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36 Books That Changed the World

Take a riveting tour of the profound impact of books from thousands of years of history and from civilizations around the globe.
36 Books That Changed the World is rated 3.4 out of 5 by 14.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lectures not written for this work I was looking forward to this collection of lectures. But I must say I am rather disappointed to see that a large number of these lectures have been given/written in/for another context. Many are excerpts from other lectures so there is no cohesion among the lectures. It’s not to say they are bad lectures but the disconnect is more than a nuance.
Date published: 2021-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from superb summaries I finished this series on longer car rides, and found that I was entranced. All the speakers were very knowledgeable about the topic and spoke very well. I was interested in the voice qualities to match the photos of speakers, just an interest of mine.
Date published: 2018-04-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disjointed pieced together I’m disappointed with this program. The Marketing got ahead of the educators. It contains selected chapters of source courses without continuity to other parts of the source course
Date published: 2017-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I bought 36 books That Changed The World just before my 20-hour flight. From what I learned from the 30-min lectures, I decide which books I will read in full length. The professors are knowledgeable and great to listen to. I'm enjoying all the lectures. I majored in Biological Sciences when I was in college with a lot of math and science subjects. I just sent my eldest son to college this fall. Reading more books that are interesting to me is on my list. For me, this is a good place to start. Overall, I'm very happy with my purchase.
Date published: 2017-09-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Taken from other series If what you are looking for is a sampling of some of the professors at "Great Courses," then this will satisfy. However, since the lectures are plucked from other series, they are not self-contained encapsulations of the subject matter. They contain information that is germaine to the series, not to the immediate subject. Plus, the lecturers are uneven in quality.
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Labels exactly the contents. I always like the insights presented, the facts speak for themselves.
Date published: 2017-07-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Don't agree all changed the world, but many did Of the 36 Books reviewed approx. 24 were excellent, 6 ok, and 6 below average.
Date published: 2017-04-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Smatterings These are smatterings from other courses, with numerous references to other lectures in the referenced series, which of course you didn't hear and can't go and listen to, without buying all the courses. jumping around from lecturer to lecturer makes it impossible to get into a flow of the lectures. I sent the course back
Date published: 2016-01-28
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Overview

Since the development of written language, books have played major roles in the world: Entertaining. Instructing. Inspiring. Even changing the course of history. Now, with 36 Books That Changed the World, a fascinating Great Courses Collection crafted from our extensive library of courses, take a riveting tour of the profound impact of books from thousands of years of history and from civilizations around the globe.

About

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

To study the deepest impulses in human nature, we see the lure of wealth and conquest, the deep-seated urge for fame and glory, the quest for higher ends, a basic human determination.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

Turning Points in Modern History
854
A History of Eastern Europe
854
The Rise of Communism: From Marx to Lenin
854
History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration
854
The Secret World of Espionage
853
Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao
854
William R. Cook

In some ways, being detached from the world allows you also to be united with the world.

INSTITUTION

State University of New York, Geneseo
Dr. William R. Cook is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1970. He earned his bachelor's degree cum laude from Wabash College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa there. He was then awarded Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Lehman fellowships to study medieval history at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D. Professor Cook teaches courses in ancient and medieval history, the Renaissance and Reformation periods, and the Bible and Christian thought. Since 1983 Professor Cook has directed 11 Seminars for School Teachers for the National Endowment for the Humanities. His books include Images of St. Francis of Assisi and Francis of Assisi: The Way of Poverty and Humility. Dr. Cook contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Giotto and edits and contributes to The Art of the Franciscan Order in Italy. Among his many awards, Professor Cook has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1992 the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named him New York State's Professor of the Year. In 2003 he received the first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America.

By This Professor

The World's Greatest Churches
854
The Cathedral
854
The Catholic Church: A History
854
Daniel N. Robinson

Developments in philosophy are chiefly in the form of greater clarity, an ever more refined sense of just what makes the problem problematic. If ignorance is not thereby totally overcome, at least it is exposed.

INSTITUTION

Philosophy Faculty, Oxford University; Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Georgetown University

Dr. Daniel N. Robinson (1937–2018) was a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University, where he lectured annually since 1991. He was also Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, at Georgetown University, on whose faculty he served for 30 years. He was formerly Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and he also held positions at Amherst College and at Princeton University.

Professor Robinson earned his PhD in Neuropsychology from City University of New York. He was president of two divisions of the American Psychological Association: the Division of History of Psychology, from which he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Division of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, from which he received the Distinguished Contribution Award.

Professor Robinson was the author or editor of more than 40 books, including Wild Beasts & Idle Humours: The Insanity Defense from Antiquity to the Present, An Intellectual History of Psychology, The Mind: An Oxford Reader, and Aristotle's Psychology. He was the editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology. He also published widely on the constitutional history of the US and its philosophical foundations, with original research appearing in the International Journal of Constitutional Law and The American Journal of Jurisprudence. He was coeditor of The American Founding: Its Intellectual and Moral Framework (London: Continuum, 2012).

By This Professor

Dorsey Armstrong

Every turning point discussed in these lectures shifted the flow of the river of history, bringing us ever closer to the modern world.

INSTITUTION

Purdue University

Dorsey Armstrong is a Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she is also the head of the Department of English. She received her PhD in Medieval Literature from Duke University. She is the executive editor of the academic journal Arthuriana, which publishes cutting-edge research on the legend of King Arthur, from its medieval origins to its modern enactments. She is a recipient of the Charles B. Murphy Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, Purdue’s top undergraduate teaching honor. Her other Great Courses include The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague and The Medieval World.

