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Becoming "Global" in the Early Modern World

Semester and Year SP 2017
Course Number IDSEM-UG1700
Section 001
Instructor Valerie Forman
Days T
Time 6:20 PM - 9:00 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM, EARLY


Same as SCA-UA 721 006.


Over and over, we are told that the world we live in is becoming increasingly global, that all its parts are connected to one another; and goods, people, culture, and information can move from one place to another, seemingly without barriers. Yet how true are these claims? And how new are the phenomena these claims describe? Scholars have pointed to the middle of the sixteenth century as the moment when the economy became global, and the age of exploration and colonization began to connect many parts of the world to each other in a complex network that included and radically reimagined forms of cooperation, piracy, and slavery. This course will explore what kinds of global consciousness developed in the early modern period in negotiations with these transformations. Some of our central questions include: to what extent did early modern people begin to imagine and experience the world globally, that is, as an entity whose regions were interdependent? Which groups of people began to experience it globally? How were things, places, and persons, not seen before categorized or valued? What influence did global encounters have on ideas about gender, sexuality, class, religion, and citizenship and on social and economic practices? What new kinds of narratives about the world developed in relation to the challenges of participating in it? Finally, to what extent is globalization a “western” phenomenon or a sign of modernity? We will investigate a wide variety of primary works, including travel narratives, plays, poems, ethnography, film, engravings, and globes. We will also read secondary works by literary scholars, anthropologists, and historians of labor, the economy, and science. Many of these works also put the past and present in conversation with each other in compelling ways. While many of the primary works originate in “Europe” or the Americas, we will also study a range of works that challenge the Eurocentric view of globalization that was emerging and still dominates much of contemporary discourse of globalization.


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Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)