The Age of Empire (Fall 2018)

Draft. See course Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.


HIST 241 – The Age of Empire: Europe and the World, 1848-1945

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Fall 2018

Time: Thursday, 18:00-20:50


  • Lecture: 7-150
  • Tutorials: Group 1: 5-175 (Library). Group 2: 5-183 (Library)


Office: McCaffray Hall 3092

Office Hours: Thursdays, 16:30-17:30 and Fridays by appointment

Course Description: This course surveys the rise and decline of global empires from the mid-nineteenth century until 1945. It focuses primarily on the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and their activities in Europe, Africa, and Asia. It surveys topics such as colonialism, imperial nationalism, commodities, war, science, race, and sexuality. Building on first-year courses, this course further introduces students to the discipline of history and historiography. It also seeks to provide a solid foundation for upper-level European and global history courses. The course will explore how Europeans sought to create and maintain a hierarchal world order with themselves at the top and the various strategies of people around the world to resist and modify those ambitions.

Learning Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of imperialism and colonialism as well as global history.

2) The ability to identify historiographic debates.

3) A foundation for further, more specialized history courses.

4) The development of research skills.

Course Structure:

A lecture on one of the course themes will be given at the start of class, and the readings will be discussed in the second half of the same class. For the discussion, the class will split into two groups, which will be led by Dr. Bryce and the teaching assistant.

Required Readings:

Philippa Levine. The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset. Routledge, 2013.

Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton. Empires and the Reach of the Global 1870-1945. Harvard University Press, 2014.

Shelley Baranowski. Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

One copy of all of these books is on three-hour reserve at the UNBC library. You can also purchase them at the UNBC bookstore. The Ballantyne/Burton and Baranowski books cost approximately $30 each and the Levine book approximately $50.


a) Attendance and participation, 15%

b) Assignment 1: Article analysis, October 4, 20%

c) Midterm test: October 18, 25%

d) Final quiz: November 22, 10%

e) Assignment 2: Historiographic research essay. Monday, December 3, 30%

a) Attendance and participation: Students are expected to attend all classes and to participate in the weekly discussions of the readings. Evaluation will be based both on attendance and a demonstrated mastery of the readings. Students are required to read an average of 50 pages per week. If you feel uncomfortable speaking in class, discuss this with me in the first week of the term. I am willing to consider alternative methods of evaluation.

b) Article analysis. 700-900 words. Students are required to find any article published in a peer-reviewed history journal after 2008 that pertains to imperialism or colonialism. After briefly summarizing the article, students are to answer these two questions: How does the author use the words empire, imperialism, and/or colonialism? What is the relationship between the national and the international scales in the article? This assignment should be submitted in paper form (and stapled) by the end of the class on the day it is due. Students also need to submit a copy of their assignment via Blackboard.

c) Midterm test. 75 minutes, in class. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and the readings.

d) Final quiz. 30 minutes, in class. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and the readings.

e) Historiographic research essay. 8-10 pages. Students will select a topic from a list that I suggest or of their own choice upon consultation. They are asked to write a historiographic research paper, analyzing three themes that run through several scholarly sources on the selected essay topic. Students can draw from course readings. However, they need to make use of new material beyond the assigned readings. The paper should draw from at least eight journal articles, chapters in edited books, or monographs not assigned in class. This is not an opinion piece but rather an analysis of the scholarly arguments. A more detailed description of expectations will be distributed three weeks before the due date. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with me in the weeks leading up to the due date. This assignment should be submitted as a Word document or PDF via Blackboard.

Course Overview:

September 6 – Introduction

  • Lecture topic:
    • Imperialism, Colonialism, and Imperial Nationalism
  • Readings:
    • Ballantyne and Burton, “Introduction,” 1-26.
    • Levine, Chapter 4, “After America,” 49-69.

September 13 – Technology and Commodities

  • Lecture topic:
    • Imperial Networks, Industrialization, and Commodities
  • Readings:
    • Ballantyne and Burton, Chapter 1, “Reterritorializing Empires,” 27-78.

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. September 19.

September 20 – India

  • Lecture topic:
    • Britain and India
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 5, “Britain in India,” 70-91.
    • Levine, Chapter 6, “Global Growth,” 92-112.

September 27 – France

  • Lecture topic:
    • France, Industrialization, and Empire
  • Readings:
    • Ballantyne and Burton, Chapter 2, “Remaking the World,” 79-130.

October 4 – Germany

  • Lecture topic:
    • Imperial Germany and a Place in the Sun
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 1, “From Imperial Consolidation to Global Ambitions: Imperial Germany, 1871-1914,” 9-66.

Assignment 1: Article analysis. Due in lecture in paper form on October 4

October 11 – Colonialism in Africa

  • Lecture topic:
    • Geography, Violence, Labour in Africa
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 7, “Ruling an Empire, 113-133.
    • Levine, Chapter 8, “Being Ruled,” 134-154.

October 18 – Empires and Nation-States in the Interwar Period

  • Lecture topic:
    • Peace Treaties, Self-Determination, and Radical Ideologies
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 2, “From Dominion to Catastrophe: Imperial Germany during World War I,” 67-115.

Midterm test. In class on October 18

October 25 – No class

  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 3, “From Colonizer to ‘Colonized’: The Weimar Republic, 1918-1933,” 116-171.

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. 50% tuition refund. October 25

November 1 – The Third Reich

  • Lecture topic:
    • Land, Race, and Empire
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 4, “The Empire Begins at Home: The Third Reich, 1933-1939,” 172-232.

November 8 – Japan

  • Lecture topic:
    • Japanese Imperialism and Colonialism. Guest lecture by Dr. Tristan Grunow, University of British Columbia
  • Readings:
    • Tristan Grunow. “Mapping the Elephant Toward a Spatial History of the Japanese Empire.” Journal of Urban History 42, no. 6 (2016): 1163-80.
    • Miriam Silverberg. “Remembering Pearl Harbor, Forgetting Charlie Chaplin, and the Case of the Disappearing Western Woman: A Picture Story.” In Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia, edited by Tani Barlow, 249-294. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997.

November 15 – Empire and Science

  • Lecture topic:
    • Monday: Tropical Medicine
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 5, “The Nazi Place in the Sun: German-Occupied Europe during World War II,” 233-295.

November 22 – Empire and Migration

  • Lecture topic:
    • Migration, Indenture, and Restriction
  • Readings:
    • Ballantyne and Burton, Chapter 3, “Global Empires, Transnational Connections,” 131-182.

Final quiz. In class on November 22

November 29 – Empire and its Discontents

  • Lecture topic:
    • Essay workshop and readings
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 9, “Gender and Sexuality,” 155-179.
    • Levine, Chapter 10, Contesting Empire,” 180-205.

Historiographic research essay. Due on Monday, December 3 at end of the day via Blackboard

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard three weeks before the due date. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

SafeAssign: Students are required to submit a digital version of their essays to SafeAssign through Blackboard. Students are also required to submit a printed and stapled version of their essay in class. SafeAssign describes itself as “a tool used to prevent plagiarism and to create opportunities to help students identify how to properly attribute sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is effective as both a deterrent and an educational tool. SafeAssign compares submitted assignments against a set of sources to identify areas of overlap between the submitted assignment and existing works.” If you do not want to submit your essay through SafeAssign, you can instead submit photocopies of all your research notes along with your essay.

Definition of Grades: Papers for this course will be marked according to the scale set by the History Department. An “A” essay is an excellent piece of work, which argues a clearly developed and challenging thesis, the proof of which is grounded in an exceptional usage of relevant primary and/or secondary literature. The research should demonstrate both critical evaluation and creativity while the writing should be sophisticated, coherent, and grammatically sound. In order to receive a final grade in the range of A- to A+, students will be expected to demonstrate consistently: independence of thought; subtle and complex analysis; the ability to grasp, articulate, and respond to arguments offered by others; and an exceptional understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “B” essay demonstrates good research skills, a clearly stated thesis, and a generally successful attempt to develop it logically, based upon secondary literature. The research should reflect an above-average development of ideas and criticism, while the writing should be clear and demonstrate a basic competence in organizational skills and grammar. As such, there should be few grammatical or structural errors. In order to receive a final grade in the range of B- to B+, students will be expected to demonstrate: the potential to engage in independent thought; an appreciation of the complexity of the issues under consideration; and a good understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “C” essay demonstrates that the author possesses a basic understanding of the material and some of the secondary literature, but has unsuccessfully endeavoured to articulate a thesis. While revealing knowledge, comprehension, and some application of information, usually the work also contains grammatical, structural, and organizational errors or flaws. Overall, the essay is adequate but uninspired. In order to receive a final grade in the range of C- to C+, students will be expected to demonstrate some awareness of the complexity of the issues under consideration and a satisfactory understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

A “D” essay fails to make its case or articulate a thesis. It is marked by a combination of illogical thinking, grammatical errors, flawed research, or a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the assignment. There is little application, analysis, or integration of ideas, and the essay generally fails to demonstrate a working knowledge of the topic at hand. In order to receive a final grade of D, students will be expected to demonstrate minimal competence. Although there may be evidence of an understanding of certain aspects of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussion, there is also evidence of difficulty in applying or communicating this understanding.

An “F” essay is inadequate in that it demonstrates fragmentary and often undigested information. It tends towards compiling rather than analyzing information and reveals a weakness in critical or analytical skills. The use of literature is often severely limited if not inappropriate or irrelevant. Overall, the essay is marked by a profound absence of thinking about the topic or the assignment. In order to receive a final grade of F, students will have failed to give evidence of being intellectually engaged in the subject matter of the course and will have failed to demonstrate even a minimal understanding of the interpretations and information contained in assigned readings and lectures or considered in classroom discussions.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with Dr. Bryce. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have or raise them in class. If you cannot make it to my office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. I advise that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

Lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. If an assignment is not handed in in class, it is considered a day late. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. This late penalty applies to weekends and holidays as well. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a valid medical certificate.

Submission of late assignments: To submit a late assignment, hand in a paper version to the administrative assistant in the Department of History (Loreen Obst, whose office is room 3007 on the third floor of McCaffray Hall) before 16:30 on a weekday. She will date-stamp the essay. At the same time, submit a copy of your assignment as a Word document or PDF via Blackboard. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, submit your assignment via Blackboard and then hand in the hardcopy on the next business day. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously. Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach Dr. Bryce to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability, or have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: