Browse Methods
Investigate world history approaches to analyzing different kinds of primary sources.

Analyzing Music

Everywhere you go, there it is.

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Map of the world with colors indicating the level of judicial independence in each state's constitution.

Primer: Comparative History

Comparison is used in many different ways in world history, both implicitly and explicitly.

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Geologic clock with events and time periods noting the formation of earth and development of life.

Primer: Big History

Big History is an approach to world history that takes as its subject the story of the whole of the Universe, from its creation, 13.8 billion years ago, in the Big Bang. It describes the creation of stars, the forging of new types of matter in dying stars, the formation of the first planets and moons, and the emergence of life on at least one planet, the Earth.

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image of gender roles being portrayed

Primer: Gender in World History

Gender history developed in the 1980s out of women’s history, when historians familiar with studying women increasingly began to discuss the ways in which systems of sexual differentiation affected both women and men.

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Stellar diagram features a drawing of a ship surrounded by Chinese characters

Primer: Oceans

Oceans, which cover approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface, have played a crucial role in shaping human history. Using oceans and seas as a unit for analysis is, however, a relatively new framework for historical analysis. The traditional units of historical analysis include civilizations, continents and especially nation-states.

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Close-up image of an early modern Islami Carpet

Primer: Transcultural History

Broadly, transcultural histories include those historical contexts and processes brought about by circulation of people, objects, and knowledge through travel, trade, migration, or globalization.

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Graphic of a tree crosscut showing rings

Primer: Environmental History

Environmental history lends itself particularly well to a world history framework. Environmental processes do not limit themselves to national or cultural borders. The climate, for example, has always been a global system. Environmental history may also consist of unusual sources and feature "archives" that exist in the natural world.

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Analyzing Maps

The map is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication. Humans were probably drawing maps before they were writing texts. Mapmaking may even predate formal language. As far as historians and geographers can determine, every culture in every part of the world uses and makes maps.

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Primer: Imperialism

World history courses often feature the rise and fall of various empires, but often little attention is paid to the concept of empire itself.

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A woman kneels and holds a piece of stone at an archeological site

Analyzing Material Objects

The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. This module developed by historian Daniel Waugh explores how historians interpret material objects to better understand the past. Examples of objects include Turkish water jugs and Byzantine coins among others.

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