Syllabus: Hist 102 (2010 Spring)

History 102: World History from 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Spring 2010
Section 03: MWF 9-9:50am, RH 407
Section 04: MWF 2-2:50pm, RH 407
Office Hours: MWF 10-12, 1-2, Tu 10-12, 1-3


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.


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 Learning Center (Kelly D. Heiskell, 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 — 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. I reserve the right to impose pop quizzes if I feel the readings are being neglected.

Attendance and 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.

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.

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.

Final Exam and Midterm

The tests will be based on lists of terms — names, events, concepts — which will be in the readings and lectures. The midterm will cover the first half of the course; the final will cover the entire course, emphasizing the second half.

Article Reviews

You will pick two history articles to review, one in each half of the course. You will have a great deal of freedom to pick topics, but the article must be from a scholarly journal or a chapter from an edited book collection: footnotes, primary sources, the whole works. To help you think through the article and the review-writing process, you will write a series of short homeworks on different aspects, before you write the review as a whole. See the Article Review assignment for more details.

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.

“History has to be rewritten because history is the selection
of those threads of causes or antecedents that we are interested in.” — O. W. Holmes, Jr.

“The conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it.”
— Will and Ariel Durant

“Men will sooner surrender their rights than their customs.” — Moritz Goedemann

“A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works.” — Bill Vaughan

“If an aborigine drafted an IQ test, all of Western civilization would presumably flunk it.” — Stanley Garn

“Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself,
and you are the easiest person to fool.” — Dr. Richard P. Feynman

“Only second-rate minds are afraid of the obvious.” — David Cecil (20c)


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 per class period late.

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

Attendance, Preparation and Participation 10%
Midterm 20%
Article Reviews (2) 40%
Final Exam 30%

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

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.

Date Deadlines, Readings and Assignments Topics
1/15 (F) First Day of Class 1500 and All That
1/18 (M) MLK Day/Instructional Holiday
1/20 (W) Historical Theory and Method
1/21 (Th) Last day for full fee refund
Last day to add new classes
Last day for late enrollment
1/22 (F) Chapter 15 Humanism and Renaissance
1/25 (M) Columbian Exchange
1/27 (W) Chapter 16 Hideyoshi Invasion and Confucianisms
1/29 (F) Final day for dropping course without W Reformation
2/1 (M) Indian Ocean Trade and Joint Stock Cos.
2/3 (W) Chapter 17
Article Choice Due
Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal
2/5 (F) EM Europe: Kennedy Thesis
2/8 (M) Chapter 18 World Systems Theory
2/10 (W) Chapter 19
Article Summary and Context Due
Migration and Social Change
2/12 (F) EM Africa and Historiography
2/15 (M) Chapter 20 Early Modern: Definition
2/17 (W) Article Thesis, Argument, Evidence Due Asia and Modernity
2/19 (F) Chapter 21 Scientific Revolution
2/22 (M) Enlightenment
2/24 (W) Chapter 22
Article Criticisms and Recommendation Due
American Revolution: Interpretations
2/26 (F) French Revolution: Rorshach
3/1 (M) Napoleon and Reactions
3/3 (W) Chapter 23 Industrialization
3/5 (F) Complete Article Review Due 19c Political thought
3/8 (M) Chapter 24 China: Opium and Religion
3/10 (W) Japan: Meiji
3/12 (F) Catch-up/Review
D/F Grades Due
3/15-19 Spring Break
3/22 (M) Catch-up/Review
3/24 (W) Instructor Absent
3/26 (F) Instructor Absent
3/29 (M) Chapter 25
Article Choice Due
North v. South
3/31 (W) Chapter 26 New Imperialism: Korea
4/2 (F) Chapter 27
Article Summary and Context Due
WWI: Fronts and Technologies
4/5 (M) “Age of Anxiety”
4/7 (W) Chapter 28 Politics: Nationalism, Wilsonianism, Totalitarianism
4/9 (F) Final day for dropping single course
Article Thesis, Argument, Evidence Due
Great Depression: Origins and Responses
4/12 (M) Chapter 29 Naziism & Holocaust
4/14 (W) WWII: technologies of total war
4/16 (F) Chapter 30

Article Criticisms and Recommendation Due

Cold War
4/19 (M) Decolonization and Internationalism
4/21 (W) Chapter 31 1980s Coalition & Globalization
4/23 (F) Complete Article Review Due Culture and Technology
4/26 (M) Chapter 32 Disease and Migration
4/28 (W) Law and Rights
4/30 (F) The Future
5/3 (M) Catch-up/Review
5/5 (W) Catch-up/Review
5/6 Last day to withdraw from university
5/8 (F) Catch-up/Review
Final Exams 9am: 5/12, 9-10:50
2pm: 5/14, 2-3:50