Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, 1963

CORE 191: Global History Since 1914

King’s College, Summer 2009

Cristofer Scarboro

Course Site:               

Office:                         Hafey-Marian Hall 312


Phone:                         208-5900 ext. 5637 (o)

                                    735-4762 (h)

Sharepoint:        Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx

Moodle Site:     



I.  Course Description:


This course is intended as an introduction to the major political, cultural and economic developments in the 20th Century.  As a starting point we will investigate the Twentieth Century as a period of “high modernity,” when regimes throughout the world sought to create and perfect particular types of subjects-citizens within competing universalizing ideological frameworks and visions of the future and past: Liberal Democratic Capitalism, Fascism, Communism, Anti-Colonialism and Nationalism first among them.  Subjects discussed in the class will include such topics as the revolutionary transformation of daily life by new science and technologies; visions of a global economic interdependence arising out of rapid industrialization and urbanization; the rise of a mass consumer culture; socialism and socialist humanism; colonialism, decolonialization and the collapse of European Empires; the disintegration of the Soviet Union and socialist regimes in Eastern Europe; conflicts among evolving, ascendant and declining social classes and interest groups;  contestation over cultural forms; liberal democracy and its discontents.


This course is based on a topical approach rather than a strictly chronological or national one:  major events will be addressed in roughly chronological order, but certain economic, political and social phenomena and intellectual and cultural movements will be explored over time in order to adequately trace their development and impact.  Also, in some instances, focus will rest on particular countries and examples that provide profound and striking illustrations of the key aspects of Global History in the Twentieth Century that we are discussing.


II. Purpose:

A.  Mission Statement:

This Core Curriculum requirement is the last course in the Civilization sequence.

Civilization courses are designed to explore in some depth the complex dimensions of our world and the cumulative experience of the past, to provide an understanding of how yesterday influences today and the outlook for tomorrow. We study the major developments of the 20th century because most of the problems and institutions of contemporary society have obvious roots in the recent historical past.  Ultimately history is intended to be self-reflective and, like literature, we engage it because it tells us something of who we are.

We offer this course as part of your general education requirements because it is important for educated citizens to be familiar with today's world civilizations and recognize them as historically interacting forces which have produced important forms of political, social, and economic organization. You should understand that most of the structures within which we order our lives are products of this evolution.

Further, whatever your major or career goals may be, throughout your lives you will be deluged with information, opinion, and interpretations about events which you should be able to evaluate critically. Answering questions and solving problems by critical analysis -- not just memorization of data -- is a basic goal of education. Information is just the raw material in this process and, though rational analysis must be based on factual data, memorizing tidbits of information is not an end in itself. Our real goal is to develop concepts which give order and meaning to the raw material of our recorded past. Doing this requires comprehension beyond minimal factual details of past events. Major emphasis will be on patterns, themes, and concepts against which the factual data must be understood.  These tools will serve you well in any field you chose to enter.

We hope that upon successful completion of this course you will have improved your understanding of world civilizations and become a more perceptive judge of the data, opinions, interpretations and explanations continuously offered to you.

B. Objectives for the student:

  1. To be familiar with the main stages of world civilizations as expanding forces that have produced important forms of political, social, economic and cultural organization which are our common heritage.
  2. To identify major events, persons and ideas that contributed to the development of Western (including American) and non-Western attitudes and institutions.
  3. To develop concepts which give meaning and order to the raw material of our recorded past.
  4. To identify and analyze significant problems and situations as they relate to the continuing issues of contemporary life.

C. Goals for the student:

  1. To improve understanding of the major events which have influenced the modern world.
  2. To be an intelligent consumer and evaluator of information about world events.
  3. To develop a global perspective which recognizes the political, economic and cultural interdependence of all nations.
  4. To understand the influence of the past on contemporary events and problems or, in other words, to develop historical mindedness.

D. General Learning Outcomes for the student:

In addition to the more content-related objectives described above, this course has some general liberal-learning goals of developing academic skills. It is expected that successful completion of this course will help you improve your ability:

  1. To manage information, which involves sorting data, ranking data for significance, synthesizing facts, concepts and principles.
  2. To understand and use organizing principles or key concepts against which miscellaneous data can be evaluated.
  3. To differentiate between facts, opinions and inferences.
  4. To frame questions so as to more clearly clarify a problem topic or issue.
  5. To compare and contrast the relative merits of opposing arguments and interpretations, moving between the main points of each position.
  6. To organize your thoughts and communicate them clearly and concisely in written form.
  7. To obtain practice in selecting and presenting information and arguments within a restricted environment, especially the limitations of time in exams.


III. General Course Requirements:


A. Course Readings, Text:


The textbook for the course, Richard Goff, Walter Moss, Janice Terry, and Jiu-Wha Upshur, The Twentieth Century: A Brief Global History, 6th ed. (McGraw-Hill, 2002), is intended to provide you with important context and background information before class and to be used as a review and reference work afterwards.  You will be responsible for reading the assigned sections of the textbook according to the schedule listed below and come prepared to ask questions and contribute to class discussion on-line. 


