A course on world history is unquestionably a challenge, for teachers and students alike

Download 387.69 Kb.
Size387.69 Kb.
1   2   3   4   5   6

Chapter 33

Toward the Future: World History Yet to Come
World History's final chapter is designed to offer several points from which students can approach trends in the world today with a perspective on the past. It is more an informal essay than a text chapter, and, as a result, it does not easily lend itself to some of the simplest forms of testing—hence no multiple-choice or short-answer suggestions are included.
The chapter is meant to stimulate discussion and summary, and it opens itself to a number of lecture approaches. Early sections of the chapter deal with methods of using or abusing history that have not heretofore served as focal points of the text. The issue of change and continuity is revisited, with some specific examples. Then, the deceptive charm of forecasting is evoked, along with an explanation of why most historians feel uncomfortable with it. A lecture or discussion might carry this thought further or encourage contradiction by inviting forecasts about the world a decade or half-century hence. A second early section deals with an evaluative approach to world history that focuses on "progress" or "deterioration." Students can certainly be invited to list areas of progress, deterioration, no change (human cruelty and aggression?), and "impossible to call." This segment suggests that a unilateral categorization—the Whig history-as-progress view, or a nostalgic everything-is-getting-worse approach—probably does not work, but students and instructors may wish to debate this point. An extension of this approach might involve juxtaposing agricultural with industrial society: agricultural society solved some key problems faced by hunters and gatherers, but it also raised new issues, such as greater social and, probably, gender inequality. Has industrial society corrected these, at least in part? (Thus: In which basic kind of society would you have preferred to be poor, or preferred to be a woman?) What kinds of new problems has industrial society raised (new warfare dangers, etc.)? An evaluation of this sort confronts students with their own impulses about progress—few students, for example, will argue that industrial society has not improved women's conditions, though in fact the point might be debated—and also aid them in summarizing some of the larger developments in the history of world civilizations.
Some instructors will want to expand discussion of the relationship of specific forecast modes (analogy, for example) to history, based on the middle portion of the chapter. This section of the chapter also tries, very generally, to sum up certain main themes in twentieth-century world history in terms of the divisions of social expressions adopted in most individual chapters—politics and diplomacy, belief systems and art, economic patterns, social and family structure. The purpose is to indicate that there are some coherent issues running through recent world history, regardless of civilization. All civilizations thus have to come to grips with the cold war and the dangers of modern warfare, despite the fact that the ways in which they do so vary. All civilizations have had to address pressures to change the conditions of women, even if they have responded variously; all civilizations face certain issues about their relationship to "international" styles in art, and their balances between innovation and traditionalism in art and between art and science—again, responses differ, but some of the questions are common. This section of the chapter allows some summary of major trends in the main expressions of a society—for example, monarchy's near-disappearance in the twentieth century—a final way to capture distinctive versus centripetal forces in the major civilizations of the modern world. Thus, what is more important, changes in the conditions of women in the Middle East or distinctive continuities in the same area? If the instructor is so inclined, some projections toward the future may be explored.
Following this, the chapter moves next to a discussion of the ongoing distinctions among the major civilizations. This allows some discussion of what the key differentiating characteristics have been and are—what features, for instance, separate an underdeveloped country in Africa from one in Latin America? It also forces a confrontation with issues of continuity and change—again, students must be encouraged to see that both are involved in the ongoing history of the world. Civilizations have shifted in some basic features; an "ageless China" approach is simplistic and inaccurate, but, at the same time, change has not obscured many special characteristics old or new. This latter point, finally, involves an examination of modernization theory, which can usefully be defined and critiqued in one of the closing class sessions. The chapter suggests that while unadulterated modernization theory is misplaced, in that civilizations are not yielding to some uniform modern features, it is also true that all civilizations have confronted some common pressures to modernize and have adopted some common policies in—for example, spreading literacy to the masses through state-run school systems—as a result. Modernization loosely construed thus helps sum up some of the forces of change which, during the past century, have played against continuities in the major civilizations. Since, like it or not, most American students think to some extent in modernization terms anyway, it is wise to confront the concept directly. All of this is focused on the larger question of whether civilizations are beginning to break down in the face of common, homogenizing forces.

