202: Unit 1

Peoples and Cultures of the Modern World, Fall 2014

Unit 1: Defining "Modern"

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

1. Welcome and Introduction

We will spend some time getting to know each other, getting prepared for the term.

2. Harkness learning in a History class

READ: Course Intro and Course Requirements; "A Guide to Harkness Learning" and Horace Miner, "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" and spend some time learning the nations of Africa using this website (there will be a quiz but it won't count).

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER AS YOU READ (CONSIDERING QUESTIONS AS YOU READ HELPS YOU TO BECOME A MORE ACTIVE LEARNER, WHICH MAKES YOU ABSORB THE INFORMATION BETTER): How is a Harkness discussion different from a debate? What questions and concerns do you have about Harkness? How do the Nacirema feel about the human body? Do you think the charms and magical potions used by Nacirema really work? List those aspects of social life in which magic plays an important role. What are your opinions of the importance of body ritual, and if you went to live among the Nacirema, would you tell them of your opinions? To what extent can you identify with the article? Who are the Nacirema? As you do the reading tonight, you should mark up your texts. Also, time yourself, and write down how long it took you to read the two documents. I am only allowed to give you 75 minutes of homework per class meeting. Use whatever number of minutes is left after you've done that reading to study the nations of Africa.

3. What is Modern: An Introduction

READ: Kelleher and Klein, "Emergence of the Modern World" (stop at "Post-World War II Trends); and "Industrialization and its Consequences, 1750-1914," from the "World History for All of Us" website.

Which of the questions that you came up with on the first day of class are addressed in these readings? This is a long reading. You should read some parts more closely than others. In the first essay, read quickly and pay attention to the general timeline of events, looking for the origins of the modern world system in the first part of the reading, and paying attention to the definitions on p. 16 (the first page after maps). Note that this system is never static, but continues to evolve. The second reading is organized around three essential questions: 1. How has the changing relationship between human beings and the physical and natural environment affected human life from early times to the present? 2. Why have relations among humans become so complex since early times? 3. How have human views of the world, nature, and the cosmos changed? Pay closest attention to that last one.

4. What is Progress?

READ: James Scott on Modernism; Jared Diamond, "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race"; Sachs, Lack of Modern Values; and Watch Youtube Video: The Nuer.

What are "vernacular" practices? What, if anything, is wrong with standardization? Why is naming important? Explain the "progressivist view"? Why did farming communities win the struggle for survival against hunters and gathers? Come up with an argument that would challenge Diamond's conclusion. What is Sachs's thesis on the role of culture and values in economic development? Do you agree with it? Why or why not? Are the Nuer "Modern"? Why? Why not?

Intro | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5