Syllabus: Hist 102 Fall 2008

History 102: World History from 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner


Phone: 235-4315

Office: RH 406F

Section 02: MWF 11-11:50am, RH 307

Section 04: MWF 9-9:50am, WH 202

Office Hours: MWF 1-2, TuTh 10-12


Textbook: Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The World: A History, Volume Two (since 1300), Prentice Hall, 2007, ISBN-13: 978-0131777637. (Includes CD-ROM)

History is the study of humanity and change over time. In this class we’ll have lots of both: the whole world over the last five hundred years (that’s about one year per four minutes of class time), from our pre-industrial heritage to our hypertext present, from five hundred million people to over six billion. We will recreate the present from the past, and see how our current situation is in many ways the legacy of earlier cultures and processes. Who we are and where we are in the world is very much a historical question, as we will discover.

This class will examine this history through many lenses: political, economic, social, cultural, personal. The textbook will provide the basic survey of the history, and the CD-ROM has interesting original source readings that will give greater depth and texture to subjects we will be discussing. The lectures and discussions will cover some of the same ground, but from different perspectives, including an introduction to the challenges and pleasures of Doing History.

Course Goals

This is a general education course, and no course which covers so much time and space could be anything but general. Nonetheless, students should master many specific historical, cultural and sociological facts related to world history since 1500, as well as themes and models of human development. Reading and writing will be very important skills developed in this course, as is respect for the cultures of the world throughout time.

In addition to the historical and cultural content, students will demonstrate increasing mastery of critical reading of primary and secondary sources in writing and discussion. “Critical” does not mean “attacking” but “analytical”: putting material in historical and cultural context, drawing appropriate inferences and and deductions from the evidence of the text, and raising relevant questions for futher inquiry.

Students who actively engage the course material and assignments will not only be gaining knowledge, but will also be developing important skills as articulated in the General Education goals especially the “Human Heritage” skills:

  • Demonstrate an appreciation for the range and diversity of humankind’s wisdom, values, ideas, beliefs, and reasoning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of human behavior, the human condition, and human institutions in the context of historical, literary, or philosophical inquiry.
  • Demonstrate recognition of the inter-relatedness of the past, present, and future

Course Application

Within the General Education requirements, this course counts towards the Human Heritage requirement. This course is also an important part of the History major.


History is about real people, diverse cultures, interesting theories, strongly held belief systems, complex situations, conflicts and often-dramatic actions. This information may be disturbing. Such is the nature of historical study.


Advising is a very important resource designed to help students complete the requirements of the University and their individual majors. Students should consult with their advisor at least once a semester to decide on courses, check progress towards graduation, and discuss career options and other educational opportunities. Advising is a shared responsibility, but students have final responsibility for meeting degree requirements.

Student Accommodation

Any student with a documented disability who would like to request accommodations should contact the instructor as early in the semester as possible. For more information, contact the Learning Center (Kelly D. Heiskell, 235-4309,

Course Website:

Bookmark it. Check it regularly. I will use it for announcements (course stuff, special events, extra credit), to maintain the schedule (particularly if it changes), to post handouts (so if you lose or miss one, it’ll be there) and keep a small library of useful links. In the event of a disparity between the original syllabus and the website, follow the website: I reserve the right to change readings, test dates, due dates, grade weights and assignments as necessary throughout the semester.


Students are expected to behave respectfully towards their peers and instructor. Disruptive behavior, including failing to turn off cell phones during class, will result in participation penalties. This does not mean that there can’t be lively discussions and disagreements, but personal attacks, excessive volume, threatening gestures or words, and failure to give others a chance to speak and be heard are not acceptable.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism will not be tolerated in this course.

Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another person without proper acknowledgement. Plagiarism is intellectual theft; in an educational setting it is particularly repugnant. Plagiarism in my courses will be punished. It’s simple: Anytime you copy words into your own work, you must clearly mark them and acknowledge the source of those words. Anytime you use someone else’s ideas, you must admit it. There are three options: put it in quotation marks and footnote; paraphrase and footnote; or be original. If you have any questions or any concerns about citation format or necessity, ask someone who knows what they’re doing.

Other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated either

The use of unauthorized aid on tests, failing to write one’s own papers, using papers for more than one course without permission. For more detail, see the relevant sections of the University Catalog. None of this precludes group study and discussion: those are actually really good ideas.



Reading assignments — textbook and documents — must be done before class on the day indicated. I strongly recommend that you read and think about the study questions in the textbook and on the document CD as preparation for class discussions. I will distribute a list of important terms from the textbook readings as well, from which the tests will be drawn.

Pop Quizzes

If I find significant numbers of students are not doing the readings, I reserve the right to begin giving pop quizzes in a format to be determined later.


The tests will be in the form of short-essay “Identification” tests. Tests will cover both textbook and document readings, as well as lecture discussions. I will distribute study terms, from which the test terms will be selected. I will drop your lowest test grade from your final grade calculation.

Final Exam

In addition to the short tests, the final exam will be a comprehensive essay test. You do not need to do outside research to answer these questions, but you do need to think about them long and hard. Details to follow.

Short Essays

Over the course of the semester you will have five short (500-1000 words) writing assignments about specific historical documents. These will give you a chance to do some serious thinking about historical sources and the use of evidence. I will drop the lowest short essay grade from your final grade calculation.

Long Essay: National History

Near the end of the semester, you will write a medium-length (2000-2500 words) history of a particular place over the last five hundred years, using the course textbook as your source. This will require considerable thought and attention, and will be done in several stages.

