No one can deny that the West has dominated the modern age, though many would argue about what exactly the “West” is, when and why exactly it “rose” (if at all), and whether this was a good or bad thing. On the one hand, the West gave birth to universities, constitutions, free-market capitalism, parliaments, civil and human rights, modern religious toleration, the scientific revolution, technological revolutions in communications, transportation, engineering, and computers, and vastly improved the quality of human life through advances in medicine, hygiene, and agriculture. On the other hand, the West brought into the world many horrors, including systematic slave-trading on a huge scale, world-wide imperialism, massively destructive ideologies (Communism and Nazism), two colossally ruinous world wars, and the Holocaust. 

Thus, in terms of both its positive and its negative contributions to world history, the West’s influence has been overwhelming. The problem (for this course) is to understand how all this came to be. The format of the class will facilitate our solving this problem. 

Format of the class

I. The class will learn about various theories and interpretations of the rise of the West by a couple of dozen different scholars, including mine (this involves reading secondary literature on the topic).

 II. Students will critique these theories and interpretations (in writing and orally) through their own analysis.

Semester: SoSe 2022