Wednesday, January 20, 2010

World History II

Here's my World History II syllabus. It's short on primary sources, but I plan to toss in on-line ones as the semester goes along.

HIS 106: World History II
102 Dauphin Humanities Center, MWF 8:00 a.m.
Dr. Brian J. Ulrich

The road to the future begins in the past.

Office: 201 Dauphin Humanities Center, ex. 1736
Office Hours: 11 – 11:50 a.m. MWF, 1-3:30 p.m. W

Required Texts:

Voyages in World History, Vol.II, Valerie Hansen and Kenneth R. Curtis
The Origins of the Modern World, 2nd Ed., Robert Marks
Science and Technology in World History, 2nd Ed., James E. McClellan III and Harold Dorn

Electronic reserves found on Blackboard

Course Overview

World History II is required under the “Required Skills and Competencies” category of the Shippensburg University general education program. This is not based solely on the value of understanding what people did in the past. As we will see, historians reconstruct the past on the basis of many types of evidence, evidence that must be considered carefully. This root skill of considering evidence has applications in many professional fields and in forming considered opinions as a member of society. Historians write our conclusions in the form of reasoned arguments about what we think happened. Studying these will help you to evaluate arguments in many fields, and ultimately to make your own. When historians make these arguments, they refer to their evidence with particular forms which we will study. You may never use these specific forms after this class, but the habit of following a specified professional form is something you will need to have for many fields.

As noted in the “General Education” section of the undergraduate catalog, this course is also designed to ensure that students have a global perspective as they proceed with their college education, and for that matter the rest of their lives. This will help you not only make informed decisions about the world, but may come in handy in your careers and personal lives when you least expect it. To take just one example, a friend who works in a hospital in Minnesota found herself wishing she knew a lot more about the culture of Somalia when a number of Somali refugees were settled in her area and started coming in for treatment. World history is an excellent field in which to begin developing what higher education specialists call “global competence,” as not only do we learn about different cultures, but we’ll see how they came to be the way they are, which in my experience, makes people more respectful and understanding of the differences.

During the course, we will address these key questions:

1.) What have been the major changes in human societies during the last 500 years? Some historians argue that the changes of the past few centuries in how we think and live have been the most dramatic since the Neolithic Revolution. What were these changes, what led to them, and how have they affected different societies around the world?

2.) How did such a substantial gap emerge between the North Atlantic nations on one hand and the rest of the world on the other? Today, the vast majority of the world’s wealth is concentrated in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe while much of the world lives off meager income without even basic services. Given that China, India, and the Middle East had been the most developed regions for most of history, the reasons for this change need to be examined in detail.

3.) What has been (and is) the relationship between Western Europe and later, the United States, and the rest of the world? As noted above, one skill this course is designed to develop is global competence for an increasingly globalized world. Interacting in that world means understanding how you fit into it.

4.) How have major events of the 20th century shaped the world in which we live? All history affects the present. History, however, is ongoing, and events of today follow most directly upon what immediately preceded them. In fact, as well shall see, even when the media presents a conflict as resulting from some ancient enmity, its causes are really more immediate. The final section of this course will consider key developments of the 20th century which have played a critical role in shaping the world around us.

With these themes as our focus, assignments will ensure you develop a foundational understanding of world history since 1500, an ability to write clearly and think critically about world history since 1500, an ability to analyze historical events and trends effectively, and the ability to do independent research and analyze the historical context of contemporary events. There will be three exams during the course of the semester, which will not all have the same format. The final exam will emphasize the last section of the course, but still have a cumulative component. There will also be a paper in which you analyze the historical context of some aspect of the world today on the basis of independent research. Deadlines and exam dates are noted on the “Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments” below. Attendance and participation are mandatory. Students are allowed to miss three classes. After that, your total participation grade will be lowered by 5% for each additional absence. Late papers will be accepted, but with a penalty usually amounting to one full letter grade. Late take-home exams are acceptable only under extraordinary circumstances. Laptops are permitted in class, but if I notice you doing something not related to the course, that will hurt your participation grade, as well.

