HIS 2303-01 Spring 2017 – Texas Wesleyan University

Instructor: Chris Ohan

World History from 1648

Office: PMC 244

Phone: 817-531-4913

Meeting: Tue/Thurs 10:50-12:05

Office Hours: Mon & Wed 10-12, 1:30-4,

Tues 3-6, or by appointment

Location: PMC 123

Web: www.historymuse.net

E-mail: cohan@txwes.edu


“The past was a light that if properly directed could illumine the present more brightly that any contemporary lamp…. Knowledge was never simply born in the human mind; it was always reborn, the relaying of wisdom from one age to the next, this cycle of rebirths: this was wisdom.”

--Salman Rushdie, The Enchantress of Florence (2008)


“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

—John Stuart Mill (19th c. AD)


“The reason you cannot rely on the wisdom of the people is that they have the minds of little children…”

--Han Fei Tzu (3rd c. BC)


Course Description:  “This course is a continuation of the study of the rise and decline of the world’s major civilizations since 1500 with a special emphasis on the colonization, industrialization, and ideological conflicts.” Because of the large time period covered by this course, the class will not be primarily events-driven but will, instead focus on the importance of major ideas for the period surveyed.


This course fulfills 3 credit hours towards the 12 credit hour GEC requirement in Cultural Literacy.


Learning Outcomes: Students will gain a basic understanding of the progress of world history from the period of European expansion and colonization, the Enlightenment, French Revolution, Napoleon, Industrial Revolution and Imperialism.  They will be able to connect specific events in the in the 20th century (political, social and cultural) to contemporary concerns.  Finally, in completing the specific assignments, they will become familiar with the basic historiography of 19th and 20th century legal history.  More generally, they should be able to demonstrate a basic understanding of the major events in world history from 1648; use historical comparison as an analytic tool; recognize the different interpretations of the various themes within this half of world history; appreciate and interpret multiple forms of evidence (textual, visual, oral, statistical, artifacts from material culture); differentiate between primary and secondary sources and understand how each is used.


The outcomes listed above relate to the Goals of the History Program:  1. That students will possess a general knowledge of human history, 2. Students will understand historical interpretation and historiography, 3. Students will practice the skills inherent in the craft of history, and 4. That students will be better prepared to enter graduate programs in History, teach history in middle or secondary school, or enter other careers open to graduates with degrees in the Liberal Arts.


Required Texts:

Bentley and Ziegler, Traditions and Encounters A Brief Global History Vol. 2 (4E, McGraw Hill) [hereafter “BZ”]




Andrea and Overfield, The Human Record, Sources of Global History Vol. II (Cengage) [hereafter “AO”]


Primo Levi, Survival In Auschwitz


Instructional Methods/Class Format:  Most classes will consist of a lecture (with some give and take as questions come up) and discussions of texts from the reader or website readings.  Do not hesitate to bring up relevant questions and comments.  On the university level, I assume that you will complete the assigned readings for each week.  It is also assumed that you will attend all classes.  (Yes, regular attendance is required.)


Evaluation and Grading:  Your grade for the semester will be based on three tests (10%, 20%, 20% respectively), one essay (15%) a book review (20%), and 15% for participation (in class and on VoiceThread).  Please see the Grading Guidelines sheet posted on my website for specific grading criteria regarding written work.


Tests:  Tests will follow the standard AP History Free-Response Question format.  This type of test is designed to assess your ability to work with and understand primary sources.  Each test will consist of one question and a set of accompanying documents.  Grades will be based on fulfilling the following objectives:  Your essay will contain a thesis which will be supported with evidence from the sources.  It should rely on/analyze a majority of the documents, address all parts of the question and consider the individual source’s point of view. 


Test topics will come from supplemental texts, lectures, class discussions, occasional video material, and the textbook.  Test dates are listed below.


1.       16 February

2.       4 April

3.       4 May


VoiceThread Postings:  You are expected to participate on the class discussion board.  I will regularly post at least one question for further discussion after a class session.  Students are expected to participate by posting answers/comments on the board—comments can be posted as audio or video.  Please avoid using the text option.  As a rule, you should participate in at least one discussion per week.  Constructive participation in class discussions will make the difference if your final grade is borderline. Feedback will be in the form of a response to your posting and assessment will follow a standard grading rubric (see on-line grading rubric). 


