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Making of the Modern World - varnamvarnam
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Making of the Modern World

They have not discovered audio editing yet. Each lecture begins with three minutes of silence. At the end there are ten minutes of silence. Still UCSD Prof. Matthew Herbst’s lecture series MMW4 (New Ideas/Clash of Cultures) is the best history podcast I have listened so far.

These lectures are part of the Making of the Modern World Program at the Roosevelt College.

It is designed to encourage thinking historically, comparatively, and in an interdisciplinary way about the Western and non-Western cultures studied in the course sequence. Disciplinary perspectives include those from literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, political science, and the fine arts. Students examine and interpret primary documents and artifacts from diverse eras and cultures, and enhance their understanding with information gained from secondary sources. [Roosevelt College]

While most beginners in history start with the usual Western Civilization till 1500 course, which ignores India, China and the Muslim world, the MMW series is quite comprehensive. This particular one, going on in the Fall session, examines the world from 1200 to 1750 covering the Mongols, Mamluks, Mughal Empire, Ottomans, Saffavids, the Western explorers and China.

His lecture on the Mughal Empire would give a heart attack to some “eminent” Indian historians. After talking about Akbar, he contrasts him with Aurangzeb and explains how he destroyed the temple at Varanasi and built a mosque in place. Following this he explains the rise of Shivaji.

But that is not why MMW4 is great. His style of teaching history is exceptional. He does not read out the text book, but tells it like a story. At each point, he asks questions like why is this important or why a certain decision was taken instead of another? As you think, various patterns emerge and expands your mind.

The course is going on right now in San Diego and it is available for download or listening online. The UCSD folks have not discovered storage unlike the UC Berkeley folks and so the course will be deleted as soon as the Fall quarter ends. (mid December).

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