Free: European Cultural History in 91 Lectures by Eminent Historian George L. Mosse (1500–1920)

Dur­ing the 1960s and 1970s, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son put togeth­er one of the finest his­to­ry pro­grams in the Unit­ed States, and it was anchored by George Mosse, a Ger­man-born cul­tur­al his­to­ri­an who authored 25 books cov­er­ing the Eng­lish Ref­or­ma­tion, Luther­an the­ol­o­gy, Jew­ish his­to­ry, and fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy. Though he died in 1999, Mosse still remains a leg­endary fig­ure in Madi­son, and now the uni­ver­si­ty (where I did my under­grad­u­ate work — in his­to­ry, no less) has dust­ed off record­ings of his cours­es and made them freely avail­able online.

Three of his cours­es tie togeth­er into a nice pack­age, offer­ing a long look at Euro­pean Cul­tur­al His­to­ry. The first course takes you from 1500 to 1800, cov­er­ing the Renais­sance, Ref­or­ma­tion, Eng­lish Rev­o­lu­tion, Enlight­en­ment, and French Rev­o­lu­tion. The sec­ond course moves from 1660 to 1880, focus­ing on the ideas that changed Europe. It’s essen­tial­ly an intel­lec­tu­al his­to­ry that traces the rise of Enlight­en­ment think­ing, Ger­man Roman­ti­cism and Ide­al­ism (includ­ing Hegelian­ism), the birth of lib­er­al­ism and Marx­ism and beyond.

And, final­ly, the last course focus­es on the crit­i­cal peri­od 1880 — 1920. Here we have a sur­vey of the cul­tur­al revolt against bour­geois soci­ety, the rise of mod­ern cul­ture (fig­ures like Niet­zsche, Freud, & Brecht take cen­ter stage), the dam­age wrought by World War I, and the begin­nings of fas­cism in Europe.

The cours­es, all pre­sent­ed in audio, are usu­al­ly accom­pa­nied by text sum­maries. You can down­load a fourth course by Mosse called Mod­ern Jew­ish His­to­ry. They all appear in the His­to­ry sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

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