I find endlessly fascinating the global milieu of the 19th century. Academic Earth has recently made available an absolutely superb ten lecture course, Darwin’s Legacy. This was a special course organized by Stanford University. Its glue is Dr. William H. Durham, Bing Professor of Anthropological Studies Stanford University.
Much is shared by the outstanding group of lecturers (some of the world’s top scholars representing multiple disciplines) in this course about the world of middle 1800’s. Recall that Charles Darwin’s most famous work was published as America was on the verge of Civil War.
1859 On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is published in London, Nov. 24 by John Murray.
1860 Publishes 2nd edition of Origin. Foreign editions appear. Begins work on Variation book.
1861 Continued work on Variation book. Published 3rd edition of Origin. Began work on Orchid book.
“Light will be thrown…” With these modest words, Charles Darwin launched a sweeping new theory of life in his epic book, On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory opened eyes and minds around the world to a radical new understanding of the flora and fauna of the planet. Here, Darwin showed for the first time that no supernatural processes are necessary to explain the profusion of living beings on earth, that all organisms past and present are related in a historical branching pattern of descent, and that human beings fall into place quite naturally in the web of all life.
Now, 150 years later and 200 years after Darwins birth, we celebrate the amazingly productive vision and reach of his theory. In this Fall Quarter course, we will meet weekly with leading Darwin scholars from around the country to learn about Darwin’s far-reaching legacy in fields as diverse as anthropology, religion, medicine, psychology, philosophy, literature, and biology.
The National Book Foundation has announced that Civil War historian and Yale history professor David W. Blight will be a judge for the 2009 Nonfiction National Book Award. Blight is “Professor of History at Yale University and author of many books on nineteenth century American history, including A Slave No More, published in 2007.” Finalists will be announced on October 13.
Bruno Cabanes, Associate Professor of History at Yale, presents a haunting picture of the impact of the unimaginable loss suffered as a result of World War I in a video lecture at AcademicEarth.com. You can access the lecture here.
Mass death was pervasive during the war and many family members struggled to reconcile that loss, often without a body to mourn. He discusses how collective mourning impacted culture particularly in France.
Author: La Victoire Endeuillée: La Sortie de Guerre des Soldats Francais, 1918-1920 (A Victory in Mourning: French Soldiers Coming out of War, 1918-1920) Co-author 11 Septembre: La Grande Guerre des Américains Passions Albanaises: De Berisha au Kosovo Co-editor: Les societes en guerre, 1911-1946
Every free minute I get of late, I tune into Steven B. Smith’s outstanding course on Academicearth.org titled Introduction to Political Philosophy. I am re-reading Plato’s The Republic with a version on my Kindle 2 and a regular copy of The Republic of Plato, Allan Bloom’s highly regarded translation. Steven Smith, Alfred Cowles Professor of Political Science at Yale University, has a distinctive teaching style that I find quite good.
I hope to make my way through the reading list as follows.
Plato, Trial and Death of Socrates
Machiavelli, The Prince
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan
John Locke, Second Treatise of Government
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Political Writings
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America
Two new fiction works have made their way to my library. The March by E. L. Doctorow. This book was required reading for the Yale course by David W. Blight on the Civil War era which I mentioned here. I picked up a nice hardback used and am listening to it on my MP3 via download from the library.
In addition to the course, presented in an extremely user friendly format, Academic Earth provides a syllabus, reading list (yes I’ve already ordered them all), and full text transcripts of all lectures. GOLD MINE.
I’ve made it through 13 of 27 lectures and they are both outstanding and mesmerizing. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!