Review and Supplements

Review and Essay Themes
As the world history course draws near a close, many instructors may wish to distribute review questions, possibly with an eye toward formulating the examination from some subset of them so that students do not go in completely cold. The following list, reasonably comprehensive though hardly exhaustive, emphasizes themes from chapter 14 onward (that is, early modern-modern themes), but also requires some casting back to the earlier periods. Though deliberately mixed, the questions fall into several basic categories, the first involving comparison between two or more societies and civilization, the second asking students to expand on themes using their own civilization examples, and a third focusing more strictly on cultural issues.
The past hundred years have seen rapid changes in all seven of the major world civilizations; often, in the midst of this change, it is difficult to discern continuities from the past. Given this, choose a civilization and discuss the main ways in which it has changed over the past century as well as the basic continuities it evidences in the same period.
(These questions and two sample final exams are in the print version of the Instructor’s Manual)
Supplementary Document Suggestions
A number of good source collections are available, including one published by Longman under the editorship of the author of this text and other colleagues (Documents in World History, two volumes).
For chapter 1, documents on Mesopotamia, including the Hammurabic code, and documents on Judaism work well, revealing aspects of government, social, and gender structure as well as religious culture.
For chapter 2, documents from Confucianism and Legalism serve well, as do materials on the prescriptive culture for women (Ban Chao, etc.) and passages from Buddhism and Hinduism, including reflections on gender issues. For chapter 3, materials on Greek political culture (Aristotle, etc.) and Roman laws, as well as Aristotelian materials, allow discussions of gender and slavery. Several collections also have materials on Greek science, and, of course, materials from the New Testament open considerations of the nature of Christianity.
On the postclassical period, materials from the Koran and the Hadith allow varied discussions of Islam and Islamic notions on politics and gender (chapter 6). Contemporary Indian reactions to Islam relate to major developments in South Asia (see, for example, documents 25 and 26 in the Documents in World History collection), while on Africa, materials from the traveler Ibn Battuta are particularly interesting. On East Asia, poetry from the period in China is abundant and interesting and Marco Polo's travel account is useful. There are several possibilities on feudal Japan, including selections from the Tale of the Heike. On Eastern Europe, Procopius's rather scornful biography of Justinian is intriguing and other chronicles deal with early Russia, including its conversion to Christianity. On Western Europe (chapter 11), see feudal documents including the Magna Carta, courtly love materials on gender and emotion, and scholastic writings on science, theology, and university life. Documents on the Americas come mainly from observations of early Spanish travelers.
On the early modern West, there is a host of possibilities, particularly in cultural history, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. Discussions of absolutism, from Bishop Bossuet, for example, and the English parliamentary trend (the Bill of Rights or the writing of John Locke) are important, as are descriptions of the scientific method (Descartes or Francis Bacon). Several sources deal with the African slave trade and with religious and economic conditions in Spanish America, such as on the labor situation in the Potosi mines. Various of Peter the Great's reforms in Russia are available in ukases (see chapter 16 in text) and, for the late eighteenth century, Radischev's reform document raises important issues about tensions in Westernization and peasant conditions. Travelers' accounts treat the Mughal and Ottoman empires, and there are also available translations of works by Ottoman bureaucrats. On China, Matteo Ricci's journals provide a revealing source (chapter eighteenth).
For the "long nineteenth century," political ideologies can be abundantly illustrated in commentaries by French revolutionaries, and nineteenth-century liberals and socialists. Copies of factory rules or the more familiar, if less typical, inquiries into British child labor are important sources for Western Europe (chapter 19). Romantic and other literary works are accessible, as are later feminist statements. On Western imperialism, classic statements by apologists provide one entree. Several African accounts are available too (see, for example, document section 17 in volume 2 of Documents in World History). Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart, or excerpts, provoke good class discussion over issues in missionary impact. Early statements by Indian nationalists (Rammohun Roy, etc.) are important. On the Ottoman Empire and China (chapter 22), both British and Chinese documents on the Opium War prove useful. For chapter 23, Bolivar's writings are available as are travelers' accounts on labor. On Russia, reform documents such as the Emancipation of the Serfs can be combined with conservative commentary (Danilevsky); on Japan, reform and conservative views in the Meiji era (for example, the sometimes contradictory writings of Yukichi Fuzukawa), plus often-self-serving statements by business leaders provide insight.
The wealth of choices for the twentieth century includes, for the West, statements by Hitler and Mussolini. Material on the welfare state (Beveridge report) and feminist documents including Simone de Beauvoir, are abundant. Lenin and Stalin both left usable materials on the Russian revolution and its aftermath. On East Asia, Mao's writings invite comparison both with Chinese tradition and with Russian communism. Gandhi is indispensable on Indian nationalism, but there are interesting tensions in also using materials from Nehru. For all societies, materials on gender are available, inviting comparison and assessments of change and continuity (see the various offerings in Documents in World History, volume 2, section 2). There are a number of Islamic statements, plus reform materials, particularly on Turkey. The Mexican revolution, Peronism, and Castro have left important sources; Octavio Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude is often excerpted for the issues it raises about Latin American culture. On African nationalism, Marcus Garvey and Jomo Kenyatta offer exemplary materials; Achebe's novel No Longer at Ease can be excerpted for further discussions of cultural change (chapter 32).
(Possible questions drawn from this documentary mix are included in the print version of the Instructor’s Manual.)

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2020
send message

    Main page