Jonathan Ablard

Jonathan Ablard

Associate Professor and Latin American Studies Coordinator, Department of History
Faculty, School of Humanities and Sciences
Faculty, Graduate Study in Education
Faculty, Honors Program
Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies
Faculty, Latin American Studies

World Civilization II


World Civilization II/ HISTORY 182/Spring 2011


HIST 182-03

T&Th 8am @ Friends 302


HIST 182-02

            T & Th 9:25am @ Friends 302


Dr. Jonathan Ablard

Muller 403/Office Hours: T 11am-Noon; W 3-4pm and by appointment.



Course Description:

 This course will provide students with an understanding of world history from 1492 through the present. Global interactions, whether peaceful or violent, have profoundly shaped the course of world history. The major focus of this course, then, is the examination of how different national, religious, ethnic and racial groups have shaped and influenced one another. The course will begin with an examination of the balance of economic and military power in the world before 1492. After examining European exploration and conquest and the variety of responses by Asians, Africans and Native Americans we will consider the growth of the nation-state, the development of trans-Atlantic slavery, and the subsequent rise of revolutionary ideologies, industrialization, and imperialism in the nineteenth century. We will conclude with an examination of the global impacts of the First and Second World Wars, including decolonization and the misnamed “Cold War.”


The broader learning outcomes for this course are as follows. Students will develop a basic knowledge of world history and will familiarize themselves with the basic methods of historical inquiry. They will also develop an understanding of what historiography is and why it is important to the study of history. Students will also improve their writing and critical thinking skills through take-home exam essays and formal written assignments, class discussion and careful reading of the texts. Finally, students will gain a basic understanding of the opportunities and pitfalls that the World Wide Web offers.



Academic Honesty

“Academic honesty is a cornerstone of the mission of the College. Unless it is otherwise stipulated, students may submit for evaluation only that work that is their own and that is submitted originally for a specific course. According to traditions of higher education, forms of conduct that will be considered evidence of academic misconduct include but are not limited to the following: conversations between students during an examination; reviewing, without authorization, material during an examination (e.g., personal notes, another student's exam); unauthorized collaboration; submission of a paper also submitted for credit in another course; reference to written material related to the course brought into an examination room during a closed-book, written examination; and submission without proper acknowledgment of work that is based partially or entirely on the ideas or writings of others. Only when a faculty member gives prior approval for such actions can they be acceptable.”

-Article 7.1.4. Ithaca College Policy Manual

Students found to be in violation of this policy will be expelled from the class, will receive a failing grade and will have their name reported to the appropriate college authorities.

Class Policies

Students are expected to come to class well-prepared to discuss the readings. I welcome questions about the readings and do not expect students to always understand everything that they have read. Consistent failure to come to class prepared, however, will lead to a reduction in your final grade. Students who consistently come to class late will be asked to explain their chronic tardiness to the entire class. Disruptive behavior, be it use of cell phones, loud eating, passing notes, falling asleep, leaving the classroom and returning, etc. will result in a public discussion of these behaviors, as well as other sanctions. 

In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, reasonable accommodation will be provided to students with documented disabilities on a case-by-case basis. Students must register with Student Disability Services and provide appropriate documentation to Ithaca College before any academic adjustment will be provided.


Attendance Policy

Excused absences include medical and family emergencies, religious holidays, and IC sanctioned activities. Whenever possible, please give me advanced warning that you will be absent. Every three unexcused absences will lead to a ½ step reduction in your final grade. Although getting notes from a classmate is fine, you should not count on getting a full report of discussions, observation of films, etc. 


If you do miss class for frivolous reasons, please remember this poem before you write to ask me what you missed.


                                            Question frequently asked by
                                                           students after missing a class 

Nothing. When we realized you weren't here
we sat with our hands folded on our desks
in silence, for the full two hours 

                Everything. I gave an exam worth
                40 percent of the grade for this term
                and assigned some reading due today
                on which I'm about to hand out a quiz
                worth 50 per cent 

Nothing. None of the content of this course
has value or meaning
Take as many days off as you like:
any activities we undertake as a class
I assure you will not matter either to you or me
and are without purpose 

                Everything. A few minutes after we began last time
                a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel
                or other heavenly being appeared
                and revealed to us what each woman or man must do
                to attain divine wisdom in this life and
                the hereafter
                This is the last time the class will meet
                before we disperse to bring the good news to all people
                on earth 

Nothing. When you are not present
how could something significant occur? 

                Everything. Contained in this classroom
                is a microcosm of human experience
                assembled for you to query and examine and ponder
                This is not the only place such an opportunity has been

but it was one place 

And you weren't here 

Poem written by Tom Wayman, a Canadian poet, and published in:
Wayman, T. (1993). Did I miss anything? Selected poems 1973-1993. Vancouver, BC: Harbour Publishing.



Tignor, et. Al. Worlds together, Worlds Apart 

Voltaire, Candide (Norton) 

 Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost

Carpentier, The Kingdom of this World

Course Reader-available in Muller 434  (this is a required text)


Assignments and Grading:


Note: I reserve the right to change or add assignments provided that the changes are reasonable and that I provide at least a week’s notice. I will probably modify the course somewhat during the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival. Details later.


