World History since 1760

History 22 – Spring 2016 – UCLA

Instructor: Aaron Benanav
Class Time: M, W, F: 11am-11:50am
Classroom: Bunche Hall XXX

The Red Detachment of Women , a Chinese Ballet performed for Richard Nixon on his visit to China in 1972.

The Red Detachment of Women, a Chinese Ballet performed for Richard Nixon on his visit to China in 1972.

Course Description

This course covers a period of immense social change. We begin with a world of agrarian empires and feudal states. In 1760, the vast majority of the world’s population consisted of peasants, who, in the course of their lifetimes, interacted with very few people they did not already know. We emerge into a world of nation-states in which, for the first time in history, the majority of the population lives in cities and survives only by navigating interactions with strangers almost every day. Our course focuses on one cause of modern historical change: the industrial revolution. We examine rising standards of living over two centuries, as well as these other topics: the world population explosion, urbanization, transformations in gender roles, and an expanding participation in both markets and political life. We look at the modern period as an “age of extremes” in which socialism, feminism, nationalism, imperialism, scientific racism and ethnic cleansing reshaped the social order. In this context, we will pay particular attention to China’s place in a changing world: we trace the story of China’s economic decline in the 1800s as well as its recent economic rise in the 2000s. 


Students will learn to think critically about the process of historical change. They will analyze trends and turning points in addition to memorizing historical facts. By the end of the course, students will have at their disposal a basic framework of modern world history. This is an essential pre-requisite for further historical inquiry. Students will also learn to approach problems like a historian. They will: (1) focus on moments of connection or cross-cultural contact, (2) analyze phenomena in terms of change over time, and (3) argue by means of historical comparison. Students will also learn to examine the limits of their perspectives. They will situate these and other perspectives both geographically and historically. 

Writing is an essential part of analyzing and evaluating ideas. Students will write about primary sources in relation to historical events and change. They will describe phenomena in terms of multiple causes and effects, as well as differing perspectives on these. They will discuss such perspectives in terms of social position and standpoint. In this class, we place a special emphasis on statistical literacy and will examine a number of charts and tables in class. Statistics are powerful tools for analyzing long-term trends, but we have to pay attention to how they are constructed, to what they conceal as much as what they reveal.


Students must attend every lecture. Come to class alert and ready to learn. Please refrain from talking, sleeping, texting, reading, or engaging in other disruptive behavior during lectures and sections. Computers will not be allowed in the lecture hall unless a disability prevents students from taking notes with pen and paper. Please turn off cell phones. If you need to arrive late or leave early, please do so quietly and sit in the back of the room to minimize disruption. Section attendance is also mandatory. Please come prepared to participate with required course materials. Readings for any given week should be completed before you attend section that week. To receive credit for a given weekly section, you must attend the entire session. If a paper is due in section, you must bring that paper to class. Never submit a paper by email. You may miss one lecture and one section meeting this term, although for an absence to be excused, you must contact your TA before the session you miss. Further absences will result in a penalty to your grade. Arriving more than 5 minutes late will count as an absence unless explained in advance.

Course Materials

Richard W. Bulliet, et. al., The Earth and Its Peoples, Volume II: Since 1500, 5th Edition, 2011.

Aaron Benanav, World History since 1760: A Reader


20%    Lectures and Sections: Attendance and Intermittent Quizzes
20%    Four Reading Response Papers (1-2 pages each)
20%    Two Short Essays (3-4 pages each)
20%    Midterm Exam: 1760 to 1945
20%    Final Exam: 1945 to the Present

For course policies, please see appendix at the end of this document.


NOTE: readings to be completed before attending section each week

WEEK 1 The Industrial Revolution, 1760-1851

March 28: Modern World History: 250 Years of Change
March 30: The Agrarian Origins of Capitalism
April 1: The First Industrial Revolution

Adam Smith, from The Wealth of Nations
Robert Owen, from Observations on the Effect of the Manufacturing System

Ch. 22, “The Early Industrial Revolution, 1760-1851”

WEEK 2 The Atlantic Revolutions, 1750-1850

April 4: Rationalizing Empires and Stateless Peoples
April 6: Revolutions in the Atlantic World
April 8: Freedom and Slavery in the 19th Century

Thomas Paine, from Common Sense
The Declaration of Independence (US)
The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen (France)
The Declaration of the Rights of Woman (France)
The Declaration of Independence (Haiti)

Ch. 23, “Revolutionary Changes in the Atlantic World, 1750-1850”    

WEEK 3 A World Transforming, 1800-1910

April 11: Turmoil in the Ottoman and Russian Empires
April 13: Resistance in China’s Qing Empire
April 15: Divergent Paths in the Americas


Símon Bolívar, from "The Jamaica Letter"
B. Traven, "The Diplomat"
Ricardo Flores Magón, "What is Authority Good For?"

