Browse Teaching

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

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.

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.

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.

Short Teaching Module: Gender and Race in Colonial Latin America

When I teach a survey of the colonial history of Latin America, I often focus on the era’s cultural history, and specifically on the issue of hegemony and resistance.

Source Collection: Social Causes of the French Revolution

Instead of bringing unity and a quick, political resolution to the questions of 1789, as intended by its originators, the Revolution was producing further conflicts. What had happened? Had the revolutionaries expected too much? Did the fault lie with the new political elite, because they excluded the lower classes from the optimistic prospects for change?

thumbnail of the history of mary prince

Short Teaching Module: Slavery, Labor, and Gender

In this case study, developed for a lower-division lecture class on “World History 1400-1870,” students explore gender though a primary source the personal account, “The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave Related by Herself.” This first-person account was written by British abolitionists and disseminated through the London Society for the Abolition of Slavery in 1831.

Short Teaching Module: Humor as Resistance

In order to help students think about the dynamics of power in different kinds of societies, this case study attempts to challenge the black-and-white thinking to which students are inclined when thinking about Communism. By analyzing jokes from the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) we can see how people sought to create their own sense of freedom.

Puppeteers Painting image thumbnail

Long Teaching Module: “Reading” Primary Sources on the History of Children & Youth

How do you study the history of young people? What can primary source documents reveal? What limitations do they pose? What light can the history of young people shed on the past? This essay aims to serve as a guide to finding, interpreting or “reading” primary sources on young people from ancient civilizations to the present.

Short Teaching Module: Filipino Comfort Women

This lesson on Filipino “comfort women” fits into a women’s history course. I chose this topic because it exposes the false dichotomy between being a victim and being a forceful advocate for your cause. These women prefer the word “survivors” as opposed to the word “victims” to describe themselves.

Short Teaching Module: John Ovington's A Voyage to Surat in the Year 1689

With its strong emphasis on commercial and cultural interactions, the Advanced Placement World History course is enriched by student exposure to the accounts of traders and travelers. From the 15th to the 18th centuries, Indian Ocean trade provided the stage for a rich drama of commercial and cultural interchanges.

Short Teaching Module: Letters of Milada Horáková

Horáková makes a good case study for several reasons. One of the most prominent European feminists of the first half of the 20th century, she was an active member of the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1940, she and her husband, Bohuslav, spent the rest of World War II in the Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp.

Long Teaching Module: The Romanian Revolution of 1989

The December 1989 revolution in Romania has been the subject of scholarly discussions, passionate debates, conspiracy theories, and political struggles. In 2004, for instance, an Institute for the study of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989 (IRRD) was founded in Bucharest, headed by then President Ion Iliescu whose term in office was soon to expire.

Short Teaching Module: Consumerism in Poland

Throughout Eastern Europe, the decade of the 1980s was a time of significant change, including the everyday lives of average citizens. This case study looks at visual representations of consumer culture in Poland in an effort to examine the larger role that consumer goods played in the daily lives of those who lived in Eastern Europe.

Short Teaching Module: Memory in East Germany

This case study examines how a group of East German dissidents re-appropriated the memory of Rosa Luxemburg and turned her writing against the Communist Party during an annual parade in January 1988.

This short teaching module includes an essay containing context, discussion questions, and a guide to incorporating the three primary sources.

Short Teaching Module: Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate

In June 1987, President Reagan delivered an important speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. This case study looks at how to use the speech as a means to examine US foreign policy and the end of the Cold War.

Short Teaching Module: Women in Romania

Using oral histories, this case study explores various aspects of women’s daily lives in Communist Romania and women’s attitudes toward the changes wrought by the transformation to a pluralist system and to a market economy after the collapse of the regime in December 1989.

Short Teaching Module: Soviet Health Posters

This case study examines two posters that address the increasingly embarrassing and difficult health crisis of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. Throughout this period, the poster remained the most typical form of propaganda and thus are an important element in teaching the Soviet experience.

Activity: Simulating the Velvet Revolution

This case study simulates the process of the extraordinarily quick (and often peaceful) overthrow of various communist regimes is Eastern Europe in 1989. The simulation provides a powerful experiential study of how dissent can quickly cascade through a group, leading to fast, dramatic change.

Long Teaching Module: Solidarity Comes to Power in Poland, 1989

In retrospect, it seems predictable that the first opposition group in the Soviet bloc to succeed in unseating a communist regime would be Poland’s Solidarity movement.

Long Teaching Module: Everyday Life in Eastern Europe in the 1980s

Explaining the causes of an event as large, complicated, and significant as the revolutions of 1989 and the end of Communist single-party rule and the Cold War is no small task.