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November new releases
November new releases
  • Do-It-Yourself Engineering

    Professor Stephen Ressler, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Taught by Professor Stephen Ressler of West Point, this course conducts you through 17 thrilling engineering projects that you can build at home—from a suspension bridge across a small stream to a low-altitude sounding rocket. Dr. Ressler walks you through the entire process, from design to build to test, showing you how to think like an engineer in approaching any problem.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Do-It-Yourself Engineering
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Why DIY Engineering?
      Follow the seven steps in the engineering design process to create a golf ball launcher that can hit a target ten feet away. Apply the principle of conservation of energy to select the right steel spring for the job. After building and testing the launcher, consider the joys of do-it-yourself projects and the insights they provide about fundamental engineering concepts. x
    • 2
      Exploring the Science of Structure
      Get started on DIY project number two: use cardboard to build a tower capable of supporting a 100-pound gravity load and a 10-pound lateral load simultaneously. This exercise closely replicates problems faced by real-world skyscraper designers. In this lesson, use vector math to analyze the forces exerted on each structural element of the building. x
    • 3
      Design and Build a Cardboard Tower
      Now that you understand the forces your cardboard tower must withstand, conduct a series of compressive and tensile strength experiments to determine the size and shape of your structure's beams, columns, and braces. After completing your design, build the tower using ordinary wood glue and simple tools. Then pile on concrete blocks and marvel at the strength of your creation. x
    • 4
      Bridging with Beams
      Design and build an 8-foot beam bridge capable of carrying a swarm of pedestrians across a small stream. First, consider three alternative concepts, with beams made of identical wood, but of different configurations. Then develop these designs, analyzing their stresses and failure modes before selecting the optimum, building it, and inviting your friends onto the span. x
    • 5
      Make a Suspension Bridge
      Elegant and efficient, the suspension bridge is your next DIY effort. Span the same small stream as in the previous project, but support the deck with suspension cables draped between two 5-foot-tall towers. Analyze the flow of forces through the structural system before designing each element. A 3D computer model helps you plan this impressive project. x
    • 6
      Design a Concrete Sailboat
      It may sound suspiciously like a lead balloon, but a concrete boat can be made to float. Your engineering challenge is to create a concrete sailboat that can operate safely in 10-mph winds. Hydrostatics comes into play in designing a hull with sufficient buoyancy, and aerodynamics enters the picture in designing a sail that doesn't cause too much heeling in the wind. x
    • 7
      Set Sail!
      Build your concrete sailboat. Consider the enhanced strength of a concrete shell that has been formed into a curved shape—a feature exploited in many buildings. Then apply basic aerodynamics and vector mechanics to determine how the wind propels a sailboat—sailing with the wind, into the wind, and at right angles to the wind. Try out these points of sail with your model. x
    • 8
      Make a Radio-Controlled Blimp
      Who has not tied a paper cup to a helium party balloon to make a primitive airship? In this lesson, design and build a far more advanced version: a radio-controlled blimp that you can remotely pilot around your house. Calculate the volume of helium required to lift your blimp and its control unit, borrowed from a toy tank. Use two motor-driven propellers for thrust and control. x
    • 9
      Exploring Aerodynamics
      Start your project on fixed-wing flight the way the Wright brothers did: by building a wind tunnel. Use it to test different wing shapes at varying angles of attack, exploring the phenomena of lift, drag, and stalling. Your goal is to design a wing appropriate for a low-speed model plane, powered only by a few strands of rubber and flying without remote control. x
    • 10
      Build a Model Airplane
      Dig deeper into aerodynamic science so you can choose an airfoil shape and appropriate wingspan, aspect ratio, fuselage length, and stabilizer dimensions for your model plane. Pay special attention to aerodynamic stability and such factors as the dihedral angle of the wings, noting these features on full-size aircraft. Then build the airframe, using wood, tissue paper, and metal wire. x
    • 11
      Take Flight!
      Complete your model plane by assembling a rubber motor that will serve as a source of power. Design, carve, and install an efficient propeller. Learn how to balance your aircraft and adjust its flight characteristics. Then find a large, open field, and try a few test glides to fine-tune the plane's performance. Finally, watch it take wing on a full-power flight. x
    • 12
      Build a Model Helicopter
      Now tinker with helicopter aerodynamics by adapting the classic Penni model helicopter design used by many hobbyists. Discover the importance of countering the main rotor’s torque, and investigate the mechanical genius of the rotor hub—fortunately simpler on our model than on full-size aircraft! With its 16-inch main rotor, your super-light helicopter can safely fly indoors. x
    • 13
      This Is Rocket Science
      Tackle the problem of designing a model rocket that carries a miniature video camera to 500 feet and then returns safely to earth by parachute. In this lesson, focus on selecting an off-the-shelf model rocket engine that can do the job. Use the impulse-momentum principle and thrust curves for various engines to predict your rocket's maximum altitude. x
    • 14
      Build a Rocket
      Put together your model rocket, paying special attention to the engine mount and fins, then giving the completed vehicle a drag-reducing finish. Apply the science of aerodynamics to calculate the required diameter of the parachute. Then check the rocket's stability by determining its center of gravity and center of pressure locations. Your creation is now ready to fly. x
    • 15
      Make an Electric Launch Controller
      Get a taste of electrical engineering by designing and building an electric launch controller that will ignite your rocket engine safely. Design a circuit that meets all code requirements. Use Ohm's law to determine the number of batteries and type of resistor required. Also, get a lesson in proper soldering technique for assembling the circuit. x
    • 16
      Let's Do Launch!
      Finish your launch preparations by building a theodolite to measure the altitude of the rocket's trajectory, building a launch pad, packing the parachute, choosing a safe launch site, setting up the site, and coordinating the activities of the mission control team. Once all systems are go, conduct the countdown and press the firing button... x
    • 17
      A Tale of Three Catapults
      Delve into the history of the most potent artillery weapons in the era before gunpowder: catapults. Examine the workings of the ballista, onager, and trebuchet. Then get started on a model ballista capable of hurling a golf ball 200 feet. Analyze the machine's nylon torsion springs to ensure that they can store enough elastic energy to achieve the required 200-foot range. x
    • 18
      Build a Ballista, Onager, and Trebuchet
      Build your model ballista. Then construct two other types of catapult—the onager and trebuchet—designed such that they store the same amount of energy as your ballista. Field test all three to determine which throws a golf ball farthest. Will the winner be the weapon from the Hellenistic (ballista), late Roman (onager), or medieval era (trebuchet)? You may be surprised! x
    • 19
      Design a Hydraulic Arm
      Plunge into hydraulics, learning how force is transmitted from actuators to hydraulic cylinders through fluid-filled lines. Then use this knowledge to design and build a hydraulically powered mechanical arm that can grasp and manipulate a concrete block—controlled by four hand-operated syringes. Along the way, use 3D printing to fabricate several crucial parts. x
    • 20
      Make a Water Turbine
      Harness the power of moving water by building an impulse turbine capable of lifting a 2.2-pound weight through a distance of 2 feet. First, use Bernoulli's equation to determine the required height of the water reservoir. Next, focus on the turbine, plotting power versus load to determine the turbine diameter that will produce the required power output optimally. Then build! x
    • 21
      Design a Gear Train
      Test your water turbine, comparing its performance to the theoretical ideal. Next, modify it by adding a set of spur gears that will allow the machine to lift a 6-pound weight, which is well beyond its ungeared capacity. Calculate the optimum gear ratio, use laser-cutting to fabricate the gears, install them, and watch a modest stream of water lift a disproportionately heavy mass. x
    • 22
      Make a Mechanical Clock
      The pendulum clock was the standard for precise timekeeping for centuries. Plan and build one using your newly acquired knowledge of gears. Start by exploring why a pendulum keeps accurate time. Then calculate an appropriate pendulum length for the clock. Design the escapement mechanism and gear train, then add a suitable power source to keep the pendulum swinging. x
    • 23
      Design a Motor-Powered Crane
      Test the limits of small, inexpensive, off-the-shelf hobby motors by building a motor-driven crane capable of lifting 100 pounds—a tall order for a motor that weighs only a few ounces! First, construct the world’s simplest electric motor to gain insights about how they work. Then calculate the torque requirements for your crane, and add gears and pulleys to achieve mechanical advantage. x
    • 24
      Creative Design: A Tribute to Rube Goldberg
      Your final DIY project is a tribute to cartoonist Rube Goldberg, famous for sketching machines that perform the simplest tasks by the most complicated means. Accordingly, combine twenty design elements from this course—from airfoil to electric circuit—to create a machine that will click a computer mouse. Professor Ressler offers a solution that produces a surprising outcome. x
  • Zoology: Understanding the Animal World

