The Age of Empire (Winter 2016)

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

Office: ADM 3092

Office Hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 13:30-14:20 and by appointment

Term: Winter 2016

Time: Mondays and Wednesdays, 14:30-15:50

Location: 5-183

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 hierarchical 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.

2) A greater understanding of world history.

3) The ability to identify historiographic debates.

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

5) The development of research skills.

Course Structure:

A lecture on one of the course themes will be given on Mondays and Wednesdays. The readings will be discussed on Wednesdays.

Required Readings:

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

James Patrick Daughton. An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914. Oxford University Press, 2006.

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 Daughton and Baranowski books cost approximately $30 each and the Levine book approximately $70.


  1. Attendance and participation, 15%
  2. Article analysis. Monday, February 1, 15%
  3. Midterm test. Monday, February 29, 20%
  4. Historiographic research essay. Due Wednesday, March 30, 30%
  5. Final exam. During exam period, 20%
  1. 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.
  1. Article analysis. 700-900 words. Students are required to find any article published in a peer-reviewed history journal after 2005 and pertaining to empire and imperialism. After briefly summarizing the article, they are two answer these two questions: How does the author use the words empire and imperialism? What is the relationship between the national and the international in the article?
  1. Term test. 70 minutes, in class. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and the readings.
  1. 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 perspectives 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.
  1. Final exam. During the exam period. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and the assigned readings. A more detailed description of the exam will be distributed in class and posted on Blackboard three weeks before the final lecture. Any student absent from the exam for medical reasons will have to discuss his or her situation with the university registrar. It is not guaranteed that students will be able to write the exam at a later date.

Course Overview:

January 6 – Introduction

  • Lectures:
    • Wednesday: No class.
  • Readings:
    • No readings.

January 11 and 13 – Imperialism and Colonialism

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Imperialism and Colonialism
    • Wednesday: Imperial Nationalism
  • Readings:
    • Daughton, Part I, “They Shall Cast out the Devils,” 3-55.

January 18 and 20 – Technology and Commodities

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Technology
    • Wednesday: Commodities
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 6, “Global Growth,” 92-112.
    • Levine, Chapter 7, “Ruling an Empire, 113-133.

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

January 25 and 27 – The British Empire

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Britain and India
    • Wednesday: Empire Families in India
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 5, “Britain in India,” 70-91.
    • Levine, Chapter 8, “Being Ruled,” 134-154.

February 1 and 3 – France

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Second French Empire
    • Wednesday: The Third Republic and Global Expansion
  • Readings:
    • Daughton, Part II, “Indochina,” 59-118.

Article analysis. Due in lecture on Monday, February 1

February 8 and 10 – Reading Week (and Family Day)

  • No classes

February 15 and 17 – Germany

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Kaiserreich
    • Wednesday: Weltpolitik
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 1, “From Imperial Consolidation to Global Ambitions: Imperial Germany, 1871-1914,” 9-68.

February 22 and 24 – Imperial Tensions

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: The Berlin Conference and the Scramble for Africa
    • Wednesday: Imperial Competition
  • Readings:
    • Daughton, Part V, “From the Empire to the Mère-Patrie,” 227-266.

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. February 24, 2016.

February 29 and March 2 – Midterm test and the First World War

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Midterm test
    • Wednesday: Imperial Breakdown
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 2, “From Dominion to Catastrophe: Imperial Germany during World War I,” 67-115.

Midterm test. In lecture on Monday, February 29

March 7 and 9 – Weimar between Republic and Reich

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: No class.
    • Wednesday: Weimar between Republic and Reich
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 3, “From Colonizer to ‘Colonized’: The Weimar Republic, 1918-1933,” 116-171.

March 14 and 16 – The Third Reich

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: A New Empire
    • Wednesday: Nazi Ideology and the East
  • Readings:
    • Baranowski, Chapter 4, “The Empire Begins at Home: The Third Reich, 1933-1939,” 172-232.


March 21 and 23 – Empire and Science

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


March 28 and March 30 – Empire and Race

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Migration
    • Wednesday: Prostitution and Race in the British Empire
  • Readings:
    • Levine, Chapter 9, “Gender and Sexuality,” 155-179.
    • Levine, Chapter 10, Contesting Empire,” 180-205.

Historiographic research essay. Due in class on Wednesday, March 30

April 4 and 6 – French Colonialism

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Easter Monday, University Closed
    • Wednesday: French Africa
  • Readings:
    • Daughton, Part IV, “Madagascar,” 167-223.

April 11 – Conclusion

  • Lectures:
    • Monday: Exam Preparation
  • Readings:
    • No readings.


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


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 me. 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. 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. Assignments will not be accepted by email.


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. It is advised that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in the 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.

Twitter: Feel free to follow me on Twitter (@BenjaminBryce2). I tweet articles about university affairs, graduate school, and history in the media. I will also use the hashtag #hist241 to tweet articles, images, and songs related to course topics. All students are welcome to use this hashtag and to tweet articles, movies, images, and songs related to course topics as well. Please remember to compose all tweets using the professional language that is expected in the classroom at the University of Northern British Columbia. Using Twitter is not a requirement for this course. No important course content will be distributed over Twitter. The hashtag #hist241 exists only to share related materials and to create a sense of community.

Submission of written work and lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class, and they will be not accepted after the due date. Only printed and stapled essays will be accepted (no e-mail submissions). If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment by the due date, discuss your situation with Dr. Bryce in advance of the deadline.


SafeAssign: Students are required to submit a digital version of their essays to SafeAssign through Blackboard. 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.


Illness and absences: Notify me 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 me 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: