History 1

History First-Level Courses

These courses deal with selected themes in world history, including African and South African history, as well as an introduction to basic issues in historiography.

Considerable emphasis is also placed on the development of skills: investigative skills - learning how to seek out and find relevant information and ideas in libraries and elsewhere; analytical and critical skills - learning how to probe beneath the surface of history; essay-writing - constructing well-focused, clearly organised essays; and oral skills - developing the ability to participate in class discussion.

History 101: Africa and the Making of the Modern World (Semester 1)

History 101 takes you on a 10,000 year journey of African and early modern global history. Our interest is to understand Africa in the longue durée, to situate the continent within the wider view of human history, to unpack the very idea of ‘Africa’. We start on the banks of the Nile then follow the camel trains of the Sahara carrying cargo and humans across the desert dunes to and from West Africa. We track the merchants of East Africa who build a unique society driven by Indian Ocean trade and discover that their commodity exchange reaches all the way into the southern interior at Great Zimbabwe and perhaps even Mapungubwe in the South African province of Limpopo.

We treat Africa not as exception, but as an inextricable part of global history that has shaped and been shaped by other regions as well as by historical process such as the development of agriculture, the emergence of complex settled societies and the impact of technology. We engage key debates in African historiography and attempt to pose new questions about how best to understand the continent. We will be using multimedia resources such as videos and podcasts; students must notify the lecturer if they have special requirements with regard to accessing these. You do not need to have taken history at school to take this course.

Lecturers: Prof. Kirkaldy and Prof. Pohlandt-McCormick  


History 102: Africa and the Making of the Modern World (Semester 2)

This course provides a general introduction to modern African history from the early twentieth century to the present. In this course, we will briefly revisit the material and cultural development in Africa before 1900, discuss the effects and repercussions of slavery and the slave trade on the development of African history, and explore the reasons for European expansion into Africa, both in terms of the European point of view and in terms of the factors which made conquest possible. We will also explore the social, cultural and economic implications of colonial rule through primary documents, fiction and secondary historical accounts and emphasize the African perspective rather than a colonial one. Another major portion of the course focuses on the emergence of resistance and the struggle for liberation from the colonial powers after World War II, the emergence of the postcolonial state. Finally, the course reflects on our current postapartheid and postcolonial moment, exploring the ways in which the recent students’, workers’ and service delivery protests highlight the persistence and pervasiveness of social inequality in South African society, but also connect to broader political and economic crises across the continent, such as forced migration and the rise insurgency groups. We will discuss how these contemporary issues, as well as narratives of hope and opportunity, shape representations of the African continent.

Lecturers: Dr. Thumbran

Last Modified: Fri, 14 Jan 2022 06:55:59 SAST