Renaissance: The Transformation of the West

Course No. 3917
Professor Jennifer McNabb, Ph.D.
Western Illinois University
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Course No. 3917
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What Will You Learn?

  • Discover the roots of social, cultural, and political transformations in the development of humanism.
  • Place the familiar story of the Italian Renaissance in the context of Europe's other Renaissance movements.
  • Experience what everyday life was like for men and women from all levels of Renaissance society.
  • Examine Renaissance philosophies at work in other historical movements, including the Reformation.
  • Learn how the Renaissance paved the way for the political conflicts of the early modern era.

Course Overview

There’s the Renaissance we all know about: the cultural flourishing that produced iconic works of art, sculpture, and architecture. But underneath all the paint and marble is another side of the Renaissance with which we’re much less familiar.

Born from the devastation of the Black Death, the European Renaissance is undoubtedly one of the greatest periods of civilizational achievement in human history. Transformations that began with the economic explosion of the Italian city-states in the 14th century and lasted through the dawn of the early modern world in the 17th century are ones we still feel today.

While it’s easy to get caught up—and, rightfully so—in the art and architecture of the Renaissance, you cannot have a deep and genuine understanding of just how important these centuries were without digging beneath the surface, without investigating the period in terms of its politics, its spirituality, its philosophies, its economics, and its societies. It is just as vital to appreciate events and developments—such as the transition from feudal kingdoms to nation-states, the flourishing of international trade and exploration, epic wars and rebellions, revolutions of faith, and the rise (and fall) of different social status groups—as it is to understand the value of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling or Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.

Only by considering the European Renaissance from all sides, by disturbing traditional understandings, tipping sacred cows, and busting prevalent myths, can you truly grasp just how the Renaissance revolutionized the Western world.

In the epic 48-lecture course, Renaissance: The Transformation of the West, historian and award-winning professor Jennifer McNabb of Western Illinois University delivers a holistic, comprehensive view of the Renaissance that will show just how impressive and truly influential it was. Guiding you through centuries of exhilarating change in Europe with the knowledge, insights, and discernment of a master scholar, she offers new perspectives on familiar figures and events while focusing on often-unexplored or overlooked areas, such as the role of women in the Renaissance, the daily lives of the rural poor and urban elite, Renaissance home and family life, and the powerful connections between the Renaissance and the Reformation. Here, in one course, is an authoritative, wide-ranging, and multidisciplinary way to experience not just one of Europe’s Renaissance movements—but all of them.

 

A Truly Transformative Period

“The scope of our course is broad,” says Professor McNabb, “because I want us to see the Renaissance not as a single event but as a transformative process whose influences touched many areas of early modern life.”

Renaissance: The Transformation of the West is organized into several sections that make the expansiveness of this historical period all the more manageable.

  • Italian Renaissance: Examine how the Renaissance got its start in city-states, including Florence and Rome; how men like Machiavelli epitomized the “Renaissance Man;” and how the Medici and Renaissance popes maintained power.

 

  • Northern Renaissance: Go beyond Italy for an extended look at how the Renaissance played out in places like England and the Netherlands. Along the way, you’ll follow the lives and careers of people like Jan van Eyck, François Rabelais, and Thomas More.
  • Renaissance Life: What were Renaissance attitudes about shame and honor? Why were letters so important to so many Renaissance writers? How did women exert power? How did different societies construct their ideas about marriage?

 

  • Renaissance Faith: Central to these centuries were competing beliefs about the role of faith in political and daily life. Professor McNabb guides you through the Reformation, religious positions of theologians like Luther and Calvin, the Council of Trent, and more.
  • Renaissance Politics: Perhaps, the single most important transformation in Renaissance Europe occurred not in the humanities but in politics and economics. You’ll explore the roots of modern diplomacy, capitalism, warfare, and global rivalries.

