The Modern World: Global History Since 1760
In 1492 the two hemispheres of the planet that had not known of each others’ existence came into mutual awareness. Half a millenium later, in the late 20th century, human beings saw for the first time a photograph of the blue marble that is the planet. Stretched between these two moments is what we might call “global history.” We will explore the flows and encounters of things, organisms and ideas—from the movement of people, plants and microbes, to the circulation of money and goods, to the interpenetration and clash of theories and systems—that have shaped human experience on multiple scales, from the planetary to the very local. Nations and empires are part of this story, but global history cannot be reduced to their interactions. By approaching primary and secondary sources in the spirit of experimentation and open-ended inquiry, we will ask whether "global" is just another buzzword, a tool for a certain kind of historical thinking—or the beginning of new a global epoch. The course will combine lecture mode, large-scale discussion and sections.