By This Professor

King Arthur: History and Legend
854
The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague
854
Years That Changed History: 1215
854
Great Minds of the Medieval World
854
The Black Death: New Lessons from Recent Research
854
La Peste Negra: La Plaga Más Devastadora del Mundo
854
Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything
854
Lawrence Cahoone

The Great Courses deeply challenged my skills in teaching philosophy, while making it fun too.

INSTITUTION

College of the Holy Cross

Dr. Lawrence Cahoone is Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where he has taught since 2000. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A two-time winner of the Undergraduate Philosophy Association Teaching Award at Boston University who has taught more than 50 different philosophy courses, Professor Cahoone is not only a skilled teacher, but also an author. With a background in recent European, American, and social and political philosophy, as well as interests in postmodernism, metaphysics, and the latter's relation to the natural sciences, he has written:

  • The Orders of Nature
  • Cultural Revolutions: Reason versus Culture in Philosophy, Politics, and Jihad
  • Civil Society: The Conservative Meaning of Liberal Politics
  • The Ends of Philosophy: Pragmatism, Foundationalism, and Postmodernism
  • The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture, and Anti-Culture

He edited From Modernism to Postmodernism: An Anthology and his play, Wise Guys: A Philosophical Comedy, is available at HeartlandPlays.com

By This Professor

The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas
854
The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida
854
Patrick N. Allitt

We live in a world that has created many new incentives for us to become lifelong learners. Luckily, lifelong learning is a pleasure.

INSTITUTION

Emory University

Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. He received his PhD in American History from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and Princeton University. He is a widely published author whose books include A Climate of Crisis: America in the Age of Environmentalism; The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History; and Religion in America since 1945: A History.

By This Professor

The Industrial Revolution
854
The Great Tours: England, Scotland, and Wales
854
The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy
854
America after the Cold War: The First 30 Years
854
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator
854
How Railways Transformed the World
854
Andrew R. Wilson

Who are our masters of war? Paradoxically some of the great works of theory come not from the victors, but from the vanquished. The lessons of failure are often far more powerful, more enduring.

INSTITUTION

U.S. Naval War College

Dr. Andrew R. Wilson is Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College in Newport, RI. He received a B.A. in East Asian Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned his Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University. An award-winning professor and an expert in both military history and strategic theory, Professor Wilson has lectured on Asian military history, the classics of strategic theory, Chinese military modernization, and Sun Tzu's The Art of War, among other topics. Prior to joining the Naval War College, he taught Chinese history at Wellesley College and at Harvard University. Additionally, he has been invited to speak at numerous military colleges and universities in the United States. Professor Wilson is the author of numerous articles on Chinese military history, Chinese sea power, and Sun Tzu's The Art of War. His books include Ambition and Identity: Chinese Merchant-Elites in Colonial Manila, 1885-1916; The Chinese in the Caribbean; China's Future Nuclear Submarine Force; and War, Virtual War and Society. He has lectured on strategic theory and international security in nearly two dozen countries and six continents, and he has contributed to the curriculum of military colleges all over the world. The views expressed in this course are those of the professor and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.

By This Professor

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture
854
Masters of War: History's Greatest Strategic Thinkers
854
Luke Timothy Johnson

I strive to make philosophy accessible and lovable to everyone. If everyone embraced philosophy, the world would be a much better place.

INSTITUTION

Emory University

Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Johnson earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale University, as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, an M.Div. in Theology from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. A former Benedictine monk, Professor Johnson has taught at Yale Divinity School and Indiana University, where he received the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching, was elected a member of the Faculty Colloquium in Teaching, and won the Brown Derby Teaching Award and the Student Choice Award for teaching. At Emory University, he has twice received the On Eagle's Wings Excellence in Teaching Award. In 2007 he received the Candler School of Theology Outstanding Service Award. His most recent award is the 2011 Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for the ideas set forth in his 2009 book, Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity. Professor Johnson is the author of more than 20 books, including The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels and The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation, which is widely used as a textbook. He has also published several hundred scholarly articles and reviews.

By This Professor

Great World Religions: Christianity
854
The History of Christianity: From the Disciples to the Dawn of the Reformation
854
Mark W. Muesse

Mindfulness allows us to become keen observers of ourselves and gradually transform the way our minds operate.

INSTITUTION

Rhodes College

Dr. Mark W. Muesse is W. J. Millard Professor of Religious Studies, Director of the Asian Studies Program, and Director of the Life: Then and Now Program at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in English Literature from Baylor University and a Master of Theological Studies, a Master of Arts, and a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University. Before taking his position at Rhodes, Professor Muesse held positions at Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School, and the University of Southern Maine, where he served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a recipient of the 2008 Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching, Rhodes College's highest faculty honor. Known for his experiential teaching style, Professor Muesse was honored for his effective use of imaginative and creative pedagogy as well as his ability to motivate his students toward lifelong study. Professor Muesse has written many articles, papers, and reviews in world religions, spirituality, theology, and gender studies and has coedited a collection of essays titled Redeeming Men: Religion and Masculinities. He is currently compiling an anthology of prayers from around the world. Professor Muesse is a member of the American Academy of Religion and the Society for Indian Philosophy and Religion and has been Visiting Professor at the Tamilnadu Theological Seminary in Madurai, India. He has traveled extensively throughout Asia and has studied at Wat Mahadhatu, Bangkok, Thailand; the Himalayan Yogic Institute, Kathmandu, Nepal; the Subodhi Institute of Integral Education, Sri Lanka; and Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

By This Professor

Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation
854
Great World Religions: Hinduism
854
Confucius, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad
854
Ronald B. Herzman

I am astonished and deeply grateful for all the feedback from people for whom the Dante course has made a difference in their lives.