Ch. 24, “Land Empires in the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1870”
Ch. 25, “Nation Building … in the Americas, 1800–1890”

WEEK 4 Nationalism, Imperialism, and
Socialism 1750-1914

April 18: Imperialism from the British Raj to Africa’s Partition
April 20: Nationalism Spreads: Germany, Italy, Japan
April 22: The Second Industrial Revolution and the Rise of Socialism

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, from The Manifesto of the Communist Party
Karl Kautsky, from The Class Struggle

Ch. 26 “Varieties of Imperialism … 1750-1914”
Ch. 27, “The New Power Balance, 1850–1900”

WEEK 5 Towards Total War, 1900-1939

April 25: From the Moroccan Crisis to the Great War
April 27: The Russian Revolution to 1939
April 29:  A Global Great Depression

Alexandra Kollontai, "Why the Bolsheviks Must Win"
Alexandra Kollontai, "Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle"
Alexandra Kollontai, "Theses on Communist Morality"

Ch. 28, “The Crisis of the Imperial Order, 1900-1929”

WEEK 6 An Age of Extremes, 1914-1949

May 2: World War II and Ethnic Cleansing
May 4: Art and Psychoanalysis
May 6: MIDTERM EXAM: 1760 to 1945

Tadeusz Borowski, from This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen
Primo Levi, from Survival in Auschwitz

Ch. 30, “The Collapse of the Old Order, 1929-1949”

WEEK 7 Rebellion in the Colonies, 1900-1950

May 9: National Liberation Movements to 1945
May 11: Revolutions in East and Southeast Asia
May 13: The Socialist Road to Development

Mohandes K. Gandhi, "Speech on Non-Cooperation"
Mohandes K. Gandhi, "The Greatest Thing"
Mohandes K. Gandhi, "Strikes"
Rajani Palme Dutt, "The End of Gandhi"
Sun Yat-Sen, "Speech on Pan-Asianism"
Mao Zedong, from The Peasant Movement in Hunan

Ch. 29, “Revolutions in Living, 1900-1950”

WEEK 8 The Cold-War Golden Age, 1945-1973

May 16: The Long Postwar Boom
May 18: Decolonization and the End of Jim Crow in the US
May 20: The Capitalist Road to Development


Kwame Nkrumah, "I Speak of Freedom"
George Wallace, "Segregation Now, Segregation Forever"
Malcolm X, "Not Just an American Problem But a World Problem"

Ch. 31, “The Cold War and Decolonization, 1945-1975”

WEEK 9 Global Turbulence, 1973-2001

May 23: Feminism and The Demographic Transition
May 25: Global Shifts in the Economy, 1965-1985
May 27: China Resurgent, 1979-2008

Simone de Beauvoir, from The Second Sex
Nawal El-Saadawi, Preface to The Hidden Face of Eve
AAWORD, "Statement on Genital Mutilation"

Ch. 32, “The End of the Cold War and the Challenge … 1975-2000”

WEEK 10 New Fears, New Hopes

May 30: Memorial Day (no class)
June 1: The Demise of the USSR and the Neoliberal Turn
June 3: Global Revolutions from the Iranian Revolution to the Arab Spring


Anthony Giddens, from Runaway World
Adel Abdel Ghafar, "The Moment the Barrier of Fear Broke Down"
Interview with David Marty on Spain’s Indignados Movement
Interview with Mark Bray on Occupy Wall Street


Students with Disabilities: This course will provide reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities. Accommodations are intended to minimize the functional limitations of a disability and to provide the student equal access to educational opportunities. If accommodations are needed, please contact the relevant agencies. I am willing to allow for extra time on exams and provide other accommodations for students in need. 

Discrimination, Intimidation & Harassment: It is the right of all students to have equal access to course content in an environment free of prejudice, discrimination, and harassment. Learn your fellow students names. Treat them with respect regardless of differences of perspective.

Citations: For essay assignments, cite by author, title and page number any ideas that are (a) not common knowledge and (b) not your own idea. Anything covered in lecture counts as common knowledge. Put quotations in quotation marks and, again, identify their source. When possible, paraphrase from sources (and cite them) rather than quoting them directly. For citation style, I prefer the Chicago Manual of Style, which uses footnotes for citations. If you are unfamiliar with this citation style, please check the Purdue OWL website at:

Wikipedia: This online encyclopedia can be useful tool for any topic that is new to you, but do not cite Wikipedia – or any other outside source – in this class. Focus on analyzing the readings provided with the tools we have given you. No outside sources are needed.

Academic Dishonesty: Acts of plagiarism, cheating, or copying work from other students, as well as other sorts of academic dishonesty, are serious violations of university policy. Do not copy ideas, quotations, portions of papers or entire papers from friends, websites, books, articles, or term-paper mills. You will get caught, either in this course, or in a later one. The consequences of cheating for your education and your moral character will last a lifetime.

Examinations. Exams test your knowledge and understanding of lectures and your ability to analyze passages from the course readings. The final exam covers only the part of the course after the midterm. We will go over exam formats in lecture. Bring blue books to exams.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or to visit me in office hours.