B.  Course Readings, Primary Sources:


Each week you will also be expected to examine a series of primary sources consisting of texts, visual art and/or short video clips.  These sources will either be websites (links are provided in the syllabus) or files found on the course sharepoint site:  <<>>

These primary sources are to supplement the readings in the textbook and place you in dialogue with another time and place.  You will need to examine these sources as a historian.  What can they tell us about the past and the worldview of past cultures?  How do they help us understand the historical theme of the week and the class as a whole?  Further, these documents will be the source upon which you will base your microthemes and paper for the class. 


C.  Microthemes:


Every two weeks you will be responsible for writing a 1-2 page microtheme on the assigned primary source material covered during that time.  (Over the course of the semester you will write a total of five).  These microthemes consist of two parts: first, you should summarize the argument of the sources—you should ask and elucidate what the author, director or artist was trying to say.  Second, you should place the piece and argument within the larger context of the 20th century.  What themes and trends is the artist or author tapping into?  How does it relate to larger issues in the class?  How are we to make sense of the work historically? 

Due Dates for Microthemes:


1st microtheme May 30th 
2nd microtheme June 13th
3rd microtheme June 27th
4th: microtheme July 11th
5th microtheme July 25th


D. Reading Quizzes:


Each week you will take a short quiz through the course Moodle site on the readings assigned.  This is both to assess comprehension and point you to important trends in the chapter.  These exams must be completed within the week assigned and must be completed before 11:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.  You will have an hour to complete the quiz once you have begun.  Late quizzes will only be allowed with prior permission of the instructor.  Note: there are no quizzes during weeks 1, 7 and 12.


E. Exams:


There will be two exams in this course a midterm taken during the seventh week and a final taken during the twelfth week.  All exams will consist of short identifications quizzing knowledge of detail and significance, geographical content and essays demanding your understanding of the course material through logical presentation of facts and explanation of historical trends.  The exams will cover both the material from the textbook and the primary sources.  You may take a missed exam only at the discretion of the instructor. 


F.  Written Assignment:


Your written assignment is due any time before the final week of class.  Here you are to take any two of your microthemes and expand it into a 6-8 page paper placing the documents and authors in both historical context and with one another.  Like the microtheme, you should seek to answer the meaning of the primary sources: what argument or worldviews were the authors/artists seeking to put forward?  How was this a product of the time and place in which they were living?  Importantly you are also to relate the sources to one another.  How do these sources understand the Global 20th Century?  What problems and opportunities do they articulate?  What larger issues are they wrestling with.  You are free to chose any two sources from the course—you may find it easiest however, to chose two within a similar theme (i.e. “Cold War”, Colonialism and Post Colonialism, “Questions and Answers in the Interwar Period, etc.”)


G.  Class Discussion:


Each week you will participate in a threaded class discussion on two to three topics from the weekly readings on the course moodle site.  I will have posted discussion questions at the beginning of the week and you will be expected to contribute to the class discussion at least twice during the week (once before Wednesday and once before Saturday).  Your contributions to the class discussion must be substantive and should be in response to both my comments and the observations of your classmates.  You will be expected to read all the posts each week and material from the class discussion will appear on your exams.


H.  Grading:


It is your responsibility to understand why you have achieved a certain grade, and what

steps you can take to maintain or improve your grade.  You should consult with the

instructor during office hours or by appointment before and after exams and written



For your protection, in case of errors in record keeping, you should keep copies of all

exams and assignments until you have received official notice of your final grade.


**Your final grade will be based on the following percentages


100-98             A+

97-95                              A

94-92                              A-

91-89                              B+

88-85                              B

83-84                              B-

80-82               C+

77-79                              C

75-78                              C-

74-70                              D

69<                  F


**Your grade distribution for assignments is as follows:


Microthemes:                         15%               

Reading Quizzes:                   15%

Midterm Exam:                      15%

Class Discussion:                   15%

Final Exam:                            20%

Written Assignment:              20%


I. Academic Integrity:


The Department of History adheres to guidelines on academic integrity outlined in the Student Conduct Code in the Student Handbook:


Cheating and plagiarism will be penalized in accord with the penalties and procedures indicated in that source.  All students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the definition of these infractions of academic honesty. 


J. Dissabilities:


King’s College and I will make every effort to accommodate students with a bona-fide disability that impacts on their ability to learn the course material.  Please meet with me privately so that appropriate arrangements can be made to help in the learning process.


IV. Course Schedule:


Week 1:  The Prewar World

May 19th – May 23rd

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 1: “1900: A Preview of the 20th Century,” 1-10

Primary Sources: 

1)  Book of Genesis, Chapter 1 <<>> 

2)  Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871 (sel.)>>


Week 2:  The Prewar World (Cont.)

