Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 191 (GH;IL) (AFR 191) Early African History (3) Explores important economic and cultural transformations in the making of early African empires from 1 MBC to 1750.

HIST (AAA S) 191 Early African History (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

The course is an introduction to the history of Africa south of the Sahara from the origins of humankind to roughly 1750. Since it is not possible to undertake a systematic survey of the period -- the continent is too vast and our data too sparse -- we will focus on a number of common themes in the cultural and historical development of African societies. We will start with an introduction to African cultures and the problems in studying them, move on to examine the evidence for the early origins of humans on the African continent, the agricultural revolution, and ancient African kingdoms, empires and civilizations (including Egypt). We will then explore three interrelated themes in the history of Africa from the 16th-18th centuries: trade, state formation, and the spread of Islam. Finally, we will turn to an examination of the slave trade and its impact on Africa and the Americas. This is also a course in historical reconstruction and analysis. There are few documentary sources for this period and much of the data we have is fragmentary. The resulting history consists largely of long-term social changes rather than detailed narrative. We must thus learn to reconstruct history from what evidence is available, using general principles of African social, economic, and political organization that we will develop in class. Typically, students will be evaluated on the basis of a map quiz, short papers, exams that have both an identification and essay component, and participation in class discussions and debates. AAA S/HIST 191 provides an excellent foundation for both AAA S/HIST 192 (Modern African History) and History 479 (imperialism and Nationalism in Africa). In addition to satisfying the GI requirement, AAA S/HIST 192 satisfies general credit requirements for the history major or minor, including the "non-western" component of the major. Non-majors may use this course to satisfy a general education humanities selection. The course also may be used to fulfill requirements for the African and African-American Studies major and the African Studies minor.

General Education: GH
Diversity: IL
Bachelor of Arts: Other Cultures and Humanities
Effective: Fall 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking