Map Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean


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OSPM Module 5: Download Complete Teaching Module (5 FILES)


OSPM Module 5: Download Complete Teaching Module (5 FILES)


Module 5: Reform and Social Change in the Mediterranean, 1798-1914

During the Long Nineteenth Century, new technologies brought Mediterranean peoples closer together across time and space, while the entire region became more accessible to world commerce via the Suez Canal (1869). The industrialization of northern Europe and the political forces unleashed by the French Revolution posed a challenge throughout the Mediterranean. Failure to catch up left Mediterranean societies in all-too-close proximity to the modernized armies of the French and British empires. On the other hand, access to new ideas and technologies was just as close at hand. How Mediterranean leaders implemented far-reaching economic, political, and social reform movements is the subject of the lessons in Module 5. Students analyze a series of maps to assess the geopolitical challenges facing the Ottoman Empire; based on their findings, they write a letter to the Sublime Porte recommending and prioritizing specific reforms. Students analyze the influence of the French Revolution on the Tanzimat (or restructuring) period of Ottoman history (1839-1876), as they compare the Gulhane Proclamation (1839) to the French Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789). Portrait paintings hold the potential to connect students to the human side of history, helping them to imagine what the key players looked like, as well as how they were seen by others. For this reason, students “zoom in” to closely analyze portraits of the reformist leaders Kharyr al-Din of Tunisia, Mehmet Ali (Muhammad Ali) of Egypt and Sultan Abdulmecid I of the Ottoman Empire, presented in three PowerPoints. Afterwards students “zoom out” as they reinterpret these same images in the wider context of additional images and primary and secondary source documents. A lesson on the literary and political salons held by women (and attended by men and women) in Aleppo, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, and Milan helps students to reflect on the multiple sources of societal change. By staging their own salon at the end of the module, students can express and assess the conflicts, progress and challenges of living through and responding to this era in the Mediterranean.


Joan Brodsky Schur


Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: A World History Curriculum Project for Educators


Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University




2014, Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, George Mason University, published under Creative Commons – Attribution-No Derivatives 3.0 License



Joan Brodsky Schur, “OSPM Module 5: Download Complete Teaching Module (5 FILES),” Our Shared Past in the Mediterranean: Teaching Modules , accessed August 4, 2020,