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HISTORY Syllabus Classes XI-XII

History Syllabus Classes XI-XII


These classes will introduce students to the idea that historical knowledge develops through debates and that sources need to be carefully read and interpreted. As the learners have been introduced to chronologically ordered histories of India in Classes VI to VIII, these histories will not be repeated within the same format in Classes XI and XII. Instead, the focus would be on certain select themes, which will be examined in some depth. Through a focus on a series of critical historical issues and debates (Class XI) or on a range of important historical sources (Class XII), the students would be introduced to a set of important historical events and processes. A discussion of these themes, it is hoped, would allow students not only to know about these events and processes, but also to discover the excitement of doing history.


• The effort in these senior secondary classes would be to emphasise to students that history is a critical discipline, a process of enquiry, a way of knowing about the past, rather than just a collection of facts. The syllabus would help them understand the process through which historians write history, by choosing and assembling different types of evidence, and by reading their sources critically. They will appreciate how historians follow the trails that lead to the past, and
how historical knowledge develops.
• The syllabus would also enable students to relate/compare developments in different situations, analyse connection between similar processes located in different time periods, and discover the relationship between different methods of social enquiry within different social sciences.
• The syllabus in Class XI is organised around some major themes in world history. The themes have been selected so as to (i) focus on some important developments in different spheres — political, social, cultural and economic, (ii) study not only the grand narratives of development — urbanisation, industrialisation and modernisation — but also to know about the processes of displacements and marginalisation. Through the study of these themes students will acquire a sense of the wider historical processes as well as an idea of the specific debates around them.
• The treatment of each theme in Class XI would include (a) a broad picture of the theme under discussion, (b) a more detailed focus on one region of study, (c) an introduction to a critical debate associated with the issue.
• In Class XII the focus will shift to a detailed study of some themes in Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian history. The objective would be to study a set of these themes in some detail and depth rather than survey the entire chronological span of Indian history. In this sense the course will build on the knowledge that the students have acquired in the earlier classes.
• Each theme in Class XII will also introduce the student to one type of source for the study of history. Through such a study students would begin to see what different types of sources can reveal and what they cannot tell. They would come to know how historians analyse these sources, the problems and difficulties of interpreting each type of source, and the way a larger picture of an event, a historical process, or a historical figure, is built by looking at different
types of sources.
• Each theme for Class XII will be organised around four subheads: (a) a detailed overview of the events, issues and processes under discussion, (b) a summary of the present state of research on the theme, (c) an account of how knowledge about the theme has been acquired, (d) an excerpt from a primary source related to the theme, explaining how it has been used by historians.
• While the themes in both these classes (XI and XII) are arranged in a broad chronological sequence, there are overlaps between them. This is intended to convey a sense that chronological divides and periodisation do not always operate in a neat fashion.
• In the textbooks each theme would be located in a specific time and place, but these discussions would be situated within a wider context by (a) plotting the specific event within time-lines, (b) discussing the particular event or process in relation to developments in other places and other times.

History Syllabus Classes XII

 (Total 50 Periods)

Themes Objectives
                      I: Early Societies
1. From the Beginning of Time
Focus: Africa, Europe till 15000 BC
(a) Views on the origin of human beings.
(b) Early societies.
Debate on present-day hunter gatherer societies                  
• Familiarise the learner with ways of reconstructing
human evolution.
• Discuss whether the experience of present-day
hunting-gathering peoples can be used to
understand early societies.
2. Early Cities
Focus: Iraq, 3rd millennium BC
(a) Growth of towns.
(b) Nature of early urban societies.
Debate on uses of writing
• Familiarise the learner with the nature of early urban
• Discuss whether writing is significant as a marker
of civilization.
                             II: Empires
3. An Empire across Three Continents
Focus: Roman Empire, 27 BC to AD 600.
(a) Political evolution
(b) Economic expansion
(c) Religion
(d) Late Antiquity.
Debate on the institution of slavery.
• Familiarise the learner with the history of a major
world empire.
• Discuss whether slavery was a significant element
in the economy.
4. Central Islamic Lands
Focus: 7th to 12th centuries.
(a) Polity
(b) Economy
(c) Culture.
Debate on the nature of the crusades.
• Familiarise the learner with the rise of Islamic
empires in the Afro-Asian territories and its
implications for economy and society.
• Understand what the crusades meant in these regions
Debate on the nature of the crusades.
and how they were experienced.
5. Nomadic Empires
Focus: the Mongol, 13th to 14th century
(a) The nature of nomadism.
(b) Formation of empires.
(c) Conquests and relations with other states.
Debate on nomadic societies and state formation.
• Familiarise the learner with the varieties of nomadic
society and their institutions.
• Discuss whether state formation is possible in
nomadic societies.
                   III: Changing Traditions
6. Three Orders
Focus: Western Europe, 9th-16th century
(a) Feudal society and economy.
(b) Formation of states.
(c) Church and society.
Debate on decline of feudalism.
• Familiarise the learner with the nature of the
economy and society of this period and the changes
within them.
• Show how the debate on the decline of feudalism
helps in understanding processes of transition.
7. Changing Cultural Traditions
Focus on Europe, 14th to 17th century.
(a) New ideas and new trends in literature and arts.
(b) Relationship with earlier ideas
(c) The contribution of West Asia.
Debate: Is the notion ‘European ‘Renaissance’valid?
• Explore the intellectual trends in the period.

