No form of political organization has been as prevalent or consequential as empire. For most of human history, empire constituted the dominant form of government and the end to which conquest, consolidation, and civilization aspired. Today, officially, no empires exist, but that doesn't mean we can't learn from them--and it doesn't even mean the age of empires has ended. In this course, we will survey what empire means from social-scientific, historical, and humanities perspectives, and from the perspective of those who rule, those who are ruled, and those who stand outside the empire. Topics will range from how the Mongol and Moghul empires worked to how the British Empire fell to whether the United States possesses an empire today. Students will participate in weekly course discussions and prepare a final essay or other presentation exploring whether and how we can learn from empires in understanding today's world. Students should expect to have a topic by midterm season and work on completing a polished piece of work by the end of the term.
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