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  • Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience

    Professor Indre Viskontas, Ph.D.

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

    To build a more accurate understanding of the brain, you have to start by shattering popular myths. Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience is an eye-opening journey into the neuroscience of everyday life. Each of Dr. Indre Viskontas’s 24 lectures use a prevalent brain myth to explore topics including decision making, memory, dreams, emotions, neuroplasticity, consciousness, mental illness, and more.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Is Your Brain Perfectly Designed?
      Begin the course by debunking one of the most fundamental myths about the human brain. Along the way, discover how our brains are shaped by evolution and experience, which neurons are responsible for self-awareness and motor coordination, and why the brain is still very much a work in progress. x
    • 2
      Are Bigger Brains Smarter?
      When it comes to brains, size doesn't matter as much as you think. Here, explore concepts including the Encephalization quotient (which compares brain mass to body mass), the g" factor (a long-sought-after standard of cognitive ability), and the lessons scientists have learned from studying the brain of Albert Einstein." x
    • 3
      Is Mental Illness Just a Chemical Imbalance?
      According to Dr. Viskontas, major psychiatric illnesses aren't just the result of chemical concentrations in the brain. The focus of this lecture is an intriguing exploration of two disorders that have proven to be far more complicated and nuanced in our understanding of mental illness: schizophrenia and depression. x
    • 4
      Are Creative People Right-Brained?
      Think your brain is divided into a creative side and an analytical side? Think again. The two hemispheres of your brain are actually quite interconnected. Discover what neuroimaging has revealed about the way our brains think and create, and why it's all about collaboration-not competition. x
    • 5
      How Different Are Male and Female Brains?
      We're always hearing about studies that find significant differences the brains of men and women. How should we be thinking about gender differences in the brain? How are these differences misinterpreted? What are the differences in the male and female amygdala and hippocampus? Which genders express which emotions more openly? x
    • 6
      How Accurate Is Your Memory?
      In this lecture that unpacks the accuracy of your memories, learn how information is encoded, stored, and retrieved in the brain; examine how Alzheimer's disease and amnesia affect the brain's ability to remember; and explore the Seven Sins of Memory," including absentmindedness, memory blocking, and misattribution." x
    • 7
      Do You Only Use 10% of Your Brain?
      Are you using your brain to its fullest potential? Here, clear up some of the mystery about how much of our brain power we're using. As you'll learn, you use a lot more of your brain than you think, whether you're practicing a new skill or simply zoning out in front of the television. x
    • 8
      Do You Perceive the World as It Really Is?
      According to Dr. Viskontas, the biggest myth about our senses is that they reflect the world as it actually is. Using vision as an example, discover how your sensory system uses shortcuts and fills in details to create, from portions of the environment, the illusion that you're perceiving reality objectively. x
    • 9
      Is Your Brain Too Smart for Magic Tricks?
      We've all been fooled by a magic trick at one point or another. But we rarely stop to think about how magicians are simply manipulating pre-existing shortcomings in our minds. Here, explore some of the neurological principles magicians rely on, including selective attention, inattention blindness, and change blindness. x
    • 10
      Is Your Brain Objective?
      Contrary to what you might believe, we don't weight evidence equally before building personal beliefs. Instead, we're beholden to confirmation bias. Is this a bug our brains could do without? Is it an evolutionary advantage? Can it also lead to sublime experiences (like appreciating a piece of music)? x
    • 11
      Do You Have 5 Independent Senses?
      Discover why your senses aren't as separate as you think-and why you actually have more than five. Topics in this lecture include proprioception (sensing where you are) and synesthesia (a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one sense causes the involuntary activation of a different sense). x
    • 12
