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Transnational History




Admission Requirements



History as a professional academic discipline developed in tandem with the rise of the modern nation-state, and traditionally has served as one of its most significant ideological supports. This course, by contrast, explores aspects of the human past that transcend any single nation-state, empire, or politically-bounded territory. We will study a range of important social formations: from the international circulation of commodities and ideas, to diasporas and the development of migratory networks, to the challenges of environmental change, to the proliferation of transnational social movements and NGOs. Studying these interrelated phenomena will yield a richer understanding of the interconnectedness of human history, and of the long-standing (yet by no means linear) processes of globalization. Transnational history also multiplies the foci of traditional historical study from the state alone to a variety of non-state actors and institutions. Finally, a transnational approach does not deny the significance of nations and empires; rather, it allows us to place national and imperial developments in a rich historical context.

Course Objectives

By successfully completing this course, you will:

  • understand key themes and methods in modern global history.

  • develop a critical perspective on the meanings of the term “transnational,” and a richer awareness of the long history of globalization.

  • learn what it means to “think historically,” and how to compare and evaluate a range of techniques for studying the human past.

  • devise and execute a well-argued historiographical essay, while polishing your academic prose.

  • improve your ability to read scholarly material carefully, critically, and with greater dispatch.

  • improve your oral presentation skills.

Mode of Instruction

This course will be conducted as a seminar, meeting for two 2-hour sessions per week. Each class will center on discussion of an assigned reading of 30-50 pages, with introductory remarks by the instructor and brief student presentations of supplementary texts. The instructor will also provide reading questions in advance of each class, along with suggestions and strategies for digesting the assigned material. Students, however, will bear significant responsibility for directing and selecting the themes for classroom discussion. The success of the seminar will be dependent upon students’ collective willingness to stay on top of the assigned material and to participate actively in class discussion.


Student progress will be assessed via a combination of classroom participation, web-postings, formal oral presentations, and scholarly essays.

Learning aim: Familiarity with central themes in transnational history and scholarly approaches to same; critical reading and thinking; analytical framing.
Assessment: Participation & Web Postings
Percentage: 20%
Deadline: Ongoing Weeks 1 – 7

Learning aim: Synthetic analysis and oral communication; asking the ‘right’ questions.
Assessment: Class Presentation (15-20 minutes)
Percentage: 15%
Deadline: Once per block; each student selects a session.

Learning aim: Formal written historiographical analysis; cogent argumentation in relatively few pages.
Assessment: Midterm Essay (1200-1500 words)
Percentage: 25%
Deadline: Week 4

Learning aim: In-depth literature review, synthesis, and analysis.
Assessment: Final Essay (2000-2500 words)
Percentage: 40%
Deadline: Week 8



Contact Information

Dr. Ann Marie Wilson, a.m.wilson@luc.leidenuniv.nl

Weekly Overview

“Transnational History” presents a broad field of inquiry. To orient ourselves, we shall follow a thematic approach, focusing each week on a discrete set of social phenomenon that transcend national boundaries. The week-by-week plan is subject to change, but will likely proceed as follows:

Week 1: Motives
Week 2: Methods
Week 3: Migrants
Week 4: Territoriality
Week 5: Politics
Week 6: Globalization
Week 7: Culture

Preparation for first session