Writing Assignments: The short essay assignment will be based on our class discussion on January 17 about Machiavelli.  Guidelines for this short writing assignment are at the end of the syllabus.  The final paper is due on January 31 by 10:50 in Blackboard. 


The other writing assignment will be based on your review and our discussion of Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz (discussed in class on March 30).  See guidelines at the end of this syllabus.  This book review is due April 18 by 10:50 in Blackboard.


Please note that any late work will be penalized at the rate of one letter grade per day.  If an assignment is due at 1:30 and it is submitted at 1:45, it is a day late.  No assignments will be accepted more than 4 days late.


Writing for this course should employ standard academic formatting—double spaced, typed—with citations following either MLA or Chicago style.  If you need help with this see the guides on the links page of the class website, the Wesleyan library or the instructor.  Correct use of source information and citations is assumed on the college level.  Failure to cite or format according to one of the styles listed will result in a lower grade.  See Grading Guidelines on the class webpage for specific grading criteria regarding written work. 


Classroom Participation:  Class discussion is an integral part of any class.  Students are expected to complete the required readings before coming to class.  If you do not complete the assigned readings prior to a class meeting, you may be quizzed or asked to leave the classroom.  Participation in class discussions will make the difference if your final course grade is borderline.


Make-up for the exams is discouraged and will be administered only for officially excused absences.  Students normally perform poorly on make-up exams.  Please note that the format of any makeup exam will be at the discretion of the instructor.


Attendance is mandatory.  If you miss more than the equivalent of one week of class consider the effect on your grade.  Should you miss more, please do not offer excuses, notes or request special consideration.  Keep in mind a) that “dropping a course” is perfectly legitimate when circumstances arise that prevent you from completion, and b) that I should not be expected to change class expectations based on your circumstances.  You are responsible for all class assignments regardless of attendance.  Quizzes covering assigned readings may be given at any time and factored into the course grade at the discretion of the instructor.  If you are unable to complete this course, you must withdraw from it.  Please note that if you miss more than the equivalent of one-week’s worth of class, I reserve the right to drop you from the course.  The last date to withdraw with a W is 11 April.


Internet/Blackboard:  Feel free to send email to the address above.  Keep in mind that I will not entertain discussion about grades, missed classes &etc over email or any other electronic medium.  In addition, this syllabus, the lecture/reading schedule, some of the course readings and any other class handouts will be posted on the above web address.  All assignments will be submitted via Blackboard.


Academic Integrity:


Familiarize yourself with Wesleyan’s Student Code of Conduct.  Academics are not only devoted to learning, research, and the advancement of knowledge, but also to the development of ethically sensitive and responsible persons. By accepting membership in this class, you are joining a community characterized by free expression, free inquiry, honesty, respect for others, and participation in constructive change.  All rights and responsibilities exercised within this academic environment shall be compatible with these principles. 


Academic Dishonesty is a breach of the Student Code of Conduct.  Dishonesty includes:

  1. Plagiarism, representing the work of another as one's own work;
  2. Preparing work for another that is to be used as that person's own work;
  3. Cheating by any method or means;
  4. Knowingly and willfully falsifying or manufacturing scientific or educational data and representing the same to be the result of scientific or scholarly experiment or research;
  5. Knowingly furnishing false information to a university official relative to academic matters;
  6. Soliciting, aiding, abetting, concealing, or attempting conduct in violation of this code.


Academic Dishonesty will not be tolerated in this course. Any offense will result in an F in the class (not simply on the assignment) and be referred to the appropriate academic officials for adjudication. If you have any questions regarding this subject please see me.  For a detailed description and further clarification, please see the link for “Plagiarism and Academic Dishonesty” on my website, the 2015-2017 Wesleyan Catalog (p. 74), or the Student Handbook.