    Senior Science Advisor Donald E. Moore III, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    In Zoology: Understanding the Animal World, The Great Courses teams up with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute for 24 lectures that take you behind the scenes of the animal world. Dr. Donald E. Moore III brings you up close and personal with a breathtaking variety of animal species, from butterflies to crocodiles to pandas.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Zoology: Understanding the Animal World
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      What Do Zoologists Do?
      Get a solid foundation for all the terms and concepts you'll encounter throughout this course. Discover what zoologists do (it's much more than running zoos), take a close look at the phylogenic tree (the tree of life), and examine the definition of terms like species, natural selection, and conservation. x
    • 2
      Animal Reproduction: Genes and Environment
      In this lecture, explore the diversity of reproductive biology and sex in the animal kingdom. Along the way, you'll cover topics including asexual and sexual reproduction, sexual behaviors in different animal groups, and some of the strangest sexual behavior in the animal kingdom: reproduction outside an animal's body. x
    • 3
      Mammal Reproduction: Pandas and Cheetahs
      One goal of zoology is to help save the world's endangered species by ensuring their ability to reproduce. Here, Dr. Moore, along with insights from two research biologists, reveals how reproductive scientists are working to help save giant pandas and cheetahs from extinction. x
    • 4
      How Animals Raise Their Young
      Why is parenting so essential to a species' survival? Why do some animals have different parenting styles? Here, explore different parenting styles in everything from corals to salmon to humans. Then, encounter one of the most unique examples of parental care in mammals: the golden lion tamarin. x
    • 5
      Helpful Corals, Clams, and Crustaceans
      Marine invertebrates are some of the most economically important animals on the planet. Learn more about them in this lecture on invertebrate “good guys” including mollusks (the largest phylum of marine animals), blue crabs, the American lobster, and corals (which surpass tropical rainforests in their levels of biodiversity). x
    • 6
      Bees, Butterflies, and Saving Biodiversity
      There are more than 1 million species of insects on our planet—over half of all known extant species. In this lecture, explore adaptations of some of the most important insects on our planet, including ants, bees, and butterflies. Also, focus on key conservation issues like colony collapse and pollinator conservation. x
    • 7
      Deadly Invertebrates: Vectors and Parasites
      Mosquitos, biting flies, internal parasites—what are the real effects of these invertebrates on humans? Why are they so important to our planet? What makes mosquitos the deadliest animals on Earth? How do zoologists classify the parasites that infect humans? What happens in a zoo’s veterinary pathology department? x
    • 8
      Bony Fish, Skates, Sharks, and Rays
      Here, Dr. Moore offers an up-close encounter with some of the most interesting animals on our planet: fishes. You'll examine the specific conservation needs of rays, sharks, and bony fishes; learn how fishes achieve buoyancy and how their gills work; explore how fishes adapt to cold, salty waters; and more. x
    • 9
      Amphibians, Metamorphosis, and Ecology
      About 350 million years ago, large amphibians were Earth's most abundant species. Now, their future may be in jeopardy. Join Dr. Moore and a biologist from the Smithsonian's National Zoo for an eye-opening lecture on amphibian biology and diversity and the ways we can help salamanders, frogs, and other species thrive. x
    • 10
      Reptiles: Adaptations for Living on Land
      Reptiles combine primitive, advanced, generalized, and specialized adaptations for life on earth. First, examine the characteristics reptiles share with birds. Then, examine fascinating reptilian adaptations like parthenogenesis and temperature-dependent sex determination. Finally, learn ways you can help reptiles like snakes, turtles, lizards, and crocodilians survive. x
    • 11
      Beaks, Claws, and Eating like a Bird
      From kingfishers to penguins to vultures, dive into the science of ornithology, the study of our planet's birds. Along the way, you'll encounter topics like the amazing adaptations of bills; the evolution of birds of prey; and the relationship between shorebird migration and the egg-laying season for horseshoe crabs. x
    • 12
      Form and Function: Bird Nests and Eggs
      Variations in bird reproduction allow birds to survive everywhere from rainforest canopies to Antarctica. Explore the intricacies of bird breeding, nesting, and chick-raising adaptations. Topics include mating behavior, nest formation, the ways chicks are built to survive, and ways we can help birds thrive on our planet. x
    • 13
      Taking to the Sky: Bird Migration
      One of the most interesting events in the animal kingdom is bird migration by flight. What are the physics of bird flight? Why have some of the world’s most interesting birds—like penguins and ostriches—lost the ability to fly? Do wings serve a purpose other than flight? Find out here. x
    • 14
      What Makes a Mammal: Hair, Milk, and Teeth
      Today, there are more than 5,000 species of mammals assembled in 26 orders and dozens of families. In the first of several lectures on mammalian life, investigate the two traits that make mammals unique from other animals: hair and milk. (And yes, even dolphins possess some form of hair!) x
    • 15
      Herbivore Mammals: Ruminants and Runners
      Focus now on two types of herbivorous mammals. The first are ruminants: animals like cows and camels who rely on foregut fermentation and four-chambered stomachs to digest plants. The second are runners like horses and oryx, who've developed musculoskeletal adaptations to help them jump and escape predators. x
    • 16
      Carnivore Mammals: Feline, Canine, and Ursine
      Turn now from herbivores to carnivores like lions, tigers, bears, wolves, cats, and dogs. Among the many insights you'll learn are the different ways carnivores evolved to walk and capture prey, as well as their evolutionary history, which stretches back to tree-dwelling animals that lived 50 and 60 million years ago. x
    • 17
      Primate Mammals: Diverse Forest Dwellers
      Gain a greater appreciation for the characteristics of primates: their longer lifespans, omnivorous diets, larger brains, and (the only trait they all have in common), inner ears. To get a better sense of primate diversity, you'll focus on a New World monkey (the golden lion tamarin) and a great ape (the gorilla). x
    • 18
      Size, Structure, and Metabolism
      Explore how an animal’s size helps it thrive. Look at allometric scaling (which helps explain diverse characteristics, like why smaller animals like mice have faster breathing and heart rates than the enormous elephant), why invertebrates are much smaller on average than vertebrates, and how bioenergetics—how animals obtain and use fuel—helps us understand animal survival. x
    • 19
      Protection, Support, and Homeostasis
      From jellyfish to sea lions, every animal on Earth has solved the challenges of movement, protection, and homeostasis in its own way. Dr. Moore covers the diversity of adaptations that animals have developed, including scales, feathers, hair, beaks, horns, and different skeletal structures (axial and appendicular). x
    • 20
      Animal Energetics and the Giant Panda Problem
      Every living thing gets its energy in one of three ways: as a producer, a consumer, or a decomposer. Central to this lecture on animal energetics (including metabolism and digestion) is the giant panda, whose carnivorous physiology and plant-based diet make it one of the most inefficient feeders on our planet. x
    • 21
      Ethology: Studying Animal Behavior
      How do zoologists study animal behavior? How does it help them become better caretakers and conservationists? First, examine how the modern approach to studying animal behavior emerged. Then, learn how objective behavioral studies in natural conditions work. Finally, explore Dr. Moore's own observations of the Pampas deer of South America. x
    • 22
      Think! How Intelligent Are Animals?
      Zoologists study animal intelligence using a combination of ethology, psychology, and neuroscience. In this lecture, look at the behavior of different animals—the use of tools by animals as diverse as otters and elephants, social learning in primates and dolphins, the famous story of a “counting” horse—to determine whether or not animals think. x
    • 23
      Combating Disease in the Animal Kingdom
      Around 75% of new or emerging infectious human diseases are spread from animals. Examine zoonotic diseases, which are spread between humans and animals and caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Also, consider how diseases (like canine distemper virus) threaten animals in zoos and in nature. x
    • 24
      Animal Futures: Frontiers in Zoology
      Every day, zoologists around the world are asked questions about the future of animal species. What’s the biggest threat to wildlife? Why are scientists freezing animal tissues? Why do we still know so little about animal life? Have there been successes in conservation? In this “FAQ”-style lecture, get some answers. x
  • Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture

