Penn State Altoona history professor creates online lecture series

John Eicher

John Eicher, associate professor of history at Penn State Altoona, has created a new YouTube lecture series focusing on the "ABCs" of modern Western history.

Credit: Penn State

ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona Associate Professor of History John Eicher, in his role as a 2023-24 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, has created a new online lecture series focusing on the "ABCs" — "abstractions," "bureaucracies" and "control" — of modern Western history.

Eicher recently released the entire 10-part lecture series, titled, "Western Civilization (1500-Present): From Dawn, to Decadence, to Disillusionment," on YouTube.

In the series, Eicher argues that the growth of bureaucratic thinking in the “West” created a world where abstractions eclipse reality, which grants bureaucracies control of the modern world. The series examines the fate of 19th century Western "progress" and its implications for the postmodern, 21st-century world. The series follows a 500-year narrative arc but each 40 to 50-minute lecture can be viewed as a standalone presentation.

Although aimed at a general audience, lectures may be useful in the classroom as video textbooks of modern Western civilization or modern European history.