Thursday, May 30, 2024

John P. R. Eicher, Associate Professor of European History at Penn State University and a 2023-24 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, has released a ten-part YouTube lecture series titled, "Western Civilization (1500-Present): From Dawn, to Decadence, to Disillusionment." 

The series argues that the growth of bureaucratic thinking in "the West '' created a world where [a]bstractions eclipse reality, which grants [b]ureaucracies [c]ontrol of the modern world. Along the way, the series examines the fate of nineteenth-century Western "Progress" and its implications for our postmodern, twenty-first-century world. The series follows a 500-year narrative "arc," but each 40-50 minute lecture may be viewed as a "stand alone" presentation, complete with its own set of arguments. Delivered in a warm but lively style, the lectures are interactive, engaging, and media-rich. They are aimed at a general audience but they may also be useful in the classroom as a video "textbook" of modern Western civilization or modern European history.


Promotional Music Video (500 images of 500 years in under 5 minutes!):

" (Music: Handsome Furs, "Repatriated." Video: John Eicher.)


1) "The ABCs of Modern Western Civilization: Abstraction, Bureaucracy, Control"

2) "What Physics Do You Believe In? Renaissance, Reformation, and the Rise of the Scientific Worldview"

3) "What Goes Up Must Come Down: From the Rise of the Enlightenment to the Fall of Napoleon"

4) "Nationalism: An "Invented Tradition" of "Imagined Communities"

5) "The 19th Century Industrial Revolutions: A Vast, Uncontrolled and Unscientific Experiment or The Reason Why you Brush Your Teeth, Know the Time, and Don't Know Who Made Everything You Own"

6) "Nineteenth-Century Imperialism: The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire Because the Lights Are Always on at the Foreign Office"

6.5) "Interlude: Modernism: The Greater the Circle of Understanding, the Greater the Circumference of Ignorance"

7) "The First World War (1914-18) & The Interwar Period (1918-39): The Beginning. Of the End. Of History."

8) "WWII, the Holocaust, and the A-Bomb: Everything not Forbidden is Compulsory... and Postwar 'Progress'"

9) "C:\Postmodernism (A History of Now): A Unified World, Divided. A Divided World, Managed. A Managed World, Unified. C:\Continue."