My Goal in teaching this class is not that you learn the history of the period covered in this course.  (Learning about the past is, however, an important consequence.)  Rather, my goal is to teach you how to think critically about the major events and developments of the past which is more useful.  For our purposes, therefore, ideas will hold precedence over facts, dates, and the like.  It is important that you consider the classroom an open forum for discussion—of anything related to the themes and topics of the course.  (Of course, any argument—whether spoken or written—must be supported.)  While I (or other students) may challenge beliefs/perspectives, realize that the purpose is not to change them.  An open/tolerant attitude is essential in this class.  Remember—this is a college course where you ought to be able to discuss things openly and intelligently.  If you choose to be intolerant and interrupt class discussion, I reserve the right to ask you to leave the classroom.



Machiavelli Essay


You will write a 2-3 page essay reacting to the January 17 in-class discussion of and excerpt from Machiavelli’s The Prince.  This is an easy way to bolster your course grade from the beginning (if you’re worried about such things).  Begin with a general statement of whether or not you agree or disagree with Machiavelli’s overall philosophy for a prince/ruler.  Then pull out several specific issues (3-4) raised in the text/discussion and explain what Machiavelli is advocating and then give your reaction.  Tack on a conclusion and you’re done.  The essay is due by 10:50 on January 31 (Blackboard).


Book Review Format


1.             5-6 pages typewritten, double-spaced.  Title page, if used, does NOT count.  Observe the normal rules of writing such as standard one-inch margins, page numbering, etc. 

2.             Full bibliographic citation on the title page or at the top of the first page.  (Consult an MLA or Chicago style guide if you’ve forgotten how to do this.  Do NOT make up your own form.)

3.             Brief introduction to the topic or subject of the book.  Why is this topic or subject important to the period of history being covered?

4.             Summarize the author’s thesis (argument) and main points concisely but fully.  (What do you think the author is trying to accomplish by writing the book?)

5.             Critique the book.  (What you’re doing is analogous to what happens in a courtroom. Consider yourself the judge and the author a lawyer who has presented an argument/case.  It’s up to you, having listed to his argument/case to decide whether or not her claims have validity.)  Based on your answer to #4 do you find his/her arguments and conclusions convincing?  How does s/he do in terms of accomplishing his purpose for writing?  Do not walk fences or resort to elementary tactics such as pleading ignorance.  (This should be about one-half of your paper.)

(5a. If the book is a work of literature, you’ll still consider what the author is trying to accomplish, but you’ll need to think about what the work says about the time period or place in which it’s set, the characters, the environment, etc.)

6.             While a review does not usually include the readers own opinion, you may provide a brief personal evaluation of no more than one paragraph.  Be sure to explain and support your opinion carefully and coherently.  At this point in your academic career, you ought to have an informed opinion. 

7.             This is not a research paper, so formal footnoting is not necessary.  If you do quote or draw on information that is not your own, simply use a parenthetical reference according to Turabian/Chicago style. 

8.             Papers which are turned in after the time they are due will be penalized one letter grade for each day.  No papers which are more than four days late will be accepted.  If you or someone close to you is looking like they’re coming down with the latest disease or that they might need emergency surgery, turn it in early.  If you want mercy, pray.


Small Print:


Texas Wesleyan Policies: Students should read the current Texas Wesleyan University Catalog and Student Handbook to become familiar with University policies. These policies include, but are not limited to academic integrity, grade appeal, sexual harassment. Student access to records, and others; policies specified in the current catalog are applicable unless otherwise stated in this syllabus.


Disability Policy:  Texas Wesleyan University adheres to a disability policy which is in keeping with relevant federal law. The University will provide appropriate accommodation as determined by the Director of the Counseling Center, Dr. Michael Ellison.  Students must notify instructors of any permanent or temporary disabilities and must provide documentation regarding those disabilities prior to the granting of an accommodation.  For assistance, students should consult with Dr. Ellison.


Repeating Courses: Any course taken at Texas Wesleyan University and repeated for a grade must be repeated at Texas Wesleyan University. Any course taken at another institution may be repeated at Texas Wesleyan, and the most recent grade on the course will be counted. When a course is repeated, the grade point average will be computed using the most recent grade achieved.


Syllabus Disclaimer: Note: Course syllabi are intended to provide students with basic information concerning the course. The syllabus can be viewed as a “blueprint” for the course; changes in the syllabi can be made an students will be informed of any substantive changes concerning examinations, the grading or attendance policies and changes in project assignments. 


