Explorations in World History I (HIST 501)

2020 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Ferenc Péter Csirkés fcsirkes@sabanciuniv.edu,
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Doctoral, Master
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This is the first of a sequence of two term-courses that are required of all MA students in History. It is a general survey course that explores specific themes and periods from the first human communities to c. 1500, and problematizes them in comparative, theory-intensive ways. It runs parallel to the SPS 101 (Humanity and Society I) freshman course, which serves as the teaching practicum of HIST 501 for SU graduate students in History who also serve as SPS 101 section instructors. Both SPS 101 and HIST 501 embody a discrete, step-function view of historical development, examining sets of institutional-cultural "solutions" situated along each major material-technical threshold, without however proceeding in a continuous narrative from one such locus to another. Topics dealt with in the first semester include : Modernity's subsumptions and transformations of pre-modernities; comparing contemporary with prehistoric hunters and gatherers; nomadic pastoralism, mounted archers, steppe empires; the economics of peasant production; the role of movement and conquest in history; "dark ages" and state formation; precocious maritime civilizations in Antiquity; tributary states and societies; the function and varieties of fief distribution; types of urban space and culture; the world on the eve of the "European miracle"; the Italian Renaissance as the dawn of early modernity.


To acquire (i) a comprehensive vision of pre-modern history with a special emphasis on the unequal development of agrarian societies in Europe and elsewhere; (ii) an initial familiarity with historiographical debates and developments surrounding various phases or aspects of pre-modernity; (iii) critical insights into Eurocentrism and its reactive derivatives.


(a) A basic grasp of historical thinking as applied to pre-modern societies; (b) a capacity to assume responsibility for the corresponding discussion sections of a first-year undergraduate survey course in world history; (c) a capacity to take higher, more sophisticated courses in historiography.

Upon completion of this course, students should also be able to describe the origins of World History as a historiographical genre and its marginal, yet creative and challenging position in relation to the more dominant monographical approach of the historicist tradition.


1. Develop and deepen the current and advanced knowledge in the field with original thought and/or research and come up with innovative definitions based on Master's degree qualifications 5

3. Evaluate and use new information within the field in a systematic approach. 5

5. Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of new and complex ideas. 5

10. Develop new ideas and methods in the field by using high level mental processes such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving and decision making. 5

13. Ability to communicate and discuss orally, in written and visually with peers by using a foreign language at least at a level of European Language Portfolio C1 General Level. 5

1. Develop the ability to use critical, analytical, and reflective thinking and reasoning 5

5. Communicate effectively by oral, written, graphical and technological means and have competency in English. 5

6. Independently reach and acquire information, and develop appreciation of the need for continuously learning and updating. 5

2. Conceive the interdisciplinary interaction which the field is related with ; come up with original solutions by using knowledge requiring proficiency on analysis, synthesis and assessment of new and complex ideas.

4. Develop an innovative knowledge, method, design and/or practice or adapt an already known knowledge, method, design and/or practice to another field; research, conceive, design, adapt and implement an original subject.

6. Gain advanced level skills in the use of research methods in the field of study.

7. Contribute the progression in the field by producing an innovative idea, skill, design and/or practice or by adapting an already known idea, skill, design, and/or practice to a different field independently.

8. Broaden the borders of the knowledge in the field by producing or interpreting an original work or publishing at least one scientific paper in the field in national and/or international refereed journals.

9. Demonstrate leadership in contexts requiring innovative and interdisciplinary problem solving.

11. Investigate and improve social connections and their conducting norms and manage the actions to change them when necessary.

12. Defend original views when exchanging ideas in the field with professionals and communicate effectively by showing competence in the field.

14. Contribute to the transition of the community to an information society and its sustainability process by introducing scientific, technological, social or cultural improvements.

15. Demonstrate functional interaction by using strategic decision making processes in solving problems encountered in the field.

16. Contribute to the solution finding process regarding social, scientific, cultural and ethical problems in the field and support the development of these values.

2. Reflect on social and ethical responsibilities in his/her professional life.

3. Gain experience and confidence in the dissemination of project/research outputs

4. Work responsibly and creatively as an individual or as a member or leader of a team and in multidisciplinary environments.

1. Develop a thorough knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in the field and apply them in research design and data analysis. 5

2. Assess the impact of the economic, social, and political environment from a global, national and regional level. 5

3. Know how to access written and visual, primary and secondary sources of information, interpret concepts and data from a variety of sources in developing disciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses. 5

1. Design and model engineering systems and processes and solve engineering problems with an innovative approach.

2. Establish experimental setups, conduct experiments and/or simulations.

3. Analytically acquire and interpret data.

1. Demonstrate command of comparative perspectives, which may include the ability to compare the histories of different societies, or cultures awareness of continuity and change over extended time spans. 5

2. Construct concepts and theories derived from the humanities and social sciences. 5

3. Analyze the evidence from the research to support a historical argument for an answer to a research question. 5

4. Apply a critical perspective to evaluating historical arguments, including the quality of the sources, the validity of the interpretations of those sources, and the soundness of the argument's use of evidence to support a historical interpretation. 5

5. Develop and sustain historical arguments in a variety of literary forms, formulating appropriate questions and utilizing evidence. 5

1. Establish a strong theoretical background in several of a broad range of subjects related to the discipline, such as manufacturing processes, service systems design and operation, production planning and control, modeling and optimization, stochastics, statistics.

2. Develop novel modeling and / or analytical solution strategies for problems in integrated production and service systems involving human capital, materials, information, equipment, and energy, also using an interdisciplinary approach whenever appropriate.

3. Implement solution strategies on a computer platform for decision-support purposes by employing effective computational and experimental tools.

4. Acquire skills to independently explore and tackle problems related to the discipline that were not encountered previously. Develop appropriate modeling, solution, implementation strategies, and assess the quality of the outcome.



Over 2000 pages per semester, including a series of "whole" books such as Clive Ponting (World History : A New Perspective), Patricia Crone (Pre-Industrial Societies), Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel), Michael Cook (A Brief History of the Human Race), and Peter Stearns (Western Civilization in World History), as well as other, more specific article, paper, or selected chapter assignments.