This course is an introductory survey of world history from 1500 to about 1920. Our focus will be on family life, on marriage, and on the (often contentious) relations between genders and generations. The course readings rotate around four specific societies: the Swahili Coast of East Africa; the Holy Roman Empire/Germany; New Spain/Mexico; and China. In each of these four cases we'll be exploring a common set of issues:
- How were political communities created, consolidated and reformed?
- How is family life historical? How did large-scale economic and political processes affect the ways that husbands, wives and children organized their lives together?
- How did European economies come to dominate the rest of the world? What is globalization, and what are its roots in history?
- To what social, political and religious purposes did people put new commodities? How far is commerce a cultural factor in people's lives?
At the heart of the reading list is a selection of memoirs, fictional writings, and primary documents, drawn from each of our four case studies. Over the course of the academic term you'll learn how to read, evaluate, and use primary source material. The aim is to teach you how to make history, not simply to read it.
There will be a midterm examination, a mid-term essay, a final examination, and a longer essay in which students synthesize the course material.
First and second year students who are interested in the study of history, but any student is welcome to enroll.
Two lectures and one discussion per week.