This course surveys the course of human civilisations across the globe from the dawn of history to the start of the Sixteenth Century. Given the breadth of its content, we will focus on general themes and trends that characterise human societies, pointing to commonalities that underscore the shared origins of mankind. Occasionally, we will explore significant developments in religion and political theory that shaped the course of human history. By the end of the course, we will understand better the world on the eve of modernity, which will lay the foundations for a better appreciation of the subsequent centuries of gradual globalisation.
Course grades will be assigned on the basis of several elements:
Each student has the opportunity to submit up to five extra credit response papers to announced events that take place throughout the semester.
Coatsworth, John, Juan Cole, Michael Hanagan, Peter Perdue, Charles Tilly, and Louise Tilly. Global connections: Politics, exchange, and social life in world history. Vol. 1, To 1500. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah, ed.. The Origins and diversity of Axial Age civilizations. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.
Readings from course textbooks appear in small caps. All other readings include full bibliographical citations and are available electronically on the class website. It is highly recommended that you prepare in advance by downloading and/or printing all online readings at the beginning of the course, so that you can concentrate on reading them over the semester. While ‘recommended reading’ are not obligatory, they may be useful when preparing research papers (those with an asterisk (*) are highly encouraged). Primary source readings are noted below.