Participation (5%): Students are expected to come to class prepared to discuss the readings. Please bring the day’s assigned reading to class as it will facilitate discussions. A consistent failure to show up with some level of preparation will hurt your participation grade. Put another way, if you hate history try to fake it twice a week! Sometimes, the effort put into pretending to like it makes you begin to enjoy history. You never know.


Personal Essay Assignment (5%)

Length: 2 pages


a.         Families, like nations, create myths about the past. At the same time, it has been argued that myths and stories are as important as the truth. Are there any myths or stories in your family’s history that you suspect are not entirely true? Or, have you ever discovered that a piece of your family’s history was not true? What does the gap between myth and historical fact tell you about the historical experience of your family? Did the myth serve a particular function? Did it help or hurt individuals or the family in some way?


b.        What major news stories were reported on the day that you were born? In what ways are the events still a major part of the human condition today? What explains how the situation or condition has or has not changed since you were born? 



Brief Essay on Voltaire, Candide (10%)

Choose one of the following options and write a three page essay.

A.     How does Voltaire use Candide’s fictive travels in the Americas to criticize and poke fun at European society, religion, and politics?  

B.     Sketch out how Voltaire might write Candide in 2011 to critique the culture, politics, and religion of the United States. You can take any angle that you wish but you must demonstrate an understanding of the original work.

C.     If Voltaire were alive today and he read Mike Davis’ essay, Planet of Slums

how might he rewrite Candide?


Essay on Kingdom of this World (10%)

This novel is set in Haiti during the Revolution, but it was published in 1949. We will therefore consider the novel as a useful document about the late 18th century, but also as a text that reveals sensibilities and concerns of the post-World War Two era. In a three page essay, answer the following questions: What is Carpentier’s vision of history? In what ways does the novel capture the sensibilities of the time period that it portrays and in what ways is the novel a product of the post-war period?



Essay on King Leopold’s Ghost (10%)

 Answer one of the following questions in a carefully argued essay. The introductory paragraph should lay out a thesis statement. The body of the paper should provide evidence to support the thesis. The concluding paragraph should provide a comprehensive survey of the main points of the paper. Avoid needless descriptions of events or facts that are in the book. Focus your attention on writing an analytical essay in which the facts and information that you provide serves to enhance your argument. Excessive grammatical or orthographic errors will result in a lowered grade.



1.                  What does the international human rights campaign on behalf of the people of the Congo suggest about global social, political, and economic networks in the late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century?

2.                  Christopher Browning, in his study of the perpetrators of the Holocaust, reminds us that “explaining is not excusing; understanding is not forgiving.” Based on what Hochschild tells about the perpetrators of the genocide in Congo, why do you think these men engaged in such reprehensible actions against unarmed men, women, and children? Aside from racism, what other factors allowed presumably “ordinary men” to commit these crimes?

3.                  The historian Eric Hobsbawm has shown that nineteenth-century European imperialism was not incidental to developments within Europe but was essential. In what ways did the conquest and exploitation of Africa, and especially Congo, benefit both everyday people but also business interests and monarchies? In your answer, you must consider benefits other than the accumulation of wealth.

4.                  Hochschild apologizes in his introduction that he was unable to give more voice to the people of Congo who were terrorized by the Belgians. In what ways does the author manage to give voice to the Congolese? What are the benefits and limits of his methodology?



MidTerm Examination (20%) & Final Examination   (20%)


            Take-home essays of four pages in length.


Research Paper (20%)

For this six page research paper you have three options. You get to choose your topic in consultation with me. You must present a brief proposal by April 19th. Although the United States is part of the world, for this course you may not write a research paper on it. If you analyze a film or novel, said document cannot have been made or written in the United States or by people from the United States.

A.     Write a historiographic essay in which you compare the arguments, sources and context of three scholarly works that address a common event or theme. In what ways do the authors’ arguments, sources, etc. differ? What factors account for those differences? The works that you select should be drawn from as wide a range of years as possible.

B.     Read a book length primary source from the period after 1500. Questions that might guide your research could include:What is the work’s most important theme or argument and how does it help us to better understand the society, culture and history of the time? You will need to consult scholarly works on the topic. Your source can be a memoir, a novel, etc.

C.     Watch a feature film that focuses on some area of the world after 1500. Write a detailed and historically critical review of the film. Questions that may guide your research could include: Is the film historically accurate or not? How do the accounts of eye witnesses and professional historians jibe with the film version? How does the film reflect the period in which it was produced? Do you think the film is a better reflection of period of its production or the period that it portrays? What, if anything, was the political or social agenda of the film maker? You will need to consult scholarly works on the topic. NO FILMS MADE IN THE UNITED STATES!


It is very important for you to find a research project that can hold your attention for several weeks, that is doable, and that is historically relevant. I recommend that you spend some time over the first two months of the semester looking at the website Learning Historical Research.