    Professor Andrew R. Wilson, Ph.D.

    Available Formats: Video Download, Audio Download, DVD, CD

    A knowledge of China’s majestic empire is essential for any understanding of its present. In this course, you’ll discover what daily life was like for government bureaucrats, for scholars, for women of the court, for soldiers, merchants, craftspeople, emperors, concubines, poets, farmers, and many others—all set against the backdrop of the richness, the diversity, the genius, and the splendor of imperial China.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Opium, Trade, and War in Imperial China
      Begin by examining a pervasive symbol of late imperial China: opium. Learn about the history of opium use, the ritual of opium smoking, and the luxurious opium culture of the Chinese elite. Note how opium became inextricably linked with imperial culture, society, and economics. Chart the role of the British opium trade, the Opium Wars, and Chinese measures to eradicate the drug. x
    • 2
      The First Emperor's Terra-Cotta Warriors
      Uncover the story behind the famous terra-cotta warriors, one of China's most celebrated archaeological treasures. Travel into daily life in the Qin Dynasty, China's first empire; encounter the emperor Qinshi Huangdi, builder of the warriors, and observe his highly bureaucratic and technocratic regime. Explore the site of the terra-cotta army, and how the extraordinary clay figures were made. x
    • 3
      China's Early Golden Age: The Han Dynasty
      Enter the lives of the Han nobility—China’s second imperial dynasty—through their tombs, whose fabulous artifacts bear witness to their lavish lifestyle, diet, and concern for learning. Take account of the Han golden age, during which essential imperial institutions were established and Han territories were expanded. Also take note of the rise of a new and powerful scholarly elite. x
    • 4
      Amazing Ban Clan: Historian, Soldier, Woman
      Three extraordinary siblings stand out in China's imperial history. Follow the lives of Han-era twin brothers Ban Gu and Ban Chao, and their remarkable sister Ban Zhao. Investigate Ban Gu's life of learning and his important writing on history and governmental policy. Note Ban Chao's illustrious military career and achievements, and Ban Zhao's significant impact as a scholar, teacher, and poet. x
    • 5
      China's Buddhist Monks and Daoist Recluses
      Buddhism and Daoism played integral roles in the culture of imperial China. Learn about the origins of Chinese Buddhism, the monastic life in China, and the historic travels of the Buddhist monk Faxian. Then study the emergence of Daoism and its traditions of metaphysical exploration and the rustic, natural life, as seen in the works of Tao Yuanming, imperial China's first great poet. x
    • 6
      Cosmopolitan Chang'an: Tang Dynasty Capital
      Travel to the golden age of Chang'an, the medieval world's most resplendent city. Uncover its structure, its grand boulevards, and its stunning palatial, official, and religious architecture. Investigate the city's diverse population and its districts, parks, and pleasure quarters. Visit Chang'an's iconic Eastern and Western markets, and take account of the factors in the city's ultimate undoing. x
    • 7
      China's Grand Canal: Lifeline of an Empire
      Track the historical significance and changing fortunes of the Grand Canal. Beginning in the Sui Dynasty, explore the evolution and engineering of the canal system and its vital role in imperial economics, politics, and culture. Learn about its maintenance and management, its varied personnel, and how the health of the canal directly mirrored the political health of the empire. x
    • 8
      Triumph and Tragedy in Tang Poetry
      Delve into the aristocratic society of the Tang Dynasty and the particular social and political meaning given to poetry within this world. See how poetry of various genres was used within specific social contexts, in the example of court poet Wang Wei. Follow the fortunes of beloved Tang poets Li Bai and Du Fu, as they embodied the vogue and singular significance of poetry in Chinese culture. x
    • 9
      Life and Times of Song Dynasty Literati
      In the Song Dynasty, classical literacy and the civil service examinations were the path to official position. Here, trace the lives of two celebrated literati who emerged from this system. First meet Su Shi, passionate public servant, fun-loving style setter, and man of letters. Contrast Su's life with that of Zhu Xi, probing moral philosopher and architect of Neo-Confucianism. x
    • 10
      A Day's Journey along the Qingming Scroll
      This lecture reveals life in the Song Dynasty by means of the Qingming Shanghetu, a renowned painted scroll of the early 12th century. Reading the 17-foot scroll sequentially, travel through its vivid imagery of people, animals, buildings, vehicles, and landscapes, as it depicts scenes of daily life and conveys the remarkable technological, cultural, and economic sophistication of the Song. x
    • 11
      Peasant Life on the Yellow River
      Discover the vital farming communities of the Yellow River watershed. Study the culture of farming and rural society, and delve into how peasants lived—their dwellings, clothing, diet, work and gender roles, and family structures. Take account of the hardships faced by peasants through taxation and corrupt local officialdom and of the natural and manmade disasters that plagued rural populations. x
    • 12
      Rice, Silk, and Tea: South China's Peasants
