Fall 2020 - HIST 135 D100

Capitalism and the Making of the Modern World (3)

Class Number: 8739

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 9 – Dec 8, 2020: Wed, 10:30–11:20 a.m.
    Location: TBA

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 18, 2020
    Fri, 11:59–11:59 p.m.



An introductory survey of the dynamic history of capitalism. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


Capitalism is the dominant economic system in the world today.  Its means of organizing and controlling work, distributing goods and services, and governing society are so pervasive that it can sometimes appear as if capitalism is simply how the world naturally works.  But that is not the case.  In fact capitalism is the product of history.  It was made by people.  It emerged in world history out of a confluence of events and social struggles that might have played out differently given different circumstances, and there is no reason to think that capitalism will last forever.  In this course we will look at the dynamic history of capitalism, how it has changed and been contested over time, and how it has profoundly transformed societies around the world.

What to expect with remote instruction/learning:

  • The course does not require any synchronous participation by students, but each week there will be an optional “Lecture Q&A and Course Concepts Workshop” that will be synchronous online and can count toward course participation.
  • The take-home Midterm and Final exams are short answer and essay.
  • Weekly lectures will be pre-recorded micro-lectures of around 25 minutes each.  These are designed to introduce key concepts and to begin the discussion of the readings and the sound and video clips that make up each week’s study materials.  That discussion will be carried forward in CANVAS discussion posts and replies and in the optional “Lecture Q&A and Concepts Workshop.”
  • The week of November 9-13 will be a Reading Break in this course.


  • Midterm exam 25%
  • Final Exam 35%
  • Reaction paper on Arundhati Roy’s Capitalism: A Ghost Story [approx. 1,200-1,500 words or 3-4 double-spaced pages] 20%
  • “Today in the history of capitalism” CANVAS discussion posts [x3, each between 300-500 words] 15% [Each week we encounter themes and events in the history of capitalism that resonate with how capitalism shapes our world today. Three times in the term students will write a discussion post that ponders a key idea or historical episode from the week’s assigned materials and finds a way of exploring it in relation to our world today.] 15%
  • Participation [You can get participation credit through replies to others’ “Today in the history of capitalism” CANVAS discussion posts; replies to discussion threads started by the instructor; and/or by asking questions and offering comments in the optional synchronous “Lecture Q&A and Concepts Workshops.”] 5%



Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story (Haymarket Books, 2014 – 136 pgs)

All other readings will be distributed via CANVAS.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).