to a truly civilized course.
Date published: 2012-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Ideas Matter This course is an insightful exposition of the importance of ideas in the development of civilization: European civilization in this case, but the lessons could be applied easily to other civilizations, other places and other times. While it is a commonplace to note that ideas have practical impacts on human affairs, Dr. Bartlett more interestingly demonstrates why specific ideas have arisen in response to particular societal needs. One might say this is a history of ideas as responses to human needs as well as causes of human action. It is emphatically not a course in the "great men and great battles" tradition and it is all the better for it. Some reviewers have found Dr. Bartlett's style stiff or difficult. I do not have the DVD version of the lectures, but the audio version certainly doesn't support that conclusion in my view. It is fair to note, though, that unlike some of The Teaching Company courses, "The Development of European Civilization" is not to be undertaken casually or lightly. The subject is profound, it is complex, it is important and Dr. Bartlett treats it as such. He neither pads his lectures to fill out the half hour nor does he use throw away lines to keep the listener entertained. This course, more than any other I have yet purchased, demands - and richly rewards - close attention to virtually every sentence. The attentive student will have no difficulty applying Dr. Bartlett's ideas-based approach to the distempers of our own times, albeit probably with disquieting results. My only caveat? Because this course really does require your undivided attention, probably better not to listen to it while driving. Either your comprehension or your fenders will suffer.
Date published: 2012-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Intellectual History of Europe I'm surprised at some of the previous criticisms, and my sense is that they're primarily the comments of reviewers who prefer a more facts-and-events based history presentation than one based on ideas. The Europe that exists today is as much the result of such thinkers as Luther, Voltaire, and Darwin, as it is the result of such figures as Cromwell, Mussolini, and Hitler. To ciriticize the course for being too much about philosophy is like criticizing a physics course for being too much about math. I'm also disappointed in the criticism of the course as biased for its alleged support of progressive legislation. It's unfortuante that this type of political commentary surfaces in so many course reviews, but it's almost never accurate, and it certainly isn't here. This is an excellent course that delivers precisely what it purports to offer - a history of the intellectual forces that shaped Europe. If that's what you're expecting, you won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2012-01-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Information without Engagement Professor Bartlett presented lots of information and attempted to build a pattern or mosaic of themes for European Civilization for the entire history of the region. While this approach intrigued me, I don't feel he succeeded except sporadically. It was not that he was particularly inaccurate, but rather that he chose at times to emphasize what seemed to me more peripheral players in the history and that, more importantly, he failed to connect his themes in a coherent fashion. Frankly, I finished the course bored and confused. The professor spoke in a monotone and without enthusiasm and just never really engaged me. The course was certainly not a total waste - there were some individual lectures that were interesting and pertinent, but as a whole, I don't think the course accomplished what it intended to and I was somewhat disappointed overall.
Date published: 2011-12-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from not too happy Even though the title is appealing. the presentation sounded more philosophy than history, it wasn't easy to follow, I had to return it back.
Date published: 2011-10-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but not great The best place to start this review is probably by pointing out that, unlike many courses with similar names, this is mostly a course about ideas rather than events. That alone makes it a worthwhile complement to other TTC courses such as Foundations of Western Civilization I & II. Prof Bartlett starts extremely strong with a discussion of how the institutions and ideas of late antiquity led more or less directly to the medieval world (lectures 2-4) and how the shortcomings of the manorial economy led more or less directly to the growth of towns and trade (lectures 4-5). The lectures on the ideas underlying the Rennaissance and Reformation (lectures 6-14) are excellent and include some great insights into how the work of thinkers like Erasmus and Sir Thomas More helped pave the way for Luther and Calvin. The course focuses a bit more on events in lectures 15-24, which cover the period from the English Civil War through the Congress of Viena, but this material is uniformly excellent. Unfortunately, after that, the course takes a turn very much for the worse. The material in lectures 25 to 31 is pretty much worthless. There's bias (treating all progressive legislation as absolutely unequivocally good), superficiality (discussing Smith and Ricardo as completely discredited but Malthus as a reliable source), inaccuracy (conflating classical liberalism with modern liberal parties), naivete (he takes More's Utopia literally; I've never met anybody who did that; I wouldn't mention it except he goes back to Utopia so often) and quite frankly monotony (these lectures are repetitive, which is to be expected since he stretches the topic into a mind-numbing 7 lectures). This section culminates in lecture 31 on "Science and Progress" which should have been titled "Sociology and Progressivism" as it spends 10x as much time talking about Comte as about Pasteur and Koch. The course then resumes a better path, although not at the standard of the earlier lectures. The discussion of the late 19th and early 20th century is competent, but nothing more. If this course had ended at lecture 24, it would have earned 5 stars without question. As it is, I struggled between giving it 3 or 4 stars.