Extra Credit

I will announce cultural/historical events for which extra credit may be earned. Check the website for current listings. To get extra credit, attend or participate in the event listed, and write a short (under two pages, single-spaced) summary of the event and describe your reaction and what you learned from it.


· All assignments are due in class at the beginning of class on the due date.

· Absences may be excused for unusual school-related events (not athletic practices), illness or family-related problems, but only if I am informed in advance or you have documentation (such as a doctor’s note). Unexcused absences will affect your attendance grade.

· Unexcused late assignments will be penalized one grade level per class period late.

Attendance, Preparation and Participation


Tests (7)


Short Essays (4)


Long Essay


Final Exam


NOTE: I will be happy to go over your grades and let you know how you are doing in the course at any time.

NOTE #2: Even very, very bad work is still going to get an F, which is a lot better than a zero.

Administrative Deadlines and Instructional Holidays are in Italics

Assignments and Tests are in Bold

A more complete version of this schedule can be found on the course website.

8/25 (M)

First Day of Classes

8/27 (W)

The Renaissance

8/29 (F)

Machiavelli and the rest of the world.

9/1 (M)

Labor Day Holiday

9/3 (W)

Chapter 15: Expanding Worlds: Recovery In The Late Fourteenth And Fifteenth Centuries

Ma Huan

9/5 (F)

Chapter 16: Imperial Arenas: New Empires In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

Japan encounters the West

Bertolome de las Casas, A Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies

9/8 (M)


Discuss essay and test assignments

Last day to drop without “W”

9/10 (W)

Short Essay 1: Values

Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq: “Süleyman the Lawgiver”

9/12 (F)

Test 1

9/15 (M)

Chapter 17: The Ecological Revolution Of The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

Thomas Dudey, letter to Lady Bridget, Countess of Lincoln, 1631

9/17 (W)

Chapter 18: Mental Revolutions: Religion And Science In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

Matteo Ricci, selection from his Journals

9/19 (F)

Short Essay 2: Values and Valuables

Christopher Columbus, journal excerpt and letter

9/22 (M)


9/24 (W)

Test 2

9/26 (F)

Chapter 19: States And Societies: Political And Social Change In The Sixteenth And Seventeenth Centuries

Niccolo Machiavelli, excerpts from The Prince

9/29 (M)

Chapter 20: Driven By Growth: The Global Economy In The Eighteenth Century

Thomas Malthus, excerpt from Essay on the Principle of Population

10/1 (W)

Rosh Hashanah (2nd day)

10/3 (F)

Short Essay 3: State Powers and Limits

Jean Bodin, Six Books of the Commonwealth, “The True Attributes of Sovereignty” and Tokugawa Shogunate, The Laws for the Military House, 1615

10/6 (M)


10/8 (W)

Test 3

10/10 (F)

Chapter 21: The Age Of Global Interaction: Expansion And Intersection Of Eighteenth-Century Empires

Alexander Telfair, Instructions to an Overseer in a Cotton Plantation

10/13 (M)

Chapter 22: The Exchange Of Enlightenment: Eighteenth-Century Thought

Columbus Day (not a holiday)

Cesare Beccaria, from An Essay on Crimes and Punishments

10/15 (W)

Short Essay 4: Political Values

Revolutionary France: Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen, 1791

10/17 (F)


10/20 (M)

Test 4

10/22 (W)

Midsemester D/F grades due

Chapter 23: Replacing Muscle: The Energy Revolutions

Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels, from The Communist Manifesto

10/24 (F)

Fall Break (10/23-24)

10/27 (M)

Chapter 24: The Social Mold: Work And Society In The Nineteenth Century

The Sadler Report: Child Labor in the United Kingdom, 1832

10/29 (W)

Short Essay 5: Family

Henrik Ibsen, from A Doll’s House, Act Three

10/31 (F)


11/3 (M)

Test 5

11/5 (W)

Chapter 25: Western Dominance In The Nineteenth Century World: The Westward Shift Of Power And The Rise Of Global Empires

Fustel de Coulanges, letter to German Historian Theodor Mommsen

11/7 (F)

Chapter 26: The Changing State: Political Developments In The Nineteenth Century

John Stuart Mill, excerpts from On Liberty

11/10 (M)


11/12 (W)

Test 6

Last day to withdraw from single course

11/14 (F)

Chapter 27: The Twentieth-Century Mind: Western Science And The World

(from ch. 28) Soldier’s Accounts of Battle and François Carlotti, from “World War I: A Frenchman’s Recollections” and British Soldiers on the Battle of the Somme

11/17 (M)

Chapter 28: World Order And Disorder: Global Politics In The Twentieth Century

Benito Mussolini, from “The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism”

11/19 (W)


11/21 (F)

Test 7 (Instructor Absent)

11/24 (M)

Long Essay Part One: Timeline

11/26 (W)

Thanksgiving Break

11/28 (F)

Thanksgiving Break

12/1 (M)

Chapter 29: The Pursuit Of Utopia: Civil Society In The Twentieth Century

UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” 1948

12/3 (W)

Chapter 30: The Embattled Biosphere: The Twentieth-Century Environment

Sayyid Qutb, from Milestones, 1964

12/5 (F)

Long Essay Part Two: Thesis, Outline

12/8 (M)


12/10 (W)

Test 8

12/12 (F)

Long Essay Due


Last day of instruction

12/15 (M)

Hist 102-04 (MWF 9) Final 9-10:50

12/17 (W)

Hist 102-02 (MWF 11) Final 11-12:50

“Only reason can convince us of those three fundamental truths
without a recognition of which there can be no effective liberty:
that what we believe is not necessarily true;
that what we like is not necessarily good; and that all questions are open.”

— Clive Bell, Civilization (1928)

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