History | The First Global Age
B391 | 26041 | Carmichael/Struve


A portion of the above section reserved for majors
Above section open to undergraduates only

This new lecture course surveys world history from roughly 1400 to
1890, a period during which the consciousness first emerged that we
inhabit a planet on which everything is interrelated. Thematically,
we will emphasize the connections between developments in
technology, especially those important for travel, trade, and
communication, and people’s worldviews, particularly their outlooks
on lands and peoples far away from themselves. Principal topics will
be transcontinental exploration and exploitation, enabling advances
in science and invention, changes in the possibilities of state
formation, and the inter-cultural accumulation of knowledge about
the peoples and places on the planet.

We will divide the course into three sections, beginning the first
great global “moment” (conscious discovery of the Western hemisphere
by the peoples of Eurasia and Africa), to an age of maritime
exploration and conquest alongside land-based consolidation of
states and empires, to a unit on the consequences of this first
globalization. Within these three sections of the course we will
study changes that have direct relevance to our modern everyday
experience and interests. We will discuss such concrete matters as
the mechanics of overseas navigation; print technology; commerce in
food, drugs (often called “spices”), cloth, and humans; currency
exchange; weapons and warfare; clocks and time-keeping; engines and
fuels; and variations in diet and disease experience.

There will be three in-class examinations (one of which is the final
examination), and periodic quizzes as the class proceeds. Quizzes
are designed to help students keep up with the materials and
identify particulars related to the larger themes and issues of the
course.