HIST321: Comparative New Worlds, 1400-1750

Course Syllabus for "HIST321: Comparative New Worlds, 1400-1750"

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This course will introduce you to a comparative history of New World societies from 1400 to 1750. You will learn about European exploration and colonization as well as the cultures of native peoples of the Americas. The course will be structured geographically; each unit will focus on a particular New World society during a specific time period. Each unit will include representative primary-source documents that illustrate important overarching political, economic, and social themes, such as the fifteenth-century conceptualization of the “New World” and colonization, the indigenous peoples living in the Americas at the time of European contact, and the effect of New World societies on native peoples and Africans. By the end of the course, you will understand how the new communities in the New World evolved from fledgling settlements into profitable European colonies and how New World societies—whether French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, or indigenous—were highly varied polities.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • define what constituted the “New World” in the fifteenth century;
  • identify and describe the major tribes/native civilizations of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean at the time of European contact;
  • identify and describe the effects of European colonization on native peoples;
  • identify and describe the reasons for the European “age of discovery” in the New World and how and why the consolidation of powerful European states in the 1600s resulted in New World exploration, settlement, and commerce;
  • identify and describe early New World exploration and initial settlements by Portugal and Spain;
  • compare and contrast New France, French Louisiana, the French West Indies, and French Guiana;
  • compare and contrast British North America (New England, Middle and Lower Colonies), the British West Indies, and British Central and South America;
  • compare and contrast New Spain, the Spanish Caribbean, and Spanish South America;
  • analyze and describe Portuguese Brazil;
  • identify and describe the African slave trade and will also be able to compare and contrast the enslavement of Africans in different New World societies;
  • identify and describe inter-European conflicts and European-Native Indian violence in the New World; and
  • analyze and interpret primary-source documents that elucidate the causes and effects of exploration and colonization in the New World.

Course Requirements

 In order to take this course, you must:
√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plugins (e.g. Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (e.g. .doc, .ppt, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed all courses listed in “The Core Program” of the History discipline (HIST101, HIST102, HIST103, and HIST104).

Course Information

Welcome to HIST321. Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Christa Dierksheide and Mark Hoolihan

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different, free online resources. However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

  • Yale University: Professor John Merriman Lecture Series via YouTubeor iTunes

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.

After working through each unit of the course, students must take the Final Exam. Note that you will only receive an official grade on your final exam. However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the materials for each unit.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.

Time Commitment: This course will take you about 87.25 hours to complete. Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit. These should help you plan your time accordingly. It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself. For example, Unit 1 should take you 10 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunits 1.1 (a total of 7 hours) over the course of Monday through Wednesday. For example, you could study the first page range for the reading in sub-subunit 1.1.1 (estimated at about 2.5 hours) on Monday, the second page range for the sub-subunit 1.1.1 reading (estimated about 2.5 hours) on Tuesday, all resources for sub-subunits 1.1.2 and 1.1.3 (estimated at 2 hours) on Wednesday, etc.

Tips/Suggestions: Pay careful attention to major names and events in each reading and/or lecture. Taking detailed notes as you work through the materials in each unit and remembering these terms will help you prepare for the Final Exam.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.