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Themes in Global & Comparative History (HI997)

Module Leader

Professor Maxine Berg (

Context of Module
Module Aims
Outline Syllabus (readings via Aspire Reading List)
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 one 10-week term in the Autumn.

Module Aims

This core module for the MA in Global and Comparative History is intended to give a critical overview of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas of modern historical enquiry - global history. It aims to provide students with an understanding of 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 the core course, this module not only examines the range of historical methods and interpretations that constitute global history, but also looks at ways in which 'the global' can be investigated in relation to the regional and the local by taking up perspectives from Asia, Africa and the Atlantic and Islamic Worlds. The aims of the module include:

  • to widen and deepen students’ understanding of themes in the study of global and comparative history
  • to help students develop a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of a global and comparative historian
  • to help students hone their ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing
  • to support students in developing the ability to undertake critical analysis
  • to help students develop the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses

Outline Syllabus

This course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars.

Week 1: Introduction (Maxine Berg)

Room: R1.13

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

Week 3: Global Economic History and Capitalism (Maxine Berg)

Room: R1.13

Week 4: Global Labour History (Aditya Sarkar)

Room: R1.13

Week 5: Environment and the Anthropocene (Guido van Meersbergen)

Week 6: Reading Week (no seminar)

Week 7: Empires (Aditya Sarkar)

Room: R1.13

Week 8: Gender (Anne Gerritsen and Somak Biswas)

Room: R1.13

Week 9: Science (Michael Bycroft)

Room: R1.13

Week 10: Debate

Room: R1.13

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  • demonstrate a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of a global and comparative historian
  • demonstrate the ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing
  • demonstrate the ability to undertake critical analysis
  • demonstrate the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses.

Illustrative Bibliography


Journal of Global History (commenced 2006): you might want to compare the contents of this journal with other related journals, in particular the Journal of World History, but also 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)


4,000-word essay, to be submitted at the end of the module.

2,000-word debating position to be submitted at the end of the module.