 

New Stories, Insights, and Revelations

By observing the Renaissance less casually and more critically, Professor McNabb offers a wealth of facts, details, insights, and connections you can’t find in typical narratives that celebrate the centuries between medievalism and modernity.

Here are just a few of many exciting, intriguing, and illuminating things you’ll uncover in Renaissance: The Transformation of the West.

  • Renaissance palace schools believed in close, interpersonal relationships between teacher and student—a marked contrast to dispassionate medieval classrooms, where corporal punishment was liberally employed.

 

  • While no new concept of femininity emerged during the Renaissance, noble women were able to contribute to the culture of the period, beyond their own productions, through the process of patronage.
  • One of the most important musical innovations by the famed Renaissance composer, Guillaume Dufay, involved replacing medieval chants traditionally used for Mass with more dynamic and complex secular tunes.

 

  • A popular feast day celebrating St. John the Baptist (dated June 24) was grafted onto older, pre-Christian traditions celebrating the summer solstice and fertility—which is why it’s often referred to as Midsummer.
  • During the later centuries of the Renaissance, secular authorities as well as spiritual ones got involved in the witch-hunting business; rulers seeking to centralize state power saw witches as dangerous obstacles to their political goals.

 

  • The pastry casings we associate with Renaissance meals were simply a cooking vessel that contained the filling—as the crust buffered the pies’ valuable insides—and were often discarded at Renaissance tables, uneaten.

The Greatest Stories Ever Told

Professor McNabb’s extensive background in medieval and Renaissance history makes her the perfect guide through these exciting, tumultuous, and powerful centuries of Western civilization.

She brings to every lecture of Renaissance: The Transformation of the West the same celebrated teaching style that has earned her awards, including the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from Western Illinois University. She’s also taken care to include maps, illustrations, portraits, paintings, literary excerpts, and other elements to help you organize the epic scope of this subject.

“I think we’re still living the Renaissance,” Professor McNabb says. “We’re Renaissance people. We’ve updated some aspects of the Renaissance past and infused it with our own contemporary concerns. And, such activities are in keeping with the Renaissance as well.”

