Benjamin, Thomas. The Atlantic World: Europeans, Africans, Indians and Their Shared History, 1400-1900. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Chapter 1: Antecedents: The Americas, Africa and Europe in the Fifteenth Century
Chapter 2: Commencement: The European Opening of the Atlantic Ocean
Fassnacht, Max, Stephanie Fink, Robert Jackson, and Michelle Warn. “The Anatomy of a Discussion Board (Links to an external site.).” Accessed February 15, 2016. https://sites.google.com/site/anatomyofadiscussionboard/home.
Fassnacht, Max, Stephanie Fink, Robert Jackson, and Michelle Warn. “Critical Thinking: A Guide to Skillful Reasoning (Links to an external site.).” Accessed August 15, 2016. http://www.criticalthinkingandreasoning.org/evaluating-critical-thinking-1.
Reflect: Each of the three geographic zones touching the Atlantic—Europe, Africa, and the Americas—were home to vast cultural, political, social, economic, religious, biological, and ecological diversity. While connections had existed for centuries between Europe, Africa, and Asia, early contact with the North American Atlantic coast by the Norse did not contribute to European knowledge of transatlantic exploration. Furthermore, centuries of raiding and trading along the Atlantic coast of Europe and the shores of the Mediterranean had not produced more far-flung ventures. All the while, Chinese and Arab traders plied the Indian Ocean, yet neither sought to move into the Atlantic. Only over the course of the fourteenth century did sustained expansion into the Atlantic by Europeans begin in earnest. Consult “Critical Thinking: A Guide to Skillful Reasoning (Links to an external site.)” as you formulate your response.
Write: In an initial post of at least 250-300 words, explain why and how Europeans pursued expansion into and across the Atlantic Ocean during the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries. How does this impetus represent continuity with the past? How does it represent change over time? Cite specific examples from the required and recommended readings and address the following points in your response:
What factors motivated and enabled expansion into the Atlantic?
What elements of this expansion can be identified as part of previous patterns?
What elements of this expansion were unique or new?
How do you assess the overarching significance of the opening of the Atlantic in this period?
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