      Learn about the process of wet-rice cultivation, as it shaped the daily lives of Southern peasants, from paddy preparation and irrigation to planting, weeding, and final harvesting. Then investigate tea growing and how peasants processed the leaves into different tea varieties. Finally, study Chinese silk production, taking note of the role of women in both the silk and tea industries. x
    • 13
      Genghis Khan and the Rise of the Mongols
      Look deeply into the life of Temujin, who became the fearsome Genghis Khan. Investigate the steppe culture of the Northern tribal warriors who would conquer China and their nomadic lifestyle of herding and raiding. Trace Temujin's phenomenal rise to power as he gathered massive legions of tribal followers, founding the Mongol Empire. Explore social and political life among the Mongols. x
    • 14
      The Mongols and Marco Polo in Xanadu
      The century-long era known as the Pax Mongolica was a time of extraordinary East-West trade and cross-cultural communication. Learn about this epoch through the remarkable journeys of Marco Polo and his family, the missionary Giovanni de Montecorvino, the Nestorian priest and diplomat Rabban Bar Sauma, and others, as they reveal the astonishing multiculturalism of the Mongol world. x
    • 15
      Admiral Zheng He's Treasure Fleet
      Take to the seas with Ming-era Admiral Zheng He, whose travels on behalf of the emperor Yongle were the stuff of legend. Witness life aboard Zheng's huge treasure ships, nine-masted behemoths laden with luxury goods. Follow the commander's seven voyages, as he plied the Indian Ocean and ventured to points beyond to proclaim the glories of the Ming court and to enlarge its cultural and economic power. x
    • 16
      China's Bound Feet, Brides, and Widows
      In exploring the experience of women in imperial China, learn about the customs surrounding traditional married life, such as the painful practice of foot binding, the process of betrothal and marriage arrangements, the wedding festivities, and the duties and lifestyle of a wife. Also investigate the social ideal of the chaste widow and its shadow, the luxurious world of courtesans. x
    • 17
      Ming Dynasty Trade and Spanish Silver
      Visit the teeming port of Manila, where the 16th century influx of Spanish silver made the city a vibrant hub of East-West exchange. Observe how the import of New World silver and crops to China sparked a remarkable period of prosperous living. Note the proliferation of restaurants, travel guides, fashion, leisure activities, commercial sex, and popular religion that characterized the era. x
    • 18
      The Great Wall and Military Life in China
      Delve into the lives of soldiers under the Ming, often incorrectly viewed as an un-martial dynasty. Learn about military culture, weaponry, and lifestyle under 14th century warlord Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty. Contrast this military era with that of the 16th century, when commercialization and technology gave rise to both the Great Wall and to remarkably modern Ming armies. x
    • 19
      Qing Dynasty: Soul Stealers and Sedition
      Witness the national hysteria that ensued from accusations that masons and other undesirables were stealing human souls. Investigate the public fear of sorcery, and the emperor's fear of sedition, which fueled the turmoil. Follow Emperor Qianlong's handling of the crisis, as it reveals the workings of the Qing justice system and the emperor's deep engagement with the empire's moral well-being. x
    • 20
      Emperor Qianlong Hosts a British Ambassador
      At the emperor's palatial summer residence in 1793, visit the imperial kitchens, as chefs and culinary workers from around the empire prepare a banquet of epic proportions. Learn about the staggering scale of the operation of the Imperial Buttery, which fed the emperor's household, and how a dazzling imperial feast served as the backdrop for a key diplomatic engagement. x
    • 21
      The Taiping Rebellion and Its Cult Leader
      The mid 19th century saw both foreign invasion and a revolt that sought to remake Chinese society. Follow the underlying social unrest in South China, and the rise of the charismatic leader Hong Xiuquan, who fomented a rebellion based in religious fanaticism. Observe the military prowess of the rebels, the massive size of the conflict, and how it unfolded as the bloodiest civil war in history. x
    • 22
      China's Treaty Ports
      Following the Opium War of 1842, a range of Chinese seaports were opened to foreign trade and foreign residence. Learn about the colorful history of these ports, how they became enmeshed in a global labor trade, and how they functioned as Euro-Asian hybrid cities. Grasp how the treaty ports were emblematic of a period of economic and political domination by foreigners. x
    • 23
      Experiencing China's Civil Service Exams
      For centuries, the imperial civil service exams selected candidates for important government positions. Trace the dramatic history of the examinations, which involved years of intensive study, a grueling testing ordeal, and life-changing benefits for the successful. Take account of the profound social and cultural significance of the exams and their role in the administration of the empire. x
    • 24
      China's Last Dynasty: Fall of the Manchus
      Finally, examine the factors that led to the dissolution of China’s empire. Contrast the powerful military machine of the early Manchu dynasty with its degradation by the 19th century. Grasp how the three pillars of Manchu power—its military, its cultural/economic influence, and its subjects’ loyalty—were systematically undermined, culminating in the abdication of the last emperor in 1912. x
  • Martial Arts for Your Mind and Body

