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A History of the World in Seven Themes

Volume Two: since 1400

Author Stewart Gordon

Publication Date - 29 October 2021

ISBN: 9780190642457

224 pages
6 1/8 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock


We study world history to discern common rituals, problems, and patterns that do not stop at a territorial boundary. A history that accurately reflects the past must recognize that wars, battles, and empires barely touch how lives were lived, whether as an artisan, slave, trader, soldier, pilgrim, or doctor. World history is not about merely analyzing documents and amassing or memorizing facts. It is about learning to consider big questions that matter across the whole of human experience. Such themes do not stay in the past. They are the very stuff of our present and make us aware of our responsibilities to the future. In A History of the World in Seven Themes Stewart Gordon invites students and teachers to analyze, debate, and consider a broad range of questions.


  • The narrative focuses on seven problems that every society - historical or contemporary - must face, regardless of religion, political structure, ethnicity, language, or geographical location.
  • Thematic approach helps the reader to discern common rituals, problems, and patterns that do not stop at a territorial boundary.
  • Encourages the reader to consider big questions that matter across the whole of human experience--including nationalism, slavery, technology, and human rights.
  • Presents broad societal problems through the experiences of guides, that is, actual historical figures who were deeply affected by the chapter's theme.
  • Each chapter features a different way of understanding the past, modeling for students the process of historical inquiry and showing them that history is not simply something one reads about but something one does.
  • Each chapter opens with The Big Picture, a section that connects the theme's context across broad historical periods and brings the theme into wide geographic regions. The Bigger Picture ends the chapter with the important implications and questions of the theme for our world today.

About the Author(s)

Stewart Gordon is an Independent Research Scholar associated with the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan.

Table of Contents

    List of Maps
    About the Author

    Chapter 1. Sex, Sexuality, and Gender
    The Big Picture: Society and Gender
    Saikaku and His World
    Barbur's “Youthful Follies”
    Homosexuality in Renaissance Florence
    Gender Channeling in the Americas
    Male-Male Love from a Global Perspective
    Female-Female Love and Sexuality
    Love in a Mughal Harem?
    The Inquisition of Benedetta Carlini
    Two-Spirits among First Nations Americans
    The Bigger Picture: Gender Channeling
    No Simple Categories
    Power and Class
    Gender and Globalization
    Visible Communities

    Chapter 2. Nations and Nationalism
    The Big Picture: What Is a Nation?
    Colonial Land Grab
    Railways and Colonial Development
    Missions and Names
    War and Nationalism
    Kenyatta and London
    Looking Forward, Looking Back
    War, Return, and Rebellion
    The Bigger Picture: Nationalism and Its Challenges

    Chapter 3. Technology and Science: The Example of Glass
    The Big Picture: What Is Technology?
    Lenses in Theory and Practice
    Advances in Lens Technology
    Leeuwenhoek's Observations
    Leeuwenhoek and the Scientific Method
    Lenses and Realism: Photography
    Flat Glass: Light and Reflection
    Flat Glass: The Success Story
    The Bigger Picture: Evaluating New Technology

    Chapter 4. Migration and the Immigrant Experience
    The Big Picture: Peoples on the Move
    Arrivals in a New Country
    Global Mass Migration and Its Constraints
    Years After Migration
    Involuntary Mass Migration
    The Bigger Picture: Migration in the Twenty-First Century

    Chapter 5. Slavery: Old and New
    The Big Picture: Slavery's Long History
    Witnesses, Memoirs, and Primary Sources
    Plantation Slavery, from the Perspectives of Esteban and History
    Factions, Beliefs, and Strategies for Survival
    Esteban's Life as a Runaway
    Abolition and Rebellion
    The End of Slavery in Cuba
    Cuba's Revolutions
    The Bigger Picture: Modern Slavery
    The Endurance of Slavery
    The New Slavery
    What Is to Be Done?

    Chapter 6. Human Rights
    The Big Picture: Defining Human Rights
    From World War to Human Rights
    Roosevelt in London
    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: The Long Road to Passage
    What Was Adopted
    A Less Than Perfect Declaration
    Evolution of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    The Bigger Picture: The Legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

    Chapter 7. Empire and Environment
    The Big Picture: Human Activity and the Environment
    Exploration and Conquest
    The Tragic End of Tomé Pires
    Advances in Botany and Medicine
    Colonization and the Environment
    Cotton Stresses in India
    US Domination of Cotton Exports
    "Improving" Indian Cotton
    India Cotton Before the Colonizers
    A Turning Point: The US Civil War
    Tin Mining and the Environment in Malaya
    Ancient Tin Mining
    The Rush for Tin
    European Intervention Escalates
    The Bigger Picture: The Environmental Legacy of Colonialism
    Costs and Benefits
    Scientific Attitude
    The Role of Technology
    No New Industries


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