      Can Certain Foods Make You Smarter?
      In this lecture on brain food," consider the scientific truths behind the food fads that make headlines; test out the myths associated with foods like fish oil, vitamins, power drinks, chocolate, and tea; and ponder the potential of smart pills (known as nootropics) such as Adderall and Ritalin." x
    • 13
      Can Brain Games Make You Smarter?
      An increased focus among scientists on neuroplasticity (changes in the brain's biology) has led to a flurry of brain-training games and tools aimed at improving our cognitive skills. Here, probe the potential of these games, and consider some alternate ways to train your brain, including exercising and socializing. x
    • 14
      Does Your Brain Shut Down during Sleep?
      What, exactly, happens when you fall asleep? Why do our brains need sleep in order to function? What are some of the neurological dangers of not getting enough sleep? What are the sleep patterns of other animals, and how do they compare to our own? Dr. Viskontas provides some answers. x
    • 15
      Are Your Decisions Rational?
      When we make decisions, we're actually swayed by things that any truly rational human being would ignore. Why do our brains work this way? Explore the mental laziness" hardwired into our nature, and why we easily fall prey to superficial judgments. Central to this idea: the brain's two thinking systems." x
    • 16
      Are You Always Conscious while Awake?
      In this lecture, probe the eternal problem" of consciousness-perhaps the most difficult topic in all of neuroscience. How have scientists tried to determine what consciousness is and how it works? Along the way, examine several theories, including the intriguing idea that consciousness is nothing more than a neural afterthought." x
    • 17
      Are Other Animals Conscious?
      Continue exploring consciousness with a consideration of its appearance in other animals. Scientific studies in animals ranging from primates to octopi have uncovered some illuminating insights into how animals can potentially show complex behaviors (including compassion, self-recognition, and generosity) we typically associate exclusively with conscious humans. x
    • 18
      Can You Multitask Efficiently?
      Multitasking is a critical skill in today's world. But does it really work as well as you think? Dr. Viskontas lays bare the neurology of the multitasker and uses key studies to draw several powerful conclusions, including that doing two things at once is impossible when both tasks require your conscious attention. x
    • 19
      Are Dreams Meaningful?
      Consider some of the potential roots (and purposes) of dreams and how neuroscientists study them. While dreams continue to remain mysterious, some theories posit that dreams play a role in consolidating your memory, and that they can be driven by emotional events (including traumatic ones). x
    • 20
      Can Brain Scans Read Your Mind?
      Discover what neuroimaging can-and can't-tell us about how the human mind works. First, examine what brain scans are actually showing us. Then, consider three regions of the brain prone to common misunderstanding in the media: the amygdala, the reward circuitry, and the prefrontal cortex. x
    • 21
      Can Adult Brains Change for the Better?
      Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you can't still learn and master new things. After considering how neuroplasticity works in a toddler's brain, explore how exercise and musical training are two ways to influence the growth of new neurons and the formation of new synapses (known as neurogenesis). x
    • 22
      Do Special Neurons Enable Social Life?
      From mirror neurons to von Economo cells, learn the role that special neurons might play in human social behavior. Recent breakthroughs in neuroscience have expanded our understanding of how we interact with and understand people, but myths about these special neurons abound. x
    • 23
      Is Your Brain Unprejudiced?
      You might not be racist, but your brain likely is. How did neuroscientists come to this startling conclusion? And what can we, as individuals, do about it? Find out in this fascinating lecture on the neurology of prejudice, implicit and explicit biases, stereotyping, and in-group preferences. x
    • 24
      Does Technology Make You Stupid?
      In this final lecture, ponder several prevalent myths about the relationship between technology and the brain. Among these: smartphones are killing our attention spans, social media is addictive (and leads us to be less social), computers make us less intelligent, and search engines are destroying our memory. x
  • A History of British India

