• Ancien Regime

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 11/22/2017

    One of the key ideas of this unit is a split developed between popular and elite culture in the early to mid 18th century. This split centered on such issues as entertainment, language, religion, and alcohol.  

    Do you think there is a similar situation today in the 21st century? Are there popular and elite cultures today (PBS vs. Honey Boo Boo)?  If so, what are they?   Who/ what determines which culture is elite or popular?  Is it based on class, ethnicity, or some other consideration

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  • The Intellectual Revolution

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 11/16/2017

    In the 17th and 18th centuries, there was an explosion of new scientific and political ideas. Newton, Descartes, Voltarie, Montesquieu and Locke all dramatically affected the world, and their innovations still impact us today. Are we living in a comparable period? Are such people like Bill Gates, Dean Kamen (most famous for being the inventor of the Segway) Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Jr.etc. on par with these predecessors? Why or why not?

    Has there been a comparable time period to the Scientific Revolution or the Enlightenment? Does the Civil Rights Era and the "Sixties" compare? Or is the Enlightenment a singular event in human history? Does it apply to all peoples and civilizations? Or just European nations, or those (such as the United States and Canada) whose civilizations are based on European culture?

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  • Age of Absolutism

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 10/31/2017

    The late 17th century (the late 1600s that is) saw a dichotomy developing European government. On one hand there is the massive centralization of power that occurs in France and several of the Eastern European states, while in the northwestern portion of the continent, England and the Netherlands in particular, there is further development of decentralization (as in the Netherlands) or all-out war to create limited monarchies (as in England). Why do you think there is this difference between these states?

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  • Age of Exploration

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 10/30/2017

    One of the key themes in this unit is that of slavery. We discuss in depth the process by which we African slaves were ripped from their families, and sold into a slave system thousands of miles from home. We witness the evolution in culture that these slaves experience as they try to cope with the horrors of their lives.

    What this leads me to ask is, what do we owe their descendants? Should we apologize for it (there never has been an official apology for the slave trade)? Should we pay them reparations? If so, what do we do about Native Americans? What responsibility do we have today for yesterday's errors?

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  • The Reformation

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 9/24/2017

    During the Reformation Europe was consumed by both political and religious turmoil. Europe seemed to take stock of itself and reevaluated how it was acting in the world. There were changes within the Church and outside of it that corrected many of the abuses that had started in the High Middle Ages, and only grew during the Italian Renaissance. Many contend that this reform was instrumental in forming modern Europe and eliminating many of the bad practices of the period.

    Currently, many have contended that the Islamic world needs a Reformation of its own that mirrors this period. Six years ago about this time the Pope Benedict weighed in on this issue in what has become a highly controversial speech. What do you think? Does the Islamic world need a Reformation like the one in Europe?

    For reference, here is the Wikipedia article about on this topic.

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  • The Renaissance

    Posted by Todd Hathaway on 9/6/2017

    I have always been struck by the paradox of the Renaissance in Italy.On one hand, there is an incredible achievement in art, literature, and architecture. On the other hand, there is incredible debauchery in the Roman Catholic Church and general disregard for many of the principles that Church was supposed to uphold (celibacy for example).

    Today, I think we seem something similar. Look at the music industry. We have performers rapping or singing about subjects that if discussed in a normal conversation would get you in trouble, yet set it to music, and you have a hit single. You can see the same thing in pop culture, with stories of Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, and Brittany Spears exploits making the news (and getting famous) for behaving badly.

    This makes me wonder. Is there a connection between bad behavior and artistic genius? Do you have to be bad to be good?

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