World History II

Required and Recommended Texts, Manuals, and Supplies: Adelman, Jeremy and Elizabeth Pollard. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: Volume II, From 1000 CE to the Present, Concise Edition 3rd Edition. W.W. Norton, 2021. [ISBN: 978-0393532043] An ebook version is also available. [ISBN: 9780393532388]

Grading Standards:

Participation & Professionalism: 10%
Primary Source Activities (x 2): 30% (15% each)
Reading Exercises (x 3): 30% (10% each)
Final Project: 30%

Course Requirements:

Participation & Professionalism: Things that may reduce your Participation and Professionalism grade include—but are NOT limited to—being tardy to class, failure to actively participate during lecture and engage with colleagues during small group activities, working on assignments not related to the course, and misuse of electronic devices during class. Things that may improve your Participation and Professionalism grade include answering questions when asked, contributing to discussion and group assignments, taking notes, asking questions, completing in-class assignments, etc.

Primary Source Activities: At two separate points in the term, you will engage with one of the critical activities of a historian: analysis of primary sources. A brief review of primary sources can be found towards the end of the syllabus. You will be given one primary source document and one primary source image/cartoon to analyze using questions from the National Archives Primary Source Worksheets. In the In-Class portion of the assignment, you will work with an assigned partner to complete the worksheet. Once the worksheet is completed, you will individually write up a written version of your own analysis in short essay form, conducting a sort of comparison/contrast between the two of sources. These will serve as practice for the final project, which constitutes examination of seven primary sources.

Reading Exercises: After every 3-4 chapters of reading, I will provide you a handout of questions from each chapter of the reading. These will be a mixture of short answer style discussions of key terms, comparison/contrast or analysis responses of in-chapter core objectives, and/or questions from the Thinking About Global Connections/Study Questions sections. There will be a total of three of these reading exercises. You will have one week from the day you receive the handout to complete these exercises outside of class. You will be able to use your book (but no additional outside resources) to help you complete your exercises.

Final Project:

Option A (popularly known as an Unessay): To get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources and introduce you to the field of public history, you will create a public history product on a topic of your choice related to the course themes. Options may vary widely, but suggestions include: creating a website, designing a museum exhibit, filming a video (think Drunk History or CrashCourse), making a physical artifact, writing a pamphlet (such as those used for historical tours), creating an interactive and explanatory historical timeline (such as Tiki-Toki,, designing a public history blog, or even creating a “live-tweet” series of an event on Twitter! I’ve had students perform magic tricks, design their own choreography, and give historical tours! The options are nearly endless. A short explanatory/analytical write-up will accompany your “visual” product. 

Option B (Research Paper): This option is also designed to get you used to working with both primary and secondary sources. Rather than crafting a public history project, you will write a traditional five to eight page academic paper on a topic of your choice related to the course themes. A key element of this project is using both primary AND secondary sources to create a compelling historical argument (also known as a thesis).

Primary vs. Secondary (v. Tertiary) Sources: A Brief Review

A primary source is a document or artifact created in the past that scholars use as evidence of how people thought and lived in the period they are studying. A newspaper article, a diary, a speech, a court transcript, a map, a photograph, a building, a will, a political cartoon, a census report created at the time of your topic–all of these different types of documents could count as primary sources. Primary sources need to be viewed critically; they can have intent (to persuade the reader of a certain point of view), or be factually wrong, or be from a limited, individual perspective–all of which you need to take into consideration when using primary source evidence. Just because something is old does not automatically make it primary. For example, a newspaper article from 1823 about King Philip’s War (1675-1676) would not be primary because it was written nearly 150 years after the event.

A secondary source is a work that discusses and interprets such documents and artifacts in order to reconstruct the past (your paper will be a secondary source) and offer an argument about that reconstruction. Sometimes there is considerable debate about many issues in American history; historians are often at odds in their interpretations. If there are conflicts within the primary or secondary sources, it will be your job to evaluate the arguments, and decide which is most persuasive. The most common secondary sources you will encounter are books and academic journal articles (like you might find in a database like JSTOR).

Tertiary Sources are consolidations of primary and secondary sources. These include textbooks, encyclopedias, and websites, like Wikipedia or While they can be informative, tertiary sources are generally not acceptable for academic research, and should be used sparingly for assignments.