Syllabus: Hist 102 (Fall 2009)

History 102: World History from 1500

Prof. Jonathan Dresner
Phone: 235-4315
Office: RH 406F
Fall 2009
Section 02: MWF 11-11:50am, RH 307
Section 04: MWF 2-2:50pm, RH 407
Office Hours: MWF 10-11, 1-2, TuTh 10-12


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, 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 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 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.

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 major.


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,


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.


All schedules, assignments, etc, 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.

Pop Quizzes and Tests

The tests will be in the form of short-essay “Identification” tests. Tests will cover all readings, as well as lecture and discussions. The terms from which the test terms will be selected are the ones in bold with definition boxes in the margins, also collected in a list at the back of each chapter.

There will sometimes – about one chapter in three — be a pop quiz at the beginning of class: it will also be in the form of a short-essay identification from the reading assigned for that day. I will do a “mock” pop quiz Monday the 31st so you can get used to the form which will be used on both the pop quizzes and the tests. I will drop your lowest pop quiz 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.

Book Review

You will pick a book from the “Further Reference” lists at the back of the textbook chapters and write a 2000-word review. To help you think through book and the review-writing process, you will write a series of short homeworks on different aspects of the book, before you write the review as a whole. See the Book 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.

  • 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.
  • For most writing assignments I use letter grades with plus/minus markings, converted to a standard 100-point scale: A+=100, A=96, A-=92, B+=88, B=85, B-=82, etc. (On the pop quizzes and tests I score each answer on a 4-point scale, but the overall test grade is converted to a 100-point scale.)
  • Even very, very bad work is still going to get an F, which is a lot better than a zero.

Attendance, Preparation and Participation 12.5%
Tests 30%
Book Review 25%
Pop Quizzes 12.5%
Final Exam 20%

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.


Reading and Assignment


M (8/24)
W (8/26) Chapter 15. Humanism and Renaissance
F (8/29) Columbian Exchange
M (8/31) Chapter 16.

Last day to enroll or add without permission.
Last day for online enrollment.

Mock Pop Quiz

Hideyoshi Invasion and Confucianisms
W (9/2) Reformation
F (9/4) Indian Ocean Trade
M (9/7) Labor Day holiday
9/8 Chapter 17.

Last Day to drop without ‘W’

Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal
W (9/9) Kennedy Thesis
F (9/11) Chapter 18. World Systems Theory
M (9/14) Chapter 19. Migration and Social Change
W (9/16) Africa and Historiography
F (9/18) Chapter 20. Early Modern: Definition
M (9/21) Last day for half tuition refund

Book Choice Due

Dynastic cycles, Decline, and Impact/Response
W (9/23) Catch-up/Review
F (9/25) Test
M (9/28) Yom Kippur (Instructor Absent)
W (9/30) Chapter 21. Scientific Revolution
F (10/2) Enlightenment
M (10/5) Chapter 22. US Revolution: Interpretations
W (10/7) Book Summary Due French Revolution: Rorshach
F (10/9) Napoleon and Reactions
M (10/12) Chapter 23.

Columbus Day (not a holiday)

W (10/14) Book Thesis Due 19c Political thought
F (10/16) Fall Break
M (10/19) Chapter 24.

Midsemester D/F Grades Due

China: Opium and Religion
W (10/21) Japan: Meiji
F (10/23) Chapter 25. North v. South
M (10/26) Chapter 26. New Imperialism: Korea
W (10/28) Catch-up/Review

Book Argument/Evidence Due

F (10/30) Test
M (11/2) Chapter 27. WWI: Fronts and Technologies
W (11/4) Book Context Due “Age of Anxiety”
F (11/6) Chapter 28.

Last day to drop single course.

Politics: Nationalism, Wilsonianism, Totalitarianism
M (11/9) Great Depression
W (11/11) Chapter 29.

Veteran’s day (not a holiday)

Naziism & Holocaust
F (11/13) Book Criticisms Due WWII: technologies of total war
M (11/16) Chapter 30. Cold War
W (11/18) Decolonization and Internationalism
F (11/20) Chapter 31. 1980s Coalition & Globalization
M (11/23) Book Recommendations Due Culture and Technology
W (11/24) Thanksgiving Holiday
F (11/26) Thanksgiving Holiday
M (11/30) Chapter 32. Disease and Migration
W (12/2) Law and Rights
F (12/4) Catch-up/Review
M (12/7) Test
W (12/9) Complete Book Review Due
12/10 Last day to withdraw from entire term.
F (12/11) Last Day of instruction
12/14 Final Exams Due, 4pm

“The historian should be fearless and incorruptible; a man of independence, loving frankness and truth; one who, as the poet says, calls a fig a fig and a spade a spade.
He should yield to neither hatred nor affection, but should be unsparing and unpitying. He should be neither shy nor deprecating, but an impartial judge,
giving each side all it deserves but no more. He should know in his writings no country and no city; he should bow to no authority and acknowledge no king.
He should never consider what this or that man will think, but should state the facts as they really occurred.”
— Greek writer Lucian of Samosata (ca. 125-ca.180 CE), How History Should Be Written