Turning Points in Modern History

Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best great courses programs. Dr Liulevicius does an outstanding job of explaining and connecting historical events in this course. Every lecture is clear, informative and keeps your attention. Dr Liulevicius not only tells you what happened, but also why it happened and why it matters.
Date published: 2020-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging topics that are relevant I have not watched them all yet but have enjoyed the first six lectures. My husband is joining me to watch which is great for both of us. Understanding how each Turning Point had enduring results/effects for humanity is so interesting...would love to see how the pandemic of 2020 plays out in the course of human events.
Date published: 2020-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This Was A Fun History Course I bought this course for something to do and it was a lot of fun. Starting in 1433 with Admiral Zheng He and his voyages, what would have happened if he found the west coast of the Americas instead of India and the west coast of Africa? This course is more than a re-hash of the routine major events along with dates, people, and places. The events covered go into what was going on at those times, who was affected and how they were affected by those events. Some examples are how did the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company compete with each other and how each controlled not only the trade with other countries, but how they controlled their own governments, and because both maintained their own private armies they got things done on the world stage that their own governments could not. Or, what and how did the Opium Wars in China have to do with opening up China to the world marketplace? Who knew that women had the right to legally vote in 1893, but that was in New Zealand and not in one of the powerhouse countries of the Americas or Europe? Anyone taking history as a major could use this course as a starting point for writing papers on topics that are not routinely covered and are out of the ordinary for many history courses.
Date published: 2020-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Of my 70 TGC courses, this is the top 5 CONTENT: of the enormous amount of material to cover, the professor selected and covered them well. Stressing the main points and not boring us to tears with insignificant details. This doesn't happen by accident. Well done! DELIVERY: Rare is when a professor skillfully blends the right amount of emotion with facts. This is in contrast with another TGC course where if the professor smiled, his face would crack and fall off. Professor Liulevicius was excellent! He could make interesting "why brass doorknobs are better than bronze doorknobs". You really do need the VIDEO in this (not just audio) FINAL THOUGHTS: The real litmus test (or BIAS test) of any history professor is how he-she handles the RIGHT- fascist and the LEFT-communist issues. My last professor almost wore a hammer & sickle armband. In contrast, this good professor was very careful to cover the FACTS of the matter carefully, tactfully and with eye-witness accounts. As such, the professor has earned my respect and patronage with other of his TGC courses. Good job!
Date published: 2019-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real winner Dr. Liulevicius is one of the Teaching Company’s most effective presenters, and this is as good as any of his courses I have taken. He identifies 24 different events since the 15th Century, which he discusses as “turning points” that have changed the course of history. Scanning the list—which includes the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904—before listening to the lectures, it is not obvious why these relatively little-known entities should be included in a “top 24” among hundreds of major world historical events. However, Liulevicius clearly lays out his rationale and goals for the course, makes a compelling case for each entry, and illustrates its importance by relating it to each subsequent discussion. In his usual clear, articulate, and continuously interesting fashion, he makes a compelling case for each selection. This course has a more unitary and transparent design than many, with each lecture clearly tied to its predecessors, with the effect of building a coherent whole that impressed me a great deal. It was interesting, thought-provoking, and illuminating throughout: a real winner.
Date published: 2019-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "Game Changer" Events Professor Liulevicius does a fine job of analyzing watershed episodes of human history since 1400 AD that resulted in major changes on a global or near-global scale. There had, of course, been pivotal events, discoveries, and inventions before (the signing of the Magna Carta, for instance) which amounted to major turning points for particular peoples, followed by somewhat gradual repercussions for human society in general. The professor makes a good case, though, that one reason to identify turning points since the 15th century as being of the “modern” world is because of how broadly and relatively rapidly the effects of those events were able to spread. What Dr. Liulevicius chooses to highlight in his 24 lectures are, convincingly, key “game changers” of world history. I treasure his presentations, and I am disappointed only that his course wasn’t a longer one. I would have also enjoyed lectures included on John Harrison’s marine chronometer, on the harnessing of steam power, and on Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, for example. Some of the best lectures that did “make the cut” gave me new insights about familiar topics, such as the invention of the printing press, powered flight, and the demise of the Berlin Wall. I also benefited from learning about turning points of which I’d been rather ignorant (e.g., Denis Diderot’s encyclopedia, and the Russo-Japanese War). The professor consistently strikes a nice balance between carefully worded instruction and an air of friendly spontaneity, making me feel drawn into what he has to share.
Date published: 2019-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great course by Prof. Lielevicius! While I disagreed with some of the events Prof. Lielevicius chose as turning points, I found his course very interesting and well presented. The effectiveness of his course was enhanced by the manymaps and visuals that supplemented his narratives. I very much enjoyed his perspectives on the events he picked, most of which I was knowledgeable about.
Date published: 2019-07-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Highly Informative I am a science teacher who likes history and this series was informative and fun. A series good for the entire family of history buffs. I am glad I purchased the CDs so I can pass them around the family.
Date published: 2019-05-31
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Turning Points in Modern History
Course Trailer
1433-The Great Voyages of Admiral Zheng He
1: 1433-The Great Voyages of Admiral Zheng He

Explore the idea of modernity and define "turning point." Then, consider why Chinese admiral Zheng He's voyages promoting the power of China's authority did not continue as part of a larger campaign of discovery-and what the consequences might have been had he reached the Americas.

32 min
1453-The Fall of Constantinople
2: 1453-The Fall of Constantinople

Although many educated people think they know about the fall of the Roman Empire, Professor Liulevicius says the end actually happened 1,000 years later with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Delve deeper into this event and learn the trauma the loss created for Europeans.

31 min
1455-Gutenberg's Print Revolution
3: 1455-Gutenberg's Print Revolution

Trace how Johannes Gutenberg's introduction of a press with movable type sparked a print revolution, becoming a key factor in the Protestant Reformation, the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the standardization of vernacular languages.

32 min
1492-The Columbian Exchange
4: 1492-The Columbian Exchange

Without intending to, Christopher Columbus's search for Asia initiated an event that has been called the most important historical turning point of modern times. Investigate how Columbus's encounter with the Americas brought distant peoples together politically, culturally, and environmentally in ways that were simultaneously productive and deeply destructive.

31 min
1600-The British East India Company
5: 1600-The British East India Company

The English and Dutch East India companies coexisted in the Spice Islands as they worked to outflank the Portuguese, but their rivalry soon escalated into war. Examine the founding and meteoric growth of the East India Company and the violence that ultimately led Britain to establish an empire on which the sun never set.

31 min
1648-The Treaty of Westphalia
6: 1648-The Treaty of Westphalia

The Thirty Years War involved some million soldiers and mass civilian casualties. Explore the significance of the Peace of Westphalia, the settlement that ended the war in 1648-a vital turning point that still shapes how international politics are handled.

31 min
1676-Van Leeuwenhoek's Microscope
7: 1676-Van Leeuwenhoek's Microscope

Trace how Anton van Leeuwenhoek's striking discovery fit into the larger Scientific Revolution and shifted intellectual authority from classic texts to that which is observable and measurable.

31 min
1751-Diderot's Enlightenment Encyclopedia
8: 1751-Diderot's Enlightenment Encyclopedia

The Encyclopédie was the most ambitious reference work and publishing project of its time. Discover how the editors made knowledge accessible to a mass audience and championed the Enlightenment's progressive, secular message, despite fierce opposition from the Catholic Church.

31 min
1787-The American Experiment
9: 1787-The American Experiment

Learn how America's founders established a model of a republic through debate, compromise, separation of powers, and a flexible Constitution.

31 min
1789-The French Revolution
10: 1789-The French Revolution

How did France's fight for liberation from royal authority lead to Napoleon's rise and even greater despotism? Contrast events in America with those in France to see how attempts at creating modern republics radically diverged.

31 min
1838-The British Slavery Abolition Act
11: 1838-The British Slavery Abolition Act

Confront the harsh realities of the African slave trade and consider the role social mobilization played in eradicating the institution across the British Empire.