INSTITUTION

State University of New York, Geneseo

Dr. Ronald B. Herzman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1969. He graduated with honors from Manhattan College and earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Delaware. Dr. Herzman's teaching interests include Dante, Chaucer, Francis of Assisi, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Arthurian literature. He has written many articles and book chapters and is the coauthor of The Apocalyptic Imagination in Medieval Literature and coeditor of Four Romances of England. Professor Herzman received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1976, and in 1991, Manhattan College awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Professor Herzman and Professor William R. Cook have been collaborating intensively since 1973, when they team-taught a course at SUNY-Geneseo called The Age of Chaucer. Subsequent courses included The Age of Dante and The Age of Francis of Assisi. Both prolific writers in their own right, together they have published The Medieval World View with the Oxford University Press, currently in its second edition. In 2003, Professors Cook and Herzman were presented with the Medieval Academy of America's first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies.

By This Professor

Seth Lerer

Anyone who comes to know English as a child in school, or as an adult who speaks another language, is invariably confronted by the strangeness of its spelling.

INSTITUTION

University of California, San Diego

Dr. Seth Lerer is the Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, San Diego. Before taking this position, he was the Avalon Foundation Professor in Humanities and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. He also taught at Princeton University, Cambridge University, and Washington University in St. Louis. Professor Lerer earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, a second B.A. from Oxford University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Professor Lerer's research interests include medieval and Renaissance studies, early Tudor literary culture, textual criticism, Old and Middle English literature, and children's literature. He has published 10 books, including Chaucer and His Readers and Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language. Professor Lerer won the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in Memory of Newton Arvin for his book Children's Literature: A Reader's History from Aesop to Harry Potter. The book also won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award. He is also the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and reviews. Professor Lerer received many awards for his scholarship and teaching, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation, the Beatrice White Prize of the English Association of Great Britain (for Chaucer and His Readers), and the Hoagland Prize for Undergraduate Teaching at Stanford.

By This Professor

Grant Hardy

Religion offers a window on the world. It's not the only window, but it's a large one, which provides a grand vista of much of human life in both the past and the present.

INSTITUTION

University of North Carolina, Asheville
Dr. Grant Hardy is Professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Program at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. He earned his B.A. in Ancient Greek from Brigham Young University and his Ph.D. in Chinese Language and Literature from Yale University. Professor Hardy has received a wealth of awards and accolades for both his teaching and his scholarship. At the University of North Carolina, he won the 2002 Distinguished Teacher Award for the Arts and Humanities Faculty, and he was named to a Ruth and Leon Feldman Professorship for 2009 to 2010. He also received a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he participated in scholarly symposia at prestigious universities around the world, including Harvard University and the University of Heidelberg. Professor Hardy has written, cowritten, or edited six books, including Worlds of Bronze and Bamboo: Sima Qian's Conquest of History; The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China; and the first volume of the Oxford History of Historical Writing. In addition, he has written or revised a majority of the articles on imperial China for the World Book Encyclopedia.

By This Professor

Sacred Texts of the World
854
Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition
854
Irwin Weil

Russian literature has a unique way of entering the human soul. I hope and believe that the lectures in the course show genuine love and passion for the literature and the magnificent Russian language.

INSTITUTION

Northwestern University

Dr. Irwin Weil is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at Northwestern University, where he has been teaching for more than 40 years. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. at Harvard University. Professor Weil has received several teaching awards, including the Northwestern University College of Arts and Sciences Award for distinguished teaching, the University Alumni Award for excellence in teaching, and the Gold Pushkin Medal from the International Association of Teachers of Russian and Russian Literature for outstanding teaching and research. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the prestigious St. Petersburg Nevsky Institute for the Humanities. Professor Weil is published widely in the field of Russian literature and culture, with special attention to the classics of 19th-century Russian literature and the Soviet Period. His principal focus has been on the connections between Russian literature and music. One of the most popular teachers at Northwestern, his classes in Russian literature attract hundreds of students each year.

By This Professor

Jay L. Garfield

The beauty of 'doing' philosophy is that we don't have to make yes-or-no choices.

INSTITUTION

Smith College

Dr. Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and director of both the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College. The holder of a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh, Professor Garfield also serves on the faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Melbourne University in Australia, and the Central University of Tibetan Studies in India. A specialist in the philosophy of mind, foundations of cognitive science, logic, philosophy of language, Buddhist philosophy, cross-cultural hermeneutics, theoretical and applied ethics, and epistemology, he has been widely honored by fellow scholars. Professor Garfield has written more than 100 scholarly articles and reviews and has written or edited, alone and with colleagues, more than 15 books, including Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way: Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika (2002); Empty Words: Buddhist Philosophy and Cross-Cultural Interpretation (2006); Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings (2009); Pointing at the Moon: Buddhism, Logic, Analysis (2009); Trans-Buddhism: Transmission, Translation and Transformation (2009); Moonshadows: Conventional Truth in Buddhist Philosophy (2010); and The Oxford Handbook of World Philosophy (2010).

By This Professor

Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Great Intellectual Traditions
854
Dr. Grant L. Voth

No idea of any single culture will ever capture the entire human sense of god, or creation, or the hero; and to get a more complete human picture, we have to look at the myths of many cultures.

INSTITUTION

Monterey Peninsula College
Dr. Grant L. Voth, is Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College. After earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy and Greek, he received his Master of Arts degree in English Education from St. Thomas College and his doctorate in English from Purdue University. Professor Voth was the Monterey Peninsula Students' Association Teacher of the Year and the recipient of the first Allen Griffin Award for Excellence in Teaching in Monterey County. Professor Voth is the author of more than 30 articles and books on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Edward Gibbon to modern American fiction, including the official study guides for 26 of the plays in the BBC Television Shakespeare project. He created a series of mediated courses in literature and interdisciplinary studies, one of which won a Special Merit Award from the Western Educational Society for Telecommunication. Professor Voth's other Great Courses include A Day's Read, The History of World Literature, Myth in Human History, and The Skeptic's Guide to the Great Books.