    David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Martial Arts for Your Mind and Body offers an excellent introduction to nine types of martial arts. Hosted by Great Courses favorite David-Dorian Ross, these 25 powerful lessons give you a solid grounding in the different mental and physical techniques of the major martial arts families. Master Ross has hand-selected seven expert instructors to join him as your guides. Whether sensei, sifu, or champion competitor, your teachers are drawn from the best of the best.

    View Lecture List (25)
    25 Lectures  |  Martial Arts for Your Mind and Body
    Lecture Titles (25)
    • 1
      Strengthen Your Mind, Balance Your Body
      Open with five-time world champion Kathy Long in a brief warm-up demonstration, after which David-Dorian Ross leads your first lesson, with an overview of martial arts and some fundamental moves. Although there are many styles, martial arts all rely on our hands and feet as weapons. Explore a few basic techniques and stances broadly common to all forms. x
    • 2
      Karate: Fighting Stance and Mobility
      Step into what may seem like the quintessential Japanese martial art, with its emphasis on powerful physical techniques, from punches and chops to how to train your legs. Join U.S. Olymic team coach, Sensei Akira Fukuda in this introduction to karate and its history. Learn the fighting stance, the front kick, and a series of punches. x
    • 3
      Karate: Anticipate but Never Strike First
      Reflect on karate’s philosophy of “never strike first” and the implication that you must be able to anticipate and counter your opponent's move. After a survey of defense and counter-attack concepts, Sensei Fukuda teaches a class around the anticipatory skill levels of “Sen no Sen,” “Go no Sen,” and “Sen Sen no Sen.” x
    • 4
      Karate: End the Fight with a Single Blow
      Round out your study of karate's "empty hand” with an overview of a karate “kata.” Find out how practicing the kata can help you perfect your techniques and strengthen your body and mind. Sensei Fukuda demonstrates the Shiho Zuki (punching in four directions), and Master Ross breaks down the techniques so you can participate. x
    • 5
      Tai Chi Solo: Find Your Flow
      While many of the martial arts in this course are about speed, strength, and intensity, tai chi is known for the fundamental idea that “softness overcomes hardness.” Here, Master Ross introduces you to the history and philosophy that underlies tai chi, as well as the importance and practice of “flow.” x
    • 6
      Tae Kwon Do: Power Is Speed plus Intensity
      Although it didn't officially emerge until the early 1950s, tae kwon do has already become one of the world's most popular and commercially successful combat sports. Known for lighting fast, head-high kicking style, there is much more to this fascinating martial art. Here, Grandmaster Dave Wheaton teaches the horse stance and introductory kicks. x
    • 7
      Tae Kwon Do: Seeking Perfection of Form
      Like the karate kata, the tae kwon do forms—or “poomse”—are the key to practicing technique. After Master Ross introduces these patterns of attack and defense, Grandmaster Wheaton leads you through the first poomse, Chun-ji, which you can then try yourself. x
    • 8
      Tae Kwon Do: One-Step Sparring, Breaking Boards
      Focus, speed, power: perhaps nothing demonstrates the tae kwon do way as vividly as gearing up and sparring with a partner. In this interactive lesson, Grandmaster Wheaton leads you through a number of kicking drills as well as an introduction to one-step sparring techniques. Bring a partner if you have one, who can also help if you want to break a board. x
    • 9
      Qigong: Martial Meditation for Energy
      Qi is the Chinese word for “energy of life,” and qigong is the science of understanding the flow of Qi. Because the ability to manipulate Qi is at the heart of many Asian martial arts, this lesson takes a break from the physical systems of martial arts and explores the history and mental practice of qigong. Learn a variety of meditation techniques that complement your physical study. x
    • 10
      Kung Fu: Stances and Moving Drills
      kung fu influenced almost all martial arts in China, including dozens of varieties of kung fu, and Chinese martial arts in turn formed the foundation for martial arts throughout Asia. Join Coach Johnny Chang as he provides an overview of the white crane style of kung fu and demonstrates the major stances and punches. x
    • 11
      Kung Fu: Building a White Crane Routine
      Intricate “forms” are a hallmark of kung fu practice, which allow you to refine your physical skills and control. As you continue your study of white crane kung fu, Coach Chang breaks down the essential moves of a routine. He then turns to some exercises to help you increase your mental focus and discipline. x
    • 12
      Kung Fu: Reaction Training and Combos
      Begin to bridge the gap between individual practice and sparring with a partner by learning how to combine forms and anticipate your opponent’s responses. Coach Chang explains the “trigram” of defense and demonstrates basic blocks and kicks, showing you how to “follow the limbs in” to find openings in an opponent’s defenses. x
    • 13
