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Birth of the Modern World




Admissions requirements



History as a professional academic discipline developed in tandem with the rise of the modern nation-state. This course, by contrast, highlights aspects of the human past that transcend any single nation-state, empire, or politically-bound territory. Covering the period from 1500 to 2000, it will acquaint students with a range of important social formations: from the development of cities, to the impact of long-distance trade and migration, to the rise and fall of nations and empires (as well their related ideologies) and the development of transnational social movements. The course will introduce students to some classic debates among historians and how these changed with the advent of Global History. What does it mean to be “modern”? What do we talk about when we talk about “globalization”? By exploring concepts and questions like these—through scholarly readings, individual writing assignments; and classroom discussion—students will become practiced in thinking historically about social, economic, and political phenomena that continue to shape our world today.

Course objectives


  • summarize, analyze, compare, and evaluate the competing arguments of historians.

  • engage with dense, sometimes lengthy scholarly texts—both critically and carefully.

  • engage with primary sources.

  • present a historical topic to a non-specialist audience.


  • discuss the significant patterns, processes, and events of modern global history;

  • provide a critical historical perspective on the concept of “globalization”.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

During this class we will practice critical reading and we will reflect on the literature by discussing and debating the assigned literature. Students will become practiced in “thinking historically” about social, economic, and political phenomenon that continue to shape our world today by bringing current events explicitly into the discussion of the literature. In addition, each student will give a presentation on a primary source that is related to the literature.


  • Class participation (15% of final grade)

  • Presentation (15% of final grade)

  • Web Posts or ACI (300 words) (40% of final grade). They should reflect historical thinking, demonstrate the ability to process relatively large amounts of text, and demonstrate the ability to read critically. These must be submitted via Blackboard before class. You need to submit an ACI for 10 of the 13 sessions for which we have reading.

  • Final paper, historical review, 1500 words (30% of final grade). Due on the day of the last seminar in Week 8 by 23.59 hrs via Blackboard.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

The student must have the following book:

  • Cátia Antunes and Karwan Fatah-Black (eds.), Explorations in Globalization and History (London 2016)


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr Lionel Laborie:


Late Papers
Late papers will lose one half letter grade for each day that they are late, and will be marked and handed back at the discretion and convenience of the instructor. In other words, I grade on-time papers first. Extensions can be granted in the case of family or medical emergencies, as acknowledged by the Study Advisor. If you anticipate that you will have a problem meeting a deadline, you must contact me in advance.

Laptop Policy
To ensure that all of us are focused on the subject at hand and on the contributions of other participants, laptop use is not allowed during the seminar. You will be required to print the assigned readings and bring them to class in hard copy.