Early Modern World History (rev. 1/30/2018)

His 2650 begins with classical civilizations unraveling and ends with the threads of modernity. It moves from the global reach of the nomadic Mongols in the 13th century to the global export of the French Revolution circa 1800.The course introduces the rich source material of the early modern world, as well as the techniques of historical statistical analysis. It also provides a broad narrative of events, ideas, and movements.

Course objectives:
  • Distinguish and position temporally and spatially the main historical events and movements between the Black Death and the revolutions of the late-18th century; assess their causes and effects.
  • Distinguish primary sources from secondary works; use both to make a historical argument
  • Recognize quantitative data among various historical sources, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of basic statistical methods in evaluating historical sources
  • Understand and be able to make claims based on comparative history (between nations and civilizations) and chronology (change over time)
  • Understand how to use both quantitative and qualitative sources from a period in historical argument
  • Be able to draw information from selected online databases of primary sources, including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database
EIU His 2560.01 (30331), Spring 2018, Newton Key 9:30 – 10:45 pm TR, Coleman Hall 2691 Syllabus as pdf (brief version)


Before Modern Civilization, 1200-1450 (What is the relation between pre-modern and modern civilizations? between nomadic societies and civilization?)

week 1. Society and Civilization; Early and Modern

  • 9 Jan. Introduction
    • 13th century Mappa Mundi (1, 2, 3, 4 [Anglia, Wallia, Hibernia], 5, 6, 7 [Jerusalem])
    • 16th & 17th century maps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
    • John White (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
  • 11 Jan. Fernand Braudel, “Afterthoughts on Material Life,” in Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977), 3-15 (d2l)
Marco Polo
week 2. Nomadic Civilization?: Mongol Asia
  • 16 Jan. WTWA, 394-401 (ch. 10); Introducing Stats Unit 1
  • 18 Jan. WofH, ix-xiii; Fernand Braudel, “Afterthoughts on Material Life,” in Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism, 16-35 (d2l); Introducing Stats Unit 1–Word Problem
Liu Kuan-tao (later 13th c.), Khubilai Khan on a hunt

week 3. China as a Pre-modern Civilization (Continuity & Change from Song to Ming Dynasties)

  • 23 Jan. WTWA, 430-437, 470-473 (chs. 11-12); Stats Unit 1–Narrative Quiz; Stats Unit 1–Calculation Quiz due
  • 25 Jan. WofH, ch. 15–source 1; Analyzing Primary Sources, based on Mark Kishlansky, “How to Read a Document,” in Sources of the West (1995); Stats Unit 1–Word Problem
Song dynasty, scholar and monk converse

Europe and the Gunpowder Empires, 1450-1700 (What is the relation between arms and politics? between Church and State?)

week 4. Islamic Gunpowder Empires (Ottoman, Safavid, Mughal)

Jahangir's dream of embracing Shah 'Abbas
Jahangir's dream of embracing Shah 'AbbasTaj Mahal
Taj Mahal mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, mid-17th century

week 5. Early and Modern in European Renaissance & Reformation

Lorenzo il Magnifico, 1449-1469-1492

week 6. Europe: New Monarchies

Queen Elizabeth, Armada Portrait
Columbian Exchange and Its Impact, 1492-1763 (How did Europe and Africa fit into Amerindian culture? How did the New World fit into European culture?)

week 7. Old World and the New World

Earliest European woodcut of the New World

From Wars of Religion to Wars of Trade, 1555-1763 (Did early modern wars in Europe make sense? Why did Europe expand?)

week 8. War, Trade, and Empire, part 1

  • 27 Feb. WTWA, 476-488, 510-515 (ch. 13); WofH, ch. 15–sources 3-4 (“Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco da Gama,” 1498; “Letter to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella,” 1493); Stats Unit 3–Word Problem due
  • 1 March WofH, ch. 16–sources 1-2 (“Conquest of New Spain,” c. 1560; “the Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico,” c. 1540s); Introducing Stats Unit 4
Benjamin West, The Death of Wolfe, 1770Benjamin West, The Death of Wolfe, 1770

week 9. War, Trade, and Empire, part 2: Europe and East Asia


week 10. Africa and the Atlantic World

  • 20 March WTWA, 488-495 (ch. 13); Stats Unit 4–Word Problem due
  • 22 March WofH, ch. 16–sources 4-5 (“Appeal to the King of Portugal,” 1526; “Buying Slaves in 1693"); Introducing Stats Unit 5
Candide in Surinam

week 11. Culture and Science in the 17th and 18th centuries

18th-Century Atlantic World

week 12. Slave Trade, Slave Societies

Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African

Liberty and Terror at the Advent of Modernity, 1763-1799 (What is the relation between revolution and civilization?)

week 13. The Enlightenment Project

  • 10 April (note: class begins @ 10:00) WTWH, 538-542, 546-551 (ch. 14)
  • 12 April WofH, ch. 20–sources 1 & 3 (“On Miracles,” 1748; “American Declaration of Independence,” 1776); ch. 21–source 3; Introducing Slave Trade Group Paper
cutting cane antigua Cutting the Sugar Cane, from 'Ten Views in the Island of Antigua', 1823

week 14. Age of Revolution(s): France, Europe, the World

week 15. Birth of the Modern

David, Tennis Court Oath
  • WofH. Kevin Reilly, ed., Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, vol. 2, Since 1400, 6th ed. (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2017) [TRS # 11.243]
  • WTWA. Robert Tignor, et al., Worlds Together, Worlds Apart, vol. B, 600 to 1850, 4th ed. (New York: W W Norton and Co, 2014) [TRS # 11.244]
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last modified on April 3, 2018