Modern World History  (1500-present)                           

 This course describes the emergence of a common world community. European Imperialism, the vehicle through which most countries in the world entered this world system, is the main theme.

 This is an introductory course. It is intended to provide basic historical literacy: Upon completing this course, students should understand the historical background to current affairs.  It also introduces a variety of primary sources. In discussion section, students learn how to interpret critically a wide variety of historical sources. The course will read political documents, including several declarations of independence, propaganda sources, biographies, memoirs, and one novel.   

 Efforts have been made to spare students unnecessary expense. Many important historical sources are available online, and students do not need to purchase printed copies. Two texts unavailable online have been printed in a course reader. However, students are encouraged to print paper copies for the purposes of note-taking. In addition, students are required to purchase two textbooks and Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks. Though Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is available online, students are encouraged to purchase a paperback version.


Required Readings:             Garraty, Gay eds. The Colombia History of the World (CHW)
                                          J. M. Roberts. The Twentieth Century: The History of the World. (20C)
Fritz Fanon. Black Skin, White Masks
                                          (Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness is available online, but students may wish to purchase)


The reader includes the following pieces (the reader is about 30 pages long)

                                                Fairbank, et al.
East Asia: The Modern Transformation, 122-155
                                                Jean Monnet. Memoirs 288-298; 372-393.

The grading system is as follows: Essay 30%, Midterm: 30%, Final exam 30%, Discussion attendance 10%

The essay should be 12 pages long, double spaced, point 12 font, Times New Roman.  A list of suggested essay topics will be distributed in week 4. Essays are due week 12, in discussion section.  Students may choose their own topic, but must receive the permission of the instructor (not the TA). Essays must use at least eight sources, including four primary sources. Students will be required to submit electronic copies as well as paper copies.

The Midterm and the Final have the same format, except that the Final exam is longer.  There will be a series of “ID” questions, students will be asked to write a paragraph explaining various key concepts.  Essay questions are in-class; students will have a choice of essays to answer.  Finally, both mid-term and final will include a geography component. In the midterm, students will be asked to identify France, India, Japan, Ethiopia and Colombia on a map of the world.  In the final, students will be asked to identify China, Vietnam, Germany, the United States, and Iraq on a map of the world. For each incorrect geography question, students will lose 10% off the midterm/final grade. 

Attendance is not mandatory for lectures, but is mandatory for discussion sections on all weeks except week 1 and week 9 (the midterm review session).  To count as “present,” students must BOTH be present AND have a one-page response paper about the readings for that week. The response paper is pass-no pass, it is not graded for content. However, no credit is given for the response paper if the student is not present. The format of the response paper is attached below. Students receive two free absences, each subsequent absence costs 10% of the student’s attendance grade.

Week 1                  Introduction                                                          CHW 297-306; 321-335;

Intro to Course                                                                                     The Old World: East Asia, India, Islam, Christendom
Modern World:  Eurocentricism pro and con                                  The World Economy: Agriculture, trade, silk road        

Discussion section readings for week 1

[n.a. – T.A.s will introduce the course, grading system, discussion section]
Homework: test your geography


Week 2                  The European Discovery of America               CHW: 598-603; 619-625; 646-659.
The Voyages of Discovery: Economics and Religion                    The New World Empires of Spain and Portugal
Zheng He vs. Vasco de Gamma; the spice islands.                        The rise of the plantation economy

Discussion section readings for week 2

The Rise and Fall of 15th cent. Chinese Seapower
Vasco de Gamma: To India                                       
Webpage on Zheng He                                            

Week 3                  Mercantilism and Sea Power                            CHW: 626-646; 659-692. Fairbank: 122-155
The Dutch, French and English Colonialism                                   The Qing (Ch’ing) and the Tokugawa
The Atlantic Slave Trade                                                                    Christian missionaries in
East Asia 

Discussion section readings for week 3

Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations “Of Colonies”   
Tokugawa: Closed Country Edict                           
Equiano’s Autobiography                                       
Falconbridge on the Slave Trade                            


Week 4                  Nationalism and the Age of Revolutions         CHW: 692-721; 743-789; 799-813

The Enlightenment and its political ramification: the nation         Consequences in the Americas: Haiti, Louisiana
The American and French Revolutions                                           Simon Bolivar “the liberator”
                                                                                                                Limits to liberalism: slavery, women’s rights
Discussion section readings for week 4

American Declaration of Indep.                               
Declaration of the Rights of Man                            
Declaration of the Rights of Woman                      
1805 Constitution of Hayti [sic]                               


Week 5                  Worldwide Industrial Revolution     CHW: 813-858.

