Reading and Composition in History-"Decolonization and the Twentieth-Century World"

History R1B.004

Spring 2013
Day & Time: 
TuTh 330-5A
  • This course does not count for credit toward the History Major but may fulfill other requirements.
  • During the Twentieth Century the vast overseas empires of the European powers were replaced by a world of nation-states, dominated by the dual superpowers of the USA and USSR. However, the process of decolonization did not mean simply the end of empire, but involved the remaking of the world in very specific and contingent ways. These included both the formation of new modes of global power and political economy, and the persistence of imperial power structures into the postcolonial world. In this course we will explore some of the big historical questions about decolonization from a world history perspective. Some of the topics we will consider include the extent to which decolonization was a phenomenon unique in world history; the ways that decolonization was shaped by a broad, global array of participants, including national independence leaders and new regional powers; and the relationship between decolonization and the Cold War. One of our main concerns will be to understand the ways in which the long and complex process of decolonization created the world in which we live now, including the connections between decolonization, development, globalization and neoliberalism. We will examine these issues from various perspectives, from the high political to the intimately personal, through a wide variety of primary and secondary sources.

    The aim of the seminar is to develop critical thinking, reading and writing skills. The class will be writing intensive and satisfies the second half of the university's reading and composition requirement. In the first half of the semester, students will undertake short writing assignments – responding to the readings or analyzing particular archival sources - to develop their expository and analytic writing skills. In the second half of the semester, students will produce an 8 and a 10 page research paper using several sources and we will critique each others work in class. By the end of the course, students will have learned how to assess source material and use it to construct historical arguments. Through the development of critical reading skills and writing techniques, students will learn to take positions on the broad historical issues addressed in the class.

    Course Books

    The Darker Nations by Prashad, Vijay New Press. ISBN: 978-1595583420 Required
    A Small Place by Kincaid, Jamaica Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. ISBN: 978-0374527075 Required