Themes in Modern World History (2019-2020)

  •  “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

    Ernest Hemingway

    Kanpur Massacre - 1857    Opium Wars
    Welcome to the academic year 2019 - 2020 and to Themes in Modern World History, a course in which you will examine, analyze, and interpret historical events and developments from the heights of enlightened thinking to the depths of the degradations of trench warfare, dictatorship, and genocide.  This course is intended for students who are seriously interested in the study of the history of humankind's development - the "good," the "bad," and the decidedly "ugly." In this course, students will learn factual content and develop the skills to interpret those facts from a variety of historic themes including: 
    • The Nature of War & Peace
    • World Religions
    • Imperialism, Colonialism, and De-Colonization
    • Genocide Throughout History
    • Revolutions: Political, Social, and Economic
    • Democracy vs. Dictatorship
    • Capitalism, Communism and Economic Globalization
    • Global Cultural Shifts: The Visual Arts, Music, Literature, & Theatre
    Students use assigned texts and other sources (including, but not limited to, primary source readings, audio recordings, documentary films), to develop a base-line knowledge of people and events.  Students then engage in analytical and skill-building activities such as audio podcasts, critical thinking exercises, historic map reading and interpretation, issue debates, and history timeline development to apply analysis, interpretation and historiographical theory to those same themes and topics.
    By the end of this course, students will be able to explain, compare and contrast, analyze, and determine perspectives of the foundations and on-going developments of many political, cultural, economic, and social issues of the past four centuries in human history beginning with the Age of the Enlightenment and continuing through into the 21st century.  These aspects will include influential ideas and ideologies such as traditional and reactionary conservatism, classic and modern liberalism, republicanism, democracy, capitalism, socialism, communism, nationalism, imperialism, fascism, globalism and more.  Examining these ideas will involve reading and discussing various foundational documents such as the US Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution (especially the Bill of Rights), and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
    Formal assessment for the course is based on objective and essay tests, quizzes, classroom activities, research projects (team debates, podcasts, etc.), and homework.
    It is my hope that by the end of this course, students will be enlightened to, and amazed by, the power even one single idea or ideology can have on any individual or even the entire world.  To quote the eponymous title character from the 2005 dystopian-future film, V for Vendetta: 
    We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught. He can be killed and forgotten. But four hundred years later an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed firsthand the power of ideas. I've seen people kill in the name of them; and die defending them. But you cannot kill an idea, cannot touch it or hold it."

    V

     


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