    Professor Hayden J. Bellenoit, D.Phil.

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

    The 200 years of Britain’s colonial rule of India was a time of seminal transformation and change—for India, for Britain, and for the world. In A History of British India, explore how the British took power in India, built a massive economic machine, and ruled until India’s 1947 independence. You’ll relive a crucial era in international relations, one with deep and lasting implications for our contemporary world.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  A History of British India
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      Introduction to India
      Delve into core aspects of Indian culture that provide a rich background for the story of British rule. Grasp the key precepts of Hinduism, and the notions of dharma, karma, and samsara. Study the caste system, the features of Indian families and marriages, and explore how society and religion shape politics in India. x
    • 2
      The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India
      Examine the monumental empire of the Mughals, the Islamic rulers of India. Investigate how the Mughals governed through military skill, administrative brilliance, and religious tolerance. Look at the state of Indian society in the 18th century, and how changes in Mughal politics and economics laid the foundation for the British conquest of India. x
    • 3
      Indian and British Economic Interests
      Here, explore further how the Indian subcontinent drifted toward colonialism. Observe how the regionalization" of the Mughal Empire compromised the emperors' ability to govern. Take account of India's prominence within the broader global economy, and chart the rise of powerful banking families who played a critical role in the emergence of British rule." x
    • 4
      British Expansion in India (1757-1820)
      Witness how the English East India Company, a trading organization, expanded its early footing in Bengal. Study the Company's extraordinary transformation, through military conquests, from a merchant venture into a political entity. Finally, follow the Company's expansion into other regions, employing the Mughal revenue system to tax India's agrarian countryside. x
    • 5
      Knowing the Country: British Orientalism
      Learn how British scholars and administrators pursued knowledge of Indian culture, and how the early British colonials adapted to living within Indian society. Grasp the ways in which British romanticizing of India and misunderstanding of traditional customs had major consequences for colonial policy and the well-being of the Indian populace. x
    • 6
      Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)
      The opening up of India gave rise to a discourse on race that became central to the colonial relationship. Study British racial paradigms in Company-ruled India, which emphasized differences between Indians and the British to justify" colonial rule. Also explore the British notion of masculinity and how it bolstered their self-perception as colonial masters." x
    • 7
      The Age of Reform (1830-1850)
      Contemporary currents of thought in England affected the ways in which India was governed. Learn how utilitarianism and Christian evangelicalism undergirded attempts by the British to educate and "reform" India. Track the major changes in the economic relationship between Britain and India that contributed to the Great Uprising of 1857. x
    • 8
      The Great Uprising (1857-1858)
      Study the accumulation of religious, economic, and political grievances against the East India Company that set the stage for the Great Uprising of 1857. Then witness the outbreak and bloody unfolding of the Uprising itself. Observe how the mutiny" changed British attitudes toward India, and the way Britain governed it under the Raj." x
    • 9
      Economics and Society under the Raj
      Examine the nature of the colonial economy, and trace economic decisions by the British that constrained the livelihoods of artisans and peasants. Assess the Raj's fiscal policy, which privileged British interests over public works. Observe how these policies affected the lives of millions who toiled to produce the wealth of the Raj. x
    • 10
      Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism
      As a social institution, caste changed markedly under British colonial rule. First, examine how the British encountered caste and tried to understand it. Then see how caste became significantly linked with the colonial tax revenue system. Take account of the ways in which caste distinctions became more prominent, codified, and pervasive under colonialism. x
    • 11
      The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)
      Discover how the broader traditions of Hinduism were affected by the colonial experience. Examine the theological assault on Hinduism by European Christian missionaries, and the responses of high-caste Hindus. Look at important Hindu reform movements, which sought to modernize Hinduism, and grasp how key currents of reformist thinking linked Hinduism with Indian nationhood. x
    • 12
      Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule
      Indian Islam underwent profound shifts under colonial rule. Investigate how the British codifying of Islamic law changed Indian Muslims' communal identity. See how the advent of English language and education, and the Indian census, distanced Muslims from Hindus. Lastly, assess how the Deobandi reform movement reinvented Indian Islam to ensure its survival. x
    • 13
      The Late-19th-Century British Raj
      Study British racial attitudes toward Indians in the late 19th century and how these conceptions were manifested in the way India was governed. Learn about the officials who administrated the Raj, the Indian Civil Service, and the modernization of India. Grasp how all of these elements reflect the mindset of the British Raj. x
    • 14
      Princely States and Royalist Relationships
      India's princely states played a crucial role in maintaining British power. Examine the history of the princely kingdoms, and why they remained separate from British-controlled territory. Follow how the British cultivated ties of loyalty with Indian princes and exerted indirect rule." Explore the contradiction of a modernizing British Raj that supported feudal princes." x
    • 15
      Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle
      Analyze how a new generation of English-educated Indians spearheaded Indian nationalism. Trace the emergence of the Indian National Congress, which initially represented moderate nationalists, and observe how repressive British policies sowed anticolonial sentiment. Witness the strengthening of nationalist fervor, as it erupted into political extremism and violence in the early 20th century. x
    • 16
      The Great War and Its Impact on India
      Examine the severe effects of the First World War on India's economy. Learn how both moderate and radical nationalists responded to the war to press for concessions and independence. Explore strains in the colonial relationship exposed by the war that made India ripe for the emergence of Mohandas Gandhi. x
    • 17
      Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy
      Investigate Gandhi's early life and how he became a nationalist leader. Study the elements of his political philosophy, the political tools of ahimsa (no harm) and satyagraha (force of truth), and the forces of modernity and British rule that Gandhi critiqued. Finally, examine the 1919 event that thrust him onto the national stage. x
    • 18
      The Noncooperation Movement
      Observe how Gandhi reorganized the Indian National Congress into a mass political machine, as witnessed in the Noncooperation Movement, where Indians boycotted the British on a national scale. Note how these actions and others exposed moral faults in the Raj, and track the Raj's counterstrategies that attempted to marginalize those nationalists seeking independence. x
    • 19
      Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars
      Indian Muslim identity began to change in important ways in the 20th century. Study the impact on Indian Muslims of the First World War, and the resulting Muslim Khalifat Movement, which opposed Britain's war aims against the Ottoman Caliphate. See how Hindu/Muslim religious-political rivalries gave birth to the idea of Pakistan. x
    • 20
      The Civil Disobedience Campaign
      Now examine the second round" of Indian nationalist action against the British Raj. Witness the effects on India of the global economic depression after 1929, which triggered the Civil Disobedience Campaign, a massive boycotting of British goods, services, and institutions. Assess the Raj's countertactic of extending constitutional concessions to stem nationalist agitation." x
    • 21
      Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s
      Witness how Britain's wartime mobilization alienated the Indian National Congress and took a horrific toll on the Indian poor. Study the resulting Quit India Movement, the largest uprising against the British since 1857, and the events of the war's aftermath that set the stage for the end of 200 years of colonial rule. x
    • 22
      The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)
      Investigate the increasing levels of dissent, mutiny, and agrarian suffering and unrest that followed World War II. Chart the astonishing rise of the Muslim League after 1940, its presence in the negotiations for independence, and the League's actions in key provinces that sparked terrible communal violence in the Raj's final days. x
    • 23
      A Split India: Negotiating Independence
      Examine the factors in Britain's decision to quit" India. Take account of the final negotiations between the National Congress, the Muslim League, and the British, noting the contrasting visions of an independent India held by the Congress and the League. Grasp how Hindu-Muslim violence affected the ultimate partition of India and Pakistan." x
    • 24
      Reflections on Postcolonial India
      Learn about the harrowing events following Partition, which saw widespread killings and the largest displacement of human populations in history. Assess what the events of 1947 meant for the Indian National Congress, Pakistanis, and the British. Finally, reflect on the lasting legacy of the British Raj and its rule of India. x
  • How to Make Stress Work for You

