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ACE2453 Imperial Adventures: A History of Europe Overseas (on campus only)

Started 30 Jan 2024

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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 Practicalities:

This course will run over 8 weeks, beginning Tuesday 30th January to 19th March 2024, 7-9 p.m. 

Location- Western Gateway Building, Room G14, UCC 

Closing date for applicaitons: Monday 22nd of January 2024.

 Course Content: 

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. 

Entry Requirements:

Applicants must be at least 18 years old at course commencement.

Contact Details for Further Information:


Please note our refund policy as follows:
100% refund  if student cancels before course commencement
100% refund if student's course is cancelled due to insufficient numbers. 
If the student cancels after the first week of the course - full refund minus €50 processing fee 
If the student cancels after the second week of the course - no refund