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The 20th Century Discussion on World History


World history has become a crucial component of the current conversation  on the past. These four seminars aim to explore the different ways in which a  global approach to history has been developed prior to 21st century world  history. Greek and Roman universal history, the historical vision exposed in  the Bible, secularized philosophies of history from the Renaissance to the  Enlightenment, the 19th and early 20th-century histories of the human  civilizations will be among the subjects that will be treated. The final  seminar will analyze the most recent and significant trends in world history,  and discuss the tension between the analytical function and the predictive function shared by the different global/universal approaches to the past.


1. Monday, January 10, 12:30-14:45 (room 3.67), address Faculty of History, ul. Uniwersytetu Poznańskiego 7 (Morasko)
Histories from a global perspective
The variety of  approaches to a comprehensive approach to the past will be the focus of this  seminar. Examples of the different insights will be discussed, ranging from  Herodotos to the Book of Daniel, Sima Qian, Ibn Khaldun, Spengler, Toynbee,  Jaspers, Galtung will be discussed.

Required readings:

  • Arnaldo Momigliano, “The Origins of Universal  History”. Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore  di Pisa. Classe di Lettere e Filosofi , 1982, Serie  III, vol. 12, no. 2, 1982, pp. 533-560.

For further reading:

  • Hervé Inglebert, Le  monde l'histoire. Essai sur les histoires universelles. Paris: PUF, 2014.
  • Siep Stuurman, “Herodotus and Sima Qian: History and  the Anthropological Turn in Ancient Greece and Han China.” Journal of World History, vol. 19, no. 1, March 2008, pp. 1-41.
  • Andrew Marsham, Universal  Histories in Christendom and the Islamic World, c. 700-1400, Oxford History  of Historical Writing, 2: 400-1400, edited by Sarah Foot, Chase F. Robinson.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, pp. 431-456.

2. Wednesday, January 12, 10:30-12:45 (room 3.67), address Faculty of History, ul. Uniwersytetu Poznańskiego 7 (Morasko)
Towards a secularized vision of the global past?
In this session, the  focus will be on the emergence of the secular, empirical approach to the global  past of mankind that European historians worked out in the early modern and  modern period. Texts by Voltaire, Ferguson, Herder, Condorcet, Ranke, Teggart, Freyer, Osterhammel, Harari will be mentioned and discussed.

Required readings:

  1. Dan Smail, “In the  Grip of Sacred History.” American  Historical Review, vol. 110, no. 5, 2005, pp. 1337-1361.
    Franz Leander  Fillafer, “A World Connecting? From the Unity of History to Global History.” History and Theory, vol. 56, no. 1, March  2017, pp. 3-37.

For further reading:

  • Paolo Rossi, The  Dark Abyss of Time. The History of the Earth and the History of Nations from  Hooke to Vico. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

3. Thursday, January 13, 10:30-12:45 (room 3.67), address Faculty of History, ul. Uniwersytetu Poznańskiego 7 (Morasko)
The 20th-century world history and beyond
This session will  focus on the forms of world history developed in the 20th century and on the  methodological and political discussion on their implications as entangled or  connected history, history of miscegenation and hybridization, history of  encounters, big history, deep history, genetic historical maps. Examples of the  historical production related to these new approaches will be presented and discussed, as well as critical approaches to world history from a post-colonial  perspective (Guha, Lal, Dirlik).

Required readings:

  • Jerry H. Bentley, “The Task of World History”, in The Oxford History of World History,  edited by Jerry H. Bentley. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • David Christian, “The Return of Universal History.” History and Theory, Theme Issue 49,  2010, pp. 6-27.

For further reading:

Edoardo Toratarolo

is a Professor of early modern history at the University of Eastern Piedmont,  Italy, since 1993. He is a permanent fellow of the Academy of the Sciences in  Turin and a member of the Italian Committee on Historical Studies. A Humboldt  fellow in 1989 and 1990, in 2006 he was a member of the Institute for Advanced  Study, Princeton, and in 2010 the Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer in Italian  History at Northwestern University. His research interests cover the 18th- and  19th-century intellectual history and the history of historical writing. He has co-edited the third volume of the Oxford  History of Historical Writing (2012). His latest book is The Invention of the Free Press (Springer 2016).