    Kimberlee Bethany Bonura, Ph.D.

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

    In the 18 enriching, inspiring lectures of How to Make Stress Work for You, discover how to finally manage and minimize the stress in your life. Packed with scientifically-backed behavior modifications and cognitive exercises, Popular Great Courses instructor Dr. Kimberlee Bethany Bonura’s course helps you build a personal stress management toolkit so you can better manage your stress response—and your busy life.

    View Lecture List (18)
    18 Lectures  |  How to Make Stress Work for You
    Lecture Titles (18)
    • 1
      A New Mindset about Stress
      Start the course with a reversal of common perspective: that stress is actually correlated with having a sense of meaning in your life. Along the way, learn a more holistic definition of stress, explore the idea of a stress continuum, and learn the difference between major traumas and everyday irritants. x
    • 2
      Happiness: A Fickle Queen
      We place so much emphasis on pursuing happiness that it often makes us less likely to be happy. Here, examine the relationship between happiness and play, why gratitude lists make you more resilient to stress, and how to train your mind to pay attention to the right kind of happiness. x
    • 3
      Anger: A Tyrannical King
      Expressing anger is the best way to overcome it, right? Wrong. Learn how the cognitive neoassociation theory explains why acting out on anger actually makes you angrier and that there is no proof for the common myth of anger management via catharsis. Then, learn how to let go of anger through helpful counting exercises and detachment. x
    • 4
      Swimming in an Ocean of Sorrow
      Suffering, pain, grief-how do we recover and rebuild in the wake of major trauma? Find out in this lecture on sorrow-related stress that explores our ever-shifting perceptions of trauma, the ways we make meaning out of trauma, and why simply acknowledging your vulnerability can be a vital aid. x
    • 5
      Why You Stress: Arousal and Value Judgment
      Arousal plus your value judgment equals your stress level. And what you respond to in life isn't the raw stimuli you experience (like a traffic jam) but your perceptions of these stimuli. Explore this idea in a lecture that recasts the stress continuum as a positive-negative curve instead of a line. x
    • 6
      Choose Your Adventure: Choose Your Stress
      Choice and stress are fundamentally intertwined. What does learned helplessness tell us about our sense of control? Is too much choice more stressful than fewer choices? Is someone obsessed with making the best possible choice happier than someone who's not? How can you make better decisions under stress? x
    • 7
      Heaven and Hell Can Be Other People
      For many people, social situations are stressful. But our social relationships can also promote physical and psychological health. Here, learn what role social media plays in how we view relationships, understand the idea of universal irrationality, and appreciate the healing power of experiencing awe and the importance of physical touch. x
    • 8
      Our Overstressed, Overscheduled Kids
      It's not just adults who are overstressed. A hectic modern lifestyle can create a negatively stressful impact on a child's psychological well-being as well. Learn strategies for helping kids overcome stress, including scheduling down time, appreciating the importance of hugs, and cultivating authentic relationships. x
    • 9
      Change Your Mind to Change Your Stress
      Changing your perception of stressful situations isn't easy. Dr. Bonura teaches you the nuances of cognitive restructuring, including how to reframe your thoughts of self-punishment (and avoid self-punishing behaviors) and how to productively face and manage your fears (including setting aside a specific time each day to worry). x
    • 10
      Emergency Stress Management
      Get a powerful toolkit for dealing with the stress of life-and-death situations while you're still cultivating a long-term approach to stress management. Exercises you'll learn including breathing strategies to stay centered, staying happy in order to regain a sense of self-control, and avoiding the dangerous cognitive distortion of catastrophizing. x
    • 11
      Good Stress Helps You Handle All Stress
      Can stress be good for you? How does stress help us become healthier, happier, and more resilient? Why should we seek out mild discomfort? How does one researcher's toughness model" explain how good stress works? Learn to use stress to strengthen your resilience." x
    • 12
      The Stress of Learning and Mastery
      Over half of Americans are stressed about their performance at work. Here, learn the importance of deliberate practice: perhaps the most effective strategy for cultivating competence at work. Then, ponder the idea of the imposter syndrome," learn how to receive feedback, dispel the myth of "magical transformation," and more." x
    • 13
      Alternative Approaches to Stress
      Dr. Bonura introduces you to a range of alternative care strategies that have proven benefits for stress management. These include spending time outside in nature, the mind-body technique of self-hypnosis, a fatigue-combatting diet, acupuncture, and massage. x
    • 14
      Mindfulness: Heart Healing to Manage Stress
      There's a lot of misunderstanding about meditation out there. Learn how to leverage mindfulness as a tool and a practice. From mindful breathing to mindful eating to loving-kindness meditation, find out why being mindful can help you build a more positive relationship with stress. x
    • 15
      Channeling Stress for a Competitive Edge
      Performance stress can help you perform at a higher level-if you know how to control it. First, learn how to repurpose this kind of stress as excitement. Then, discover what research says about how posture and flow" (immersion in the moment) can help you perform better in stressful situations." x
    • 16
      Emerging Stress Management Technology
      Explore emerging techniques for stress management based upon up-to-date scientific understanding of how stress works. These include biofeedback to better understand and control your physiological response to stress), art therapy (for emotional healing), visualization of desired outcomes, and eye movement desensitization (to work through trauma). x
    • 17
      Rest, Restore, Recover Your Resilience
      Relaxing is a mindset you carry with you. First, consider the physical and mental health benefits of taking a vacation. Then, better appreciate the smaller stress-reduction strategies of hot showers, and occasionally sleeping in. Finally, explore the idea of work sabbaticals and unstructured time. x
    • 18
      Learning from Your Stress
      Dr. Bonura leaves you with skills to learn from the stress in your life. Discover why it's important to feel a sense of purpose; how the frequency of positive experiences you have is more important than their intensity; and why it truly is important to appreciate the small things. x
  • Books That Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    Professor Leo Damrosch, Ph.D.