Date published: 2011-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting and Informative First, I like history. Why? Well, to put it in the context of this course, I was listening to issues that the Europeans discussed, that I could have sworn was a present day topic. Take the Progressives, a group discussed in this course. Today, there is a push and pull politically between conservatives and progressives about how to run the country. Some examples: + working conditions during the Industrial Revolution came up. Admittedly, things were far worse then than now in many places, but what about for immigrants? Many today argue that the poor waste their money, and we should not have a "nanny state". Adam Smith's views are discussed as well as David Ricardo's. This is the same debate we're having today! +President Wilson's 14 points and how the "idealistic" approach, while well-intentioned, led to disaster. I can think of many examples today that parallel this: from the Middle East to Central Asia. + Ideas of nationalism, and how that often overrides even class divisions. + "Darwinist" ideas that live out to this day, even though they would be hated and seen by Darwin as a perversion. Things like racial superiority, religious intolerance, oppression of minorities, and so on. One of the strengths of this course, was Dr. Bartlett's tie in of many European ideas to this topic. He made connections that I had never thought about. Obviously, Hitler used Darwin's ideas to justify his cause, but what about business owners who argue that the poor should not be helped because doing so would be against Darwin and nature herself. I see this argument repackaged often. I did not see before the connection from Darwin to Freud, but an excellent case was made, and I think you'll enjoy this discussion. I think it was his strong point. Overall, wonderful. Others have mentioned that he was boring. Well, this is not Transformers 3, or even close to it. Nonetheless, there is a lot of good ideas discussed here.
Date published: 2011-07-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Where's the Beef? Audio CD. Perhaps I hoped for more than could be delivered or perhaps I've listened to enough other TTC courses that this just rehashed things I'd learned elsewhere, but this course just didn't accomplish much for me. The course has an intriguing approach. Dr. Bartlett examines European civilization as a whole rather than doing a country-by-country history lesson. He undertakes to examine the evolution from the dark ages of Europe through European feudalism, through the European enlightenment, through European rationalism, and on to modern Europe. Dr. Bartlett is extraordinarily polished as a speaker. He is a highly regarded lecturer. He has an excellent vocabulary. He has exceptional elocution. But it's still flat. Perhaps his tempo is just too fast for conversation. Perhaps it's because he uses an explanatory style instead of an exploratory style. In any case, he did not connect with me. He seemed aloof. I learned the most from his description of Europe of the 1920's recoiling from WWI. On the other hand, not only does he seem to me to be negative toward religion, but at times he seems misinformed about it. For example, in Lecture 12, Dr. Bartlett said that Martin Luther accepted only two sacraments. In fact, Luther thought that there might be a third (penance). Dr. Bartlett called Ulrich Zwingli a "second generation reformer" when in fact Zwingli was a contemporary of Luther. (John Calvin was a second generation reformer.) Dr. Bartlett characterized Calvin's God as angry and judgmental when a case could be made that Calvin emphasized God's gracious character. Dr. Bartlett said that no Calvinist doubts his own salvation when in fact the Puritans, who were Calvinists, were famous for doing just that. In short, it is fun to listen to Dr. Bartlett's mellifluent voice, but I've got to wonder about the substance behind it.
Date published: 2011-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great One of the finest courses I have purchased and studied. Professor Bartlett does, lecture after lecture, what few do: explain why, the context, the stimulus and the response. In one instance, for the frist I have an idea of not what was feudalism, but why feudalism, why it came and why it went. This is but one example. The course is simply superb, rare, one to be savored again and again.
Date published: 2011-06-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from European History as a Metaphoric Mosaic [Audio Version] Hats off to Professor Bartlett. I believe his course pretty much accomplishes what it sets out to do -- to show us the causes behind the great mosaic of ideas, forces, culture, movements and events in Europe over the past 600 years, all in 48 lectures. Bartlett has a good speaking voice. He starts off a bit breathlessly, then seems to find a comfortable pace at Lectures 8 and 9. Overall, his presentation was pleasant and easy listening. Some might feel that Dr. Bartlett overreached with his multitude of topics. Personally, I wish he had used more. He moves easily among his myriad filters: philosophic, economic, political, intellectual, etc. But sometimes he just does not connect the dots in a compelling way, and it felt like I was hearing another traditional recitation of people, events, and dates. Lecture 33 was problematic for me. His description of Pan-Slavism was confusing. Then, in Lecture 36, I was suddenly startled by the professor’s one-sided depiction of the Boy Scouts’ founding and movement. I suspect Dr. Bartlett implies a personal disdain for the “militarism” and “discipline” of the Scouts. Bartlett often used the phrase, “Europe’s collective unconscious.” I was not comfortable with this phrase because I see it mostly in a psychological sense. I would have preferred “collective imagination,” perhaps allowing a larger and softer context, and less psychological. I very much liked Bartlett’s phrase, “the vocabulary of change.” Movements and ideas, like the Reformation, gave people new jargon, new words to think with, and then the new vocabulary would lead to even more change. As Dr. Bartlett reminds us, Europe was indeed violent. By Lecture 48, after having taught us the horrors of World War One and the rise of the Nazis and Fascism, I was surprised that the professor says he generally ‘remains sanguine’ about Europe’s prospects in 2010. I hope and pray he is right.
Date published: 2011-06-10
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