Browse Teaching

Explore commonly taught topics along with related primary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, and annotated bibliographies.

Image of a sixteenth-century Ottoman carpet showing a portion of the carpet's main design field that contains a triple arch design with slender double columns and a hanging lamp in the central archway

Short Teaching Module: Early Modern Islamic Carpets as Transcultural Objects

Islamic carpets were ubiquitous in the early modern period (1500-1800) in Europe as much as it was in the Islamic world. They were important objects of decor within homes, imperial palaces, and religious buildings. These decorative art objects were produced in great numbers and in a variety of designs and techniques across the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Short Teaching Module: Cleopatra, Gender, Beauty and Power in Egypt and Rome

Our most important early sources on Cleopatra are Roman histories, which are problematic in their reliability. Cleopatra held the status as the “enemy” for Romans, which created a bias among Roman authors. Moreover, Rome’s patriarchal culture influenced writers’ views of a powerful female ruler.

Source Collection: Diversity and Change in Greco-Roman Religious Beliefs

This module will examine four different indigenous theologies within the Greco-Roman world to understand the diversity and change that occurred within Greco-Roman religion over the centuries.

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Long Teaching Module: Trade and Religion in the Indian Ocean Network, 1100-1500

Global trade is a central aspect of the contemporary world, but trade was also important in pre-modern eras. The most important trading network in the period from the tenth through the fifteenth centuries was that across Eurasia, both land routes and sea routes, especially those across and around the Indian Ocean.

A stone monument with a cross on top

Short Teaching Module: Christianity and Slavery in the Kingdom of Kongo, 1480s-1520s

Portuguese missionaries brought Christianity to West Africa in the late fifteenth century. They had their greatest success at conversion in the Kingdom of the Kongo, a powerful state that was never conquered in the early modern period. Here rulers created a Kongolese version of Christianity, combining local beliefs and practices with imported ones.

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Syllabus: Women and Gender in World History, 600-2000

The syllabus below lays out a 15-week course, beginning in the 6th century and continuing through the 20th century. It provides suggestions for how to use units and their various parts with your students, as some of the materials are student-facing, and others are instructor-facing.

Long Teaching Module: Women and Empire

This teaching cluster assembles an array of primary and secondary sources, as well as teaching strategies and lesson plans, for educators to effectively teach the important roles women played in colonial and imperial projects from the 17th century to the 20th century.

Long Teaching Module: The Collapse of Yugoslavia

This case study examines the rewriting and reworking of Serbian national history that accompanied the breakup of Communist Yugoslavia, especially by intellectuals, and the role such groups played in reconstructing and resurrecting a distinct narrative of Serbia’s national history.

This long teaching module includes an activity and two primary sources.

Source Collection: Songs of the Revolution

Music and singing were fundamentally important parts of the revolutionary experience. Amateurs and formally trained composers alike produced thousands of songs and hymns that celebrated or criticized the Revolution. Men and women sang during revolutionary festivals, in bars, cafés, and theaters, and they fought with others who dared to sing royalist or reactionary songs.

Code of Hammurabi

Short Teaching Module: Hammurabi's Code

An extremely useful source for discussions of Mesopotamian government and society is the Babylonian document Hammurabi’s Code (circa 1780 BCE). One of the most influential codifications of law in ancient history, the text provides students with a concrete example of the expanding influence of centralized government on the personal and professional lives of the general population.

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Short Teaching Module: Women's Travel Writing

Women’s travel writing is a rich source for teaching world history. In this module, Patricia M.E. Lorcin explains how she uses two examples of women's travel writing to help students better understand a wide range of issues in world history.

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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.

Festival of National Unity, 14 July 1939

Source Collection: Legacies of the Revolution

The powerful influence of the French Revolution can be traced in the reactions of those who witnessed the event firsthand and in the strong emotions it has aroused ever since. For some, the French Revolution was a beacon of light that gave a world dominated by aristocratic privilege and monarchical tyranny a hope of freedom.

Progression of Napoleon’s Life

Source Collection: The Napoleonic Experience

The bare facts of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte stagger the imagination and rival the plots of the most fantastic novels. Born in 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica, just as that island was passing from the hands of the Republic of Genoa to those of France, Bonaparte attended a French military school for impoverished sons of the nobility.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.