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Uncovering Western Civilization, Volume 2

Oxford Learning Cloud

Series edited by Trevor Getz

Available: 01 November 2021

ISBN: 9780197621141

Online Resource


What proficiencies should history majors possess when they graduate? What threshold skills should a student bring to the history major? What competencies does a lower-division history course provide as part of a liberal education or a general education program? How can these capabilities and aptitudes be taught in the short class time, constrained circumstances, and diverse classrooms of today's universities?

These are questions that matter deeply to history instructors seeking strategies that embrace the teaching of historical competencies for student success and lifelong achievement and at the same time produce a durable understanding of the lessons and themes that can only come from an appreciation of the past. Over the past decade, Trevor Getz has made the argument that content can be interwoven with skills in carefully designed modules that are delivered to students by in an affordable and engaging, active-learning environment. The result is Uncovering Western Civilization, a series of digital modules designed to make History meaningful and memorable for students by teaching them the skills to "Do History."


  • Makes History meaningful and memorable for students by teaching them the skills to "Do History".
  • Offers an affordable and efficient approach for developing historical thinking skills.
  • Carefully designed by Trevor Getz, recipient of the AHA's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award, Uncovering Western Civilization marries the best practices in pedagogy and educational cognition with lessons learned from years of teaching experience and research expertise in the field of world history.
  • Digital modules are delivered to students through an instructor's course-management system.
  • Each module is authored by a historian who is both an expert in his/her field and an experienced teacher.
  • Embracing an un-coverage model to learning History, and focusing on major transcultural and transnational events and experiences, the modules develop students' historical thinking skills. These skills are aligned with the development of higher order cognitive thinking.
  • In each module, students encounter a historical problem and must obtain evidence to respond to that problem. They acquire or master a methodology to examine the evidence, and they craft a response that they make 'public' by sharing with the instructor and/or other students. Finally, they are given the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned.
  • Each module maintains a clear pathway so that students always know where they are in the module.
  • Formative Assessments occur throughout each module and ask students to consider and evaluate the material provided to them. A Summative Assessments ends every module, asking students to connect their learning in terms of the historical and methodological problems. Both the formative and summative assessments feed directly to the instructor's gradebook.
  • A rich array of multimedia increases student engagement with the material and provides multiple entry points into the problem. These resources include graphic flipbooks, videos, whiteboards, animated maps, interactive timelines, images enhanced with zoom-in capability, audio, and primary-source documents.
  • For more information, go to https://pages.oup.com/he/us/uncovering-world-history

About the Author(s)

Series Editor: Trevor Getz is Professor of History at San Francisco State University.

Table of Contents

    1) Did Columbus Discover America? European Geographic Imagination in the Age of Encounters (Elizabeth Horodowich, New Mexico State University)

    In this module, students will work as a historian by comparing a variety of texts and maps that describe and depict the lands to the west of the Atlantic Ocean from the period between 1500-1750. These sources reveal the varied ways in which early modern Europeans understood these lands, sometimes as a New World, and sometimes as part of Asia. Once students have considered all of these sources carefully, they will summarize and evaluate them as a group by producing their own interpretation about European visions of the Americas in the Age of Encounters. Students who successfully complete this module will demonstrate the ability to evaluate contradictory evidence in the context of diverse primary sources. They will produce a convincing original historical argumentative paper assessing the evidence.

    2) The Many Faces of Sir Francis Drake: Global Pirate or National Hero? (Kris Lane, Tulane University)

    The story of Francis Drake in world history begs many questions, but perhaps it is at core a question of who owns history, or who "curates" the legacy of a national hero (or in the case of Spain, a favorite villain)? Drake is a classic 'national hero' vs. 'arch-villain.'

    The principal objective of this module is to examine a wide range of sources relating to Drake's Famous Voyage (1577-1580) in order to draw our own conclusions regarding Drake's conduct and the ways in which interpretation of his achievements changed over time.

    Students who successfully complete this unit will demonstrate the ability to evaluate contradictory evidence and opposing interpretations, producing an original, historical argument that takes into account the shifting politics of legend formation.

    3) How Should We Characterize The Missions Of Northern New Spain? (Kristin Dutcher-Mann, University Of Arkansas, Little Rock)

    How does studying the varieties of music in mission communities between the 16th and early 19th century help us analyze the political, economic, cultural, and religious aspects of colonial encounters in a way that both complements and complicates the written sources? This module uses primary sources grounded in music and sound to analyze the missions of Northern New Spain between 1600-1820, particularly interactions among members of indigenous nations and European missionaries. Students will evaluate the interactions between missionaries and indigenous nations using musical evidence and primary sources about music. They will consider the nature of missions and their context within the spread of colonial rule, and present their findings in a brief multimedia presentation.

    4) Literature and the Great War: Poetry vs. History? (Allison Scardino-Belzer, Georgia Southern University)
    The module includes literature (poetry and selected excerpts from fiction) and personal narratives to explore the issue of individual experience in WWI. Selections range from 1914 to 1930 to show change over time. How "true" is literature and how do historians use literary sources? How can historians use individual voices to tell a larger story about an important world event? One focus of this module is to emphasize the thick reading of a single source (Hemingway). Comparing this source with other primary sources strengthens students' analytic skills. Finally, working with multiple poems to identify the different ways the war
    affected people builds historical empathy.

    5) Who Decides What Should be Remembered? Historians, Archives, and Evidence (Audra Diptee, Carleton University, Canada)

    Operation Legacy was a British policy of willfully destroying or removing colonial documents that were deemed "incriminating" to the British government. This policy took place over more than two decades (1950s - 1970s) and was imposed just prior to when British colonies were to get their political independence. Its objective was to keep information out of the hands of the incoming governments of soon-to-be politically independent nations throughout the British Empire.
    Students who complete this module will demonstrate a) the ability to critically assess the ways in which evidence is compiled and constructed (including the operation of power within these processes); b) a facility with research techniques; c) An awareness of the importance of chronology and historical context; and d) the ability to recognize when historical assumptions, both implicit and explicitly stated, inform ideas about the present.

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