By This Professor

Great Mythologies of the World
854
Alan Charles Kors

Voltaire always has the last laugh on us all, which may be by design. Laughter was a weapon for Voltaire, and irony was essential to that laughter.

INSTITUTION

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Alan Charles Kors is Henry Charles Lea Professor of European History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching since 1968. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and his master's and doctoral degrees from Harvard University. He received postdoctoral fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Professor Kors won two awards for distinguished college teaching and the Engalitcheff Award for defense of academic freedom. He is president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Professor Kors is the author and editor of several books on European intellectual history, including D’Holbach’s Coterie: An Enlightenment in ParisAtheism in France, 1660-1729: The Orthodox Sources of Disbelief; and Anticipations of the Enlightenment in England, France, and Germany. He is editor-in-chief of the four-volume Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment. With Harvey A. Silverglate, he is coauthor of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses.

Professor Kors has served as a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities and on the editorial boards of several scholarly journals.

By This Professor

Lawrence M. Principe

One of the best things about history, to my mind, is that it gives us a sense of perspective-a perspective that often reveals how strange and atypical our times are in relation to the past.

INSTITUTION

Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Lawrence M. Principe is Drew Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. Professor Principe earned a B.S. in Chemistry and a B.A. in Liberal Studies from the University of Delaware. He also holds two doctorates: a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a Ph.D. in the History of Science from Johns Hopkins University. In 1999, the Carnegie Foundation chose Professor Principe as the Maryland Professor of the Year, and in 1998 he received the Templeton Foundation's award for courses dealing with science and religion. Johns Hopkins has repeatedly recognized Professor Principe's teaching achievements. He has won its Distinguished Faculty Award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, and the George Owen Teaching Award. In 2004, Professor Principe was awarded the first Francis Bacon Prize by the California Institute of Technology, awarded to an outstanding scholar whose work has had substantial impact on the history of science, the history of technology, or historically-engaged philosophy of science. Professor Principe has published numerous papers and is the author or coauthor of three books, including The Aspiring Adept: Robert Boyle and His Alchemical Quest.

By This Professor

Robert C. Bartlett

INSTITUTION

Boston College

Robert C. Bartlett is the first Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies at Boston College. His principal area of research is classical political philosophy, with particular attention to the thinkers of ancient Hellas, including Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle. He has published articles in the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Politics, Journal of Politics, Review of Politics, and other leading scholarly journals. He is the author or editor of eight books, including The Idea of Enlightenment, Plato's Protagoras and Meno, and Xenophon's The Shorter Socratic Writings. He is also the co-translator of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (University of Chicago Press, 2011), the author of Sophistry and Political Philosophy: Protagoras' Challenge to Socrates (Chicago, 2012), and a new edition of Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric (Chicago, 2019).

Before coming to Boston College, Robert Bartlett served as the Arthur M. Blank/National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Teaching Professor at Emory University.

By This Professor

Elizabeth Vandiver

I think many of the stories that we tell ourselves as a society–the stories that encode our hopes, aspirations, and fears–preserve the traces of classical culture and myth and are part of our classical legacy.

INSTITUTION

Whitman College

Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver is Professor of Classics and Clement Biddle Penrose Professor of Latin at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. She was formerly Director of the Honors Humanities program at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she also taught in the Department of Classics. She completed her undergraduate work at Shimer College and went on to earn her MA and PhD from The University of Texas at Austin.

Prior to taking her position at Maryland, she held visiting professorships at Northwestern University, the University of Georgia, the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome, Loyola University of New Orleans, and Utah State University.

In 1998, The American Philological Association recognized her achievements as a lecturer with its Excellence in Teaching Award, the most prestigious teaching prize given to American classicists. In 2013 she received Whitman College's G. Thomas Edwards Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship. Her other awards include the Northwestern University Department of Classics Excellence in Teaching Award and two University of Georgia Outstanding Honors Professor Awards.

Professor Vandiver is the author of Stand in the Trench, Achilles: Classical Receptions in British Poetry of the Great War and Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. She has also written numerous articles and has delivered many papers at national and international conferences.

By This Professor

Classical Mythology
854
Arnold Weinstein

Literature is not information-driven. Instead, it offers us a unique opportunity to see, even to experience, the subjectivity of others. This adds to our own stock.

INSTITUTION

Brown University

Dr. Arnold Weinstein is the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor at Brown University, where he has been teaching for over 35 years. He earned his undergraduate degree in Romance Languages from Princeton University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. Among his many academic honors, research grants, and fellowships is the Younger Humanist Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a Fulbright Senior Lecturer Award as a visiting professor at Stockholm University, Brown University's award as best teacher in the humanities, Professeur InvitÈ in American Literature at the Ecole Normale SupÈrieure in Paris, and a Fellowship for University Professors from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Professor Weinstein is the author of many books, including Fictions of the Self: 1550-1800 (1981); Nobody's Home: Speech, Self, and Place in American Fiction from Hawthorne to DeLillo (1993); and A Scream Goes Through The House: What Literature Teaches Us About Life (2003). Northern Arts: The Breakthrough of Scandinavian Literature and Art from Ibsen to Bergman (Princeton University Press, 2008), was named one of the 25 Best Books of 2009 by The Atlantic. Professor Weinstein chaired the Advisory Council on Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is the sponsor of Swedish Studies at Brown, and is actively involved in the American Comparative Literature Association.