May 24th – May 30th 

***First Microtheme Due, May 30th,  5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 2: “General Trends before World War I,” 10-32

Chapter 3: “The Great Powers of Europe,” 32-42

Chapter 5: “The Americas,” 55-70

Primary Sources:

1)  Sigmund Freud, Civilization & Die Weltanschauung, 1918 (selections) <<>>


Week 3: Colonialism

May 31st – June 6th

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 4: “The European Conquest of Africa,” 42-55

Chapter 6: “Imperialism in Asia and the Pacific,” 70-96

Primary Sources:

1) Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden,” 1899  <<>>

2)  Sharepoint: Europe in Empire, Empire in Europe


Week 4:  Total War and its Discontents

June 7th – June 13th

***Second Microtheme Due, June 13th, 5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 7: “The Origins of World War I,” 96-105

Chapter 8: “World War I,” pp. 105-124

Primary Sources:

1)  British World War I Poetry

2)  Sharepoint: British Propoganda Posters: 


Week 5: Unmoored, the Age of Anxiety in the 1920s

June 14th – June 20th

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 9: “General Trends in the Interwar Years,” 124-139

Chapter 10: “Russia’s Three Revolutions, 1917-1932” 139 

Chapter 11: “Postwar Settlements and Europe in the 1920s,” 154-173

Chapter 12: “Economic and Social Upheaval in the Americas,” 173-190

Primary Sources:

1)  Tristan Tzara, Dada Manifesto, 1921 <<>>

2)  Sharepoint: Dada does not believe in anything


Week 6: Answers in Fascism, Stalinism and World War II

June 21st – June 27th

***Third Microtheme Due, June 27th, 5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 16: “Dictatorship and Democracy in Europe in the 1930s,” 228-241

Chapter 17: “Aggression in the 1930s,” 241-255

Chapter 18: “World War II,” 255-282

Primary Sources:

1)  Sharepoint: Degenerate Art Exhibition / Great German Art Exhibition

2)  Sharepoint: The Development of Socialist Realism


Week 7:  Cold War (Part I)

June 28th – July 4th 

***Midterm Exam

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 19: “General Trends in the Era of the Cold War and the Collapse of Empires,” 282-304

Chapter 20: “Postwar Settlements, Europe, and the Early Cold War,” 304-326

Chapter 21: “The Americas after World War II,” 326-344

Primary Sources:

1)  “Make Mine Freedom,” John Sutherland Production, Extension Department of Harding College, 1949 <<>>

2)  “Journey to Bananaland, produced by William J. Ganz Co., 1950 <<>>


Week 8:  The Collapse of Empires (Part I)

July 5th – July 11th

***Fourth Microtheme Due, July 11th, 5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 13: “East Asia between the World Wars,” 190-204

Chapter 14: “Nationalist Struggles in India and Southeast Asia,” 204-213

Chapter 15: “Anticolonialism in the Middle East and Africa,” 213-228

Primary Sources:

1) George Orwell, Shooting an Elephant, 1936 <<>>


Week 9: The Collapse of Empires (Part II)

July 12th – July 18th

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 22: “Asia in the Aftermath of World War II,” 344-370

Chapter 23: “African Struggles for Independence,” 370-384

Chapter 24: “Economic and Political Developments in the Middle East,” 384-397

Chapter 25: “The Israeli Palestinian Arab Conflict,” 397-410 

Primary Sources:

1)  Ho Chi Minh, Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Vietnam, 1945 <<>>

2)  The Palestinian National Charter, 1968 <<>>

3)  Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, 1948 << Process/Guide to the Peace Process/Declaration of Establishment of State of Israel>>


Week 10: Cold War (Part II)

July 19th – July 25th

***Fifth Microtheme Due, July 25th, 5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 26: “Détente and Europe, 1963-1984,” 410-428

Chapter 27: “The Americas in the Late Cold War Era,” 428-444

Chapter 31: Gorbachev, Europe, and the End of the Cold War, 1985-1991,” 495-520

Primary Sources:

1)  Sots Art


2)  Sharepoint: Pop Art


Week 11: Global Cold War

July 26th – August 1st

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 28: “South and Southeastern Asia in the Late Cold War Era,” 444-463

Chapter 29: “Competing Systems in East Asia in the Late Cold War Era,” 463-481

Chapter 30: “Africa in the Later Years of the Cold War,” 481-495

Primary Sources:

1)  Umkhonto we Sizwe, We are at War! 1961 <<>>

2)  Sharepoint: Chinese Poster Art:  Visualizing the Future


Week 12: New World Order (?)

August 2nd – August 6th

***Final Exam Due, August 6th,  5:00 p.m.

Readings in Goff, Moss, Terry, Upshur and Schroeder, The Twentieth Century:

Chapter 32: “The Post Cold War World,” 520-533

Chapter 33: “Europe and the Americas in a New Era,” 533-556

Chapter 34: “Asia, the Middle East, and Africa in a New Era,” 556-577

Primary Sources:

1)  Nelson Mandela, Inaugural Address, 1994 <<>>

2)  Osama bin Laden, Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, 1998 <<>>