• Familiarize students with the paintings and buildings of the period.

• Introduce the debate around the idea of ‘Renaissance’.

8. Confrontation of Cultures
Focus on the Americas, 15th to 18th century.
(a) European voyages of exploration.
(b) Search for gold; enslavement,  raids, extermination.
(c) Indigenous peoples and cultures – the
Arawaks, the Aztecs, the Incas.
(d) The history of displacements.
Debate on the slave trade.
• Discuss changes in European economy that led to the voyages.
• Discuss the implications of the conquests for the indigenous people.
• Explore the debate on the nature of the slave trade and see what this debate tells us about the meaning of these “discoveries”.
               IV: Paths to Modernisation
9. Displacing Indigenous Peoples
Focus on North America and Australia,
18th-20th century.
(a) European colonists in North America and
(b) Formation of white settler societies.
(c) Displacement and repression of local
people.Debate on the impact of European
settlement on indigenous populations.10. The Industrial Revolution
Focus on England, 18th and 19th century.
(a) Innovations and technological change.
(b) Patterns of growth.
(c) Emergence of a working class.
Debate: Was there an Industrial Revolution?11. Paths to Modernization
Focus on East Asia. Late 19th and 20th century.
(a) Militarization and economic growth in Japan.
(b) China and the Communist alternative.
Debate on the meaning of Modernisation.
• Sensitise students to the processes of displacements  that accompanied the development of America and Australia.
• Understand the implications of such processes for the displaced populations.• Understand the nature of growth in the period and its limits.
• Initiate students to the debate on the idea of industrial revolution.• Make students aware that transformation in the modern world takes many different forms.
• Show how notions like ‘modernisation’ need to be critically assessed.

History Syllabus Classes XII

Themes Objectives
The Story of the First Cities: Harappan Archaeology
Broad overview: Early urban centres.
Story of discovery: Harappan civilization.
Excerpt: Archaeological report on a major site.
Discussion: how it has been utilized by archaeologists/historians.
• Familiarise the learner with early urban centres as economic and social institutions.
• Introduce the ways in which new data can lead to a revision of existing notions of history.
• Illustrate how archaeological reports are analysed and interpreted by scholars.


 Themes  Objectives
    Political and Economic History:
       How Inscriptions tell a story
Broad overview: Political and economic history from the  Story of discovery: Inscriptions and the decipherment of the script. Shifts in the understanding of  political and  economic history.
Excerpt: Asokan inscription and Gupta period land grant.
Discussion: Interpretation of inscriptions by historians.
• Familiarise the learner with major trends in the
political and economic history of the subcontinent
Mauryan to the Gupta period.
from c. 4th century BCE to c. 5th century CE.
• Introduce inscriptional analysis and the ways in which these have shaped the understanding of political and economic processes.


Themes  Objectives
 Social Histories: Using the Mahabharata
Broad overview: Issues in social history, including caste,  class, kinship and gender.
Story of discovery: Transmission and publications of the Mahabharata.
Excerpt: From the Mahabharata, illustrating how it has been used by historians.
Discussion: Other sources for reconstructing social history.
• Familiarise the learner with issues in social history.

• Introduce strategies of textual analysis          and their use in reconstructing social             history.


Themes   Objectives
A History of Buddhism: Sanchi Stupa
Broad overview:
(a) A brief review of religious histories of Vedic
religion, Jainism, Vaisnavism, Saivism.
(b) Focus on Buddhism. Story of discovery: Sanchi stupa.
Excerpt: Reproduction of sculptures from Sanchi.
Discussion: Ways in which sculpture has been interpreted by historians, other sources for reconstructing the history of Buddhism.
• Discuss the major religious developments in early  India.
• Introduce strategies of visual analysis and their use  in reconstructing histories of religion.


Themes Objectives
Agrarian Relations: The Ain-i- Akbari
Broad overview:
(a) Structure of agrarian relations in the 16th and 17th  centuries.
• Discuss developments in agrarian relations
• Discuss how to supplement official documents with other sources.