In addition, I will sometimes specify certain things you should look for in the reading for the next class, with the request that you either jot down notes or write a short paragraph on those things. This will occasionally be collected, and there will be no warning when it does. The purpose of this is both to make sure that everyone is doing the reading, and that people are understanding what they read and how it relates to the major concepts of the course. I will also probably give the occasional reading quiz. In the past, students have found my reading quizzes comically easy.

Syllabus Changes:

Occasionally I find I want to make minor changes to the syllabus. These are usually substitutions of different readings or additional short primary sources and will not result in increased work or changes in the dates of exams and major assignments. These will be announced in class, and it is the student’s responsibility to learn of them.


Plagiarism, simply put, is intellectual theft. If you use words or ideas from someone else in an academic or professional setting, and do not give them proper credit, you have stolen from them. This is true even if the work has been posted in a public forum, such as a web site. It includes:

1.) Outright plagiarism – direct copying of a source, passing off the author’s words and ideas as one’s own without crediting the source
2.) Mosaic plagiarism – lifting words or phrases from the original source, again without crediting that source
3.) Echo plagiarism – no words are stolen, but ideas are lifted, again without crediting the source

Because of all this, plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty (cheating) will not be tolerated and handled according to Shippensburg procedures. Specific guidelines for expected citation policies will be announced with each assignment. The easiest way to avoid plagiarizing is always to cite as much as possible. Citing too much is almost impossible to do. Citing too little could lead to failing an assignment, the course as a whole, or even expulsion from the university. In order to prevent plagiarism, I ask that all assignments be submitted via

Frankly, you should want to cite things even if it weren’t for the consequences of plagiarism. The flip side of plagiarism is generosity, acknowledging the debt you have to the work of others. Even when professional historians have an idea of their own, they will often include a footnote mentioning that they got the idea after talking to a colleague, or even from discussion in a class they were teaching. Sometimes when they cite a book or article, they will mention that it was recommended to them by a friend, whom they name. You may not know the people who created the sources you will cite here at Shippensburg, but acknowledging things others have done to help you is a good habit to get into for life, and proper citation is a good start.

(Note: I am indebted to Professor Betty Dessants for her description of the types of plagiarism.)

Disability Accomodation:

If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, you should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs at least 72 hours prior to the activity which requires the accommodation. If you have not already done so, you must contact the Office of Disability Services. This office is responsible for determining reasonable and appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities on a case-by-case basis, and more generally, for ensuring that members of the community with disabilities have access to Shippensburg’s programs and services. They also assist students in identifying and managing the factors that may interfere with learning and in developing strategies to enhance learning. I cannot approve an accommodation without you registering.


Quizzes and Reading Thoughts: 10%
Paper: 15%
Participation: 10%
First Exam: 15%
Second Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 25%

Useful terms:

Primary sources – The original materials historians use to reconstruct the past
Secondary sources – The accounts modern historians write based on primary sources
Historiography – The study of secondary sources

Schedule of Readings and Major Assignments

January 20 – Course Introduction
Part I – World of the 1500’s
January 22 – Marks, pp. 1-19 (about modern world history)

January 25 – Marks, pp. 21-42 (agrarian society)
January 27 – Marks, pp. 67-74; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 421-31 (polities of 1500)
January 29 – Marks, pp. 43-66; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 436-40 (European expansion)

February 1 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 450-60; Michael Pearson, “Europeans in an Indian Ocean World,” The Indian Ocean, (London: Routledge, 2003), pp. 113-30. (Europeans in the Indian Ocean)
February 3 – Marks, pp. 74-79; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 440-47; Alfred Crosby, “Selection on Smallpox,” Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900. 2nd ed., (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 196-208. (Conquest of Americas)
February 5 - Marks, pp. 79-82; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 463-8, 472-6, 568-79 (Far East)

