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Renaissance: The Transformation of the West

Narrated by: Jennifer McNabb
Length: 26 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: History, European
4 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

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Summary

While it’s easy to get caught up - and, rightfully so - in the art of the Renaissance, you cannot have a full, rounded understanding of just how important these centuries were without digging beneath the surface, without investigating the period in terms of its politics, its spirituality, its philosophies, its economics, and its societies. 

Do just that with these 48 lectures that consider the European Renaissance from all sides, that disturb traditional understandings, that tip sacred cows, and that enlarges our understanding of how the Renaissance revolutionized the Western world. 

Guiding you through centuries of exhilarating change in Europe with the knowledge, insights, and discernment of a master scholar, Professor McNabb offers new perspectives on familiar figures and events while focusing on often-unexplored or overlooked areas, such as the role of women in the Renaissance, the daily lives of the rural poor and urban elite, the classical roots of Renaissance thinking, and the powerful connections between the Renaissance and the Reformation. 

By observing the Renaissance less casually and more critically, you’ll uncover insights and connections you can’t find in typical narratives that celebrate these remarkable, tumultuous centuries. These lectures are an authoritative, uncompromising, and multidisciplinary way to experience not just one of Europe’s Renaissance movements - but all of them.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

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European Renaissance

This is a great set of lectures. Too often we associate the Renaissance with Italy or just Florence and art. It is not and affected the whole of Europe. I was very interested in aspects of the Renaissance elsewhere and the impact on "normal" peoples' lives. The course managed this and more. Very educational

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable but tries to cover too much.

I would have preferred a narrower approach to the subject, this is perhaps more an introduction to early modern European history. However, I did enjoy it as a whole.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting yet a little deconstructivist

A tad more deconstructivist than I would have liked, but otherwise interesting and well researched.

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Full of PC nonsense

An interesting subject but marred by the lecturer's anachronistic PC obsessions. It is a course to miss.

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  • Beth Carlson
  • 21-08-18

Fantastic Course!

Dr. Jennifer McNabb is an engaging speaker whose depth of knowledge and appreciate of nuance shines through in every lecture. This is the best overview of the Renaissance that I have heard through the Great Courses series. Definitely worth listening to!

13 people found this helpful

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  • JESSE
  • 13-09-18

Very thorough!

An in depth look at a complete variety of aspects of how the Renaissance impacted lives, religion, economics, politics... etc

5 people found this helpful

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  • T. John Fleig
  • 04-01-19

Very clear and Informative

I found this title, well, well done. I found Jennifer very clear on subjects and a wide range from pre-Renaissance through the English Civil War (this was mentioned only a few times. I thought her voice was nice and I would listen to this again. I work at night and this was perfect!

3 people found this helpful

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  • khilsati
  • 14-09-19

Good subject, badly organized

“Renaissance” is such a large subject that treating it in details is a mammoth of a task. I do not think it is possible, in all honesty, to treat all the main themes without getting lost in its immensity. And this is what happened in the audiobook.

One thing is sure, Professor McNabb is brilliant. She is passionate about Renaissance, we understand after the first few minutes that she knows a lot about it and loves sharing it.
Her passion cannot be denied, but it is also the downfall of this course. Each lesson lacks cohesion and order, so the listeners/students are not lost among the diverse new information that comes to them. When Professor McNabb starts on a specific point in time, she jumps between people - or even countries - so fast that you are loosing her. When she focus on a place, she then goes through the decades, from one king to one queen, going sometimes back and forth.
Maybe this would work in class, it definitively is a problem as an audiobook that you listen in your car.

That also applies to the speech pattern. The Professor speaks with enthusiasm all the time, but her speech is following the same exact rythm, usually with long sentences. I believe she has her class written entirely, which therefore makes it sound difficult to follow as an audiobook.
She also has the tendency to start the course with a story, then after 10 or 15min say “in this lesson, we will study...”. 10min anecdotes might be a great way to start a 1h class, not a 30min audiobook chapter.

These problems result in a lack of organisation. The general class pattern is unclear.
I believe she should have treat not the Renaissance as a whole, but cut the full course into different chapters. Chronology/History should be recalled ofter, same as Geography, so a listener (with no visual support document) can follow.

Also, there is a clear choice from Professor McNabb to focus on certain subject longer than other.
Take the Inquisition and witches. There is an incredible audiobook on the subject, “The Terror of History” by Professor Ruiz. The rise of mysthicism in parallel with the Renaissance is explained perfectly, and the subtle aspects of the subject are all taken in consideration. Here, Professor McNabb makes a very simple analysis but still decides to focus on some small details.
Either she should have keep it at a general lesson, or spend 5-8 lessons on it.

To conclude, this audiobook is, in my opinion, a hit and miss, not so much because of the Professor, but mainly because of the immensity of the subject.
I would recommend interested listeners to look into other Great Courses.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 26-11-18

A good book to understand the start of modernizati

A very good book to understand the transition process of Europe and the rest of the world.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Dennis
  • 29-10-18

Reads like a bad high school essay.

These lectures all sound like a high school student trying to pad their word count on an essay that they don't want to be writing, and don't understand in the first place anyway. I could easily believe that no script was written for any of these prior to recording; I've heard professors with no improvisational skills sound like this when put on the spot. On the other hand, if the goal of these essays was to produce writing as florid as possible while communicating more or less nothing, then they've succeeded admirably. Really the best I can say is that at least Jennifer McNabb isn't Bob Brier, but Bob Brier produced the only audiobook I've ever returned, so that's not saying much.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Aaron Massey
  • 17-06-19

Great material / Passionate prof / Hard to follow

Professor McNabb is passionate and knowledgeable about her subject, but she brings up too many topics in each lecture requiring background knowledge to fully enjoy. I had difficulty connecting the topics together and understanding their relevance.

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  • Michelle
  • 30-05-19

Dull Professor

I appreciated the content of the course but the professor isn’t very captivating. It kind of feels like listening to the news.

1 person found this helpful

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  • See picture next line
  • 21-09-19

Evidence suggests middle age people dis not know..

The authot actually states 'Evidence suggests middle age people did not know they were living in the middle ages'? What? Then she goes on to say, 'They thought time was linear.' Isn't time linear? This is a college professor and supposed expert on the Renaissance? I will bet she has never even been to Florence. Do not buy thus book!

1 person found this helpful

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  • jazzmaven
  • 08-09-18

Very annoying

I found it impossible to listen these lectures.
The woman's voice is extremely annoying.She seems to be hung up on women's issues which are irrelevant to the subject, She also rambles inanely and rarely makes a point.

20 people found this helpful