History 207 Winter 1996

Updated 1/16

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History 207: Materials, Early Modern World

During the early modern period, defined as extending from the 15th to the 18th centuries, the level and intensity of contacts among different regions of the world increased exponentially over earlier periods. Goods, people, forms of dominion, and cultural ideas and values disseminated among or were imposed upon others in an unprecedented fashion. While the industrial revolution and the global imperialism that followed the early modern period transformed the world, many of the contours of the contemporary scene, including the economic, religious and ethnic framework of modern world politics, first took shape in the period before 1800.

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the advanced study of the early modern world. This requires an examination of several major theoretical problems, a consideration of the models of analysis that are currently in discussion (and in several cases, still evolving rapidly), and the reading of exemplary studies that highlight certain characteristic themes in the study of global history.

The course will take place under the aegis of several governing questions. During the quarter, I hope to maintain a website or emailing-list through which we can maintain a running dialogue about these questions, and evolve answers to them or transformations of their terms. (This project is a trial-run of a proposed intercampus program in conceptualizing world history that will begin next year.)

Course requirements
1. Students are expected to read carefully the assigned books and other works each week. For each of the major units of the course (I-VI below), each student should submit/post a short position paper relating the week's readings to the larger questions posed at the opening of the course (2-4 pages). Discussion of these position papers will be a continuing part of both in-class and non-class portions of the course. Exact details will be established during our first meeting.
2. During each class, all students are expected to engage actively in the discussion as it proceeds.
3. Each student will choose one of the thematic topics discussed during weeks 3-9 as the focus for further historiographical research. (Approximately equal numbers of students are desirable for each of the themes). For the assigned week, each student involved will produce an extended bibliography of books, articles, review essays and reviews relevant to an aspect of the theme at hand, and will produce a written agenda for discussion during the class in question. These agendas will serve to organize class discussion of the specific works assigned and the larger implications of the week's theme. (As needed, the weekly assignment can be modified to reflect the responsible students' investigations and results.)
4. At the end of the quarter, each student will write a historiographical essay of approximately 12-15 pages that situates their theme in the larger frameworks of the early modern world. As a rule, each student's essay should consider at least two major works in addition to the assigned books for the relevant week, along with relevant review essays and reviews.
Scheduling note:

Because there are two Monday holidays this quarter, we will need to rechedule two meetings. One, with general consent, will take place during the Monday of examination week. The second will take place during of Feb. 12.

Weekly Readings

This bibliography is subject to change in general as the course develops, and many of the readings shown here are to be regarded as exemplary rather than definitive
** Optional or supplemental items marked with asterisks

Readings subject to change in italics

I. World Systems Theory (Weeks 1-2)

Week 1:

Eric R. Wolf. Europe and the People without History (California: 1982), pp. 3-126.

Marshall Hodgson, "Hemispheric Interregional History as an Approach to World History," Cahiers d'Histoire Mondiale. 1, 3 (1954), pp. 715-23. (A later version of his thoughts are found in Hodgson's Rethinking World History [Cambridge, 1993], esp. Essays 1, 3, 5, 6).

Michael Geyer and Charles Bright, "World History in a Global Age," American Historical Review, 100, 4 (1995), pp. 1034-1060.

*William McNeill, "The Rise of the West after Twenty-Five Years," Journal of World History, 1, 1, (1990), pp. 1-21.

Week 2:

Wallerstein, The Modern World System, Vol. I (1974)

Andre Gunder Frank, "The World Economic System in Asia Before European Hegemony," Historian, 56, 2 (1995), pp. 259-76.

