Syllabus: History 102 (Fall 2010)

World History from 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Fall 2010
Section 03: MWF 10-10:50am, RH 407
Section 04: MWF 2-2:50pm, RH 305
Office Hours: MWF 11-2, TuTh 11-12


Textbook: Valerie Hansen and Kenneth R. Curtis, Voyages in World History, Volume 2: Since 1500, Wadsworth/Cengage, 2010.

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, supplemented by some 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 Website:

Bookmark it. Check it regularly. I will use it for announcements (assignments, 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. This website takes the place of ANGEL for this class, though I will use ANGEL for email, the syllabus and for certain material which shouldn’t be available publicly.


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.


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 and possibly removal from the classroom. 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.

Technology in the classroom

The use of laptop computers and other devices is permitted only if they are relevant to the material at hand: note-taking, fact-checking, assignment scheduling, etc. Web surfing, video, gaming, email and messaging are not appropriate classroom activities and can be distracting to the instructor and fellow students. Moreover, I expect the lectures and classroom discussions to be reflected in your test and essay answers; if you’re not paying attention, participating and taking notes, you will almost certainly not do as well, gradewise.

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, including 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.

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 majors.


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 Center for Student Accomodations (235-4309,


All schedules, assignments, and policies in the syllabus are subject to change. Check the website, which will have the most current and accurate information possible, as well as copies of course handouts.


Reading assignments – including sidebars and documents in the textbook — must be done before class on the day indicated. I strongly recommend that you read and think about the study questions in the textbook as preparation for class discussions. You are also responsible for looking at resources linked from the course webpage, both primary sources and handouts; they are part of the reading. The lectures and textbook are intended to supplement each other, not duplicate material: you are responsible for learning from both. Pop quizzes will be based on the readings assigned for the day.

Attendance and Participation

The essence of scholarship is constructive engagement; the best learning comes from doing. It is very important that everyone keep up with the readings, and come to class prepared to think and talk and question and listen. Asking good questions is an important form of participation.

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.

There will be homework assignments from time to time, such as the requirement that you find, fill out and email me the student information form after the first class. Those will be included in your attendance/participation grade. Pop quizzes will also be part of the attendance/participation grade.

There are days on which there will be a video lecture available online rather than an in-class lecture. Students are not required to come to class on those days, but are responsible for the material in the lectures.


The three tests will be based on lists of terms — names, events, concepts — which will be distributed as a study guide. Each test will cover one-third of the course (six chapters, lectures and associated material). I have scheduled a review day before each test, for discussion, practice or questions.

Final Exam Essays

There will be a comprehensive final exam consisting of take-home essay assignments. The questions will be distributed well in advance of the due date and will cover all readings, resources and lectures of the course.

Eating History Project

Each student will choose a chapter from Andrew F. Smith’s Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009) and do a short presentation to the class on the material, as well as handing in a written discussion. After the presentations, each student will pick a book from the footnotes of their chapter to read, write a review of, and use as the basis for another presentation to the class. The presentations are a requirement of the assignment but will only be a small portion of the grade; in other words, a poor presentation will hurt your grade very little, but failing to do the presentation will result in significant loss of grade. You are not required to purchase the book — I will have copies of individual chapters for students to borrow — but it is available in electronic formats as well as hardback. Details will be available shortly.

Extra Credit

I will announce cultural and historical events for which extra credit may be earned. Check the website for current listings. If you know of an event and would like to have it considered for extra credit, or announced to the class, let me know. 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. Extra Credits are added to Attendance/Participation score at the end of the semester.

Grade Policies
  • All assignments are due in class at the beginning of class on the due date. Hard copy is required for all assignments, unless otherwise indicated by the instructor. Email will only be accepted as proof of completion in emergencies: the student is still responsible to get a printed copy to the instructor as soon as possible.
  • In the event of an excused absence on an assignment due date, the student is responsible for turning in the work no later than the next class, unless other arrangements have been made.
  • Unexcused late assignments, due to absence, technical problems, etc., will be penalized one grade level (B+ to B, etc.) per class period late.
  • Even very, very bad (or very late) work is still going to get an F, which is a lot better than a zero. Plagiarism or other violations of academic honesty will result in zero credit on that assignment and may result in an F or XF for the semester depending on circumstances.
  • NOTE: I do not post grades on ANGEL. I will be happy to go over your grades and let you know how you are doing in the course at any time. Come to my office hours, or email me.

Grade Distribution

Attendance, Preparation and Participation


Tests (3)


Eating History chapter summary/presentation


Book review & presentation


Final Exam Essays


Administrative Deadlines and Instructional Holidays are in Italics

Assignments and Tests are in Bold

A more complete version of this schedule, with additional readings and handouts, can be found on the course website at


Topics, Administrative schedule

Readings, Assignments

M (8/23) 1500 and All That
W (8/25) Religious and Cultural Survey email student information form to instructor
F (8/27) Humanism and Renaissance Chapter 15
M (8/30) Columbian ExchangeLast day to enroll or add without instructor permission. Last day for online enrollment.
W (9/1) Indian Ocean Trade and Joint Stock Cos. Chapter 16
F (9/3) Reformation
M (9/6) Labor Day holiday
9/7 Last Day to drop without ‘W’
W (9/8) Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal Chapter 17
F (9/10) Early Modern Europe: Kennedy Thesis
M (9/13) Migration and social change Chapter 18
W (9/15) Africa and Historiography: World Systems Theory Chapter 19
F (9/17) Early Modern: Definition and Application Chapter 20
M (9/20) Scientific Revolution Chapter 21
W (9/22) catch-up/reviewLast day for half tuition refund
F (9/24) Test #1
M (9/27) Enlightenment
W (9/29) American Revolution: Interpretations Chapter 22
F (10/1) French Revolution
M (10/4) Eating History presentations
W (10/6) Eating History presentationsEating History chapter summary due
F (10/8) Napoleon and Reactions Instructor Absent: online lecture
M (10/11) 19c Political thoughtColumbus Day (not a holiday) Instructor Absent, online lectureChapter 23
W (10/13) Industrialization
F (10/15) China: Opium and Religion Chapter 24
M (10/18) Japan: MeijiMidsemester D/F Grades Due
W (10/20) North v. South Chapter 25
F (10/22) Fall Break
M (10/25) New Imperialism: Korea Chapter 26
W (10/27) catch-up/reviewLast day to apply for December graduation
F (10/29) Test#2
M (11/1) WWI: Fronts and Technologies Chapter 27
W (11/3) “Age of Anxiety”
F (11/5) Politics: Nationalism, Wilsonianism, Totalitarianism Chapter 28
M (11/8) Great Depression: Origins and ResponsesEarly Enrollment for Spring begins
W (11/10) Naziism & Holocaust Chapter 29
F (11/12) WWII: technologies of total war
M (11/15) Cold WarLast day to drop single course. Chapter 30
W (11/17) Decolonization and Internationalism
F (11/19) 1980s Coalition & Globalization Chapter 31
M (11/22) Culture and Technology
W (11/24) Thanksgiving Holiday
F (11/26) Thanksgiving Holiday
M (11/29) Faiths and Freedoms, Law and Rights Chapter 32
W (12/1) catch-up/review
F (12/3) Test#3
M (12/5) Book Review presentations
W (12/8) Book Review presentations
12/9 Last day to withdraw from entire term.
F (12/10) Last Day of instruction Book Review Due
F (12/17) Final Exam Essays Essays due 10am, in my office or office mailbox.

“No good model ever accounted for all the facts,
since some data was bound to be misleading, if not plain wrong.”
–James Watson, quoted by Francis Crick

“Man has lost the ability to foresee and forestall.
He will end by destroying the earth.” — Albert Schweitzer

“My father used to say that truth was like a rabbit in a bramble patch.
You can point to it and say ‘its somewhere in there’
but you can’t lay your hand on it.” — Pete Seeger

“We do not experience and thus we have no measure
of the disasters we prevent.” — John Kenneth Gailbraith