Introduction to Ancient Greek History: A Free Online Course by Yale Historian Donald Kagan (RIP)

Earlier this month, Yale historian Donald Kagan passed away at age 89 in Washington D.C. In their obituary, The New York Times writes:

Professor Kagan was considered among the country’s leading historians. His four-volume account of the Peloponnesian War, from 431 B.C. to 404 B.C., was hailed by the critic George Steiner as “the foremost work of history produced in North America in the 20th century.”

He was equally renowned for his classroom style, in which he peppered nuanced readings of ancient texts with references to his beloved New York Yankees and inventive, sometimes comic exercises in class participation, like having students form a hoplite phalanx to demonstrate how Greek soldiers marched into combat.

If you never sat in Kagan’s classroom, you can still experience his teaching style online. Recorded in 2007, Kagan’s course Introduction to Ancient Greek History traces “the development of Greek civilization as manifested in political, intellectual, and creative achievements from the Bronze Age to the end of the classical period.” You can watch the 24 video lectures above, or find them on YouTube. The lectures also appear on iTunes in audio and video. Find the texts used in the course below. More information about the course, including the syllabus, can be found on this Yale website.

Introduction to Ancient Greek History will be added to our collection of Free Online History courses, a subset of our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600: A Free Online Course from Yale University

From Yale University comes an unfortunately timely course, Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600Recorded before the outbreak of COVID-19, the 25 lecture course, presented by historian Frank Snowden, covers the following ground:

This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.

You can watch the lectures on YouTube above, or on iTunes (VideoAudio). You can also read Snowden’s related book: Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present.

If you want to hear what Snowden has to say about COVID-19, we have two interviews below.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: Epidemics in History

How Will COVID-19 Change the World? Historian Frank Snowden on Epidemics From the Black Death to Now

Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600 will be added to our list of Free Online History courses, a subset of our metacollection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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A Free Online Course from Yale University Explains How the World Lapsed into the Politics of Fear & Resentment

“How did we get from the huge euphoria that followed the fall of communism in the early 1990s to our present politics of fear and resentment, and what are the prospects going forward?” These questions and more get answered in Yale’s free course, “Power and Politics in Today’s World.”  Taught by Professor of Political Science Ian Shapiro, the course “provides an examination of political dynamics and institutions over this past tumultuous quarter century, and the implications of these changes for what comes next. Among the topics covered are the decline of trade unions and the enlarged role of business as political forces, changing attitudes towards parties and other political institutions amidst the growth of inequality and middle-class insecurity, the emergence of new forms of authoritarianism, and the character and durability of the unipolar international order that replaced the Cold War.”

You can watch the lectures on Youtube, or stream them all above. The syllabus and reading list can be found here.

“Power and Politics in Today’s World” will be added to our meta collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

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Take Free Courses on African-American History from Yale and Stanford: From Emancipation, to the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond

Take Free Online Courses on African-American History from Yale and Stanford: From Emancipation, to the Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond

As every American knows, February is Black History Month. And as every American also knows — if the events of 2020 haven’t warped their sense of time too badly — is isn’t February right now. But thanks to online learning technology, we all have the freedom to study any subject we want, as much as we want, whenever we want, irrespective of the time of year. Sources of internet-based education have proliferated in the 21st century, but long-respected institutions of higher learning have also got in on the action. Yale University, for example, has produced the online course African American History: Emancipation to the Present, whose 25 lectures by history professor Jonathan Holloway you can watch on YouTube, or at Yale’s web site. The first lecture appears above.

Originally recorded in the spring of 2010, Holloway’s course examines “the African American experience in the United States from 1863 to the present,” involving such chapters of history as “the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction” and “African Americans’ urbanization experiences.”




It also includes lectures on the “thought and leadership of Booker T. Washington, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X” — all writers and thinkers Open Culture readers will have encountered before, but a course like African American History: Emancipation to the Present offers the opportunity to consider their lives and work in clearer context and greater detail.

Black history has deeper roots in some parts of the United States than others. But that doesn’t mean the universities of the west have nothing to offer in this department: take, for example, Stanford University’s African-American History: Modern Freedom Struggle, taught by the historian (and editor of MLK’s papers) Clayborne Carson. Available to watch on YouTube and iTunes (or right above), its 18 lectures deliver an introduction to “African-American history, with particular emphasis on the political thought and protest movements of the period after 1930, focusing on selected individuals who have shaped and been shaped by modern African-American struggles for freedom and justice.” Taken together, these online courses offer you more than enough material to hold your own Black History Month right now.

Note: Clay Carson’s course can also be taken as a MOOC on edX. Enroll now in American Prophet: The Inner Life and Global Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. And find the courses listed above in our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

Yale Presents an Archive of 170,000 Photographs Documenting the Great Depression

dorothea lange

During the Great Depression, The Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) hired photographers to travel across America to document the poverty that gripped the nation, hoping to build support for New Deal programs being championed by F.D.R.’s administration.




Legendary photographers like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein took part in what amounted to the largest photography project ever sponsored by the federal government. All told, 170,000 photographs were taken, then catalogued back in Washington DC. The Library of Congress became their eventual resting place.

walker evans

We first mentioned this historic project back in 2012, when the New York Public Library put a relatively small sampling of these images online. But now we have bigger news.

Yale University has launched Photogrammar, a sophisticated web-based platform for organizing, searching, and visualizing these 170,000 historic photographs.

arthur rothstein

The Photogrammar platform gives you the ability to search through the images by photographer. Do a search for Dorothea Lange’s photographs, and you get over 3200 images, including the now iconic photograph at the bottom of this post.

Photogrammar also offers a handy interactive map that lets you gather geographical information about 90,000 photographs in the collection.

And then there’s a section called Photogrammar Labs where innovative visualization techniques and data experiments will gradually shed new light on the image archive.

According to Yale, the Photogrammar project was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Directed by Laura Wexler, the project was undertaken by Yale’’s Public Humanities Program and its Photographic Memory Workshop.

rothstein 3
Top image: A migrant agricultural worker in Marysville migrant camp, trying to figure out his year’s earnings. Taken in California in 1935 by Dorothea Lange.

Second image: Allie Mae Burroughs, wife of cotton sharecropper. Photo taken in Hale County, Alabama in 1935 by Walker Evans.

Third image: Wife and children of sharecropper in Washington County, Arkansas. By Arthur Rothstein. 1935.

Fourth image: Wife of Negro sharecropper, Lee County, Mississippi. Again taken by Arthur Rothstein in 1935.

Bottom image: Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Taken by Dorothea Lange in Nipomo, California, 1936.

lange bottom

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

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Note: An earlier version of this post appeared on our site in 2014.

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Watch a 4000-Year Old Babylonian Recipe for Stew, Found on a Cuneiform Tablet, Get Cooked by Researchers from Yale & Harvard

Walk like an Egyptian, but eat like an ancient Babylonian.

While cookbooks containing Mesopotamian fare do exist, to be really authentic, take your recipes from a clay tablet, densely inscribed in cuneiform.

Sadly, there are only four of them, and they reside in a display case at Yale. (Understandable given that they’re over 4000 years old.)

When Agnete Lassen, associate curator of Yale’s Babylonian Collection, and colleague Chelsea Alene Graham, a digital imaging specialist, were invited to participate in a culinary event hosted by New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, they wisely chose to travel with a 3D-printed facsimile of one of the precious tablets.




T’would have been a shame to knock the original off the counter while reaching for a bunch of leeks.

While other presenters prepared such delicacies as Fish Sauces at the Roman Table, Buddhist vegetarian dishes from the Song Dynasty, and a post-modern squid-ink spin on Medieval Blancmange, the Yale team joined chef Nawal Nasrallah and a crew from Harvard to recreate three one-pot dishes detailed on one of the ancient artifacts.