Unified Discrimination and Harassment Reporting (Including Title IX):

As noted in the catalog under the Unified Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Texas Wesleyan University is committed to providing an environment free of all forms of prohibited discrimination and sexual harassment.  If you have experienced any such discrimination or harassment, including gender- or sex-based forms, know that help and support are available from the following resources:

                       Complete online incident report at https://txwes.edu/student-life/report-a-concern/

                       Contact Campus Conduct Hotline (24 hours a day): (866) 943-5787

                       Campus security (24 hours a day): (817) 531-4911

                       Dean of Students: deanofstudents@txwes.edu OR (817) 531-4872

Please be aware that all Texas Wesleyan University employees, other than designated confidential resources (i.e., Community Counseling Center) are required to report credible evidence of prohibited discrimination or harassment to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, or to one of the Title IX Assistant Coordinators.  If you wish to speak to someone confidentially, please contact the Community Counseling Center at (817) 531-4859 to schedule an appointment.

Tentative Class Topic and Reading Schedule

                (BZ= Bentley and Ziegler textbook; AO=Andrea/Overfield reader; links are readings found online.)


Jan 12


Jan 17

The Idea of the West – Ethnocentrism or Enlightenment

Machiavelli – our starting point

Readings: Treaty of Westphalia; Machiavelli, The Prince

Jan 19

The European Age of Exploration

Readings: BZ 19, 21; AO 1, 2, 3, 21, 23, 24

Jan 24

Africa and the Origins of the Atlantic Slave Trade

Readings: BZ 22; AO 40, Multiple Voices IV

Jan 26, 31

Europe in the Sixteenth Century: Religious and Political Transformations

Readings: BZ 20; AO 4, 5, 9

Feb 2

China: The Ming and Qing dynasties

The Unification of Japan

Readings: BZ 23; AO 23, 24, 25, Multiple Voices II

Feb 7

The Enlightenment

Readings: BZ 25; AO 29, 30, 32, 34, 37; Republic of Virtue; Rousseau, Discourse on the Inequality Among Men

Feb 9, 14

The Birth of Modernism: The French Revolution

Readings: BZ 25; AO 35, 36, 38, 39; Multiple Voices III;

Feb 16

Test 1

Feb 21

Industrialism in Europe

Readings: BZ 26; AO Multiple Voices V; 51, 52, 54. Malthus, “On Population

Feb 23, 28

The Age of Empires

Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, Chinese, Japan

Readings: BZ 28; AO 41, 43, 47, 49

March 2

European Imperialism

Readings: BZ 28; AO 55, 56, 57, 58, 61

March 7, 9

World War I and the Peace Process

Readings: BZ 29, AO 76, 77; Owen, “Dulce et decorum est” and “Disabled

March 21, 23

Inter-war Years: Communism, Fascism and Depression

Readings: BZ 30; AO 78, 79, 80, 81; Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 1937 (selection); Mussolini, "What is Fascism" (1932)


March 28, 30

World War II and the Holocaust

Readings: BZ 32; AO 82 Multiple Voices VII (1-6); Primo Levi, Survival In Auschwitz

April 4

Test 2

April 6, 11

The Cold War

Readings: BZ 33; AO 93, 94; Sartre, “Existentialism is a Humanism

April 13

Decolonization and the Postcolonial Era

Readings: BZ 33 (636-647); AO 87, 88, 98

April 18

The Middle East

Readings: AO 86; Herzl, “The Jewish State” (1896); Reuveny, “The Last Colonialist”; NPR “The Mideast: A Century of Conflict

April 20

Fundamentalist Politics

Readings: AO 100, 103; Esposito, “The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?” (1993); Solzhenitsyn, “Harvard Address (1978)

April 25

The Collapse of Communism

Readings: BZ 33(647-651); AO 105, 106; Gorbachev on Glasnost, Perestroika, Arms Agreement (YouTube video)

April 27, May 2

The End of History, Globalization, and New World Order?

Readings: BZ 34; AO 109, 110, 113, 114; Fukuyama, “The End of History?”; Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” (1993)

4 May

Test 3 @10:30