      Kung Fu: Longer Range with Praying Mantis
      Round out your practice of kung fu with an introduction to praying mantis, a complementary style of kung fu that emphasizes bigger moves over longer distances. Sifu Joshua Grant takes you through this exceptionally graceful way to combine a variety of skills, as you literally cover a lot of ground. x
    • 14
      Tai Chi Partnered: From Connect to Merge
      Partner up and get ready to participate in a lesson from tai chi to practice moment-to-moment adjusments during sustained contact. Master Ross and Sifu Joshua Grant team up to demonstrate the traditional Push Hands training routine (Tui Sho) as well as a new game called TaijiFit Connect. You'll also learn levels of sense communication: connect, follow, flow, and merge. x
    • 15
      Judo: How to Take a Fall
      Known for its grappling, flipping, and throwing techniques, judo is best summed up by a Japanese phrase translating to “maximum efficiency, minimum effort.” After a review of the history and introductory concepts of judo, Sensei Fukuda takes you through a series of exercises and drills. Master Ross returns to offer additional insight. x
    • 16
      Judo: Disrupt Balance to Gain Advantage
      In this second lesson on judo, Master Ross and Sensei Fukuda practice “uchikomi,” or repetition training. You’re invited to join in with a partner to participate in a series of judo drills that include gripping, throwing, and “kuzushi,” the Japanese term for unbalancing your opponent. x
    • 17
      Jujitsu: Pliable Grappling Methods
      Jujitsu—“the pliable fighting art,” originated in Japan as “jujutsu,” and later modifed in Brazil as "jiujutsu"—relies less on speed, flexibility, and strength. Instead, practitioners need patience and understanding. By participating in a series of drills that make use of ground work and wrestling-style holds, you will learn to use your body like a pliable reed for fighting. Then consider how to apply pliability to your daily life. x
    • 18
      Muay Thai: Kickboxing with Eight Limbs
      One of the most devastating Asian fighting styles originated in Thailand. In addition to using fists and feet, Muay Thai uses elbows, forearms, knees, and shins as weapons, making it a favorite among MMA practitioners. Join world kickboxing champion Kathy Long to discover the basic stances, footwork, and punching techniques. x
    • 19
      Muay Thai: Kicks and Combos
      Continue your study of Muay Thai, which (unlike many other martial arts) includes knees and elbows as distinct weapons in the arsenal. Survey combinations and variations of jabs, crosses, hooks, uppercuts, and other hand and foot techniques, and then examine the “why” of different combos. x
    • 20
      Muay Thai: Working in the Clinch
      Taking as her premise that fights are seldom won by a single technique, virtually undefeated champion Kathy Long focuses her final lesson on combinations that utilze the Muay Thai “clinch”—a move that allows you to take control of the action, and your opponent. After learning how to perform the clinch, you’ll put it together in a series of combinations. x
    • 21
      Jeet Kune Do: Why Bruce Lee Rejected Style
      Turn now to jeet kune do, the “way of the intercepted fist,” a martial art intriguing for the way it adapts to every individual practitioner. Developed and made famous by Bruce Lee, this style bridges both traditional arts with modern-day fighting techniques. Join Sifu Helana Cauliff for the Jun Fan method to practice this unique approach to training. x
    • 22
      Jeet Kune Do: A Way to Find Your Own Way
      See how Bruce Lee came to found jeet kune do—and how it came to change martial arts in the West forever. Here, Sifu Cauliff and Master Ross offer more insight into the fighting and defensive techniques of jeet kune do, and give you the chance to participate in a series of drills. You’ll also gain new understanding of some elements of Eastern philosophy. x
    • 23
      Krav Maga: Responding to a Street Attack
      Imagine a martial art designed for responding to situations where there are no rules. While not always pretty or elegant, there is nevertheless a strength and grit to the Krav Maga system of fighting, making it popular among law enforcement and security professionals world-wide. Dr. Tammy Yard-McCracken examines how to respond to common street attacks that don't adhere to the structured discipline of many martial arts. x
    • 24
      Krav Maga: The Problem Dictates the Solution
      Here, Dr. Yard-McCracken shows you how Krav Maga is set up so that techniques (or “solutions”) are separated into islands—and that different combat situations serve as bridges to those islands. After reflecting on the individual’s mindset, you’ll delve into the fundamental striking and attack techniques. x
    • 25
      Krav Maga: Taking Control of Attack Rhythms
      Conclude your exploration of Krav Maga, and the martial arts in this course, as Dr. Yard-McCracken leads you through a series of strike rhythms that will get your energy level up and give you a new sense of the power and discipline you have developed throughout the course. Master Ross sums up with a few concluding thoughts about how and why the martial arts matter. x
  • Startup Library: Cake Decorating