By This Professor

Dennis Dalton

There is such athing as unity of being, and that the highest truth is when we manage,as individuals, to perceive oneself in all being.  Once that is achieved, once the separateness is overcome,then illusions will be overwhelmed as well.

INSTITUTION

Barnard College, Columbia University

Dr. Dennis Dalton is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University. He earned his B.A. from Rutgers University, his M.A. in Political Science from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Political Theory from the University of London.

Professor Dalton has edited and contributed to more than a dozen publications and has written numerous articles. He is the author of Indian Idea of Freedom and Mahatma Gandhi: Nonviolent Power in Action. His fields of interests include classical and modern, Western, and Asian political theory; politics of South Asia, particularly the Indian nationalist movement; nonviolence and violence in society; and ideologies of modern political movements in Europe, India, China, and Africa.

Dr. Dalton served as a review editor for the Journal of Developmental Studies (London) and as a U.S. correspondent for the South Asian Review (London). He is a member of both the American Political Science Association and the Association for Asian Studies.

Professor Dalton has been honored with numerous teaching awards, scholarships, and grants, including the Barnard College Margaret Mead Award 2009 for Distinguished Teaching, the 2008 Barnard Commendation for Excellence in Teaching, a grant from the American Council of Learned Societies, a senior fellowship with the American Institute of Indian Studies, and a Gandhi Peace Foundation Grant.

Jerry Z. Muller

When I was growing up, I worked in a number of family businesses, but I didn’t want to go into business. I wanted to be an intellectual, to learn about and reflect on the interconnection of things.

INSTITUTION

The Catholic University of America

Dr. Jerry Z. Muller is Professor of History at The Catholic University of America, where he has taught since 1984. He earned his B.A. from Brandeis University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has been a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin; the Rockefeller Foundation Center in Bellagio, Italy; the Olin Foundation; the Bradley Foundation; and the American Council of Learned Societies. Dr. Muller wrote The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought, which was cowinner of The Historical Society's Donald Kagan Best Book in European History Prize. He is also the author of Adam Smith in His Time and Ours: Designing the Decent Society and The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism. He is editor of Conservatism: An Anthology of Social and Political Thought from David Hume to the Present. His many articles and essays have appeared in scholarly journals as well as in Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, and The Wilson Quarterly.

John M. Bowers

A panoramic look at literature, 'The Western Literary Canon in Context' proves to you the central importance of these cultural milestones and reveals their timeless legacies.

INSTITUTION

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Dr. John M. Bowers is Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He holds a B.A. from Duke University, an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and an M.Phil. from the University of Oxford, where he was also a Rhodes Scholar. Before joining the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Professor Bowers taught at the University of Virginia, Hamilton College, the California Institute of Technology, and Princeton University. Professor Bowers has received numerous awards for his scholarship, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He was a Visiting Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, and a resident scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation's Study Center at Bellagio, Italy. Among his many teaching recognitions are a Nevada Regents' Teaching Award. He also was UNLV's nominee for the CASE Carnegie Professor of the Year Award in 2005 and 2006. A widely published scholar, Professor Bowers has written four books, including The Politics of Pearl: Court Poetry in the Age of Richard II and Chaucer and Langland: The Antagonistic Tradition; more than 30 articles and essays; and entries in the 2006 Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature.

John Sutherland

It is vital, while appreciating that universal, transcendent, and classic quality of literature, to appreciate, as fully as one can, the conditions that gave birth to these works of literature, to reinsert them, back into history.

INSTITUTION

University College London; California Institute of Technology

Dr. John Sutherland is the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He earned his B.A. and M.A. from Leicester University and his Ph.D. from Edinburgh University. Professor Sutherland taught at Edinburgh University and University College London, the site of England's longest-standing university English department, for 10 years each, before assuming his current post at Caltech. His numerous awards and honors include the Associated Student Body of Caltech Excellence in Teaching Award and Caltech's Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar Award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has served as a judge for the prestigious Man-Booker award. Professor Sutherland is the author of scores of scholarly articles, yet he is also one of the best-known academics outside of academia. His latest books are Curiosities of Literature (2009), an anthology of literary oddity; and a second edition of The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (2009)-a massive encyclopedia which he regards as his major effort in scholarship. He also wrote Is Heathcliff a Murderer? Puzzles in 19th-Century Fiction, which spent a glorious week or two on The Sunday Times bestseller list; and Inside Bleak House, a companion to the BBC TV dramatization of Dickens's novel.

Peter Conn

By looking carefully at these texts, many of them still popular, we can gain valuable insights into our national history and culture. We will also have occasion to speculate on American values and the changing nature of American society.

INSTITUTION

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Peter Conn holds the Vartan Gregorian Chair in English at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has a secondary appointment in the Graduate School of Education. Since 1993, he has served as a visiting professor at the University of Nanjing. Professor Conn earned his Ph.D. from Yale University. Professor Conn is the author of numerous works on American literature and culture, including The American 1930s: A Literary History; Literature in America; and Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Biography, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has lent his expertise as a literary consultant on numerous television projects, including the Emmy Award winning series The American Short Story. In 2004, he served as principal literary advisor to Oprah's Book Club for The Good Earth. A John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow, Professor Conn has directed National Endowment for the Humanities seminars for college and high-school teachers and was the recipient of an NEH Humanities Focus grant. Throughout his career, he has won numerous teaching awards, including the University of Pennsylvania's prestigious senior teaching prize, the Lindback Award.

