Course Overview

This class focuses on the emergence of what we describe as the modern world, an international community dominated by Western technology and the legacy of European imperialism. We will examine the emergence of the nation-state and the conflict arising from the ambition of Western nations and the pressures placed on traditional societies worldwide by the encroachment of globalization.

Required Readings

Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness.
Readings posted on Moodle.

Courtesy and Participation

I have always had great experiences with Centre students and I know this class will be no exception. However, do please remember that it may sometimes be easier to distract others than you think.

Use of laptops or tablets is not permitted in class unless announced in advance (e.g. laptops be permitted during group discussions focused on primary source readings). Feel free to ask if you’re not sure.

Do note that if a student is being distracting to others or to me, for example by talking, using a mobile phone, doing homework for some other class, sleeping, or something similar, I may ask that person to leave the classroom. I will take attendance for this class as requested by the college. You can have three absences without penalty; after that, your participation grade will be adversely affected by at least ten per cent per day. Being late for class will be considered an absence and is never excused. I strongly encourage you not to miss any classes at all. If you have extra- or co-curricular responsibilities please let me know as soon as possible. If you have a serious illness or a family emergency this semester (fingers crossed that doesn’t happen) you should talk to Assistant Dean Mary Gulley. She will arrange for classes to be excused if necessary.

It is important that you are prepared for class. Your participation in class will be graded on your ability and willingness to discuss the readings, lecture content and your paper topics.

There is one rule I hold sacred above all others:

There is no such thing as a stupid question.

The key to a good participation grade in this class lies in doing the reading, being active in class and being unafraid to ask questions of me and of each other. Asking questions shows me you are interested in the material. You should never feel foolish asking a question.


Participation: 10%
Short Assignment: 10%
Essay 1: 20%
Essay 2: 20%
Essay 3: 20%
Final: 20%

Exam and Assignment Policies

This class will have a short assignment, three essays, and a final exam. Guidelines will be posted on Moodle. All assignments must be submitted in person in class and online.

Assignments in this class have been designed to address specific goals in the use of primary and secondary sources, and in developing research skills in finding material specific to your own essay projects. I strongly encourage you to discuss assignments with me in person.

Late assignments will be heavily penalized, by at least 20% per day.

I rarely grant extensions. Please note that any case of plagiarism will result in the incident being brought before the associate dean and will almost certainly result in a U for that assignment if not for the entire class. If you are at all unclear on what does or does not constitute plagiarism, please consult with me directly before submitting work. Plagiarism is very serious and can have an extremely deleterious effect on your academic career. Please be careful and do not be afraid to talk to me about any doubts you may have.

Accomodations for Special Circumstances

Students with physical impairments and learning disabilities will sometimes need accommodations to help them have an equal opportunity to learn. Whatever accommodations are provided, if any, should be the result of a discussion between the student and the College’s coordinator for disabilities, Mary Gulley (x5223), who will then prepare a signed Accommodation Notice (a laminated sheet) for the student to show professors when an accommodation is necessary. In any course, the instructor must sign the back of the Accommodation Notice before any accommodation can take effect. It is the student’s responsibility to discuss any necessary accommodations with Dr. Gulley and to process completely the Accommodation Notice through her office.

Course Schedule

Mon Sept 2 Introductions

Wed Sept 4 What is modernity?


Fri Sept 6 A Christian West?

Mon Sept 9 Primary Source Discussion

Wed Sept 11 Confucianism as philosophy and founding ideology

Fri Sept 13 Primary Source Discussion

Mon Sept 16 Malleable Faith: Buddhism from India to Japan

Wed Sept 18 An Islamic World

Fri Sept 20 Primary Source Discussion


Mon Sept 23 Worlds Awaiting Discovery? Short Assignment Due

Wed Sept 25 Historiography

Fri Sept 27 The Age of Discovery

Mon Sept 30 The New World

Wed Oct 2 Ming China

Fri Oct 4 Chinese “Stagnation”

Mon Oct 7 Europe and the Enlightenment I

Wed Oct 9 Europe and the Enlightenment II

Fri Oct 11 Historical Theory and Progress


Mon Oct 14 The Ottoman Empire Essay #1 Due

Wed Oct 16 The Qing Empire

FALL BREAK, Oct 17-20

Mon Oct 21 The Industrial Revolution I

Wed Oct 23 The Industrial Revolution II

Fri Oct 25 What was so special about the Industrial Revolution?


Mon Oct 28 Tokugawa Japan

Wed Oct 30 Russia

Fri Nov 1 Rule, Britannia!

Mon Nov 4 British Expansion in India Essay #2 Due

Wed Nov 6 Explorers

Fri Nov 8 Exploration and the West

Mon Nov 11 The Sick Man of Europe

Wed Nov 13 Carving China like a Melon

Fri Nov 15 Meiji Japan


Mon Nov 18 Others Read: Intro and Commentary, Heart of Darkness

Wed Nov 20 Heart of Darkness Read: Begin reading Heart of Darkness

Fri Nov 22 Heart of Darkness Read: Finish Heart of Darkness

Mon Nov 25 Europe and Nationalism Essay #3 Due


Mon Dec 2 Nationalism in Ireland

Wed Dec 4 Falling Towards a World War

Fri Dec 6 Final Review Review and Prepare Questions

Final Exam

Final Exam for the 8:00am-9:00am class is MONDAY, DECEMBER 9, 8:30am-11:30am
Final Exam for the 9:10am-10:10am class is THURSDAY, DECEMBER 12, 8:30am-11:30am