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Rise of the West, 1500-1905

First Year Module

Module Leader: Dr Edward Packard

By 1905 a handful of nationstates concentrated in north-western Europe held tremendous, seemingly total and globe-spanning power. Yet these states had hardly existed in 1500. This module aims to introduce students to the major themes and factors historians have identified for this divergence of the west from the rest. In recent years much scholarly work has been devoted to re-examining the evidence for the wests expansion, dominance and centrality in world affairs. Our purpose is to examine the global history of the west to understand better what ideas, institutions and habits of life might have set the west apart. We will move chronologically and thematically but, above all, comparatively. Our attention will be fixed on the west, Europe and, later, the United States and Japan, but accounting for how Europe stood apart demands knowing what other states, societies and cultures did not possess that Europe and the west did. How did the west change while the rest did not? Conversely, how did changes elsewhere bring about both continuity and change in Europe? How had their dominance come to be? What, if anything, distinguished these European states and societies from others and enabled their ostensible politicaleconomic, technological, intellectual and cultural supremacy? What were the dynamics of this western dominance, and how did polities and societies respond to it, resist it, adapt to it and profit from it? And, finally, was the wests rise illusory? In raising these questions, the aim is to convey to students the motive-forces of early modern and modern history while also introducing them to a comparative and cross-national approach.

The module will explore themes in the history of Europe across the early modern and modern period, beginning in 1500 and continuing through to the eve of the First World War. It will adopt a chronological, thematic and above all comparative approach.The focus will be on political, religious, social and cultural development and change, but with recognition of strands of continuity. There will be particular reference to the experience of France, the German states, the Netherlands, China, Japan and the United States.It is intended as a companion to the second semester module Decline of the West? 1905-2001.

Learning and Teaching Strategies:

This module will be delivered through weekly lectures andseminars plus tutorial support. Where appropriate supporting resources will also be made available online. Seminar sessions will be designed to encourage student participation and will support students in strengthening their skills of presentation, discussion, argument and debate, and in evaluating, interpreting and using secondary and primary sources.


Recommended introductory reading:

C.A. Bayly, The Birth of the Modern World, (Cambridge, 2004)

J. Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 14002000, (London, 2004)

E.S.Rosenberg, A. Iriye, J. Osterhammel, T. Ballantyne and CS. Maier, et al. (eds), World Connecting: A History of the World (Cambridge, Mass., 2012)J.Goldstone, Why Europe? The Rise of the West in World History 1500-1850: Global Change in a Global Context, 1500-1900 A.D, (Maidenhead, 2008)


Further Reading:

N.B. A full reading list is included in a module handbook which will be provided in the first week of teaching.

T.C.W.Blanning, (ed.), The Nineteenth Century: Europe, 1789-1914, (London, 2000)

R.Bridenthal, et. al. (eds.), Becoming Visible: Women in European History, (1987)

E.Cameron, ed., Early Modern Europe-An Oxford history, (Oxford, 1999)

J.B.Collins and K. Taylor, Early Modern Europe: Issues and Interpretations, (London, 2006)

N.Ferguson, Civilisation, (London, 2011)

R.Gildea, Barricades and Borders: Europe 1800-1914, 2nd ed., (London, 1996)

J.Goldstone, Why Europe? The Rise of the West in World History 1500-1850: Global Change in a Global Context, 1500-1900 A.D, (Maidenhead, 2008)

E.Hobsbawm, The Age of Empire, 1875-1914, (London, 1987)

E.Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality, (London, 1990)

O.Hufton, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, 15001800, Vol. 1, , (1997)

H. Kamen, Early Modern European Society, (London, 2000)

P.Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, (London, 1991)

H.G. Koenigsberger,Early Modern Europe, 1500-1789 (London, 1987)

B. Kmin, The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History, (London, 2009)

W.McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, (Chicago, 1991)

J.Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, Vol. I: From the Renaissance to the Age of Napoleon, (London, 1996)

J.Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, Vol. II: From the French Revolution to the Present, (New York, 1996)

I.Morris, Why the West Rules for Now, (London, 2011)

K.Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy, (Princeton, 2001)

M.Rappaport, Nineteenth-Century Europe, (Basingstoke, 2005)

E.Rice and A. Grafton, The Foundation of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1555, (London, rev. 1994)

M.E.Wiesner-Hanks, Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 (London, 2006)

W.McNeill, The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community, (Chicago, 1991)