Zheng He's ships (woodblock print)History 102 Section 1                                    

World Civilization: Renaissance through Revolution          

MWF 8:10-9:00

White Hall 306


Dr. Sally Brasher                   

Office: White Hall 326




Office Hours:  MWF 10-11, M 12-1, T/TH 2-3        






This course is intended to provide an international perspective on developments in society that led to the “great discoveries” of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.  The focus of the course will be on the elements of politics, economics, scientific innovation, culture and religion that led to European expansionism. These will be compared to similar developments in Asia and in the Islamic world, with the purpose of understanding why a major shift occurred in the balance of world power and hegemony towards Europe during this period.  In addition, it is the aim of this course to provide an understanding of how cross-cultural exchange between these societies affected the development of each.  The goal of this course is to give students an understanding of evolution of each of the three civilizations studied as they moved from the Middle Ages into the modern era. 



  • Provide a basic understanding of economic, political, cultural developments of, and interactions between, these three civilizations during this time period.
  • Create an understanding of the importance of knowing history and an appreciation of historical change and continuity.
  • Develop students’ ability to think and write analytically and critically.
  • Encourage students to work individually and collectively and participate in class through group discussion and presentation activities.
  • Provide a greater appreciation of the role of non-western cultures in the course of history.






Ibn Battuta, Said Hamdun, ed. By Noel King. Ibn Battuta in Black Africa

Louise Levathes, When China Ruled the Seas: the Treasure Fleet of the Dragon Throne, 1405-1433

Geoffrey Parker, The Military Revolution and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800

Jonathan W. Zophy. Renaissance and Reformation Europe : Dances over fire and water.


These texts are available in the campus bookstore. In addition to the required texts, you will be responsible for a number of readings provided in class.





  • Midterm exams (2)                                          50 %  (25% each)
  • Written assignments                                        15%
  • Final exam                                                       25%  
  • Quizzes                                                            10%

Total          100%


Exams:  There will be two midterms and one final examination. Exam format will include three sections. The first section will include multiple choice questions. The second will include short answer I.D.’s in which you will be asked to define AND give the historical significance of a concept. The final section will consist of an essay question. The final exam will be cumulative in that you will be asked to consider in the essay section overall developments and concepts from the entire period studied.


Unless approved in advance there will be no make-up exams. If pre-approved, make-up exams will be held the last day of class.


Quizzes:  There will be weekly quizzes given in this class which will cover both the reading and the lectures. There are absolutely NO make-up quizzes given, however I will drop your lowest quiz grade.


Written Assignments: 


There will be several written assignments over the course of the semester which will ask you to critically evaluate the reading assignments. Written assignments are due on the date indicated. No exceptions.  Late paper will incur a grade reduction of 5 percentage points per day the paper is late.  Papers should be turned in in hard copy form, but you should make a back-up copy to a disc and be prepared to turn this copy in if asked. If you are unable to provide a back up disc the paper will not be accepted.


Academic Honesty:  Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated and will result in a failing grade for this course.  Ignorance as to the definition of plagiarism will NOT be an accepted as an excuse for plagiarism. Therefore, be sure that you understand what constitutes plagiarism. At its most basic level, plagiarism occurs when you represent as your own, work that you obtained from somewhere or someone else.  If you have any questions regarding what constitutes plagiarism please see me.


Class Attendance and Participation:  Class attendance and participation are mandatory.




Aug. 15               Introduction to course, course requirements


Aug. 17               The World to be Discovered: God, Gold and Glory

                                        Reading: Kennedy Handout


Aug. 19              Three Civilizations: China, Ottoman Empire, Christian Europe

                                       Reading: Kennedy Handout


Part I  Europe


Aug. 22              European Political Systems: From Medieval to Modern

                             Reading:  Zophy, chapters 4 and 8


Aug. 24              The Role of Competition between European States

     Reading: Parker pp. 6-44


Aug.  26            Map Quiz/Discussion

                              Reading: Parker, pp. 45-81             


Aug. 29             The Commercial Revolution

                             Reading:  Zophy Chapter 2


Aug. 31           European Trade: God, Gold and Glory

                                 Reading: Columbus articles


Sept. 2            Quiz/Discussion

                                 Reading: Parker, 81-114

                                  First written assignment due – Columbus articles                    


Sept. 5            Labor Day – No Class


Sept. 7             Changes in Society: Noblemen and Merchants    

                                Reading: Parker, 115-145           


Sept. 9             Quiz/Discussion


Sept. 12           Humanism and Expansion: God, Gold and Glory

                               Reading: Zophy, chapter 6,7           


Sept. 14           The Role of the Church: God, Gold and Glory

                                Reading:  Zophy, chapter 5                    


Sept. 16            Quiz/Discussion

                              Second written assignment due - Renaissance


Sept.  19            The Reformation and Expansionism

                              Reading: Zophy chapters 16, 17                                                                


Sept.   21            Science, Technology and Expansionism

                              Reading: Technology handout


Sept.   23              Midterm







Part II   China


Sept. 26           The Structure of the Chinese State

                              Reading:  Levathes, pp. 19-74


Sept. 28           Chinese Society during the Ming Dynasty

                              Reading: Levathes, pp. 75-122


Sept. 30           Map Quiz/Discussion


Oct.  3             The Spice Road and the Treasure Fleets: Commerce in Asia

                              Reading:  Levathes, pp. 123-153


Oct. 5              The Eunuch’s Role: Politics and Exploration

                               Reading:  Anderson reading


Oct. 7            Quiz/Discussion

                              Reading: Anderson readings


Oct. 10          Millions of Souls: Technology and Labor

                                Reading: Lynda Shaffer readings


Oct. 12          Religion, Philosophy and Culture in Imperial China

                               Reading: Lopez reading pp. 1-15


Oct. 14         Quiz/Discussion

                             Third written assignment due – Chinese Religion


Oct. 17          Confucius and the Merchants

                              Reading: Lopez reading pp. 15-31


Oct. 19          Dao, Buddhism, and Ancestor Worship in Chinese Culture

                              Reading: Levathes, pp. 154-194


Oct. 21          Quiz/Discussion


Oct. 24          Review


Oct.  26         Midterm


Part III   The Islamic World


Oct. 28         The Origins and Rise of the Ottoman Empire

                            Reading: Ibn Battuta, ix-xxxii


Oct. 31        The Ottoman State: Military Theocracy or Merchant State

                           Reading: Ibn Battuta, 1-11


Nov. 2         The Ottoman Empire: Influence and Alliance  

                           Reading: Ibn Battuta, 15-25


Nov. 4         Map Quiz/Discussion

                           Fourth written assignment due – Ibn Battuta


Nov. 7         Life in the Umma: Islamic Culture and Society

                           Reading: Islamic society reading


Nov. 9        Commerce and Technology: Linking East and West

                        Reading: Ibn Batttuta, 29-46


Nov. 11        Quiz/Discussion

                        Reading: Ibn Battuta, 46-63


Nov. 14        Philosophies of Expansion: Islam and Christianity Compared

                          Reading:  Ibn Batuta, 64-75


Nov. 16        Who was Ibn Battuta? Interchange of Islamic and Christian Culture

                        Reading: Lewis reading


Nov. 18         Quiz/Discussion


Part IV   The Legacy    


Nov. 28        A New World Order Emerges

                        Final writing assignment due


Nov. 30       The Legacy of Exploration and Expansion on Africa, the Americas and Asia

                        Reading: Kennedy Reading   


Dec. 2        Review


Dec. 7       Final Exam   9:00-11:00 AM