HISTORY 239 - The World Before 1492
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: History (HISTORY)
Department: LSA History
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Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


Long before European “voyages of discovery” ushered in the modern era of globalism and global inequality, huge areas of the world had already been connected and divided by extensive systems of material exchange, cross-cultural interaction, and political integration. The history of these earlier worlds is the subject of this course. The pursuit of comparisons and connections will be the passport that allows us to criss-cross the regions, societies and cultures into which the world’s pre-modern history is usually divided. By practicing history on a large scale, particular questions and problems come to the fore:

  • Why did major social and technological transformations such as agriculture or writing arise multiple times in different areas and periods and then spread further afield?
  • Were their causes and consequences always the same?
  • How did human groups in various regions form states, empires and other collectives?
  • How did cross-cultural interaction ebb and flow with changing patterns of migration, trade, and imperialism or with the rise of universal religions?
  • What effects did broad climatic and ecological changes have on different societies and systems of interaction?
  • How were larger world-historical trends experienced, advanced or resisted at more local levels?
  • How did people placed at the margins of such trends, such as nomads and subject populations, come to play important roles in large-scale transformations?

In order to understand world history in terms of both large-scale patterns and human actors, we shall tackle big questions by examining very particular pieces of – mostly textual – evidence from the pre-modern past.


Course Requirements:

  • Attendance & Participation [20%]
  • Two Reading Analyses/Writing Assignments (3 pages each) [30 %]
  • Exam I [25%]
  • Exam II [25%]

Intended Audience:

All undergraduates are welcome

Class Format:

Lecture and discussion


HISTORY 239 - The World Before 1492
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
002 (DIS)
 In Person
Tu 1:00PM - 2:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
003 (DIS)
 In Person
Tu 2:00PM - 3:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23
004 (DIS)
 In Person
Tu 4:00PM - 5:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

Textbooks/Other Materials

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