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This class offers a look into the last five hundred years of world history. Rather than attempt an exhaustive chronology of everything that has occurred on the globe since 1492 - an impossible task for a lifetime, let alone a single semester - we will be focusing on certain geographic areas at specific times, in order to highlight a particular historical problem or to examine the roots of processes that have had an enormous impact on the contemporary world.

In order to lend structure to such a wide-ranging exploration, the class will orient around four central themes: Colonialism and imperialism; political and social revolution; industrialization; and the rise of consumer society. While any of these themes could provide the basis for a class in-and-of itself, we will look to the ways in which these themes interact - for example, how the history of imperialism relates to the course of industrialization. Finally, in this class we will engage with a range of different types of readings, from primary sources (writings from the times), to historical narratives, to historiography (debates about history), to works of fiction. In this way, the class will also allow a glimpse into the ways in which history itself is constructed and continually re-written.

Organization of the Class

In general, we will have an intensive discussion session every week addressing a specific book or group of essays. Other class meetings, meanwhile, will be a blend of informal lecture, question and answer, and discussion. Discussions will therefore be the single most significant element of this class. This is reflected in the calculation of the final grade, which can be broken down as follows:

Four 5-page Papers 15% each
Discussion/Participation 25%
Final Exam 15%

There may be short (1 or 2 page) written responses to the readings assigned intermittently; these will be factored into the discussion grade.

In addition to discussion, the criteria for a HASS-D subject include twenty pages of written assignments. These papers will draw from the assigned readings, lectures, and discussions over the course of the class: no additional or outside research will be required for the papers. The four 5-page papers are due on Sessions 7, 14, 20 and 25.

You can revise and resubmit at least one of these papers. Please talk to me first before rewriting a paper; revisions must be returned, along with the marked original and comments, within two weeks of receiving the corrected original.

Please note: Plagiarism of any kind - that is taking another's words and/or ideas from a book, another student, or from the internet without full and complete citation - will not be tolerated regardless of the circumstances, and will result in an "F" for the final class grade.