36 Books That Changed the World

Trailer

The Epic of Gilgamesh

01: The Epic of Gilgamesh

How many stories have you read that start with a hero embarking on an epic quest? It’s a narrative structure that unites civilizations around the world and across time. And the earliest example we have of it is the Epic of Gilgamesh. What makes this ancient work—which dates back to around 2800 B.C.E.—so crucial to the subsequent history of world literature? In what ways does it serve as a blueprint for everything from Virgil’s Aeneid to Finnegans Wake? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and others in this captivating lecture. (This lecture is from The History of World Literature by the award-winning Dr. Grant L. Voth, Professor Emeritus at Monterey Peninsula College in California.)

32 min
The Odyssey

02: The Odyssey

Western literature (and culture) is forever indebted to the treatment of heroism and hospitality found in Homer’s Odyssey—so indebted, in fact, that the poem is considered the foundation of the Western literary canon. Who was Homer? What archaeological evidence supports this ancient adventure story? And how does it reflect what’s included in—and excluded from—lists of important literary works? You’ll find the answers in this illuminating lecture. (This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.)

32 min
The Bhagavad Gita

03: The Bhagavad Gita

Mahatma Gandhi. Ralph Waldo Emerson. These are just two of the many great minds who have been inspired by the Bhagavad Gita, a landmark text in Asian intellectual history. In this lecture, you’ll discover how this beloved work of Hindu scripture became so renowned in Asia—and across the globe—and how it still speaks to us about effective action, family obligations, personal fulfillment, spiritual values, and more. (This lecture is from Great Minds of the Eastern Intellectual Tradition by the award-winning Dr. Grant Hardy, Professor of History and Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Asheville.)

31 min
The Art of War

04: The Art of War

Though written well over 2,000 years ago, Sun Tzu’s The Art of War has influenced generations of warriors, statesmen, and other leaders. What makes this fascinating piece of ancient military strategy so enduring—and so historically relevant? You’ll find out in this lecture, which will whet your appetite for a short, spare book that offers captivating lessons on how to win important battles. (This lecture is from Masters of War: History’s Greatest Strategic Thinkers by Dr. Andrew R. Wilson, Professor of Strategy and Policy at the United States Naval War College.)

31 min
The Analects

05: The Analects

Confucius is undoubtedly Eastern intellectual history’s greatest mind. And yet we have no record of any of his own writings. What we do have is The Analects, a collection of Confucius’s sayings written down by his students. This great book offers a fascinating window into moral, social, and political ideas that would become the backbone of everyday life in China for thousands of years. (This lecture is from Religions of the Axial Age: An Approach to the World’s Religions by religious studies expert and award-winning professor Mark W. Muesse of Rhodes College.)

31 min
The Histories

06: The Histories

With the Histories, the Greek writer Herodotus sought to recount the Greco-Persian Wars that tore apart the ancient world decades before his birth. His technique was to explain the causes of historical events in a narrative manner. The end result was a work that would inform how generations of writers record the past and how readers make sense of it. In this lecture, you’ll meet the man now considered to be the father of history. (This lecture is from Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition, by Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, an expert classicist and award-winning professor at Whitman College.)

31 min
The Republic

07: The Republic

Plato’s Republic is a blueprint for his grand political philosophies. It also marks the first time this iconic philosopher set forth the idea of power as a noble enterprise. In this lecture, you’ll learn more about Plato’s theories on justice and the creation of a good state. Your windows into these theories are the intriguing parable of the ship of state and the famous allegory of the cave. (This lecture is from Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition, by Dr. Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University.)

31 min
The Nicomachean Ethics

08: The Nicomachean Ethics

What is happiness? How does one live a “good” life? These are questions that have perplexed countless philosophers throughout history. And the first work to propose solid answers that would influence later thinkers is Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. This lecture provides you with an in-depth reading of Book X, one of the most critical parts of this masterpiece of ancient philosophy. (This lecture is from Masters of Greek Thought: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle by Dr. Robert C. Bartlett, the Behrakis Professor of Hellenic Political Studies at Boston College.)

31 min
The Metamorphoses

09: The Metamorphoses

Some of the greatest sources of inspiration in Western art history are classical myths. And our complete (and sometimes only) account of the stories that fueled so many sculptures and paintings is Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In this lecture, you’ll explore what sort of book the Metamorphoses is, what it was meant to do for its original readers, and why Ovid took such pains to record the stories of Apollo, Phaethon, Narcissus, and others. (This lecture is from Classical Mythology by Dr. Elizabeth Vandiver, an expert classicist and award-winning professor at Whitman College.)

31 min
The Meditations

10: The Meditations

Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher king whose writing would go on to inspire future generations. Written in Greek and addressed to himself, the Meditations are a fascinating window into the business of ruling an empire during a time of constant turmoil. This book also offered subsequent leaders grand insights into the morals that shaped this Roman emperor’s iconic rule—and that could shape their own. (This lecture is from Practical Philosophy: The Greco-Roman Moralists by award-winning professor Luke Timothy Johnson of Emory University.)

31 min
The Confessions

11: The Confessions

One of the key texts of Christian theology is the Confessions by Saint Augustine. Christian writers as diverse as Dante Alighieri and Martin Luther—not to mention everyday believers—have looked to this autobiography for guidance and inspiration. The legacy of this intimate journey from sin to faith has lasted for over 15 centuries. This lecture is an engaging survey of how—and why—the Confessions endures to this day. (This lecture is from St. Augustine’s Confessions and is delivered by two instructors from the State University of New York at Geneseo: Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History; and Dr. Ronald B. Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English.)

31 min
The Qur’an

12: The Qur’an

As the sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an is a daily part of life for more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. What do some of its most important and beloved chapters, or surahs, say? What is the book’s relationship to people and themes originally recorded in the Old and New Testaments? What are some of the book’s original scriptural claims, and can they adapt to a postmodern age? You’ll learn the answers to these questions and others in this intriguing lecture. (This lecture is from Sacred Texts of the World by the award-winning Dr. Grant Hardy, Professor of History and Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Asheville.)