The Industrial Revolution in Great Britain                                       Asian Empires respond to the European Threat:
Guns, Newspapers, Ships                                                                   Muhammad Ali, Mongkut of
Siam, the Young Turks,
The Opium War                                                                                    The Meiji Restoration

Discussion section readings for week 5

People of Canton against English           
Lin’s letter to Queen
Headland “The Court and New Education”


Week 6                  High Imperialism                                                CHW: 894-917; 921-935 + 20C 96-110.

Europe’s peak: The Scramble for Africa.                                          Overview of Colonialization: who was where 1900
The culture of Imperialism                                                                 
Belgium, the USA and Japan as Colonial power 

Discussion section readings for week 6

Conrad: Heart of Darkness                                       
Richard Kipling “White Man’s Burden”                

Week 7                  Europe’s Catastrophe: World War One         CHW: 966-1005 + 20C 238-296

The “Short twentieth century”                                                          A brief history of Socialism               
World War One in
Europe and elsewhere                                       The Russian Revolution, the Comintern

Discussion section readings for week 7

Lenin:  Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism, chapters 6, 7, 9
“Declaration on Rights of Exploited peoples” (
USSR, 1917)
Ho Chi Minh “Report on Colonial Questions, Comintern, 1924”   


Week 8                  “The Peace to End All Peace”?                        20C: 304-335, 367-377.

The Paris Peace conference                                                               New Ideologies: modernism and decadence
“National self-determination”                                                            Fascism as the marriage of nationalism and socialism
Ethnic cleansing in the ex-Ottoman Empire                                    

Discussion section readings for Week 8

The Fourteen Points                                  
Europe after the Treaty”        
See also “Art of the First World War”   
See also  “Photos of the Great War”      


Week 9                  The transformation of Everyday life                CHW: 953-966 + 20C: 111-137.

Ever increasing literacy, urbanization, industrialization                Midterm: write 8/10 ID questions, 1/3 essay questions
Popular culture, new roles for women

Discussion section:  review for midterm.


Week 10               War-Clouds in the 1930s                 20C: 378-432

The Chinese Revolution and Civil War                                            Appeasement and Nazi Germany
Japan’s bid for Empire                                                                         War and holocaust in Eastern Europe

Discussion section readings for Week 10

German textbook on Lebensraum                            
Der Stürmer “Madagascar”                                     
German National Catechism                                     


Week 11               WWII: The Great Patriotic War                      20C: 435-493, 504-520.

Allied Victory in the Second World War                                         The American defeat of Japan
The Cold-War division of
Europe                                                     Communism in Korea and China      
Discussion section readings for Week 11      

League of Nations Resolution on Ariel bombing                 
Report of Target Selection Committee (section 5 to end)    
Truman’s speech,
6 Aug. 1945                        
A-bomb survivor testimonies: Yoshitaka Kawamoto          


Week 12               Indian Independence                                           20C: 494-501; 575-583.

Social origins of anti-colonialism                                                      The Partition of India         
Biographies: Gandhi, Nkrumah, Minh                                              Islam vs. Pan-Arabism as a state-forming ideology
Discussion section readings for Week 12 ESSAYS DUE!

Discussion section readings for Week 12

Gandhi’s autobiography: “First Day in Pretoria,” “A Tussle with power”, “Boer War,” “The Fast,” “That Memorable week! I and II.”  Available at:
Orwell “Reflections on Gandhi”              


Week 13               The messy collapse of Colonial Empire          20C: 521-552; 647-676; 734-738.

Decolonialism in the near east and Africa                                       America’s worldwide anti-Communist Crusade
Frontiers and nation-building in
Africa                                            The Cuban Missile Crisis; the Cultural Revolution.
Indonesia’s independence                                                                                 French and American Wars in Vietnam           

Discussion section readings for Week 13:      Fritz Fanon: Black Faces, White Masks, Ch. 1,2, 6. 17-36; 109-141.


Week 14               The Decline and Fall of Communism              20C: 676-715; 747-764; 799-814.

Cracks in the Iron Curtain: the disillusionment of 1968              1989 in Europe and China: two paths from socialism?
The World Economic system, the EU                                            Environmentalism as a political force
Discussion section readings for week 14:                                    Jean Monnet Memoirs “A Bold Constructive Act” (Chapter 12, 15)


Week 15               Political Islam and the World Order               CHW: 1100-1107 + 20C: 679-691, 739-747

Israel and its wars                                                                                The Rise of popular Islam: Iran, Afghanistan
Arab impotency and frustration                       

Discussion section readings for week 15

Bryant “France mulls banning veils…”  
“the freedom to wear a veil”                     
Barber: “Jihad vs. McWorld”                  

Final Exam: 8/10 ID “write a paragraph”  2/5 essay questions, geography component.