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Themes in Global & Comparative History (HI997)

Module Leader

Professor David M Anderson

Context of Module
Module Aims
Outline Syllabus 
Intended Learning Outcomes
Illustrative Bibliography

Context of Module

This is the core module for the MA stream in Global and Comparative History. The module is taught over the 10 weeks of the Auturm term in the 2022-23 academic year.

Module Aims

This core module for the MA in Global and Comparative History gives a critical overview of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas of modern historical enquiry: global history. It explores how global history has emerged from earlier approaches to the study of history, what makes it distinctive, and what its principal strengths and weaknesses might be. As a core module, it not only examines the range of historical methods and interpretations that constitute global history, but also draws on perspectives from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Atlantic and Islamic Worlds to consider how 'the global' can be investigated alongside studies of the regional and the local. The aims of the module include:

  • widening and deepening your understanding of the study of global and comparative history
  • developing a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of a global and comparative historian
  • honing your ability to formulate and execute critically-informed, reflective historiographical writing
  • supporting you in developing your skills in critical analysis
  • refining your ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses

Outline Syllabus

This course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars,

Tuesdays, 9-11, Room FAB1.06 (except Week 8, Friday, 9-11, MB0.08)

Week 1: Introduction (David M Anderson)

Week 2: Methods and Concepts in Global History (Guido van Meersbergen)

Week 3: Area Studies vs. Global HistoryLink opens in a new window (Dan Branch)

Week 4: Global Trade and Empire, c.1500-1800 (Aysu Dincer)

Week 5: Environment, the Anthropocene & planetary history (Thomas Simpson)

Week 6: Reading Week - no seminar

Week 7: Science (Anne Gerritsen)

Week 8: Migration and (Unfree) Labour (Camillia Cowling)

Week 9: Imperialism (David Lambert)

Week 10: Whither Global History? (David M Anderson)

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module you should be able to:

  • demonstrate good understanding of the methodological approaches, debates and and sources employed in global and comparative history.
  • demonstrate skill in formulating and completing a critically-informed and reflective piece of historical research.
  • demonstrate skill in undertaking critical analysis of a historical question.
  • demonstrate the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.

Illustrative Bibliography

Here, for information, is the link to the Tallis Reading List, which will have the core and supplementary readings for the seminars: opens in a new window

In addition, here are some resources you can use to help orient yourself in some of the debates about global history, and to find further information about topics you'd like to research.


Journal of Global History (commenced 2006): you might want to compare the contents of this journal with other related journals such as the Journal of World History.

Also consider Itinerario, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Past & Present, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, or regional journals like the Journal of Asian Studies and the Journal of African History.

Books and Articles

  • Sebastian Conrad, What Is Global History? (2016) Chap.4 – Global History as a Distinct Approach

  • Lynn Hunt, Writing History in the Global Era (2014)
  • Sanjay Subrahmanyam, ‘Connected Histories: Notes Towards a Reconfiguration of Early Modern Eurasia’, Modern Asian Studies, 21(3) (1997).

  • Gurminder Bhambra, 'Historical Sociology, Modernity, and Postcolonial Critique', American Historical Review 116.3 (2011): 653-662
  • Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (2008).
  • 'Global Times and Spaces: On Historicizing the Global', History Workshop Journal, 64:1 (2007), comments by Driver, Burton, Berg, Subrahmanyam, Boal, pp. 321-46.
  • Eliga H. Gould, 'Entangled Histories, Entangled Worlds: The English-Speaking Atlantic as a Spanish Periphery', American Historical Review, 112 (2007), pp.764-86 (see also following article by Jorge Canizares-Esguerra on 'Entangled Histories', pp. 787-99)
  • Bruce Mazlish, 'Comparing Global History to World History', Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 28:3 (1998), pp. 385-95
  • Kenneth Pomeranz, 'Social History and World History: From Daily Life to Patterns of Change', Journal of World History, 18: 1 (2007), pp. 69-98
  • Mary Wiesner, ‘Crossing Borders in Transnational Gender History’, Journal of Global History 2011, vol. 6, 367-379.
  • Merry E. Wiesner, 'World History and the History of Women, Gender, and Sexuality', Journal of World History, 18:1 (2007), pp. 53-67
  • Pamela Crossley, What is Global History? (2008)
  • Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, eds., Global Intellectual History (2013)
  • Evely Edson, Mapping Time and Space: How Medieval Mapmakers Viewed Their World (1997)
  • Jane Burbank & Frederick Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference (2010)
  • Bill Schwarz, The White Man’s World (2011)


1,500-word historiographic discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of global history as an approach. You might consider particularly the suggestions that global history is inherently Eurocentric: how valid do you find this criticism? You could use this as the basis for the week 10 debate--or you could explore another aspect of global history as an approach.

4,500-word essay on a topic of your own devising, but which you have cleared with the module convenor (Rebecca Earle) or one of the seminar tutors.

The deadlines are listed on the main departmental pages.