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Becoming "Global," Forging "Modernity"

Semester and Year SP 2019
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 721 003.


Over and over, we are told that the world we live in is becoming increasingly global. 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 new is this phenomenon? 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 cooperation, piracy, and slavery. This course will explore the emergence of a global consciousness in the early modern period. Our primary questions include: to what extent did people in this century begin to imagine and experience the world globally (that is, as an entity whose regions were interdependent rather than separate)? Does the change in understanding of the world vary by region, by class, ethnicity, gender, or religion? How did globalization influence cultural developments? What influence did global encounters have on European identities—for example on ideas about, and experiences of, gender, sexuality, class religion, and citizenship? Was the global economy seen as cooperative or competitive? To answer these questions, we will consider how the attempts to create, and the struggle to understand, this global world produced new narratives and forms of interdisciplinary thinking. In order to see how the issues surrounding globalization as we understand them today have a long and complex history, we will also study works that put the past in present in conversation with each other. We will investigate a wide variety of primary works, such as travel narratives, plays, poems, early forms of ethnography, films, engravings, and globes, as well as secondary works by literary scholars, anthropologists, and historians of labor, the economy, and science. While the focus is on the “European” and emerging “American” perspective, we will also read several works that challenge the Eurocentric view of globalization that was emerging and still dominates much of contemporary discourse of globalization.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)