31 min
The Liber abaci

13: The Liber abaci

Imagine if you lived in a world that still used Roman numerals in everyday transactions. The reason you don’t is because of the Liber abaci, which replaced Roman numerals with the Hindu-Arabic number system that is still in use today. This influential book also had a profound impact on the economy of the Middle Ages and paved the way for future developments in banking, commerce, and even mathematics. (This lecture is from Turning Points in Medieval History by medievalist and professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University.)

31 min
The Divine Comedy

14: The Divine Comedy

It’s a sometimes horrifying, sometimes breathtaking tour through the Christian afterlife. It’s a groundbreaking work of literature that has inspired other great Western authors. It’s a watershed moment in the development of poetry and the Italian language. It’s Dante’s Divine Comedy, and its intimate visions of hell, purgatory, and heaven still resonate with believers and nonbelievers today. (This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.)

32 min
The Prince

15: The Prince

Like Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, Machiavelli’s The Prince is a history-changing book that is still studied today. Written in voluntary exile from Florence, The Prince served as a powerful manual for people looking to attain—and hold on to—political power. In this lecture, you’ll explore the history behind Machiavelli’s short masterpiece. You’ll also learn how he responds to—and sometimes unravels—the ideas of earlier political philosophers. (This lecture is from Machiavelli in Context by Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo.)

31 min
On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs

16: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs

One of the defining moments in the history of science was Copernicus’s assertion that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the cosmos. The topic of this lecture is the book that introduced this radical idea to the world: On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Orbs. In this lecture, you’ll take a closer look at Copernicus’s iconic exploration of heliocentrism, and you’ll learn how this concept was received by his intellectual contemporaries. (This lecture is from History of Science: Antiquity to 1700 by Dr. Lawrence M. Principe, the Drew Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University.)

31 min
Hamlet

17: Hamlet

Western literature would never be the same after William Shakespeare. And in a catalog of the Bard’s most definitive works, his tragedy, Hamlet, is at the top. An essential part of the Western canon, Hamlet is intricately linked with European history, the rise of Elizabethan England, and the evolution of poetry and drama. In this lecture, you’ll discover why no list of influential books is complete without Shakespeare’s masterpiece. (This lecture is from The Western Literary Canon in Context by widely published scholar and award-winning professor John M. Bowers of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.)

32 min
Don Quixote

18: Don Quixote

Don Quixote is considered the Western world’s first novel, introducing a literary form we still engage with today. But is this novel’s claim as being the first of its kind really true? How do its adventures offer biting commentary on chivalric romances? How does it anticipate the complexities of the modern novel? As you’ll discover in this lecture, there’s much more to this fascinating book than meets the eye. (This lecture is from Great Authors of the Western Literary Tradition, 2nd Edition, by Dr. Ronald B. Herzman, Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo.)

31 min
The King James Bible

19: The King James Bible

The King James Bible was a political wedge in Reformation England. It’s a stunning work of literary beauty. It has become the authorized version of Christianity’s sacred text. It’s the most-read book in the history of English literature. The world would not be the same without it. In this lecture, you’ll learn how this work was compiled and translated—and you’ll meet the forgotten individual some believe to be responsible for its existence. (This lecture is from Classics of British Literature by Dr. John Sutherland, the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology.)

30 min
The New Organon

20: The New Organon

Knowledge is power. Natural philosophy must be separate from theology. New facts should be acquired through deductive logic. These are some of the themes found in Francis Bacon’s The New Organon, which revolutionized how philosophers and scientists studied the world. It also changed the face of Western education, which was previously founded on Aristotle’s methods, and helped usher in a new era of intellectual thought. (This lecture is from Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, 3rd Edition, by Dr. Alan Charles Kors, the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.)

31 min
The Encyclopédie

21: The Encyclopédie

A fundamental pillar of the Enlightenment was the Encyclopédie, edited by Denis Diderot and Jean Le Rond d’Alembert. This comprehensive reference guide was a daring project. Not only did it aim to change the way people thought, but it also fueled the Enlightenment’s ability to replace tradition and faith with reason and science. In this lecture, you’ll get the full story on the reference book that changed history forever. (This lecture is from Turning Points in Modern History by expert historian and award-winning professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.)

32 min
A Dictionary of the English Language

22: A Dictionary of the English Language

When you’re unsure of a word’s spelling or meaning, your first impulse is to find the nearest dictionary. Because of this, we’re forever indebted to Samuel Johnson’s A Dictionary of the English Language, first published in 1775. How is this reference work a testament to Johnson’s views on linguistic flexibility? How is it a work of autobiography as much as a work of lexicography? You’ll discover the answers to these questions and others in this illuminating lecture. (This lecture is from The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition, by award-winning author and noted professor Seth Lerer of the University of California, San Diego.)

31 min
Common Sense

23: Common Sense

Thomas Paine was one of the American Revolution’s least likely heroes. Yet his best-selling pamphlet, Common Sense, redirected the course of the debate over independence in the American colonies. Without his arguments, there may never have been a “shot heard round the world.” In this lecture, you’ll learn why Paine’s remarkable work occupies—and deserves—such a unique place in political history. (This lecture is from Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America by noted author, literary expert, and award-winning professor Peter Conn of the University of Pennsylvania.)

31 min
The Wealth of Nations

24: The Wealth of Nations

Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations is considered one of the key texts of modern capitalism. It is central to our understanding of how competitive markets work. It also has been a reference point for many of the world’s most influential economic minds. In this lecture, you’ll examine some of the arguments and insights from this landmark book, as well as some of the historical moments that formed the backdrop of their writing. (This lecture is from Thinking about Capitalism by award-winning author and professor Jerry Z. Muller of The Catholic University of America.)