*(NEW) Steve Stern, "Feudalism, Capitalism, and the World-System in the Perspective of Latin American and the Caribbean," in Frederick Cooper et al., Confronting Historical Paradigms: Peasants, Labor, and the Capitalist World System in Africa and Latin America, (Madison, 1993), pp. 23-83 (Xerox available in course reserve box above student mail boxes)

*Thomas Shannon, An Introduction to the World-System Perspective, (a useful overview and introduction)

*Janet Abu-Lughod, Before European Hegemony: The World-System, A.D. 1250-1350 (1989)

II. Colonial and imperial systems: (Weeks 3-4)

Week 3: "Empires" in the early modern period

Suggested readings on Songhay, Ottoman, Portuguese and Ming empires can be found in the bibliographies.

Week 4: The origins of colonial systems

Charles Verlinden, The Beginnings of Modern Colonization (1970)

Nicholas Canny, Kingdom and Colony: Ireland in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (1988)

*George Brooks, Landlords and Strangers: Ecology, Society and Trade in Western Africa, 1000-1630 (1993)

*Nicholas Canny and Anthony Pagden, eds., Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800, (1987)

*Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Before Columbus: Exploration and Colonization from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic, 1229-1492 (1987)

III. Merchant Capitalism (Week 5)

James Tracy, ed. The Rise of Merchant Empires: Long-Distance Trade in the Early Modern World, 1350-1750 (1990)

*Jonathan Israel, Dutch Primacy in World Trade (1989)

*Philip Curtin, Cross Cultural Trade in World History, (1984)

IV. Labor systems and their consequences (Weeks 6-7)

Week 6: Comparative labor systems (with Rob Patch)

Stuart Schwartz, Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550-1835

Steve Stern, Peru's Indian peoples and the challenge of Spanish conquest

Week 7: Effects of labor systems analyzed in terms of gender

Carole Shammas, "Black Women's Work and the Evolution of Plantation Society in Virginia," Labor History, 26, 1 (1985): 5-28.

Marietta Morrissey, "Women's Work, Family Formation and Reproduction among Caribbean Slaves," Review [Fernand Braudel Center] 9, 3 (1986), pp. 339-67.

Ira Berlin and Philip D. Morgan, eds., articles on women in Cultivation and Culture (1993)

Steve Stern, The Secret History of Gender (1995) (late colonial Mexico)

V. Religion and cultural contact (Weeks 8-9)

Week 8: Christianization and its discontents

Inga Clendinnen, Ambivalent Conquests: Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570 (1987)

John Thornton, "The development of the African Catholic Church in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1491-1750," Journal of African History, 25 (1984).

John Thornton, "On the Trail of Voodoo: African Christianity in Africa and the Americas," The Americas, 44, (1988).

John Thornton, "Perspective on African Christianity," in Race, Discourse, and the Origin of the Americas:A New World View, eds. V. Lawrence and R. Nettleford, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), pp. 169-98.

*Jan Vansina, "The Kongo Kingdom and its Neighbors," in General History of Africa, Vol. V: Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth Century, ed. B. A. Ogot, (Berkeley and Paris, 1992).

Week 9: Interpreting culture contact

Marshall Sahlins, Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities: Structure in the Early History of the Sandwich Islands (1981)

Gananath Obeyesekere, The apotheosis of Captain Cook: European mythmaking in the Pacific (1992)

*Sahlins, Marhall, How "Natives" Think (1995) [a precis of his views in "How natives think," Times Literary Supplement, June 2, 1995, No. 4809, pp. 12-13.]

*Clifford Geertz, "Culture War", New York Review of Books, 42, 19 (1995), pp. 4-6.

*Inga Clendinnen, "Cortés, Signs, and the Conquest of Mexico," in Anthony Grafton and Ann Blair, eds., The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990), pp. 87-130.

VI. The polemics of world history (Week 10)

J. M. Blaut, 1492

Reviews of Blaut

*Edward Said, Orientalism (1978); Michael Sprinker, ed., Edward Said : a critical reader (1992) PN51 .E39 1992

*Tzvetan Todorov, The conquest of America (1984)

*James Axtell, "The Moral Significance of 1492," Historian, 56, 1 (1993), pp. 17-28