The rise of the Mongol Empire structured world history from the 13th century on, yet few Western histories examine the cataclysmic effects of Mongolian power and ideas on the rest of the world. This course explores the history and legacy of Mongol rule. From the passport you carry to travel internationally, to your granddaughter’s Halloween princess costume, to National Parks, the post office and religious pluralism, Mongol innovation reaches across eight centuries to institutions, expressions, clothing, and values that are part of our everyday lives.
INSTRUCTOR: Rebecca Watters is a wildlife biologist and writer who has worked in Mongolia for the past 12 years. She is fluent in modern Mongolian, decent at Classical Mongolian, and currently runs a wildlife research project in collaboration with the Ulaan Taiga Protected Areas Administration in northern Mongolia. She grew up in Massachusetts and when she isn’t in Mongolia, she is based in Bozeman, Montana.
REQUIRED BOOK: Rachewiltz, Igor de, The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century (2015). Shorter version edited by John C. Street, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Books and Monographs. Book 4. ISBN 978-9004153646.
REQUIRED READING: https://cedar.wwu.edu/cedarbooks/4 This is the primary source document for most histories of the Mongol Empire. We will reference various sections of this work throughout the course. It is available free online under a creative commons license.
OPTIONAL BOOKS: Weatherford, Jack. 2005. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, Crown Press. Green, Monica. 2020. The American Historical Review V 125 (5), “The Four Black Deaths,” Prazniak, Roxann, 2021. Sudden Appearances: The Mongol Turn in Commerce, Belief, and Art. University of Hawaii Press. Favereau, Marie. The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World, Belknap Press.
READINGS FOR THE FIRST CLASS: The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century, pp. 9-31 (verses 56-103 of the text)