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

    In this chapter-by-chapter guide, Professor Leo Damrosch of Harvard University helps you navigate the Decline and Fall’s themes, structure, and lasting influence. Whether you’ve read the book before or never knew where to start, these 24 lectures are an authoritative study of a once-mighty empire—and the great book that became its classic eulogy and epitaph.

    View Lecture List (24)
    24 Lectures  |  Books That Matter: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
    Lecture Titles (24)
    • 1
      The Greatness of Gibbon's Decline and Fall
      Ground your understanding of Gibbon's masterpiece with this helpful introductory lecture. Why was Rome so important to Gibbon and his readers? What makes the periodic style so essential to the Decline and Fall's accessibility? Why should we want to read it today in the 21st century? x
    • 2
      The Making of Gibbon the Historian
      Follow Edward Gibbon's intellectual development: his childhood obsession with reading, his military service, his disappointed love, his social circles, his personal politics, and his life as a gentleman "scholar of leisure." Your primary source for this biographical study: fragments from Gibbon's posthumously published Memoirs. x
    • 3
      The Empire at Its Beginning
      Before plunging into the Decline and Fall, which starts in the second century A.D., you need a little background in early Roman history. Professor Damrosch reviews the Empire's important provinces (including their strange names), the excessive influence of the Roman military, the emergence of imperial dictatorship, and other facts Gibbon's original readers took for granted. x
    • 4
      The Theory and Practice of History
      It's no accident that the Decline and Fall survives as a great work of history. Here, explore how Gibbon understood the role of the historian; consider what he thought of Hume, Voltaire, and other Enlightenment writers; and discover how he revolutionized the use of extensive documentation in his work. x
    • 5
      The Golden Age of the Antonines
      Meet the Antonines: the subject of the first three chapters of the Decline and Fall. From Nerva to Hadrian to Marcus Aurelius, these "five good emperors" ruled the only period of history in which the happiness of a great people was the sole object of government. x
    • 6
      The Hidden Poison Begins to Work
      After the peace of the Antonines, things quickly began to fall apart. Describing the horrific reigns of emperors like Commodus, Caracalla, and Elagabalus, Gibbon illustrates the "hidden poison" by which one-man rule produced a vicious cycle of incompetent, power-corrupt emperors. x
    • 7
      Diocletian and the Triumph of Constantine
      Get a close reading of Chapters 8 to 14 of Gibbon's masterpiece. In these pages, follow the first assaults of the barbarians who would eventually bring the Empire to its knees: the Goths. Also, meet two emperors who would radically reshape the structure of the Roman Empire: Diocletian and Constantine. x
    • 8
      Enlightenment Skepticism
      Consider just how dangerous Gibbon's sociological treatment of Christianity in Chapters 14 and 15 (while grounding the faith in extremely detailed historical analysis) seemed to most of his readers. Rather than focusing on divine providence, the Decline and Fall documents the human causes behind Christianity's evolution into the dominant ideology of the ancient world. x
    • 9
      The Rise of Christianity
      Continue your look at Chapters 14 and 15 of the Decline and Fall. In these pages, Gibbon takes up five causes for Christianity's success, including proselytizing zeal the promise of a future life in heaven, but also unprecedented organizational ability. What Gibbon leaves out, however: any imaginative empathy with religion. x
    • 10
      Constantine and Athanasius
      Chapter 17 is the major turning point in the Decline and Fall. What are Gibbon's thoughts on the transferring of the capital to Constantinople, and on Constantine's famous vision of the cross? Why does he give so much attention to theological controversies, and why was he so impressed by Athanasius, the archbishop of Alexandria? x
    • 11
      Julian and the Return to Paganism
      Paganism in the Empire didn't go down without a fight. Enter Julian the Apostate, who tried to reinstate the Olympian gods. Here, study Chapters 22 to 24, which are devoted to this last dying gasp of paganism-struck down by Julian's death during an ill-advised military campaign, and afterward by pushback from the Christians. x
    • 12
      Barbarian Advances and Theodosius
