Jolanta N. Komornicka:
Summer I, 2009
Jolanta N. Komornicka|
Room 201, History Department
This is an introductory course in Western history, running from approximately 3000 BCE to around 1600 CE. We meet thrice weekly for six weeks. In other words, we are covering nearly five thousand years of history in fourty-five hours of class time. We move quite quickly. It is therefore imperative that you keep up with the readings. There will be one chapter from the textbook assigned for each day of class, along with a short primary source reading. Both sets of material are required to do well in this course.
“Western Civ” courses were invented after World War I in response to requests for rapid surveys that would expalin how the world got into such a frightfully awful mess. They were designed to move quickly. While there is a definite value to these forms of surveys, they can be frustrating at the same time. Nearly every topic we shall discuss, and every text we shall read, deserves its own course. Because we cannot hit everything, and we’ll be counting ourselves lucky to get all the big landmarks, the lectures of this course focus on two principle themes: Politics and Religion. There are many approaches one can take to a Western Civ course, ranging from the arts and music to technology, warfare, geography, intellectual developments, religious movements, social developments…the list goes on. You can see from this brief catalog that a summer course simply does not have the wherewithal to cover such a vast array of topics. The selection of Politics and Religion imputes no devaluation toward the others. It is a matter of convenience and no more.
I am a little old-fashioned in my approach to teaching and evaluating history. Thus, you will be graded based on two short papers (3-4 pages each) and one final exam. There is no mid-term for this course, the two papers serving in its stead. History is about interpretation and understanding documents—not about how many dates you can memorize. I will, inevitably, say a date wrong in the course of lecture. I anticipate you will have the same difficulty. Chronology is an essential aspect of history, but it is not sufficient as history: just as you need yeast to make bread, I do not recommend a diet of straight yeast. The papers and the exam are designed to get you to think critically about specific questions and developments in Western Civilization that have brought us to where we are today (or, more aptly, where we were in 1600).
Please carefully read the Academic Code of Conduct and adhere to it.
Schedule of Readings and Lecture Topics
The textbook for this course is Brian P. Levack, The West: Encounters and Transformations, vol. 1, Concise Editition (Longman).
All secondary readings can be found on courseinfo. Readings are to be completed for the day indicated.
Introduction to Course and the Beginning fo Western Civilization
The Bronze Age Civilizations
Read Levack Chapters 1 and 2, Hesiod “Five Generations of Men”
The Classical Age
Read Levack Chapter 3, Genesis Chapters 1-4
The Hellenistic Age
Read Levack Chapter 4, Aristotle “The Polis”
Paper I Due
Ancient Rome I
Read Levack Chapter 5, Cicero Book Five of “De Re Publica”
Ancient Rome II
Read Levack Chapter 6, “Ritual Cannibalism Charge Against the Christians”
The Founcations of the Medieval West
Read Levack Chapter 7, “The Conversion of Clovis”
The Early Middle Ages
Read Levack Chapter 8, Qu’ran 1, 47
The High Middle Ages
Read Levack Chapter 9, Urban II “Call to Crusade”
Paper II Due The Late Middle Ages
Read Levack Chapter 10, Christine de Pizan excerpts
The Age of Exploration
Read Levack Chapter 12, Columbus's Journal, excerpts
Read Levack Chapter 13, Luther “The Freedom of a Christian”
Early Modern Europe
Read Levack Chapter 14, Machiavelli The Prince excerpt
The Scientific Revolution
Read Levack Chapter 15, Descartes Discourse on Method excerpt