31 min
The Federalist Papers

25: The Federalist Papers

With independence achieved, the next challenge for America’s Founding Fathers was creating a working constitution for the new nation. The Federalist Papers—assembled by James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay—put forth powerful arguments for ratifying the Constitution. In this lecture, you’ll strengthen your appreciation for just how much these papers contributed to American history and political philosophy. (This lecture is from The Great Ideas of Philosophy, 2nd Edition, by Daniel N. Robinson, a member of the philosophy faculty at Oxford University and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University.)

30 min
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

26: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The idea of the self-made man is at the heart of the American dream. And it’s an idea that got its start with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. With this work, the United States was bequeathed its greatest myth: the success story. It’s a central ingredient of the nation’s history, and it would go on to inspire everyday individuals to take their lives into their own hands. (This lecture is from Classics of American Literature by noted author and literary scholar Dr. Arnold Weinstein, the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University.)

31 min
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

27: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Women are not inferior to men; instead, they’re made inferior by being denied essential tools, such as education. With this simple argument, Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman set out to battle society’s maltreatment of women. In the process, she helped pave the way for subsequent human rights movements and strengthened the case for the power of the female authorial voice. (This lecture is from Classics of British Literature by Dr. John Sutherland, the Lord Northcliffe Professor Emeritus of Modern English Literature at University College London and Visiting Professor of Literature at the California Institute of Technology.)

30 min
Democracy in America

28: Democracy in America

The greatest book written about American democracy, it turns out, was written by a Frenchman. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is an intriguing examination of how our nation works. It played a role in introducing Europe to the political experiment that was the United States. It’s also a living work—one whose observations and insights challenge us to think not just about America in the 19th century, but also America today. (This lecture is from Tocqueville and the American Experiment by Dr. William R. Cook, Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo.)

31 min
The Communist Manifesto

29: The Communist Manifesto

Many of the 20th century’s most potent revolutions were rooted in communism and socialism. And the leaders behind these powerful political ideologies were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. In The Communist Manifesto, they put forth the need for the working class—the proletariat—to revolt against the harsh economic conditions of capitalist society. In this lecture, you’ll read between the lines of this groundbreaking book in an effort to uncover what made its contents so transformative. (This lecture is from Thinking about Capitalism by award-winning author and professor Jerry Z. Muller of The Catholic University of America.)

32 min
Uncle Tom’s Cabin

30: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

The debate over ending slavery in America reached a fever pitch in the years before the Civil War, thanks in part to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Even Abraham Lincoln credited Stowe’s work with playing a part in pushing a divided nation to war. In this lecture, you’ll examine this best-selling book from an intriguing new perspective—as a work that celebrates not just freedom from slavery, but also the ability of art and the imagination to break intimidating social bonds. (This lecture is from Classics of American Literature by noted author and literary scholar Dr. Arnold Weinstein, the Edna and Richard Salomon Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University.)

32 min
On the Origin of Species

31: On the Origin of Species

There’s the world before the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, and there’s the world after it. Darwin’s ideas completely overturned our connection to the natural world. They were met with acceptance and controversy among his contemporaries. And they also were used in ways this iconic scientist would not have endorsed. Welcome to the Darwinian revolution—and the single book that started it all. (This lecture is from Turning Points in Modern History by expert historian and award-winning professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.)

32 min
On Liberty

32: On Liberty

In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill argued for a society that actively encouraged and facilitated diverse ways of living and thinking. It was a dramatic, refreshing, and—for its time—radical manifesto. And its illuminating, and sometimes provocative, ideas about freedom, speech, diversity, and individuality would become the veritable lifeblood of healthy civil societies in the modern age. (This lecture is from The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions by prolific author and professor Jay L. Garfield of Smith College.)

30 min
The Jungle

33: The Jungle

Many of the developments in 20th-century America were the result of muckraking journalists who exposed life at the bottom of the social ladder. Prominent among these individuals was Upton Sinclair, whose book The Jungle brought to light the horrors of the nation’s meatpacking industry. As you’ll learn, it was Sinclair’s shocking exposé that paved the way for dramatic reforms in how food was mass-produced. (This lecture is from Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America by noted author, literary expert, and award-winning professor Peter Conn of the University of Pennsylvania.)

31 min
Being and Time

34: Being and Time

To ignore Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time is to ignore the beginning of 20th-century existentialism. Dealing with complex issues about angst, death, existence, and time, Heidegger’s work had a tremendous impact on generations of European students searching for the meaning and purpose of life. How does one begin to make sense of the book’s ideas and arguments? This lecture will help guide you through Being and Time’s perplexing—but undeniably intriguing—pages. (This lecture is from The Modern Intellectual Tradition: From Descartes to Derrida by Dr. Lawrence Cahoone, Professor of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross.)

32 min
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

35: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

The realities of life in the Soviet Union’s labor camps opened the world’s eyes to the true horrors of the regime. And this revelation was all due to One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This stirring book also introduced the world to the voice of a powerful critic of totalitarianism, one who would help show just how appallingly the Soviet Union could treat its citizens. (This lecture is from Classics of Russian Literature by Dr. Irwin Weil, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern University.)

30 min
The Feminine Mystique

36: The Feminine Mystique

Published in 1963, Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was a sweeping indictment of how postwar American women lived their lives. Women, the book argued, should have the right to actualize their own identities—not just live vicariously through their husbands and children. In this lecture, you’ll learn how Friedan’s life inspired this landmark book and how it sparked movements and organizations dedicated to abolishing discriminatory legislation. (This lecture is from The American Identity by widely published author and award-winning professor Patrick N. Allitt of Emory University.)

31 min

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