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Explore commonly taught topics along with related primary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, and annotated bibliographies.
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Short Teaching Module: Maasai Murran as Rebellious Youth (20th c)

A number of societies in Eastern Africa, including the Maasai, divide the male life-cycle into distinct stages: childhood; murranhood (or "warrior"); and elderhood. Age-set societies like the Maasai are perhaps unusually explicit in the way that they divide up the life cycle whereas other societies find different ways of socialising the young and managing generational tension.

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Painting of a slave sale

Source Collection: Slavery and the Haitian Revolution

Since the revolutionaries explicitly proclaimed liberty as their highest ideal, slavery was bound to come into question during the French Revolution. Even before 1789 critics had attacked the slave trade and slavery in the colonies. France had several colonies in the Caribbean in which slavery supported a plantation economy that produced sugar, coffee, and cotton.

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Source Collection: War, Terror, and Resistance to the French Revolution

One fault line that has divided inquiries into the Terror has been its connections to the democracy introduced in 1789. For some, the Terror had to occur, either to sweep away the remnants of the Old Regime or, from a more critical perspective, because the revolutionaries had inadvertently introduced authoritarianism with their seeming democratic principles.

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Source Collection: French Monarchy Falls

Although the monarchy had always struggled against elites over the definition of royal power, virtually no one could imagine France being governed without a king. At the outset of the French Revolution, only a handful of citizens had even contemplated a republic.

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Source Collection: Women and the Revolution

Women participated in virtually every aspect of the French Revolution, but their participation almost always proved controversial. Women's status in the family, society, and politics had long been a subject of polemics.

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The Death of Marat painting

Source Collection: Paris and the Politics of Rebellion

The world was shocked by the swiftness and strength with which radicalism emerged in the first years of the Revolution. Interestingly, it is not so surprising that throughout the two centuries that have elapsed since then, labor has remained mainly arrayed on the political left. But was this an inevitable circumstance of the French Revolution?

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Source Collection: The Enlightenment and Human Rights

When the French revolutionaries drew up the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in August 1789, they aimed to topple the institutions surrounding hereditary monarchy and establish new ones based on the principles of the Enlightenment, a philosophical movement gathering steam in the eighteenth century.

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Source Collection: Monarchy Embattled

Reality never matched the popular image of the all-powerful French King. Even Louis XIV, exalted by his own propagandists and many historians as the Sun King, never actually enjoyed that kind of authority. Theories of divine right, which linked the King to God, proved untenable for many.

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Short Teaching Module: Modern Racism in the U.S. and South Africa

This module has students examine the roots of “modern” racism and make connections between the status of Black individuals in the United States and in South Africa. This approach is designed to foster a discussion on American “exceptionalism,” in particular that U.S. history is also rooted in colonial and imperial relations, exchanges and forced migrations. If students have not studied U.S.

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Short Teaching Module: Women in Classical Athens and Sparta

Primary texts about women in classical Athens and Sparta provide an excellent, if extreme, example of one of the main themes in the 100-level “World History to 1500.” This theme is the relationship between social structure and political institutions.

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