February 8 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 460-3, 471-2; Scott C. Levi, “Conclusion,” The Indian Diaspora in Central Asia and its Trade, 1550-1900, (Leiden: Brill, 2002), pp. 261-6. (Mughal Empire)
February 10 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 480-90, 503-7 (Ottoman, Safavid and Russian Empires)
February 12 – Exam – World of the 1500’s

Part II – Global Transformations
February 15 - Hansen and Curtis, pp. 431-6, 468-71; Passages from Martin Luther’s “Address to the Nobility of the German Nation” (Renaissance and Reformation)
February 17 – Marks, pp. 84-94; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 490-503 (European states)
February 19 – Hansen and Curtis, 557-61; Benedict Anderson, “The Origins of National Consciousness,” Imagined Communities, New Edition, (London: Verso, 2006), pp. 36-46 (horizontal identities)

February 22 – Marks, pp. 82-4; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 538-56, Slave narrative excerpts (Slavery and plantation economy)
February 24 - Hansen and Curtis, pp. 510-534 (American societies)
February 26 – Marks, pp. 95-101; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 583-90; Wendy Doniger, “Translations, Lost in Colonization,” The Hindus: An Alternative History, (New York: Penguin Press, 2009), pp. 594-8. (British in India)

March 1 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 589-93; Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, “The Russians are Coming,” Tournament of Shadows: The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Central Asia, (Washington: Counterpoint, 1999), pp. 111-36. (Russian Empire)
March 3 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 598-608, 613-25; McClellan and Dorn, pp. 249-56, 266-73 (Scientific Revolution)
March 5 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 608-13, 628-44 (Enlightenment and revolution)


March 15 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 644-57; Mark Pendergrast, “The Coffee Kingdoms,” Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World, (New York: Basic Books, 1999), pp. 21-41 (Latin American independence)
March 17 – Marks, pp. 101-21; Hansen and Curtis, 663-67; McClellan and Dorn, pp. 287-9 (Industrial Revolution)
March 19 – Marks, pp. 135-42; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 668-87 (industrial ideologies and societies)

March 22 – Marks, pp. 123-35, 142-6; Hansen and Curtis, pp. 752-69 (new imperialism)
March 24 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 590-5, 702-9, 769-81 (imperialism in Far East)
March 26 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 720-49 (Western Hemisphere)

March 29 – Marks, pp. 146-51; Mike Davis, “Skeletons at the Feast,” Late Victorian Holocausts: El Nino Famines and the Making of the Third World, (London: Verso, 2002), pp. 141-76 (ENSO famines)
March 31 – Exam ID Section – Global Transformations
April 2 – Exam Essay Portion – Global Transformations

Part III – The World in Which We Live
April 5 – McClellan and Dorn, pp. 339-64 (20th century technology)
April 7 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 782-800 (World War I)
April 9 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 800-09 (communism and revolution)

April 12 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 812-41 (Great Depression) (annotated paper bibliography due)
April 14 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 844-66, Yale Holocaust testimonies (World War II, Holocaust)
April 16 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 866-70, 874-87 (Cold War)

April 19 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 887-905 (decolonization)
April 21 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 930-8, 945-52; Kim Fellner, “Banking on the Bean,” Wrestling with Starbucks, (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2008), pp. 47-68 (globalization)
April 23 – Hansen and Curtis, pp. 921-4, 963-6; Philip Gourevitch, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with Our Families, (New York: Picador, 1998), pp. 47-62. (ethnic identity and conflict)

April 26 - McClellan and Dorn, pp. 391-414 (modern science) (paper due)
April 28 – Marks, pp. 189-94, Hansen and Curtis, pp. 958-62; Environmental diplomacy reading (environmental issues and global leadership)
April 30 – Marks, pp. 199-207, Global community reading (end)

Final Exam: TBA

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Blogger Jonathan Dresner said...

Interesting structure: I like the use of multiple texts -- the science and technology in particular.

11:33 AM  

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