The Silk Road (HIS4116.01)

Carol Pal

n this course, we examine six moments of intellectual encounter between “east” and “west” along the storied routes of the Silk Road.  These encounters spanned a millennium, from the fifth century BCE to the fourteenth century.  We will be reading travel narratives written by these adventurers – Herodotus, Xuan Zang, Al-Biruni, Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Sir John Mandeville – and considering them as historical sources.  Proceeding chronologically, we witness encounters between vastly different intellectual, scientific, cultural, and religious traditions, and consider the ways in which critical thinkers in the past analyzed the wonderful strangeness of their world.

Learning Outcomes:
Students taking this course will engage with the joy of doing good history. Specifically, they will:
1. Learn about one facet of the mutlifaceted, neverending, and eternally surprising realities of the past.
2. Learn how to respectfully analyze historical facts and documents through an understanding of those who made them.
3. Learn how to express those respectful analyses in writing.

Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Prerequisites: 1 course in History and/or 1 course in Literature, plus permission of the instructor (email:
Course Level: 4000-level
Credits: 4
W 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 15
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: 4000 , All courses , Four Credit , Fully In-Person , History
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