Objective: The World in the 1780s In the Introduction, Hobsbawm paints a broad-brush picture of the historical world his book will describe, and he names the themes he will trace in successive chapters: politics, trade, industry, populations, nations. This lesson discusses the expectations Hobsbawm sets up in the Introduction.
1. Close reading: Themes. Identify the passages in which Hobsbawm describes his primary interests in the Age of Revolution. Pay close attention to the themes he follows. What are his main preoccupations?
2. Small group discussion. Ask students to work together in small groups to look at the examples Hobsbawm uses in his Introduction. What does he cite for examples? How detailed does he get in his descriptions? Does he refer to people by name, or by nation?
3. Class discussion. How would you describe Hobsbawm as a historian? How does he go about making conclusions from evidence? What kind of...
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