Judging by the above video, the clear winner was Tuh’i, a beet and lamb stew which Lassen describes as a “proto-borscht.”

The vegetarian Unwinding Stew’s name proved unnecessarily vexing, while the milk-based Broth of Lamb was unappetizing to the eye (as well as the palate, according to Graham). Perhaps they should have substituted animal blood—another favorite Babylonian thickener.

As one of Lassen’s predecessors, Professor William W. Hallo, told The New York Times in 1988, it’s unlikely the average Mesopotamian would have had the opportunity to tuck into any of these dishes. The vast quantities of speciality ingredients and the elaborate instructions suggest a festive meal for the elite.

In addition to the dishes served at NYU’s Appetite for the Past conference, the tablets include recipes for stag, gazelle, kid, mutton, squab, and a bird that’s referred to as “tarru.”

Next time, perhaps.

And not to quibble with the Bulldogs, but the BBC reports that researchers from the University of Wales Institute are claiming a pudding made from nettles, ground barley, and water is actually the world’s oldest recipe, clocking in at 6000 BC. (Serve it with roast hedgehog and fish gut sauce…)

While the Yale team has yet to share its recipes in a language other than cuneiform, The Silk Road Gourmet has a good guide to various Mesopotamian spices and staples.

via Kottke/Yale

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Thursday June 28 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Yale’s Free Course on The Moral Foundations of Political Philosophy: Do Governments Deserve Our Allegiance, and When Should They Be Denied It?

“When do governments deserve our allegiance, and when should they be denied it?” It’s a question that has perhaps crossed your mind lately. And it’s precisely the question that’s at the heart of The Moral Foundations of Political Philosophy, a free course taught by Yale political science professor Ian Shapiro.

In 25 lectures (all available above, on YouTube and iTunes), the course “starts with a survey of major political theories of the Enlightenment—Utilitarianism, Marxism, and the social contract tradition—through classical formulations, historical context, and contemporary debates relating to politics today. It then turns to the rejection of Enlightenment political thinking. Lastly, it deals with the nature of, and justifications for, democratic politics, and their relations to Enlightenment and Anti-Enlightenment political thinking.”

You can find an archived web page that includes a syllabus for the course. Or you can now take the course as a full-blown MOOC. Below find the texts used in the course.

The Moral Foundations of Political Philosophy will be added to our list of Free Political Science Courses, a subset of our collection 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

Texts:

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem. New York: Viking, 1963.

Bromwich, David. “Introduction” to On Empire, Liberty, and Reform: Speeches and Letters. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Burke, Edmund. Reflections on the Revolution in France. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Hamilton, Alexander, John Jay, and James Madison. The Federalist Papers. Ed. Ian Shapiro. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.

Locke, John. Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Human Understanding. Ed. Ian Shapiro. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1988.

MacIntyre, Alasdair. After Virtue. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007.

Mill, John Stuart. On Liberty. Ed. David Bromwich and George Kateb. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books, 1974.

Rawls, John. A Theory of Justice. 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

Shapiro, Ian. Democratic Justice. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.

Shapiro, Ian. Moral Foundations of Politics. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.

Tucker, Robert C., ed. The Marx-Engels Reader. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.

A Free Yale Course on Medieval History: 700 Years in 22 Lectures

In 22 lectures, Yale historian Paul Freedman takes you on a 700 year tour of medieval history. Moving from 284–1000 AD, this free online course covers “the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Arabs, the ‘Dark Ages,’ Charlemagne and the Carolingian renaissance, and the Viking and Hungarian invasions.” And let’s not forget St. Augustine and the “Splendor of Byzantium.”

You can stream all of the lectures above. Or also find them on YouTube, iTunes and this Yale website.

The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000 will be added to our list of Free History Courses, a subset of our meta collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities. Below, we’ve added a list of the key texts used in the course:

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

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