The Making of the Early Modern World: Global History and Geography, 1200–1800

This course uses a geographical perspective to trace the development of the interconnected world system from roughly 1200 to the dawn of the industrial era, circa 1800. Political, economic, and cultural developments will be examined, as will relations between human societies and the natural environment. The course will aim for global coverage, paying particular attention to emerging long-distance connections between different parts of the world. Lectures will be richly illustrated with maps, historical paintings and other depictions of the past, and modern photographs of the areas under consideration. Topics to be covered include the Mongol Empire; the bubonic plague; the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas; Portuguese and Spanish naval expeditions and imperial conquests; early modern Asian empires; the development of states and empires in Africa; global environmental change and the “Little Ice Age”; the globalization of key crops and commodities; the slavery systems of the Atlantic and Indian oceans; the British, Dutch, and French mercantile empires; the spread of Islam, Christianity, and other world religions; and the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. We will pay close attention both to the extent of globalization during this period and to local resistance against globalizing forces.

Martin Lewis
Senior Lecturer in International History, Emeritus, Stanford


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Online, instructor-led
Jan 16 - Mar 19, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies