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ACE2291 Imperial Adventures: a History of Europe Overseas (on UCC Campus delivery only) is a Course

ACE2291 Imperial Adventures: a History of Europe Overseas (on UCC Campus delivery only)

Started Sep 27, 2022

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Full course description

Course Overview

In one respect this is a history of the world, and while it is unashamedly one-sided in its European perspective, the past five centuries have, if effect, been the history of a world shaped by European influences. In another respect, although they do not shy away from the more distasteful aspects of imperial history, these are tales of derring-do in lands across the seas. This is history, but it is history with the enduring appeal of adventure stories.

Course Schedule

8 weeks, beginning Tuesday 27 September-25 November 2022, 7-9 p.m. 

Location- Western Gateway Building Room G14, UCC 

Closing date for applications: Friday 16 September 2022


1. Beyond a few travellers' tales and luxury imports, the wider world was, for Europeans, a matter of legend, guesswork, and outright fantasy. The first lecture looks at Europe's first venturings into a world mapped only in the imagination. 

2. Columbus insisted that he had found the Indies, but the Spanish had swiftly to learn that these colourful islands were in fact two continental land masses, and these exotic colonies were not just New Spain but a New World. 

3. While the Spanish were first sailing into the Pacific, the Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English were sailing around the world from the other direction, with all eyes fixed upon the wealth of the Indies. 

4. For some, the Americas were where Christendom could be built anew, free from the corruption of homeland and history. Others saw a matchless opportunity to get rich quick. This lecture looks at slavers, pilgrims, and pirates. 

5. From a few trading posts on the coasts of India the British rose to inherit the empire of the Mughals, while all the while attempting to build an England in Asia. 

6. In the 18th and 19th centuries a new age of more systematic discovery was embarked upon for economic and scientific gain, yet it was a more visionary impulse that drove explorers into the deep jungles or onto the polar ice. 

7. Justified by notions of a 'White Man's Burden' and 'Manifest Destiny', European culture spread rapidly across the globe in the 19th century, but for all the high ideals, imperialism was often still a matter of guns and gold-fever. 

8. The final lecture deals with how, infected by European ideas of nationalism, and educated by the 'civilising mission' to a sufficient level of dissatisfaction, the subject peoples sought to throw off their imperial shackles.

Course Lecturer

John Ware is a part-time lecturer in the UCC School of History and Centre for Adult Continuing Education.