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Subverting Empire


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


This literature seminar explores long-distance intellectual networks that ran parallel to, and self-consciously subverted, those of Empire between the late eighteenth and the twentieth centuries. Special focus will be placed on the movement of ideas, and on the formation of identities and solidarities beyond those of the nation.

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following:
    • in the specialisation Colonial and Global History: how global (political, socio-economic, and cultural) connections interact with regional processes of identity and state formation; hence insight in cross-cultural processes (including the infrastructure of shipping and other modes of communication) that affect regions across the world such as imperialism, colonisation, islamisation, modernisation and globalization (in particular during the period 1200-1940).
    1. (ResMA only): Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical foundation of the discipline and of its position vis-à-vis other disciplines.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Literature Seminar
The student:

    1. has acquired an understanding of different modes of cosmopolitan thought, ca. 1776-1904.
    1. has acquired an understanding of the long-distance travelling of ideas in the Age of Empire and the formation of anti-imperialist networks.
    1. has acquired an understanding of the tension between, and complementarity of, nationalism and internationalism.


See Timetable and deadlines History.

Mode of instruction

  • Literature Seminar

Course Load

Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours, divided as follows:

  • Contact hours. This seminar consists of seven sessions of two hours of intensive discussion each, and one individual meeting to discuss the final paper: 15 hours.

  • Six AQCI assignments: 18 hours.

  • Preparing oral presentations: 7 hours.

  • Reading literature and writing term paper: 240 hours.

Assessment method


  • Essay (3000 words)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-3, 5, 7-9 (ResMA also: 4 and 6)

  • AQCI Assignments
    Measured learning objectives: 1-3, 5, 7-9 (ResMA also: 4 and 6)

  • Oral Presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 1-3 (ResMA also: 4)

  • Discussant
    Measured learning objectives: 1-3; (ResMA also: 4)

Written paper/essay: 60%
Weekly assignments: 30%
Oral presentations and class participation: 10%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average, with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficient.

Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.



Reading list

  • Janet Polasky, Revolutions Without Borders: the call to liberty in the Atlantic World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.

  • Seema Alavi, Muslim Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Empire. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.

  • Çemil Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Asian and Pan-Islamic Thought. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

  • Maia Ramnath, The Haj to Utopia: How the Ghadar Movement Charted Global Radicalism and Attempted to Overthrow the British Empire. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011.

  • Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

  • Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora. Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


mw. Dr. C.M. Stolte