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A Primer for Teaching World History


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This book offers principles to consider when creating a world history syllabus; it prompts a teacher, rather than aiming for full world coverage, to pick an interpretive focus and thread it through the course. It will be used by university faculty, graduate students, and high school teachers who are teaching world history for the first time or want to rethink their approach to teaching the subject (and for those training world history teachers). Few academics have been trained to teach world history, yet many universities are adding the subject to their curricula and 60% of U.S. states require World History for high school graduation.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
How to Make Use of This Book ix
Introduction. Why Design? Thinking through World History 101 1
Part I. Laying Foundations 11
1. Timing: When to Start 13
2. Centering Connectivity 25
3. How to Do More than "Include Women" 37
4. World History from Below 49
Part II. Devising Strategies 61
5. The Event as a Teaching Tool 63
6. Genealogy as a Teaching Tool 73
7. Empire as a Teaching Tool 83
Part III. Teaching Technologies
8. Teaching "Digital Natives" 95
9. Global Archive Stories 107
10. Testing (for) the Global 117
Epilogue. Never Done 127
Notes 131
Selected Bibliography 141
Index 149

About the Author

Antoinette Burton is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, including Empire in Question: Reading, Writing, and Teaching British Imperialism; The Postcolonial Careers of Santha Rama Rau; Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History; and After the Imperial Turn: Thinking with and through the Nation, all also published by Duke University Press.


"Antoinette Burton has done everyone who teaches world history a great service: she shows how the most significant new work by scholars can be incorporated in ways that make world history more exciting, satisfying, and successful at introducing students to historical thinking and writing. No one who teaches this survey will remain untouched by what she has to say." Lynn Hunt, Eugen Weber Professor of Modern European History, University of California, Los Angeles "Antoinette Burton's concise but meaty book provides essential advice for the many new and experienced instructors faced with the daunting challenge of teaching world history in what are often ever-larger classes. Its emphasis on creating a course around certain design principles is both welcome and timely, allowing instructors to develop a course that is both meaningful and manageable." Merry Wiesner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee "This book is recommended reading for all teachers and PhD students who want to know more about world history and are looking for practical suggestions on how to design and organise their syllabus. As Burton acknowledges in the introduction, a lot of the advice she gives on the structure of courses and on testing strategies, mainly - if not only - applies to the Anglo-American university system." - Dario Miccoli, European Review of History, March 2013

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