Fall 2023 - HIST 135 D100

Capitalism and the Making of the Modern World (3)

Class Number: 3536

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



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


In its brief history of 200 years or so, capitalism has created great wealth—and great inequality. It produces enough to provide rich, full lives for everyone—yet much of the world lives in desperate conditions. It has enabled people to be in instant contact around the globe—and has isolated us from each other and from nature. It has developed the resources of the planet—and put us on the brink of extinction.

How should we understand this economic system? Where did it come from? Where is it taking us? What should we do about it?

These are big questions, and our course is designed to help us think about answers.

Our aim is to examine critically the economic system we're living in, to trace its origins, its successes, and its failures. We'll trace its connections to slavery, empire, freedom, governments, and the environment and look at the historical opposition to it. We'll see how capitalism affects our day to day lives and explore the myths that are used to justify it.

We will meet once a week for 10 weeks of lectures and tutorials. The tutorials are 100 minutes long, so we will show films, work together to understand the lectures and readings, and provide class time to do some of the work for the course.

There are no exams or large essays. Instead, you'll provide several short responses to the lectures, readings, and tutorials to comment on what you've learned and what questions you have. The written work is designed to help you understand the course material and to help you develop your own voice and ideas about this economic system we live in. We will use tutorials to do some of this work.


  • Short written responses to course materials (lectures, readings, tutorials) 100%



All material will be on Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.