Themes Objectives
The Mughal Court: Reconstructing Histories through Chronicles
Broad Overview:
(a) Outline of political history c. 15th-17th centuries.
(b) Discussion of the Mughal court and politics.
Story of Discovery: Account of the production of court chronicles, and their subsequent translation and  transmission.
Excerpts: from the Akbarnama and Padshahnama.
Discussion: Ways in which historians have used the texts to reconstruct political histories.
 • Familiarise the learner with the major landmarks in political history.
• Show how chronicles and other sources are used to reconstruct the histories of political institutions.
(b) Patterns of change over the period.
Story of Discovery: Account of the compilation and  translation of Ain-i-Akbari.
Excerpt: From the Ain-i-Akbari.
Discussion: Ways in which historians have used the text to reconstruct history.
• Discuss developments in agrarian relations.
• Discuss how to supplement official                        documents with other sources.
New Architecture: Hampi
Broad Overview:
(a) Outline of new buildings during Vijayanagar
period — temples, forts, irrigation facilities.
(b) Relationship between architecture and the political
Story of Discovery: Account of how Hampi was found.
Excerpt: Visuals of buildings at Hampi.
Discussion: Ways in which historians have analysed and interpreted these structures.
• Familiarise the learner with the new buildings that were built during the time.
• Discuss the ways in which architecture can be analyzed to reconstruct history.
Religious Histories: The Bhakti-Sufi Tradition
Broad Overview:
(a) Outline of religious developments during this period.
(b) Ideas and practices of the Bhakti-Sufi saints.
Story of Transmission: How Bhakti-Sufi compositions have been preserved.
Excerpt: Extracts from selected Bhakti Sufi works.
Discussion: Ways in which these have been interpreted by historians.
• Familiarise the learner with religious developments.
• Discuss ways of analysing devotional literature as sources of history.
Medieval Society throughTravellers’ Accounts
Broad Overview: Outline of social and cultural life as they appear in travellers’ accounts.
Story of their writings: A discussion of where they travelled, why they travelled, what they wrote, and for whom they wrote.
Excerpts: from Alberuni, Ibn Batuta, Bernier.
Discussion: What these travel accounts can tell us and how they have been interpreted by historians.
• Familiarise the learner with the salient features social histories described by the travellers.

• Discuss how travellers’ accounts can be used as sources of social history.

Colonialism and Rural Society: Evidence  from Official Reports
Broad overview:
(a) Life of zamindars, peasants and artisans in the late 18 th century.
(b) East India Company, revenue settlements and surveys.
(c) Changes over the nineteenth century.
Story of official records: An account of why official investigations into rural societies were undertaken and the types of records and reports produced.
Excerpts: From Firminger’s Fifth Report, Accounts of Francis Buchanan-Hamilton, and Deccan Riots Report.
Discussion: What the official records tell and do not tell, and how they have been used by historians.
• Discuss how colonialism affected zamindars,
peasants and artisans.• Understand the problems and limits of using official sources for understanding the lives of people.
        Representations of 1857
Broad Overview:
(a) The events of 1857-58.
(b) How these events were recorded and narrated.
Focus: Lucknow.
Excerpts: Pictures of 1857. Extracts from contemporary accounts.
Discussion: How the pictures of 1857 shaped British opinion of what had happened.
 • Discuss how the events of 1857 are being
• Discuss how visual material can be used by


Themes Objectives
                 Colonialism and Indian Towns:
                Town Plans and Municipal Reports
Broad Overview: The growth of Mumbai, Chennai, hill
stations and cantonments in the 18th and 19th century.
Excerpts: Photographs and paintings. Plans of cities.
Extract form town plan reports. Focus on Kolkata
town planning.
Discussion: How the above sources can be used to
reconstruct the history of towns. What these sources
do not reveal.
• Familiarise the learner with the history of modern urban centres.
• Discuss how urban histories can be written by drawing on different types of sources.
Mahatma Gandhi through Contemporary Eyes
Broad Overview:
(a) The nationalist movement 1918-48,
(b) The nature of Gandhian politics and leadership.
Focus: Mahatma Gandhi in 1931.Excerpts: Reports from English and Indian language
newspapers and other contemporary writings.
Discussion: How newspapers can be a source of history.
• Familiarise the learner with significant elements of  the nationalist movement and the nature of Gandhian leadership.
• Discuss how Mahatma Gandhi was perceived by different groups.
• Discuss how historians need to read and interpret newspapers, dairies and letters as historical source.
       Partition through Oral Sources
Broad Overview:
(a) The history of the 1940s;
(b) Nationalism, Communalism and Partition.
Focus: Punjab and Bengal.
Excerpts: Oral testimonies of those who experienced
Discussion: Ways in which these have been analysed to
reconstruct the history of the event.
• Discuss the last decade of the national movement,  the growth of communalism and the story of Partition.
• Understand the events through the experience of those who lived through these years of communal violence.
• Show the possibilities and limits of oral sources.
      The Making of the Constitution
Broad Overview:
(a) Independence and the new nation state.
(b) The making of the Constitution.
Focus: The Constitutional Assembly debates.
Excerpts: From the debates.
Discussion: What such debates reveal and how they can
be analyzed.
• Familiarise students with the history of the early
years after independence.
• Discuss how the founding ideals of the new nation
state were debated and formulated.
• Understand how such debates and discussions can be read by historians.