History 202: World History since 1700
Themes and Arguments:
Throughout the course four main themes will be emphasized: Power; Imperialism; Religious Faith; and Ideology. Other themes, such as race, gender, class, demographics, and environment will also be included. Throughout the course many arguments will be made, but the class will be organized around two central arguments: 1) world history since 1700 has revolved around a continuing struggle for power–between social groups, religious groups, nations, and economic interests; 2) Although Western hegemony in modern world history may be challenged and interpreted in a number of ways (two major views (Westernization and Globalization) presently dominate the historiography), Westernization has defined the past several centuries of world history. This class will be taught as an open narrative, designed to raise more questions than it “answers,” allowing for a wide variety of perspectives, interpretations and criticisms. Other historiographical points of view will be considered in the various readings and discussions, but the main goal is to allow you, the student, to be the historian, to think about a number of significant questions and issues in a variety of ways and to come to your own conclusions about World History.
There are three books required for the course and they should be read according to the schedule below.
Bentley/Ziegler, Traditions and Encounters, Vol. II, From 1500 to the Present
Andrea/Overfield, The Human Record: Sources of Global History, vol. II
Achebe, Things Fall Apart
The European World of the Eighteenth Century
(Bentley, chapters 22-23; Andrea, chapter 5, pp. 139-165)
The Age of Revolution: The American Revolution and the Industrial
(Bentley, chapters 28-30; Andrea, chapter 5, pp. 166-191)
The Muslim World
(Bentley, chapters 27, 31; Andrea, chapters 2, 6—pp. 205-222)
The Asian World: China and Japan
(Bentley, chapters 26, 31, 35; Andrea, chapters 7, 10)
The World of Ideas (Andrea, chapter 8)
From Napoleon to Bismarck
(Bentley, chapter 28; Andrea, chapters 8-9)
The Mind of Europe before World War I
The Great War
(Bentley, chapter 33; Andrea, chapter 11—pp. 373-388)
The World of the 20th Century Dictators
(Bentley, chapters. 34, 36; Andrea, chapter 11—389-424)
The World of the Cold War
(Bentley, chapters 35, 36, 37; Andrea, chapters 12-13)
The Post-Cold War World
(Bentley, chapter 38)
Answer the following in a well-organized essay, using information from lectures, discussions, and readings. Be sure to provide specific evidence to support your thesis.
Throughout the course, four main themes have been emphasized: Power; Imperialism; Religious Faith; and Ideology. Other themes, such as race, gender, class, demographics, and environment have also been included. Throughout the course, many arguments have been made, but the class has been organized around two central arguments: 1) world history since 1700 has revolved around a continuing struggle for power between social groups, religious groups, nations, and economic interests; 2) Western hegemony in Modern World History may be challenged and interpreted in a number of ways, with two major views (Westernization and Globalization) presently dominating the historiography. The instructor has argued that Westernization has defined the past several centuries of world history, creating cultural contacts, ecological exchange, conflict, conquest, the building of empires, and the globalization of society. These themes and arguments have been in keeping with the instructor’s own theoretical views and biases. As a result, the course has been “Euro-centric” and may be misleading in that it makes it seem that the rest of the world only reacts to the West. Other problems with this approach can also be found. Some alternative theories are Globalization; world systems (economics!); feminism (history of patriarchal power); and Marxism (class conflict). Thus, the course has been designed as an “open narrative,” raising more questions than it answers, inviting the students to make their own conclusions.
Now, it is time for you, the student, to respond. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Were the four main themes the most important in modern world history? What other themes would you include? How and why or why not? Were the main arguments of the course persuasive? What other arguments might you make? Was power really so important? Religion? Imperialism? Ideology? Were faith and ideas really as significant as the instructor made them out to be? However you choose to answer (agree, disagree, or partially so), be sure to address all relevant political, economic, social, cultural, environmental and religious factors and provide specific evidence to support your argument.
Answer the above question(s) in the following way: It is August, 2016, and you (yourself) have been invited to make a speech before the United Nations and a world-wide television audience on the subject of Modern World History. What do you say? Where do you begin and end? What themes do you emphasize? What argument(s) do you make? What people, places and events do you include? You have the opportunity to be the world historian, what history will you write for your oration?