Intro to Modern World History

1 Narratives and Evidence

Shelley Rose


This Modern World History course is a platform where digital learning and historical content meet. To this end, Chapter 1 introduces you to the basic digital and critical thinking skills needed to navigate this course, focusing on the concepts of narrative and sources.

Objectives: After completing Chapter 1, you will be able to:

  • Identify and apply the key steps of historical thinking
  • Create and participate in online discussions and assignments using Sway.
  • Analyze the conceptual framework of world history narratives.
  • Identify and analyze primary and secondary sources

Section 1: Narrative

Narratives are the stories that make up world history. These stories can be personal or general, but they are always the author’s interpretation of past events. Professional historians create narratives by interpreting groups of sources (primary and secondary), which they use as evidence to support their arguments. Think about history textbooks like the one used in your high school, for example. The authors, or team of authors, use primary and secondary sources to create a broad narrative of world history for use in introductory history courses. In other words they have interpreted the past for students using a specific framework and set of evidence. Also consider that each textbook presents just ONE interpretation of world history. In order to get a clear picture of various interpretations of world history, we must compare and contrast these narratives against on another (known as corroboration in the steps of historical thinking in section 2).

  1. Create a visual narrative in the app of your (or your instructor’s) choice such as Flipgrid, PowerPoint, or Sway. Tutorials such as this one are available for Sway.
  2. Introduce yourself to the class-essentially a personal narrative. *Include only details you are willing to share with your classmates.* Post your presentation to the class discussion board.
  3. Read this excerpt from World History For All on “Learning to Think the World.”
    1. Think about the narrative you created. Why did you choose certain moments to highlight and exclude others? How is your narrative connected to national or global events?
    2. Read through your classmates’ narratives. What are the similarities between narratives? What are some differences? How can we apply this exercise to understanding the relationship between narratives in the study of world history?

Information Literacy & Historical Thinking

Evaluating sources is a key skill for historical research. Historians typically use two types of sources: primary and secondary (note: encyclopedias and other reference works are generally considered tertiary sources by historians). Check out the excellent research guide created by CSU Arts and Humanities Librarian Mandi Goodsett outlining the differences between types of sources. Your ability to identify primary versus secondary sources is a critical information literacy skill for this course.

  1. Watch the “What is Historical Thinking?” Video and review the Stanford History Education Group Historical Thinking Chart. We will concentrate on the four steps of historical thinking outlined in the chart as we move through the course materials.
  2.  Using the CSU HIS 104 Research Guide ( Locate and choose a primary source related to world history after 1500. Complete the historical thinking worksheet using this primary source.
  3. Search the internet or library catalog with an historical term from your primary source. Choose one secondary source to analyze. Complete the second historical thinking worksheet on Blackboard using your secondary source.

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