Prepare for a deep dive into Europe’s great Renaissance movements, which Professor McNabb considers the greatest stories ever told—and ones well worth listening to, still.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 33 minutes each
  • 1
    The Spirit of Renaissance
    How did the Renaissance—as it occurred in Italy and in other parts of Europe—pioneer a new way of thinking about history itself? Who, exactly, was the typical “Renaissance Man”? Get answers to these and other questions about the Renaissance’s powerful fusion of classical and medieval worldviews. x
  • 2
    Rebirth: Classical Values Made New
    Here, consider how the key contexts and values of the European Renaissance set the stage for a new era of questions. The two chief examples you'll use to chart the origins of the European Renaissance are the Black Death and the letters of Petrarch. x
  • 3
    The Medieval Roots of Italian Renaissance
    Discover why the Renaissance first bloomed in, of all places, Italy. First, look at the politics and economics of medieval Italian states. Then, explore how the legacies of antiquity gained traction throughout the peninsula. Finally, consider the influence of trade revivals, a dynamic social order, and the profits from holy wars. x
  • 4
    The Rise of the Humanists
    Focus on one of the most-challenging foundational concepts of the Renaissance: humanism. Professor McNabb outlines how and why education underwent its extreme makeover, explores the fields that dominated this new way of learning, and introduces you to humanist schools and schoolmasters. x
  • 5
    Renaissance Florence: Age of Gold
    Florence, defined by hierarchy and inequality, has become synonymous with the Italian Renaissance. How did this happen? Here, you will explore the complex political journey of this “most noble” of cities from model republic to six decades of domination by the iconic Medici family, and back again. x
  • 6
    Renaissance Venice: More Serene Republic
    Dive into the byzantine history and legacy of Venice during the period of the Renaissance, when the city managed to prosper even without that most valuable of commodities: land. Learn how Venice was shaped by its merchant elite, how it joined the ranks of Italian city-states, and how Venice experienced humanism. x
  • 7
    Renaissance Rome and the Papal States
    Investigate how the new learning in Rome challenged the wisdom of centuries of spiritual authority as the capital of Christianity. While exploring Rome's papal history, encounter the noble family who considered it their birthright to wield control over the city: the infamous Borgias (including Cesare and Pope Alexander VI). x
  • 8
    Renaissance Italy's Princes and Rivals
    In this lecture, turn to the other great power players in Renaissance Italy, including the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and the duchy of Milan. Then, examine the eclipse of the age of the republics by the age of the tyrants: elite families who used cunning to obtain—and maintain—positions of authority. x
  • 9
    Renaissance Man as Political Animal
    Renaissance Man can perhaps best be understood as an educational and political ideal, someone as schooled in warfare as he was in classical antiquity. Here, meet three men whose lives and works exemplify different iterations of the Renaissance Man in action: Niccolo Machiavelli, Baldassare Castiglione, and Leon Battista Alberti. x
  • 10
    Women and the Italian Renaissance Court
    Step inside 15th- and 16th-century Italian courts to investigate how a number of smart, powerful, and cunning women helped steer the course of the Renaissance. Among the women you'll meet are Isabella d'Este, noted for her trendsetting sense of style and substance, and the Italian poet, Veronica Franco. x
  • 11
    Painting in the Early Italian Renaissance
    Using the careers and works of artists like Masaccio, Giotto, and Botticelli, discover how early Renaissance painting innovated and celebrated the experience of being human. In addition, you'll examine the business side of art, including matters of patronage that were central to artists during the Italian Renaissance. x
  • 12
    Painting in the High Italian Renaissance
    Turn now to the High Italian Renaissance era of painting, credited with a veritable artistic revolution in the art form. During this time, artists like Leonardo and Michelangelo were celebrities who rubbed shoulders with the rich and powerful. Not to be overlooked: the role of women painters, including Artemisia Gentileschi. x
  • 13
    Italian Sculpture, Architecture, and Music
    Learn how Renaissance architects and city planners—including Donato Bramante, Sebastian Serlio, and Andrea Palladio—imbued sculpture and architecture with tremendous ideological and practical power. Then, discover how Renaissance musicians helped move music out of the religious sphere and into the princely courts. x
  • 14
    Letters in the Italian Renaissance
    In this lecture, examine the lives and careers of a trio of fascinating Renaissance authors who used their words to help write the Renaissance into the pages of history. Professor McNabb covers the merchant, Francesco Datini; the artist-biographer, Giorgio Vasari; and the Florentine historian, Francesco Guicciardini. x
  • 15
    Renaissance Statecraft: A New Path
    Venture to the other side of the Alps for a closer look at what’s known as the “Northern Renaissance.” You’ll chart the political evolution of the region from barbarism to feudalism to feudal monarchy, explore why feudal monarchies trended toward weakness, and get a brief overview of power struggles among northern kings. x
  • 16
    European Renaissance Monarchies
    Turn the lens on the monarchical rivalries of the Northern Renaissance, which changed the course of Western politics as much as the rivalries in Italy. Focus on the rule of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, the rise of the Tudors in England, and the waxing power of France. x
  • 17
    The Birth of the Christian Renaissance
    Consider the development of humanist thought in the north, which commingled with the idea of a Christian rebirth and a reordering of society's morals that planted the seeds for the Reformation. Among the inquisitive and critical Christian humanists you'll encounter are Erasmus and Thomas More. x
  • 18
    Northern Renaissance Art and Music
    Using works by Matthias Grünewald, Jan van Eyck, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Hans Holbein the Younger, and others, explore how northern artists breathed artistic life into themes of faith, duty, and fidelity. Then, visit the court of the dukes of Burgundy for a look at the music of Guillaume Dufay. x
  • 19
    Northern Renaissance Literature and Drama
    Meet the Northern Renaissance authors and playwrights who offered entertainments and edification in the page and on the stage—authors who would become some of the greatest writers in Western history. These geniuses include François Rabelais; Miguel de Cervantes; William Langland; Geoffrey Chaucer; and, of course, William Shakespeare. x
  • 20
    Did Women Have a Renaissance?
    Examine the “woman question”: the contemporary debate about Renaissance women’s abilities and deficiencies. The question, as you’ll learn, was really about access to education. Along the way, you’ll consider whether we can say women had a renaissance of their own—and why that issue still matters today. x
  • 21
    Renaissance Life: The Rural Experience
    In the first of several sketches on the conditions of Renaissance life, explore the geographical setting where the vast majority of the European population lived at the time: the countryside. You'll look at festivals and feast days, types of settlements, the competition for land, and the peasant rebellions that followed. x
  • 22
    Renaissance Life: The Urban Experience
    How exactly do we define “urban” during the Renaissance? How did three, early modern institutions—craft guilds, confraternities, and public drinking establishments—help to define the urban experience? Find out in Professor McNabb’s fascinating lecture on the urban experiences of rich and poor alike. x
  • 23
    Renaissance Life: Crime, Deviance, and Honor
    Continue exploring daily life during the Renaissance by turning to issues of personal crisis—and their consequences. In studying crime, deviance, and Renaissance attitudes toward honor and shame, you’ll discover how early modern communities and authorities sought to order the world and project their morality. x
  • 24
    Renaissance Life: Marriage
    Marriage during the Renaissance was a major component of the “good life” during the period. It was also a complicated affair shaped by the intersection of private desires with more practical considerations. Delve into the ways Renaissance societies constructed marriage, and how marriage customs differed depending on geographic location. x
  • 25
    Renaissance Life: Home and Hearth
    What was domestic life like during the Renaissance? Get a feel for it with this lecture that highlights several topics related to home and hearth. These topics include: food culture (with a focus on baking), the practicalities of dress, the details about childrearing, and the role of servants and retainers. x
  • 26
    Renaissance Faith: Medieval Contexts
    Examine the two medieval heavyweights whose legendary disputes illustrate some key points about faith and power in the Renaissance world: King Philip IV of France and Pope Boniface VIII. Then, learn how new and revitalized orders—including Ci stercians and Franciscans—attracted adherents in astonishing numbers. x
  • 27
    Renaissance Faith: The Papacy
    The particular conditions of 15th- and 16th-century Italy allowed the popes to augment their power and fashion themselves as rulers. Here, explore papal programs designed to cement Rome as Christendom's true capital (after a century of geographic dislocations) and their architects, including Nicholas V, Pius II, and Sixtus IV. x
  • 28
    Renaissance Faith: Religious Uniformity
    Take a closer look at the ways in which European political authorities dealt with matters of faith in their drive to enhance authority. You'll learn about English theologian John Wyclif's challenges to traditional Christian authority, the persecution of European Jews, and the birth of the Inquisition. x
  • 29
    Luther: Breaking the Christian Consensus
    The Renaissance is vital to understanding how Martin Luther took on the church and not only survived but thrived, initiating a protest movement that put an end to more than 1,000 years of Christian consensus. Start considering Martin Luther as a man of a very particular historical moment. x
  • 30
    Radical Reform in Renaissance Europe
    Professor McNabb highlights the many fractures that strengthened the shockwaves Martin Luther created in Christianity—some of which he couldn’t foresee or control. Learn the importance of the Anabaptists, the tumult of the German Peasants’ War, and why Martin Luther resists easy demonization or lionization. x
  • 31
    Renaissance and Reformation: Connections
    Turn your attention to various calls for a reformation of faith identifiably shaped by the new learning of the Renaissance and the ideas of Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin. Calvin's ideas traveled on to Scotland, where the Reformation, working in tandem with powerful men, toppled a monarch from the throne. x
  • 32
    English Reformation
    Embark on an exciting look at the causes, processes, and consequences of the Tudor reformations, featuring some of the most famous personages in English history, including Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth I. What made this path to reform so different from events playing elsewhere on the European continent? x
  • 33
    Catholic Reformations: The Road to Trent
    Why didn’t the Catholic Church defeat the Reformation? Why didn’t it do more to stop Martin Luther? Cultivate a new way of thinking about the papal response to the theological revolution—epitomized by the Council of Trent, which created a Roman Catholic identity. x
  • 34
    Catholic Reformations: Spiritual Revival
    In the face of the slings and arrows of Protestant reformers, the Catholic Church lauded a number of individuals whose commitment to the “true faith” offered a balance to the Reformation that threatened to bury Catholicism. Learn how men and women became exemplars of piety during the Catholic Reformation. x
  • 35
    Reformation Culture: Continuity and Change
    Get a feel for what it was like to be a Protestant or Catholic in Reformation Europe. Your focus here: the culture wars that accompanied this period, including the rise of iconoclasts like Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, the use of vernacular language in religious services, and the dawn of Baroque art. x
  • 36
    Renaissance War and Peace: Diplomacy
