This lecture-discussion class explores some of the really big questions in history: Why did empires rise in some places rather than others? What accounts for the size and durability of civilizations? Topics include the spread of peoples and languages; the significance of technologies such as agriculture, writing, and the stirrup; links between trade and the spread of religions and diseases; and primary and secondary state formation. Students will write two short and one long paper.
Week 1 3/27, 28 Thinking about world history
Tuesday Lecture topic: Some world historians: Arnold Toynbee, William McNeill, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto
William McNeill, “The Changing Shape of World History,” History and Theory 34.2 (1995):8-26. (online access via JSTOR)
Jerry H. Bentley, “Myths, Wagers, and Some Moral Implications of World History,” Journal of World History, 16.1 (2005) :51-82. Online access from Journal of World History.
Lynda Norene Shaffer, “Southernization,” Journal of World History 5 (1994), 1-21. Access via JSTOR
Week 2 4/3, 5 Asking big questions
Tuesday Lecture topic: Food in world history. Reading: Guns, Germs, and Steel, 13-191
Thursday video: Guns, Germs, and Steel. I will be out of town this day, so please what this three-hour program on your own, most easily done on Youtube.
Week 3 4/10, 12 Languages in World History
Tuesday Lecture topic: The Rise and Fall of Languages
Guns, Germs, and Steel, 193-401.
Week 4 4/17, 19 The role of technologies, 1
Tuesday: Transportation Technology
Jack Goody and Ian Watt, “The Consequences of Literacy,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, 5.3 (1963):304-345. Online access via JSTOR
Week 5 4/24, 26 The impact of disease
Tuesday Lecture topic: History of disease in early China and Japan
William McNeill, Plagues and People, pp. 19-207.
Week 6 5/1, 3 The Rise and Fall of Empires
Tuesday Lecture topic: The Impact of Environmental Change
Burbank and Cooper, Empires in World History, 1-115
Week 7 The Spread of Religions
Tuesday Lecture topic: Less Successful Religions
Jerry Bentley, “Missionaries, Pilgrims, and the Spread of World Religions,” in Old World Encounters (1993), 67-110. Online reserve
Week 8 5/8, 10 Cross-regional Trade
Tuesday Lecture topic: Shipwrecks as Evidence
Janet Abu-Lughod, “The World System in the Thirteenth Century: Dead-End or Precursor? In Michael Adas, ed. Islamic and European Expansion: The forging of a Global Order (1993), 75-102. Online access
Jennifer L. Gaynor, “Ages of Sail, Ocean Basins, and Southeast Asia,” Journal of World History, 24.2 (2013), 309-333. Access via JSTOR
Week 9 5/15, 17 Role of Technology, 2
Tuesday Lecture Topic: Printing
Tonio Andrade, “Late Medieval Divergences: Comparative Perspectives on Early Gunpowder Warfare in Europe and China.” Journal of Medieval Military History, 13 , 247-276. Access via JSTOR
Week 10 5/29, 31 Summing up LONG PAPER DRAFTS DUE
EXAM WEEK Monday Final Papers Due