The entire course focuses on conflicting discourses, both textual and visual (cities, armies, maps, tiles). The center of this discourse is change, transformation derived from challenges posed by neighboring states, by shifting and emerging classes within the empire, and the conquest of new territories, including new languages, traditions and historical heritages (Arab lands, the Persianate world, Egypt, etc.). This changes in the discourse are further negotiated as new technologies appear, and new commodities and substances (coffee, opium, tobacco), as well as new materials (paper, print, silver), become available. The student follows closely how different imperial agents and subjects incorporated these innovations into traditional forms of knowing the world (religious discussions, moral questions about technologies or permissible uses of drugs, emergence of new social spaces and transformation of the landscape). In this sense, the student becomes aware of the nature of knowledge in two different levels. Historically, it changes as people adapt to the world and try to make sense of it with the available linguistic and discursive tools (literally, the tension between history as past and tradition as a present that resist it). Historiographically, the student also reflects on how scholars build knowledge of the past by using the available primary sources and posing questions relevant to their present.