    In the first of several lectures on the interaction among the states of early modern Europe, learn how diplomacy operated in a Europe increasingly characterized by religious dissention and violence. Central to this subject is the important role of permanent ambassadors and other diplomatic figures. x
  • 37
    The French Wars of Religion
    Religious violence kept France in its grip for an entire century. Discover how the French Wars of Religion sparked both bloodshed and a new way of thinking about the relationship between individuals and the figures of power to whom they owed allegiance (a favorite topic of Renaissance writers). x
  • 38
    The Dutch Revolt
    Witness a number of factors you've examined in other lectures collide in a fascinating (if also, destructive and costly) way during the Dutch Revolt. You'll also see a glimmer of the new demands of early modern warfare and the role of print in presenting a platform for action. x
  • 39
    The Spanish Armada
    Get the full story behind the Spanish Armada by paying attention to three key issues: the rivalry of Philip of Spain and Elizabeth I of England, the Spanish Armada's fateful engagement with the English in the summer of 1588, and the untidy consequences of Spain's defeat. x
  • 40
    The Thirty Years' War
    Welcome to ground zero of religious warfare during the Age of Reformation: The Thirty Years' War, which would engulf most of the European continent. By the end of this lecture, you'll learn how this struggle drew the map of Europe that would exist until the French Revolution. x
  • 41
    Renaissance at Arms: The Military Revolution
    What, exactly, constitutes a military revolution? What are the four major changes that happened between 1560 and 1660 that transformed warfare? How did a typical warrior from the 15th century compare to his counterpart 200 years later? How did large gunpowder weaponry influence other military developments? x
  • 42
    Renaissance and the Birth of Modern Science
    Professor McNabb guides you through the intersection of Renaissance values and patronage with the new ways of thinking about the universe brought about by the Scientific Revolution. See how many of the activities and individuals associated with this period exhibit key dynamics of the Renaissance covered in other lectures. x
  • 43
    Renaissance and Magic: Witchcraft
    Between 1450 and 1700, somewhere between 40,000 to 60,000 people were executed on charges of witchcraft. Why did ideas about demons and witches have such an appeal in early modern Europe? How did these beliefs produce a new type of criminal to be targeted by secular and spiritual authorities? x
  • 44
    Renaissance Encounters with Islam
    From the Reconquista to the collapse of Christian Constantinople to the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent, examine the relationship between Christians and Muslims during the early modern period—a relationship of competition and coexistence that shaped the development of the Western tradition. x
  • 45
    Renaissance and Exploration: Motives
    The Age of Discovery can be thought of, in many ways, as a Renaissance project. Here, you'll learn many of the values, motivations, and conflicts that fostered preconditions for European exploration, including a curiosity about the natural world, technological innovations, and the underlying quest for glory and riches. x
  • 46
    Renaissance and Exploration: New Horizons
    How did Portugal and Spain set out to build overseas empires? Examine the first round of European expansion in the Americas and the Indian Ocean basin in the broader contexts of the Renaissance. Along the way, follow the journeys and discoveries of explorers like Christopher Columbus and Francisco Pizarro. x
  • 47
    Early Modern Power: The New Global Rivalries
    Turn now to other European states joining the race for global empire. Consider the developments of three states—the Dutch Republic, Britain, and France—in an age of change, and learn how they helped spell the demise of the Ancien Régime and the birth of the modern world. x
  • 48
    Renaissance Legacy: Burckhardt and Beyond
    Return to the critical question that started this entire course: Have we reached the end of the Renaissance? Professor McNabb uses this concluding lecture to reflect on the meaning of the Renaissance for its contemporaries, for subsequent historians like Jacob Burckhardt, and for us in the 21st century. x