Because we live in a world that is dominated by electronic media, it is important that I establish rather strict guidelines for what kinds of sources are acceptable. I absolutely forbid students in this class to use Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia or web-based resource (including blogs, personal web-pages, etc.) which is not connected to a legitimate university or government agency. As a general rule, the only acceptable internet sources are those that are accessed via Ithaca College Library’s website. These include such sites as J-Stor, Project MUSE, etc. There are also useful internet sources that are connected with major research libraries. If you are not clear about an electronic source (and I would err on the side of caution), speak with me first. Failure to follow these guidelines will result in a failing grade on the final paper.



Class Schedule

Week One

1/25     Introductions (Me, You, the Class, etc.)


1/27     Ablard in World History, or How the world has changed since 1965


Week Two


2/1       The World before 1492

            WTWA, Ch. 10-11


2/3       European Seaborne Expansion

            WTWA, Ch. 12 (to p. 537) 


Week Three

2/8       Primary Sources on Seaborne Expansion (Discussion)


2/10     Primary Sources on Transformation of Europe and Asia (Discussion)

            WTWA, Ch. 12 (537-551)

Personal Essay Assignment Due


Week Four

2/15     Colonial Empires in the Americas: Divergence and Convergence

WTWA, Ch. 13 (to p. 566), Ch. 14 (626-629)

2/17     Primary Sources on Colonial America (Discussion)


Week Five

2/22     Africa and the World Economy

            WTWA, Ch. 13 (pp. 566-572)

2/24     Primary Sources on Africa (Discussion)


Week Six

 3/1      Asia in a Globalizing Economy

            WTWA, Ch. 13 (pp. 572-595)

            Seclusion Edict of 1636

            The Reception of the First English Ambassador to China, 1792


3/3       The Enlightenment

            “What is Enlightenment?” by Immanuel Kant

            Voltaire, Candide (Discussion)

            Essay on Voltaire Due



 Week Seven

 3/8      Revolution in the Atlantic World

            WTWA, Ch. 15 (to 656)

Primary Sources on Atlantic Revolutions (Discussion)



Week Eight


3/15     SPRING

3/17     BREAK

Week Nine


 3/22    Industrialization in Global Perspective

            WTWA, Ch. 15 (656-671) & "Utopians, Socialists, and Radicals in Europe" from Chapter 16 in WTWA

            “Women Miners in the English Coal Pits

            “Communist Manifesto” (Discussion)

Take-home examination is due in class


3/24     Nationalism & Imperialism

WTWA, Ch. 15 (pp.671-683)

WTWA, Ch. 17   


Week Ten

3/29     Imperialism (Discussion of following documents and chapter).

            Jules Ferry (1832-1893): “On French Colonial Expansion”

            The People of Canton: Against the English, 1842

            The Break Up of China and Our Interest In It (1899)

Mohandas K. Gandhi: Indian Home Rule (1909)

 “Alternative Visions of the Nineteenth Century” (Discussion)

            WTWA, Ch. 16


3/31     NO CLASS-National Council on Undergraduate Research conference

·        All students must attend at least ONE history related panel. Come to class on 4/5 ready to tell about the papers you heard.



Week Eleven


4/5       King Leopold’s Ghost, Part I


4/7       King Leopold’s Ghost, Part II

            King Leopold Essay Due in Class


Week Twelve


4/12     Era of Global Migrations

            WTWA, Ch. 18 (note: this chapter will provide a general background) 

4/14     World War One

            WTWA, Ch. 19 (to p. 819)

             Primary Sources on World War One (Discussion)

 Rosa Luxemburg, "The War and the Workers"-- The Junius Pamphlet (1916)

            The Espionage Act, May 16, 1918

            World War One Poetry


Week Thirteen


4/19     Russian Revolution

V. I. Lenin: What Is to Be Done?(1902)


 4/21    The Era of Global Ferment, 1919-1939

            WTWA, Ch. 19 (pp. 819-850)

            Oswald Spengler: The Decline of The West, 1922

            What is Fascism? Benito Mussolini


Week Fourteen


 4/26    World War Two in a Global Perspective

            WTWA, Ch. 20 (to 865) 

Churchill's Dark Side

Nicholson Baker, "Why I'm a Pacifist: The Dangerous Myth of the Good War," Harper's magazine (May 2011) (HANDOUT)

            Days of Glory (Algeria)


4/28     Cold War: China and Vietnam 

WTWA, Ch. 20 (865-897)



Week Fifteen





            WTWA, Chapter 21 & Epilogue

            Planet of Slums


5/5        Independent Research Day ( I will be in office from 8am-noon to talk)



5/9    (Monday)  Research Paper is due by 5pm to my office. Hard copies only. No electronic submissions will be accepted.



Read Alejo Carpentier, The Kingdom of this World (1949)

In a three page essay, answer the following questions: What is Carpentier’s vision of history? In what ways does the novel capture the sensibilities of the time period that it portrays and in what ways is the novel a product of the post-war period? How does the novel evoke some of the themes of this course?



 Exams are due to my office by MAY 11th at NOON 

School of Humanities and Sciences  ·  201 Muller Center  ·  Ithaca College  ·  Ithaca, NY 14850  ·  (607) 274-3102  ·  Full Directory Listing