Archive for July 24th, 2012

Things I Know I Don’t Know

I went to a university with a wide spread of divisional requirements classes. These included a requirement for two courses of History, Philosophy, or Religion. I picked philosophy and religion.

In high school my social studies course senior year was AP US Government, junior year was AP US History (alternative option was Virginia Government and Virginia History).

All of this is to say that the last time I’ve taken any formal classes in world history was my sophomore year in high school, which ended just over 17 years ago (shut up, I know I’m young and/or old). That was World History II focusing on 1500 to the present. Tack on another year since I received any formal education in something that happened anywhere on the planet before the year 1500, and even that was the standard western civilization approach to history. Babylon, Egypt, Greece, then stay in Europe with maybe a day spent on “oh, yes, and there were things going on in Asia and Africa too, I guess.”

I’m trying to correct this. This is where you will come in.

This is all because I found Crash Course: World History on YouTube. As the name implies, it’s a rapid overview of the world from the Agricultural Revolution through, as of this writing, the Seven Years War. The end goal of the series is 40 episodes of 10 minutes each. 400 minutes of world history. It’s enjoyable as hell, but since it can only scratch the surface, it’s left me wanting more.

Thus far the more has been the BBC podcast series A History of the World in 100 Objects. It was a limited run podcast created in 2010, 100 episodes of 14 minutes each. 1400 minutes of world history. I also have waiting on my iPod an iTunes U course on the Early Middle Ages. 22 episodes with a focus on the years 400-1000, running about 50 minutes an episode. 1100 minutes of world history.

Add it all up, and that’s 2900 minutes. Just over two days if played end-to-end. Perhaps I’ll get to the end of it all and feel that my push for a better understanding of world history has been satiated, but right now I doubt that. So, as I do occasionally, I’m looking for recommendations. Largely, I’m looking for the kind of thing I can put on my iPod. So even though a picture says a thousand words…I’d probably prefer the words. Which makes things a little more complicated. World history isn’t something that people tend to podcast about. Most of the ones I found only ended up producing three or four episodes. Sampling my way through iTunes U has felt hit-and-miss in terms of listenability (hard to listen to a guy with a monotone voice recorded from the back of an echoy lecture hall while driving). YouTube suggestions are also welcome, this did start with a webshow afterall.

Oh, and I wouldn’t say I’m cheap, but I do have a baby on the way so shelling out for things like The Great Courses isn’t quite in the pocketbook, so free is an ideal price point.

Given all that, I put it to you, my readers. Do you have personal experiences with something that might scratch this weird itch I have?

Update: In some searching while putting this post together, I did find Columbia University’s inaugural World History course was filmed and put online at YouTube. If you’re interested in the whole series, that’s the link in the last sentence, but I found this fascinating. It’s the opening course, and the first 45 minutes is a history of world history.


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