World History in Documents
World History in Documents this book advances an understanding of world history and develops two of the essential skills the study of world history should promote: the ability to deal with primary sources and the ability to compare important aspects of major societies.
World History in Documents Pdf
The first emphasis is on primary sources, that is, documents written for the time and not intended, like a textbook, to explicitly inform current college students of world history. These primary sources, drawn from religious treatises, government pronouncements, economic regulations, and the like, require careful interpretation in order to figure out their historical significance.
The sources must be not only read; they must also be assessed and recombined so that they can be used to answer historical questions that go beyond merely repeating what the document said. Thus, a religious passage intended to define morality might be used to ask questions about gender—basic views concerning men and women—that the author was not fully gender—basic views concerning men and women—that the author was not fully aware of.
Or a company record listing the daily obligations of factory workers might be expected to reveal fundamental assumptions about the nature of work. Through sources of this sort, the volume deals with various facets of modern civilizations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, ranging from the growth of governments and the impact of new science to the formation of novel work systems and the development of intense loyalties such as nationalism.
Reading a primary source requires some creative imagination because the thinking behind it will almost never be just like your own. Words that appear to be the same as ours may have different meanings. It’s useful to ask of each source, What are the key assumptions here, and which ones require the biggest stretch from current habits of thought?
Different kinds of sources involve different interpretive tasks. Some are accounts of events; they need to be assessed for possible bias. Others are documents in action, such as a declaration of war or a treaty.
These can be evaluated for assumptions, but a bias test is less relevant. In every case, there is some subtlety of meaning to be discovered, with the aid of the contexts provided in the introductory notes to each chapter. The results can reach more deeply into the notions of past societies than any other type of reading.
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