    Jenny McCoy, Cake Decorating Expert

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Ready to sweeten up your skills? Explore the sugar art of cake decorating with Jenny McCoy as your expert guide. In this comprehensive beginner’s class, you’ll learn how to bake and construct a variety of one-tiered frosted cakes with professional-quality results. Along the way, discover essential tools, materials and techniques, including fondant and buttercream, sugar flowers, piping, hand modeling and much more.

    View Lecture List (13)
    13 Lectures  |  Startup Library: Cake Decorating
    Lecture Titles (13)
    • 1
      Introduction to Cake Decorating
      Ground yourself in the fundamentals of cake decorating as Jenny discusses the elements that make up a decorated cake. Discover a few basic tools, plus the timeline for making your first cake! x
    • 2
      How to Bake a Cake
      Get right into action by learning to make a yellow butter-based cake. Find out how to prepare the pans, mix the batter, and bake it to a beautiful golden brown. You can use the same recipe to make a chocolate version, too! x
    • 3
      Making Swiss Meringue Buttercream
      Jenny shows you how to make her favorite decorating frosting: Swiss meringue buttercream. It's a step up from the traditional one-bowl, powdered sugar-and-butter variation. x
    • 4
      Constructing a Single-Tier Cake
      Trim your baked cakes so they're uniform and level every time. Find out how to stack up the layers, fill them with frosting, and frost the entire cake with a crumb coat. You'll add a final coat for a sharp-edged flat finish that will get you ready to start decorating. x
    • 5
      Buttercream: Textured Finishes
      Discover three techniques for texturing cakes with buttercream: horizontal ridge, vertical stripe and a simple-yet-beautiful brushed finish. These finishes are not only beautiful and on trend, they're also great at covering up anything that's less than perfect. x
    • 6
      Buttercream: Preparing to Pipe
      Set yourself up for piping success by learning to color buttercream for endless customization. Jenny shows you how to fill a piping bag with buttercream and pipe a line of frosting. x
    • 7
      Buttercream: Simple Designs & Borders
      Once your buttercream is colored and in a pastry bag, practice making a few simple designs with two different tips: round and star. You'll see how to turn your designs into borders. x
    • 8
      Buttercream: Piped Roses & Leaves
      Continue to work on your piping skills by learning to pipe the classic buttercream rose with Jenny's step-by-step instructions. Don't worry if you mess up; since these beauties are away from your cake they can go right back in the frosting bowl. x
    • 9
      Fondant: Handling & Coloring
      Conquer the pliable sugar dough known as fondant as Jenny shares her best tips for handling, storing and coloring to make gorgeous, professional-looking decorated cakes. x
    • 10
      Fondant: Rolling Out & Covering a Cake
      It's important to give yourself a pristine, clean canvas for decorating. In this lesson, learn how to roll out fondant and drape it beautifully over your cakes. Jenny will also walk you through some common problems and explain how to fix them. x
    • 11
      Fondant: Cutouts
      See how to make a variety of fondant decorations from just a few simple cutters and place them securely as you make a cute and easy "Happy Birthday" cake. Plus, learn Jenny's secret no-stress method for writing messages on cakes. x
    • 12
      Fondant: 3-D Roses
      Here, Jenny introduces sugar flowers, then goes over a few basic techniques for hand-modeling petals to create a classic fondant rose. x
    • 13
      What's Next: Design Ideas & Inspiration
      In this final lesson, find out how to mix and match the above techniques to create new designs and cakes for any theme or occasion! x
  • Startup Library: Hand Embroidery

    Kat McTee, Embroidery Expert

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Love working with your hands? Give embroidery a try! In this comprehensive beginner’s class, expert Kat McTee walks you through the basics from choosing fabrics and floss to hooping up and crafting 19 beautiful stitches. Learn to create a gorgeous sampler as you master a range of key techniques, including how to work with letters, numbers and finished garments, finish flat embroidery and more.