30 min
1839-The Opium War in China
12: 1839-The Opium War in China

Delve into the causes, conflicts, and consequences of the Opium Wars, in which China was psychologically devastated and subjugated by British imperialism.

30 min
1859-Darwin and the Origin of Species
13: 1859-Darwin and the Origin of Species

Discover how a simple observation inspired Darwin's theories of evolution and natural selection, and why his Origin of Species was eagerly accepted by much of Victorian society. Then, look at how the Nazis and others distorted Darwin's ideas.

31 min
1869-Binding Continents
14: 1869-Binding Continents

In 1869, two events connected the world through modern technology, giving science vast significance as a source of authority. Learn how the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the United States and the Suez Canal in Egypt revolutionized the way people perceived space and time.

30 min
1893-First Women Voters in New Zealand
15: 1893-First Women Voters in New Zealand

Follow the fight for women's suffrage in New Zealand and America, as two global trends-the demand for women's political voice and the growth of settler societies-intersected.

31 min
1896-The Invention of Motion Pictures
16: 1896-The Invention of Motion Pictures

Motion pictures revolutionized people's view of the world. Survey early movie culture, along with the contributions of Thomas Edison, Georges Méliès, and others, then see how the medium became "weaponized" by Bolsheviks in Russia and Nazis in Germany.

31 min
1903-Kitty Hawk and Powered Flight
17: 1903-Kitty Hawk and Powered Flight

Witness the dawning of the air age and meet the Montgolfier brothers, the Wright brothers, and others who brought humanity's dream of flying to fruition. Then, explore how aviation shaped the experience of modernity, from the relative ease of travel to the stark reality of "total warfare."

31 min
1904-The Russo-Japanese War
18: 1904-The Russo-Japanese War

To the world's surprise, Japan defeated Russia in the Russo-Japanese War. Learn how this conflict fought with industrialized weapons reconfigured world politics by igniting the process of global decolonization, establishing Japan as a great power, and setting the stage for two world wars.

31 min
1928-The Discovery of Penicillin
19: 1928-The Discovery of Penicillin

The advance of antibiotics occurred amid the larger context of the development of germ theory. Trace how scientists' understanding of the mechanisms of infection and disease evolved during the 19th century-and see how Alexander Fleming stumbled upon his life-saving discovery.

30 min
1942-The Dawn of the Atom
20: 1942-The Dawn of the Atom

When German physicists split the atom, Albert Einstein warned President Roosevelt of the potential for "extremely powerful bombs of a new type." Chart the course of the nuclear bomb from this letter through the first nuclear chain reaction led by physicist Enrico Fermi, the Manhattan Project, and devastation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

30 min
1969-Walking on the Moon
21: 1969-Walking on the Moon

The moon landing expanded humanity's sense of the possible. Learn how the space program grew out of advances in rocketry during World War II and advanced rapidly due to cold war paranoia exacerbated by the launch of Sputnik.

30 min
1972-China Enters the World Balance
22: 1972-China Enters the World Balance

Nixon's meeting with Mao shifted the cold war's balance and returned China to the world stage. Learn the reasons for Nixon's trip, the consequences of which still reverberate, and plot the rise of Mao and communism in China. Then, see how Deng Xiaoping's promotion of private enterprise began a trajectory of growth that continues.

30 min
1989-The Fall of the Berlin Wall
23: 1989-The Fall of the Berlin Wall

How did a bureaucratic blunder by a Politburo member lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall? Find out as you examine the surprisingly peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and Communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.

30 min
2004-The Rise of Social Media
24: 2004-The Rise of Social Media

Are the Web and social media making us more globally connected or locking us into niche societies and creating an epidemic of loneliness? Probe both the power and the perils of the Internet-from aiding popular uprisings to rewiring our brains.

33 min
Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Modernity is a notoriously slippery concept, because, obviously, what is modern now will soon become the past, as time marches relentlessly forward.


University of Pennsylvania


University of Tennessee

About Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

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