Explore commonly taught topics along with related primary sources, discussion questions, teaching strategies, and annotated bibliographies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is well known that the East European Communist governments were unable to provide their citizens with a standard of living comparable to that of the West. This fact is often held up by scholars as an important underlying cause of the widespread discontent with Communism that swept through the region in the late 1980s.
The Soviet Union was a multi-national empire from the revolution of 1917 through the final demise of Communism in 1991. Multi-national in this context meant that all Soviet citizens were defined by nationality, which was a category associated with birth, but also with native language, regional boundaries, and cultural traditions.
Poland is, at first glance, one of the most religiously homogeneous countries on earth. Almost all Polish children (99%) are baptized into the Roman Catholic Church; 93% of all marriages are accompanied by a church wedding; and depending on how you formulate the question, between 90% and 98% of the population will answer “Roman Catholic” when asked about their religion.
What is the language of conquest? What language do people speak when they battle for land and autonomy, or meet to negotiate? During the conquest of Mexico, Spanish and Nahuatl—the mother tongues of the conquistadors and the Mexica—grew newly powerful. Maya, Otomí and hundreds of other languages were spoken in Mesoamerica in the early 16th century. Yet Hernán Cortés understood only Spanish.
The status of widows in many societies has been precarious, because the deaths of husbands removed the primary source of their economic well-being as well as control over their sexuality. If there were no adult sons to support widowed mothers, other kinfolk might be reluctant or lack the means to care for widowed relatives.
The period of Joseph Stalin’s rule over the Soviet Union was significant in 20th century world history because of the distinctive character of the government, the extension of communism into Eastern Europe, and the increasing importance of the Soviet Union as a world power during the Cold War.
This module examines women’s attempts to negotiate political spaces in the realms of official and unofficial power in Southeast Asia in the 20th century. Southeast Asia is composed of 11 countries—Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Brunei, and East Timor.
In December 1898, at the close of the Spanish-American War, Spain surrendered control of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Guam to the United States. Though Cuba achieved nominal independence in 1902, in 1917 Puerto Rico assumed the status of an American territory, which afforded Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship and the right to elect their own legislature, but not the full benefits of statehood.
Several decades have passed since the conclusion of what the United Nations addressed as the “Decade for Woman” (1975-1985). In many regions of the world, patriarchal relationships between men and women have been toned down, and hierarchies in gender roles have become less rigid. What did these changes mean for women in Latin America?
From the 18th century on, expanding European imperialism across the globe began to pose acute challenges to states and societies throughout Asia and Africa. These challenges held enormous repercussions for indigenous women of all social classes, religions, and ethno-racial backgrounds.
This module will help students explore the importance of women—both British women and women from British colonies—to the British Empire, as well as their importance in developing an understanding of Britain as an imperial power to a domestic audience at home.
The Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz first saw the Cape of Good Hope—the southernmost point in Africa—in 1488. No attempt was made by a European nation to establish a permanent settlement there, however, until 1652, when the Dutch East India Company (VOC) set up a refreshment station.
Talking about an “early modern world” allows us to investigate the interconnectedness of world cultures, as opposed to their isolation. In fact, the period between 1400 and 1800 was characterized by the advent of the Age of Exploration, which made encounters between cultures almost inevitable, even when some areas (most notably, China) turned inwards and shunned international interactions.
From its inception in the early 7th century up to the present day, women have played a vital role in shaping Islamic history. However, their voices have often been left out of standard historical narratives, silenced by a lack of primary sources as well as an assumed belief by male historians that they were not part of the development of Islamic civilizations.
Japanese cultural history is rather unique because it includes writings by women from the Heian Era (794-1185 CE) among its earliest works of important literature. During this era, Japan saw the creative assimilation of Chinese influences and the flowering of a distinctly native literature and culture.