    View Lecture List (13)
    13 Lectures  |  Startup Library: Hand Embroidery
    Lecture Titles (13)
    • 1
      What You Need: Fabrics, Floss, Needles & Hoops
      Discover why hand embroidery is a terrific budget-friendly craft for all ages as Kat helps you assemble the best beginner-friendly supplies, including fabric, floss, needles and hoops. x
    • 2
      Method: Transferring Designs
      Learn two easy ways to quickly transfer an embroidery design to fabric, then explore some additional methods to add to your embroidery toolkit. x
    • 3
      Method: Hoop Up & Get Started Stitching
      Find out how to separate stranded floss, thread your needle, and hoop up your fabric. You'll start stitching with the running stitch, the most basic, yet versatile stitch in embroidery. x
    • 4
      Learn & Practice: Straight & Outline Stitches
      Here, Kat introduces stitch families. Find out how to use them in the class sampler as she demonstrates five easy stitches that allow you to outline any shape and make lines or expressive marks on your embroidery. x
    • 5
      Learn & Practice: Spot Stitches & French Knots
      Find out how to add all-over texture and color to your sampler, plus all of your embroidery with simple spot stitches! Then Kat demystifies the French knot, a popular stitch that'll be your new favorite with just a little practice. x
    • 6
      Learn & Practice: Looped Stitches
      Curvy looped stitches are so much fun to make! See how to add five of them to your sampler, one by one. x
    • 7
      Learn & Practice: Fill Stitches
      Complete your sampler by coloring in the shapes with fill stitches, including the seed, satin, long and short stitches. Learn how to use other stitches as fill stitches to expand your possibilities! x
    • 8
      Method: Working With Designs
      Continue your embroidery journey by exploring a world of commercial embroidery designs. Or draw your own with Kat's handy tips for creating designs and choosing stitches. x
    • 9
      Method: Letters & Numbers
      Have something to say to the world? Stitch it! In this lesson, learn how to work with letters and numbers, including handwritten script, in your embroidery. Kat teaches you the couching technique to add to your stitch repertoire. x
    • 10
      Method: Finishing Options
      Wondering how to finish and display your sampler and other beautiful embroidery? Kat shows you how to transform them into pillows, sachets or patches. Or hang them on the wall in a plain or embellished hoop, or mounted on a stretched artist's canvas. x
    • 11
      Method: Floss Management
      By now, you may be collecting embroidery floss in all colors. Kat helps you manage all those little skeins and labels by offering suggestions for bobbins and convenient cases, then shares a handy technique for color blending. x
    • 12
      Apply It: Embroidering Denim
      Flash back to the 1970s and learn to embroider jeans, jean jackets and more! Get tips for working with denim and heavier fabrics, with or without a hoop, for tricky areas such as pockets, collars and more. x
    • 13
      Apply It: Embroidering Knits & More Embroidery Styles to Try
      Now you're ready to stitch on T-shirts, baby clothes and other stretchy knit fabrics! Find out how to use stabilizers for professional-looking results every time. x
  • Startup Library: Painting with Watercolors

    Kateri Ewing, Watercolor Expert

    Available Formats: Video Download, DVD

    Color your world with watercolors! Join expert Kateri Ewing in this comprehensive beginner’s class as she helps you navigate all the basics. You’ll explore a range of tools and supplies, essential techniques, plus hands-on demonstrations and so much more.

    View Lecture List (14)
    14 Lectures  |  Startup Library: Painting with Watercolors
    Lecture Titles (14)
    • 1
      What You Need: Watercolor Paints
      Meet Kateri Ewing and ground yourself in the fundamentals of watercolor paint. Kateri examines key topics, including staining and granulating effects, lightfastness ratings, pigment numbers and more. x
    • 2
      What You Need: Brushes
      Kateri goes over the different types of brushes and their various qualities, including the best beginner-friendly ones, as well as care and storage instructions. x
    • 3
      What You Need: Paper
      Explore the various aspects of paper and the formats it comes in, from pads and blocks to giant tearable sheets. Kateri helps you choose the right kind of paper for your project, then shows you how to stretch it to avoid warping and bubbling. x
    • 4
      What You Need: Palettes & Extras
      Kateri reviews the last few items you need to start painting, including palettes, erasers, masking fluid, easels and more. x
    • 5
      Methods: Basic Brushstrokes
      Explore a number of mark-making techniques with two types of brushes: flat and round. Kateri demonstrates how to lift pigment, create sharp edges and make a variety of lines, including twisting, flat, thick-to-thin and more. x
    • 6
      Methods: Washes
      Harness the power of water and pigment for stunning results every time! Here, Kateri teaches you the basics of creating washes. Find out how to make, or avoid, blooms, how to fade edges and more. x
    • 7
      Methods: Paint Application
      Explore the two primary watercolor methods: wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry. See how to drop in and lift out color, use masking fluid or salt to create unique effects, and explore a dry-brush technique to create hard and soft edges. x
    • 8
      Methods: Color Mixing
      Understand your colors so you can better predict and mix the shades you want! In this lesson, Kateri shows you how to create essential mixing tools: a color wheel, color chart and value scale. x
    • 9
      Methods: Color Harmony
      Make the most of only six tubes of paint! Learn how pigments interact with one another to mix more luminous, harmonious colors. Then practice working with a limited palette to create triads and achieve clean results every time. x
    • 10
      Projects: Basic Landscape
      Watch as Kateri demonstrates painting a basic landscape step by step, including planning and selecting colors, breaking down the subject, foreground, middle ground and background, and adding final details. x
    • 11
      Projects: Basic Seascape
      Build on your skills by painting seascapes! See how to create new textures and shapes, such as rippling water, and apply masking fluid. Then practice lifting techniques to create waves, depth, drama and other final details. x
    • 12
      Projects: Expressive Mixed Media
      Explore a more expressive, gestural watercolor style. Start by dropping color into a water glaze on paper and see if any shapes or subjects emerge. Then lift, push and pull the pigment to refine the shape, using colored pencils and pens to define your subject. x
    • 13
      Projects: Botanical-Style Flower
      Put your wet-on-dry skills to work with a botanical-style painting! After planning and palette selection, move on to targeted water-glazing and color-dropping. Add depth and contour, then finish up with dry-brushing and final details. x
    • 14
      Projects: Detailed Bird
      Finally, create your most detailed work yet: a bird portrait. Begin with the eye, applying initial washes, then build the form, contrast and various textures. Finish up by adding a glazing wash and final details. x
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