HIST4316 Global History of the Seas, 1400–1950 (3 units)
This course takes a global perspective on the history of the seas from the fifteenth century until the twentieth century. Most histories focus on human societies on land and view the oceans as largely empty spaces between different landmasses. Instead, this course demonstrates that the seas were vital arenas of human activity. The oceans were conduits for the circulation of goods, people, technologies and ideas. Knowledge of life and activities at sea therefore adds an important dimension to our understanding of the histories of commerce, warfare and migration.
By taking a global approach to the maritime world this course moves beyond regional and national histories. It emphasizes the fluidity of the boundaries between human communities and the global web of connections woven by maritime activity. Each week the class explores a different theme, ranging from naval warfare to the history of social communities at sea. Field trips to Hong Kong museums such as the Museum of Coastal Defence and the Maritime Museum will emphasize the intersection of global, regional and local maritime histories. By the end of the course, students will develop an understanding of how human activity at sea has shaped the history of the modern world.
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