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Your professor

Jennifer McNabb

About Your Professor

Jennifer McNabb, Ph.D.
Western Illinois University
Dr. Jennifer McNabb is a professor of history and the chair of the Department of History at Western Illinois University. She received her PhD in History from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003. Since joining Western Illinois University in 2005, Professor McNabb has received the Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching and for Service. She...
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Reviews

Renaissance: The Transformation of the West is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 18.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Presentation Since I studied history in college and took a masters in modern European history, much of this course was a review for me. That said, Professor McNabb's conversational style provided a great deal of information and discussion of historical interpretations in a deceptively easy to digest manner. I especially appreciated the time she spent on the Reformation and the not-always easy relationship its leaders had with Humanism.
Date published: 2018-11-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great introductory course I am almost through the 48 lectures and for the most part I have enjoyed Prof. McNabb's presentations. Her Italian pronunciation needs some work though. I rated her presentation as good based on this. She also needs to correct her mistake regarding Michelangelo's David. The "real" David is housed in the Accademia and not in the Uffizi. If I were at her university I think I would seriously consider any courses she teaches.
Date published: 2018-11-03
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Passable Course I love the Great Courses. My mid-life crisis was discovering my mind had turned into a useless pudding and deciding it was time to force thoughts into that pudding to see if a brain could be reforged. By happenstance a Great Courses magazine came into my life and a 100ish courses later, I seem to have a functioning mind and an invigorating hobby. In that time I've come to judge courses by passion, performance and expertise. In the first seven minutes of the second lecture in the lovely new course on Mesopotamia, the instructor took subjects I knew well and gave new insight and made my laugh. The topics were the agricultural revolution, language and viewpoint, well worn to any armchair historian. Yet the instructor's mention that our own earlier lack of cell and smartphones hadn't made us feel somehow deprived when we had to physically 'dial' a phone and hope our friend was home reminded me of the evolution of technology from the other side. I wasn't less human before my smartphone, nor were hunters and gatherers less human before agriculture. They were just like us with sophisticated language and sophistication in hunting and gathering. Through this instruction the professor has a twinkle in her eye and a clear love for teaching me about a subject she is passionate about and indeed has made her life's work. Why this long ramble? Because this course on the Renaissance is the antithesis of the seven minute experience I mentioned above. This is history taught with a sneer, a tabloid history featuring brief autobiographies that search for the folly and failure in the lives of the great men of history and taught with the shallow knowledge of a high school level course. To be fair this is a better description of the first 20 lectures than the later 28. It is the Italian Renaissance and history of the arts that seem most effected by this treatment. The lectures on Renaissance life are much better and the high point of the course with the coverage of the Reformation also coming closer to a quality college overview. The later lectures on subjects like science and exploration return to being rather trite with little content. The focus of the course is generally on people, while this is good in some ways and for a brilliant treatment see the Other Side of History, it seems to come at the expense of everything else. There is little geography or sense of place, in part due to a lack of maps, little technology, little economics or the other non-people things that explain why things happened and ground a course. Often I thought that if this were a course on the history of middle earth it wouldn't have felt more of less grounded in reality than it did set in Renaissance Europe. Mostly what is missing is the joy. Many Great Courses Instructors revel in teaching you personally (yes I know that is an illusion), in the subject they love, in storytelling and showmanship and just the whole concept of passing on knowledge in a memorable and enjoyable way. This is workmanlike. It is going to a job at a blue block retail store and selling cellphones. The knowledge is passable, the style is passable, the course is passable. Now I'm off to learn about ancient people in the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys learning to poke holes in the mud and plant seeds, packing mud into bricks and leaving them outside to dry and inventing funny writing that looks like geometry. I'm going to enjoy myself no end because I have a wonderful teacher which is the case with most Great Courses.
Date published: 2018-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well spoken, well organized Articulate and erudite, Dr. McNabb does an excellent job of leading the listener through the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. The course is well organized, and Dr. McNabb is clearly in control of the material. My only complaint, and this is not really her fault, is the course is too ambitious. It covers prodigious material; consequently, it cannot really plumb the depths. The good news is that there are great courses on Machiavelli, The Italian Renaissance, and Renaissance Art also available. Use this as a broad overview. Then research more trenchantly. Bravo to Dr. McNabb!
Date published: 2018-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the Time This is a LONG (48 lectures) course covering history, visual arts, music, and literature of Europe from the 14th century to the 16th century. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile. Although Dr. McNabb takes an expansive view of the Renaissance, she comes across as well-versed in the entire spectrum of knowledge. This course is valuable to anybody interested in the birth of Western modernity and why it took the shape it did. The scope of the course is sweeping. It starts with the Italian Renaissance and then proceeds northward to the Northern Renaissance. It continues past the normally accepted boundaries of the Renaissance to the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Reformation. It adds sections on life of ordinary persons, wars of the sixteenth century, and the Age of Discovery. It is valuable to see the continuity of all these eras. Dr. McNabb is knowledgeable on this extended era of history. Her presentation style is easy to follow although it is more low-key than other teachers for The Great Courses. She is respectful of all religions mentioned in the course without indicating a preference for any of them. Dr. McNabb’s specialty is history of marriage. I hope that TGC notices this an adds a course on that topic. I used the video version. With the exception of the short section on arts of the Italian Renaissance, the audio version would probably have been just as good. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten the audio version.
Date published: 2018-09-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Engaged professor; too much material Professor McNabb is engaged with the material and presents it with enthusiasm. Sadly that's about all I can say positively about this course.I think the challenge as other reviewers have mentioned is that she is trying to do too much with this course. As an example, the lecture on the northern European Renaissance includes a whirlwind tour of the various dynastic successions in England, France and the Holy Roman Empire. Maybe a deeper dive into any of these individually would have been enjoyable -- and likely enough for an entire course -- but I'm not even sure why they are included in setting the stage for the Renaissance. I feel like Professor McNabb and the Great Courses were trying to jam an entire AP European History course into a 48 lecture series.
Date published: 2018-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoying this series - and learning a great deal in the bargain.
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Broad coverage, very well done I really enjoyed this course - a lot of information about an interesting historical period, very well presented. I've seen numerous GC courses, and this is in the upper level of them. It doesn't hurt, that the professor is very good looking, and very well spoken. I bumped into a YouTube video she did on witches - one of the more lucid and comprehensive treatments of the subject I've seen or read - that made me jump on this course. One reviewer gave it a low rating. However, In his review he mentioned he also disliked a couple courses by Bart Ehrman, a professor who deals with early Christianity in objective historical terms, versus mythology. Don't hesitate to see this course.
Date published: 2018-08-22
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  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 25.46ms
  • REVIEWS, PRODUCT

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