History 511 -- "A Mummers' Farce? Teaching World History"

Clio, the muse of history, is as thoroughly infected with lies as a street whore with syphilis.

History is the enactment of ritual on a permanent and universal stage; and its perpetual commemoration.
Norman O. Brown

History is the shank of the social sciences.
C. Wright Mills

How does one conceive of and construct a course that covers "World" History? What distinguishes a world perspective from other means of teaching broad surveys of human history? Is such an endeavor even possible, or do the scope and scale of telling a World story force us to retreat to stock characters and narrative arcs? We will begin the semester by considering these questions through the use of metaphor.

People have long leaned on metaphor to help make sense of complexity and pattern. These "metaphors we live by," to use the concept of Lakoff and Johnson, work at a fundamental level to structure our understanding of the world. What if we use this concept to structure/order narratives of World History for the classroom? How does one's choice of metaphor impact what narratives are available to tell?

This class will be as much practicum as seminar. All too often content concerns above all else drive course construction for historians. While much of this semester will center on discussing content-oriented historical monographs, we will also think seriously about pedagogy and course design. And, we will build. University teaching in the 21st century increasingly involves technological mediations of traditional teaching methods. To help familiarize you with the ubiquity of technology in the survey classroom, we will experiment with various mediations (blogs, discussion forums, podcasts, LMSes, etc.) by building our own.

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