      In the wake of Julian's death there was great confusion, which occupies Chapters 25 to 28. Topics covered here include increased barbarian threats from in Britain, Germany, the Middle East, the Danube, and North Africa; the "chaste and temperate" rule of Theodosius; and Gibbon's intriguing thoughts on Christian veneration of saints' relics. x
    • 13
      East and West Divided
      With Rome's fracture into eastern and western camps, the story of the empire's decline begins to get complicated. Learn how to navigate the tricky waters of Chapters 29 to 33, which examine cataclysmic events including the sack of Rome in 410 A.D. and the loss of North Africa to the Vandals. x
    • 14
      Huns and Vandals
      Professor Damrosch guides you through successive waves of barbarian invaders, beginning with the assault of the Huns, led by Attila. You'll also get Gibbon's insights on the development of barbarian kingdoms, a sequence of nine Roman emperors in just 20 years, and his biased views on the growth of monasticism. x
    • 15
      Theodoric and Justinian
      The first was a Gothic king; the second Rome's eastern emperor. Theodoric and Justinian (along with his general, Belisarius, and his wife, Theodora) dominate Chapters 39 to 44 of the Decline and Fall, which also examines Constantinople's massive building program (including the Hagia Sophia) and the codification of Roman Law. x
    • 16
      The Breakup of the Empire
      After the fall of the empire in the West, how did Byzantium in the East persist for another nine centuries? Start with this look at Chapters 45 to 47, which cover the consolidation of France under Clovis, the establishment of the papacy as the center of Christendom, and a new swarm of religious heresies. x
    • 17
      The Byzantine Empire and Charlemagne
      Turn now to the fifth volume (of the original six) of the Decline and Fall, where the narrative starts to speed up. In addition to covering historical moments like the reign of Charlemagne and the Comnenian dynasty, you'll also consider the implications of Gibbon's "great man" approach to history from the 7th to 11th centuries. x
    • 18
      The Rise of Islam
      Step back in time to get Gibbon's account of the rise of Islam. Occupying Chapters 50 to 52, this narrative emphasizes how, in Gibbon's view, Islam arrived at a fortunate historical moment when it faced only weak opposition from surrounding powers; he also pays warm tribute to Muhammad's qualities of character. x
    • 19
      The Byzantine Empire in the 10th Century
      At the end of the Decline and Fall's fifth volume, you'll survey the ever-shrinking form of the Byzantine Empire (Chapter 53), early Russians (Chapter 55), Norman conquests in the Mediterranean (Chapter 56), and the expanding dominion of the Turks (Chapter 57). x
    • 20
      The Crusades
      Gibbon's account of the Crusades focused on the way religion was used to rationalize European military and territorial aggression. Learn what this master historian has to say about the rivalry of Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, the birth of the Crusader States, and military orders like the Knights Templar. x
    • 21
      Genghis Khan and Tamerlane
      Unpack another turning point in the Decline and Fall: Genghis Khan and the dawn of the Ottoman Empire. Central to this lecture is another of Gibbon's charismatic figures: Tamerlane (known as "the scourge of God"). Then, end with Gibbon's account of the discovery of gunpowder-which would forever change history. x
    • 22
      The Fall of Constantinople
      Chapters 66 to 70 chronicle the final defeat of Byzantium. Topics you'll explore in this lecture include the exiled papal court at Avignon, Mahomet the Second's capture of Constantinople, and the Great Schism from 1378 to 1417. x
    • 23
      The End of Gibbon's Work
      How did Gibbon keep the Decline and Fall from simply petering out in its final chapter?What were some of his assumptions about the "darkness and confusion" of medieval Europe? See how his visit to the physical ruins of Rome inspired Gibbon's final thoughts on the collapse of the empire and helped to bring his great work to a close. x
    • 24
      Decline and Fall in Modern Perspective
      Professor Damrosch ends his course with a reflections on the Decline and Fall in the 21st century. You'll consider why some historians reject the term "fall" in favor of "transformation," together with insistence by recent specialists that there truly was a fall; and also three major blind spots Gibbon exhibits in his history: toward religion, toward Byzantine civilization, and toward the persistence of deep cultural rhythms as contrasted with political and military events. x
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