Smolny Beyond Borders

A Liberal Arts Initiative

Studying Global History Globally

Princeton’s University Global History Lab together with Bard College, University of Cambridge and OSUN invites applications for A History of the World since 1300 course which starts this fall.

If I would characterize the course in one brief sentence I’d say that it is about the history of globalization and history of resistance to globalization. As Jeremy Adelman, the founder of the project, noted, this course takes you on a voyage into the past, and like many of the explorers, you will travel across time from when Chinggis Khan’s armies conquered Bejing and Baghdad in the 13th century and the Black Death scoured the Eurasian world to the global nomads and pandemics of our day. Do earlier modes of globalization help us to understand our own age?  How can we understand old and new global divides? The dynamics of combinations, differences, and divisions are many: intellectual, economic, environmental, ideological, military, and political.  The aim of this course is to understand the big forces that pull the world’s parts together as well as those that drive them apart.

This course is unique not just in its scale and scope. During twelve weeks students will learn global history globally. This course connects you to students elsewhere in the world.  Across 25 locations around the world, from Vietnam and Lebanon, to New York and Yerevan, from Argentina to Afghanistan, students are taking this course simultaneously and posting and sharing their ideas on the course Gallery site.

The section for SBB and Bard students is linked to empire and colonialism and explores the role of empires, broadly conceived, in World history from the great land empires of Eurasia, through the empires of trade in the Atlantic and Indian basins to the neo-imperialisms of the United States, Soviet Union, and Western Europe during the late 20th and early 21st centuries (though most of the course material will focus on the period after c. 1400). Students will examine the definitions and meanings of empire (Empire as a historical phenomenon and Empire as a metaphor), imperialism, and colonialism; how  and why empires emerged; how they were governed and what kind legal tools were imposed to maintain them; what role “colonized peoples” had in the making and development of empires; how identity were forged for both “colonizers” and “colonized” in the fires of the encounter; finally, the the intellectual apparatus that justified the spread and maintenance of empires will be in the focus of the course. The course examines empire chronologically and geographically (e.g. Persian, Ottoman, British Empires, Russian, Soviet); thematically; and comparatively (e.g. how methods of rule varied; how power was distributed between those from the “core” and those from the “periphery”, and how various empires collapsed). Thus, empires will be analyzed in depth identification of motives, reasons and causes and effects of specific historical occurrences across time and throughout the world. Collaboratively, we will explore the historical paths, often troubled and intermittent, between violence, integration, resistance and independence.

This course is hybrid – it will be taught is both synchronically and asynchronically.  All the materials will be posted on the Cambridge University platform Canvas.  When you register for the course, your name will come to Cambridge and we will enroll you on the site.  Through this site, you will receive all the lectures, the course textbook, and the weekly case studies.  The site is also the home for the course Gallery, where you will also be interacting with peers around the world.

Dr Victor Apryshchenko whose sphere of expertise is Modern history as well as intellectual history is your professor for this semester. His academic interests influence the course content and students will discuss not only historical facts but also HOW we know about the past and HOW collective memory about empires works and transfer into public identity. In this way, the course is not only about the past but also about the contemporary intellectual culture. As the part of this course is to be linked with ‘diachronic’ perspective of Empires (i.e. Empire as part of collective memories) students also will explore various forms of resistance to Empire in multiply contexts, cultural forms and contemporary collective memories.

See you on the course and have a lovely voyage through the past!